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Questions or information relating to the DCC controllers list thread


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  • RMweb Gold

Hi,

 

So the DCC controllers list thread doesn't become filled with replies or comments, and only lists the DCC controllers that members actually own so can post a review of their experience, if you do have something to add or a new improvement that's been announced put it in here with a link to the review.

 

Hopefully that should make it easier for those wanting to just look at DCC systems without all of the other replies or comments which can be put in here.

 

Also members who do post a review can look in here and Edit details as required.

Obviously if it's an extra item that you don't own and have not used you can only make a note of it in the review.

 

I will ask the MODs if they can make these two threads sticky so its easy to find.

 

Cheers

 

Ian

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  • RMweb Gold

I have seen the two questions mentioned by RON and Suzie.

 

link below:-

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/106867-dcc-controller-list-basic-review-by-owners/?p=2156772

 

I don't want to reply in that "DCC controller list thread" or it will become one review and loads of comments which when it gets to some of the more feature rich controllers will make it hard going when wanting to just read through the various controllers that folks own.

 

I have amended my review to say the FIRMWARE is not upgradeable, I should of been more specific, just took it for granted.

Suzie did mention that it could be upgraded with the Booster or adding the Command Companions.

Which is true, but not sure what I can put to say it's not a controller that can be used in another system, unlike the POowerCab that can be used in it's big brother so everything is used for the future.

 

Also mentioned was about CV19 for double heading, unfortunately that's what I didn't want to happen in that thread, it's great information but has nothing what so ever to do with the E-Z Command as it can't write to CV's.

Hence if you have questions or further information relating to any of the reviews people write if you put them in here and post a link to the review it will keep that thread clean for just reviews.

 

I will check for any comments in this thread for any of the reviews I write and amend them as required.

Like I say I don't want to fill the other thread up with replies then counter replies as I think it will lose what could be a really good thread for those wanting to know about the different DCC systems out there from those that are currently using them.

 

Thanks

 

Ian

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  • RMweb Gold

Ian, how about writing a guide for review entries and pinning that at the top of the thread, including the phrase, "Please read before posting" in the title? This approach has been used, apparently successfully, in other threads on this forum.

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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Mick,

 

I could do, it's difficult to know the best format.

I just write down what I've found and how it's performed.

I'm not a professional reviewer or writer so wanted to leave it a bit free so that all DCC users who have a system can put down there thoughts.

The two I've done so far seem to be very similar in approach and most can follow that type of format.

 

I just thought it would be nice to have one thread where it's just reviews on systems that we as users have actually bought and are using.

I think it's more relevant to others then who are starting to look at DCC, more so if us as users put down what we do and don't like about our system.

 

I will give it some thought and see if I can come up with something.

 

Thanks

 

Ian

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Ian,

 

I think maybe a short list of things that should be covered (keep it short and simple), like common operational features that are always worth considering: programming features/limits, how many hads to operate, number of function keys, type of control keys (buttons, wheels, etc). Then a "free text" part where the reviewer can sum up whatever he/she wants.

 

Jay 

(Hoping I'll have the time to do a Power Cab review if someone else doesn't beat me to it)

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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Jay,

 

That sounds like a good idea.

The two I've done maybe too in depth as most of that is found in the manual.

Hence not wanting to give a format.

Like you say short and simple, number of functions, what programming can it do, how it responds, can it be integrated into the next system or is it a standalone item so to move on you need to buy something else, etc

 

Then as you say free text where you can put in what you like and dislike about it, what you would do to improve it.

As you say if you started to talk about the PowerCab and even more so the ECoS you could be there for hours explaining all the features!!

This is more of a I use X, Y and Z on this system and its great for doing that, but doing A, B and C is a bit of a faff but the other things are more important to me so its OK.

I prefer this type of controller to the other types etc?

 

Hopefully more reviews will follow which will be great especially from owners.

 

Yes I could do the PowerCab as well, I've had one for years, still haven't bought the latest EEPROM chip for it yet to increase the recall stack!

 

Thanks

 

Ian

Edited by traction
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If anyone is submitting a review to the thread it might be worth getting it peer reviewed first so that there are not any errors in it. Anyone can have opinions, and mention of ways to get around limitations are useful to potential buyers as well, but incorrect or misleading information should not be there and will be challenged.

 

Perhaps a more useful way of doing it would be to post each review in its own locked thread which can be updated by the reviewer (or moderator) if required, with a reference to a discussion thread, and keep a master sticky thread with links to the threads. Otherwise once there are thirty or so reviews in the thread it will become unnavigable! I think the reviews so far are on the whole good and will be a useful resource for newbies before they post the inevitable "Which is the best DCC system?" question. 

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  • RMweb Gold

Suzie I think you're taking that way too far.

 

Who 's the peer that will review it, who will lock each thread?

Then a link to a discussion thread so that there can be pages of discussion about an individual DCC controller.

Nobody will ever write a review!

It's for owners to write down their opinion of using the the system, I doubt any of us are professional reviewers or writers, nothing would ever get finished if it's done the way you describe.

Now you've mentioned that, it looks like the two I've done are way too involved.

 

It was supposed to be a simple short quickish review of the DCC controller that each person owns and uses.

It will be better to just write down what the manufacturer spec sheet says, and then write down our own findings

 

For Example:-

 

It can operate 28 functions but it involves lots of button presses, ie if I want to operate function 21 I have to press X, Y & Z

It can read & Write CV's which is does really well, you only need to do this then that.

 

I think that way, all the individual is doing is writing down what the manufacturer says it can do and then your own personal thoughts on how well it does them.

You can't pull someone up because of their own personal view, and if that's the way the controller operates, that's the way it is.

 

You mentioned on my E-Z Command review that it's not PoM but service programming, well that's great but it doesn't say that in the manual!

I read the manual that Bachmann supply with the controller and it states that it uses PoM so if you buy and fit a decoder make sure it has the  ability to program on the main, it also says remove all locos off the track or they will all be programmed to that address.

You say Bachmann are wrong, have you told them that so they can rewrite the manual correctly.

 

Really sorry, from reading your other posts I know you have loads of knowledge on the DCC systems but this is not about pulling people apart for writing down their findings of the system and possibly getting a few technical details a bit wrong.

It's about what owners actually think about using that system the good points and the bad.

Maybe just a few photos so people can see what it looks like,  a photo showing the possible connections, what the specs are supposed to be and the owners findings.

 

Cheers

 

Ian

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Ian

 

There is no "Pulling apart" as you put it. I think that your reviews are very good, the problems are of a very minor nature and I don't think you should change the way you review significantly. As you say the review should be about what you use and discuss what you like or don't like - there is no need to quote the manual for features that you have not used - anyone that has used 'Programming on the Main' (or operations mode programming) will know that the E-Z Command does not have it regardless of what it says in the manual.

 

I commented because I think your idea has considerable merit, and you have set a good example of how to do reviews that are useful.

 

A peer is in this context is someone just like you (not someone that sits in the upper house!) A peer review can be done by anyone else who has that system to check that there are no inconsistencies or errors in the text and that language used cannot be misunderstood. We all use language slightly differently, that does not make it wrong but it can be misleading and need clarification as to the actual meaning perhaps with qualification.

 

I am saying that whoever posts the review locks the thread so that it does not get filled with discussion, and that as you have recommended the discussion is elsewhere. It is your review and the subjective content is yours and yours alone, and that is the point of the review, but facts should be correct - one error will instantly make the whole review suspect and unhelpful, and it will not be given the value it deserves.

 

Keep up the good work!

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These threads are very timely. There must be many, like me, who are about to make a sizable investment in DCC controllers for whom these reviews will be very useful.

 

Cross links between this and the original DCC controller review thread would be useful to speed up navigation between the two. 

 

Ian

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  • RMweb Gold

Hi guys thanks for the feedback, I'm hoping it proves useful, it's not a full technical review but gives the basics and any questions can be asked in here.

 

Let's hope others start to write reviews of their systems as well.

 

Cheers

 

Ian

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  • RMweb Gold

 

 

Cross links between this and the original DCC controller review thread would be useful to speed up navigation between the two. 

 

Ian

 

Hi Ian

 

I've just done a ZTC 611 review

Now it's not all singing and dancing, I've put up only information that may be helpful as I can't rewrite the manual.

It's also NOT a direct comparison to the old 511 as thats not what the review section is about, also I've never owned a 511!

 

If you look at the posts there is a number in the top right hand corner of each post, clicking on this gives a pop up link direct to that post so the link below should take you straight there!

 

Hope thats what you were after!

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/106867-dcc-controller-list-basic-review-by-owners/?p=2160279

 

Thanks for the feedback, nice to know it's worth while, as I've said hopefully others will write their own reviews which will make a better more balanced thread, instead of just me writing them, that is of course unless people keep on pressing the agree button to all my reviews!

As I've started the reviews other people can just write down their own personal experience of using those controllers or do a complete review of controllers not yet listed.

 

I would also recommend people go to the manufacturers web site of the systems reviewed and download the user manual so they can get a good understanding or the controller as well.

 

Cheers

 

Ian

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the reviews  you`ve recently written up, most helpful, particularly the Hornby Select.

This came to me as a gift so i have no real understanding of all the terminology yet so i`m reading as much as i can.

Regarding the Select, if a loco acceleration control was  set at 99 and duly moved off slowly, what difference would you get in performance by changing controller or decoder to have CV adjustments available?

Are CV adjustments better suited to layouts with a longer run rather than an end to end like mine?

At present i just turn the control knob to the speed i think is ok but reading things suggest i could be missing out on better operations.

If changing things didn`t make that much difference, bearing in mind it`s only a slow running layout, would it be worth looking into?

Hope the questions aren`t too daft but i`m a bog standard modeller picking things up as i go along.

 Many thanks,

Jim,

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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Jim.

 

If you set the acceleration control to 99 and then turned the controller knob to full speed the chances are it wouldn't reach top speed before you ran out of track on a small end to end layout.

 

To be honest I don't think you would see a great deal of difference in performance in the loco by changing the controller, it might go slower or quicker depending on the track output voltage but thats about it.

The decoder in my opinion is more important as the better quality decoder then you normally find you get much better smoother finer control.

To get that better control you may need to adjust some of the motor characteristic settings, which you can't do with the Select.

So CV adjustments are loco/motor dependant, not layout size!

 

As for looking into changing, if you're happy with what your doing then why change?

You will only know if it's right to change by using other controllers, you might find you prefer using a hand held cab instead of the console style of the Select.

Having a different controller is not about the actual loco performance as such, it's about how you interact with it!

 

Take the ZTC controller, it's like sitting in the cab actually driving an engine.

Everything else that any controller can do are just add ons, adjusting CV's or operating points can all be done in much better ways than using the actual DCC controller.(IMHO)

 

Cheers

 

Ian

Edited by traction
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Hi Ian,

Many thanks for your reply. I think i`ll stick with the Select for now as it does do the basics, ( moving the loco one way or the other ).

What i will do though after reading your reply is try another decoder. I have a Bachman Jubilee which, even on a minimum control setting, takes off like a greyhound out of its starting trap! so i think that`s where i`ll start.

If a loco (dcc) doesn`t move when asked to ( all things being clean ) is there a way of checking the decoder to find out if it`s blown ( other than putting the suspect decoder in a loco you know works?

Thanks once again,

Jim.)

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  • RMweb Gold

You can get decoder testers, not used one myself though.

 

The only alternative is to try the loco on DC see how well it runs, if at all. If it doesn't run on DC it won't run on DCC.

As you say, you can always take the decoder out of the loco and try it in another one.

If the decoder is a plug in type shouldn't be too much difficulty swapping them over, while testing you can leave the body off anyway.

 

The Bachmann Jubilee taking off quick is like some of the older Hornby Locos, noticeably the Smokey Joe, you put a Decoder in that and it still runs poor.

If the gearing and or mechanism is not great to start with no decoder will solve that, but a very good decoder that you can tweak all of the settings may allow you to set it up to run possibly acceptable.

 

Remember with the cheap decoders many CV's can't be changed and the motor control is not as good.

With the Select you can't change even the basic CV's , such as CV2- start voltage, CV5- Max voltage and CV 6 mid voltage anyway.

There are other important ones such as when the BEMF cuts out and so on which can all have an effect on the way the motor performs.

 

That's why I bought and did the review on the basic MRC Explorer as it's cheap but will write to CV's, OK you can't read back any of the CV values, but at least you can change them, so write down the CV and the value you give it, it's better than nothing!

I believe the Prodigy Express can read and write CV's as well and that is available in the UK.

If you have a good model shop local, I would be tempted to take the loco there and maybe see if you can set the decoder up in the shop so you can see if it's working and the effects of changing CV's

 

Hopefully others more knowledgeable than me will also give you some pointers, I was hoping other DCC owners would write their reviews, it wasn't just about me doing them, It just happens I own quite a few controllers!

There are also a lot of forum members who have far more know how and understanding when it comes to setting up decoders, I just try the basics and go from there, if it works without adjustment to my satisfaction then thats how it stays.

 

Cheers

 

Ian

Edited by traction
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Traction,

 

I don't know if there are different releases with the Elite but I can change the speed of two locos at the same time (I went to the layout to confirm this). The locos do need to be going in the desired direction though.

 

Quote "NOTE:- Only ONE control knob is active at one time, you can't turn both control knobs at the same time to control two different locos!"

 

Using the Elite and two Selects I can (just) control 4 locos simultaneously on my own (easier when EMGS visit!).

 

Thanks for the reviews, very useful work; and confirming my view that the Hornby units are quite satisfactory for many layouts.

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  • RMweb Gold

Traction,

 

I don't know if there are different releases with the Elite but I can change the speed of two locos at the same time (I went to the layout to confirm this). The locos do need to be going in the desired direction though.

 

Quote "NOTE:- Only ONE control knob is active at one time, you can't turn both control knobs at the same time to control two different locos!"

 

Using the Elite and two Selects I can (just) control 4 locos simultaneously on my own (easier when EMGS visit!).

 

Thanks for the reviews, very useful work; and confirming my view that the Hornby units are quite satisfactory for many layouts.

 

Very strange indeed!

I've just tried mine again and it will NOT control two locos at the same time, you have to press the control knob down first to activate that control knob.

Just tried with a loco on control knob 1 as address 24 and a different loco on control knob 2 as address 8.

If you press control knob 1 to make it active I could control loco 24 as I would expect,  turning control knob 2 had no effect at all on loco address 8, I had to press control knob 2 to make it active before it would do anything.

 

The firmware is on the latest V1.42.

 

Very interesting, in all the different software versions, I've never been able to control two locos at the same time, as you need to press the control knob to make it active.

The only way to be able to control two locos simultaneously is to plug in a Select unit.

Would be interesting to know what firmware yours has and if anybody else has been able to do this.

 

Thanks

 

Ian

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Ian,

 

V1.3, as soon as you start to turn the control it becomes active, then turn the other it becomes active. It happens so quickly it seems as if they are both active together.

 

Edit to say, could this have anything to do with the 2 selects I also have connected?

Edited by dhjgreen
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  • RMweb Gold

I don't think it's got anything to do with the Selects, it's more to do with the firmware version.

They must of had to change that from V1.4 to accommodate the 28 functions and extra menu for the sapphire decoder. Auto cycle control and the fuel simulation.

It's most likely something I missed when trying it on V1.3.

 

Thanks for the information though, hopefully others will read this and can then decide if they want to stay on V1.3 or upgrade to the latest version.

Which was the idea behind lots of people writing their reviews of the DCC controllers they own, the more reviews the better, even more so if we can get a handful of reviews on the same controller, gives a better all round perspective and things like this get picked up.

 

Cheers

 

Ian

Edited by traction
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Hi Ian, (and others who may be able to help),

 

A simple question for anyone with a new ZTC 611 or upgraded 511.

 

Do the 622 hand held controllers work perfectly with the 611's, in particular, how do you address the expanded functions, is it some sort of double pushing of the existing 4 buttons?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Peter

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  • RMweb Gold

They work fine as a hand held and can access only 12 functions.

 

To be honest, the hand held controllers are not great for function operation, you can set momentary or latching for the 12 functions that you can control but there are a few button presses required to get to the higher functions.

 

It's much easier to use the 611 for function control, along with point control as well.

It would need a complete redesign of the hand held with ALL the number buttons available so it could work like and be as good as the 611 for function control.

 

Remember these are MY opinions only, others may think differently.

 

Cheers

 

Ian

Edited by traction
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Thanks for that Ian,

 

I have to say I like the 622's, though we find on the Club layout that they seem to require re-callibration a lot,( though it's probably operator mis-use). For a big layout we use the control station for the signalman, with  hand helds for the up and down lines, about 40' apart, so it's a shame about the inability to use the new functions, and makes it pretty pointless to upgrade.

 

At home I similarly tend to use one or two hand helds as I'm lazy, but it might be worth considering changing my ways. I have flirted with JMRI, so it's probably not a huge leap to go to remote tablet/phone operation, which would presumably solve the problem and cost less than an upgraded hand held, even if such a thing were available.

 

Once again thanks for the information.

 

Peter

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  • RMweb Gold

The 622 is something that they are looking at upgrading, but not this year.

If it were me I would want to make sure I had the 611's built and ready to sell, which looks to have been delayed due to someone changing the PCB design.

Still looks like they are on track now.

 

What would you do then though?

Work on a new display or upgrade the 622?

 

I'm so glad it's not me running a company!

 

Cheers

 

Ian

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