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Roco Z21 - suggestions as to why not

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Hi All,

 

I am looking for a DCC system for my collection. I think that I have decided on the black Z21, but thought I would just post on here for confirmation. I will post the details of what I am planning below.

 

- Layout will be around the walls in a 3 by 4 metre room, with a station based on "Minories" down one of the long walls

- Majority of stock is 80's vintage Jouef, so fairly basic with no advanced features such as sound, but I do have some newer models with sound. Approx 50 locos

- I want a hand held unit, not a desktop type.

- I do want to be able to consist (double head)

 

I think that the only other system I would look at would be the NCE brand.

 

I welcome any comments or thoughts from any users.

 

Thanks very much for your help.

 

Regards,

 

Jed in Sydney

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Quite a few Z21 users on RMweb. So there should be plenty of help and advice available.

Do factor in the possibility of using the optional dedicated MultiMaus wireless handset, when looking at the price of a Z21 set-up.

 

Another system that might interest you, is the Piko SmartControl.

It's made by ESU and uses a neat handset combining a touch screen, with a real physical throttle wheel (also motorised).

Prices from many U.K. based suppliers are ridiculously over the top, but it can be obtained by one or two U.K. Suppliers, or directly from German sources for around the same price (or less) as the Z21.

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The problem I find with iPhone/ipad/Android app controlled systems is you usually need two hands to operate them, one to hold the device and the other a pointy finger on the display.

With the NCE PowerCab/Power Pro system you can operate it with one hand and still get at all the functions you're most likely to use. Everything just seems to fall into place.

I guess you could get away with a phone in one hand but the screen is pretty small and all to easy mistakenly activate the wrong button. A Tablet is definitely two hands unless you prop it up on a desk but you said you want a hand held system.

 

I must admit I've looked at the Z21 and have the app installed on my iPad but I'm so used to the ease of use of the PowerCab that I haven't taken the plunge. Maybe one day if the PowerCab goes futt!

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Sorry but I use the Z21 app and I haven't found it necessary to use two hands. It's all in easy reach and that applies to the bunch of friends, of various sizes ;)

One useful thing is to buy a protective case so they are easier to grip than the smartphone basic case, you can pick up a basic silicone one for £3-£5 on eBay or more if you want a certain style.

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I have a Z21 - there is a significant difference between the z21 and the Z21, a lot more than just the z21 being white and the Z21 being black and you need to ensure that you get the one that you need.

 

The think I have found out lately is the the Z21 is Loconet-T not Loconet-B (this is explained anywhere) which may not cause you an issue but you need to be aware that they are not the same and you only get one - on the z21 you don’t get Loconet at all, or the other interfaces that might be useful, plus there isn’t a seperate programming track.

 

I suggest that you look carefully at www.z21.eu to ensure that you get the right version for your needs in the future as your knowledge of DCC expqnds and your requirements of the DCC demands more functionality:)

 

You will like the z or Z 21, very capabable device.

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Don't overlook the point mentioned by Ron - about the WLAN version of the Multimaus ie the BLACK one which has also caused the

rrp of the cabled Multimaus to be dropped to match .... about 90GBP for either ... discounted to about 82 GBP.

 

The Multimaus, in all its variants, is easily held and operated one-handed by an adult hand. 3 AAA batteries are used by the

Wireless version, but I also have a cabled version plugged in for exhibitions in case of rf interference from others nearby

(R/C aircraft etc) - and in case the batteries run flat !

 

Additional benefits of the new BLACK WLAN Multimaus are 10-character names for the 64 locos which can be stored in each handset

(previously only 5 characters), as well as Read back (But my preference is to have an independent circuit run off an old

Multimaus and Amplifier which is totally independent of the main layout - for programming or testing during exhibitions. ..

keeping the main layout running at all times ) Routes and System Current monitoring have been included since the Multimaus Pro used

for the MultiCentrale Pro.

 

The Black Z21 has variable voltage output and a sniffer port.

MultiCCentralePro users can now feed their unit into a port .. powering it from the Z21.

 

Regarding availability and prices .... it depends where 'Sydney' is.

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Hi All,

 

Sydney is in Australia! I can confirm that it would be the black version. I will have a look at the answers and come up with some more questions.

 

Regards,

 

Jed

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I too can recommend the black Z21, I currently use mine with an iPad, iPhone and/or a tethered MultiMaus - all very robust and user friendly.

I've had mine for some two years now, initial set up and use is really easy, my brain takes a while to get into the more complex programming but it's not too bad.

I could recommend the NCE but would say it's getting on a bit now.

Cheers,

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Black Z21 user, for last 2 years. Literally wouldn't contemplate anything else. Very user friendly and ideal for the modern modeller!

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I'm also a Z21 use and find with the Ipad that both loco & point control come up on a sideways screen so do not have to keep changing from one to the other. I also use a £35 phone for basic testing of locos and accessories as it is kept with the layout, only problem it sometimes will not read CV's or program 4 digit numbers but that's due to it being a cheep model!

 

The other thing I find good is the fuction programming for sound, also that it is displayed on screen with the loco control.

 

regards

 

mike g

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Another supporter of the Z21 here.

 

I switched from the Lenz 100 set after over 10 years of use to the Z21 and just love it.  I operate a large automated layout, with the help of Train Controller.  I use a Roco wireless Multimaus, the app on my Samsung, an iPad Mini and the Train Controller screen controls on my wireless laptop for operation and control.  It all works wirelessly, seamlessly and flawlessly together.  Right  now I wouldn't use anything else.  

 

Cheers ... Alan

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I have had one for 3 years.  Purchased as I have a few iPhones and Android devices around.  Very good with point control and routes.

 

My only gripe is that the Apps fequently don't respond.  As it is does what asks, but graphically it does not indicate.  For instance, sometime pressing the F1 icon for sound does not light up, but the sound is activated.  If you go back to the main screen and then back into control, the screen is updated.  Most odd and appears never to have been sorted.

 

Overall, very good.

 

Anyone have a link to the handheld controller, might want to add that to my Xmas List.

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Perhaps not reasons on for NOT having a Z21, but a reason why have taken a year or so before 'starting to use it'... Is/was the perceived need to enter photos for ALL of my loco fleet before gaining the benefits of using it with my phone....which might then end up flat and thereby disconnecting me from my traffic info on the return journey 8-)

 

Now I have 2 of the long-awaited Lan- Multimaus to go with it, and can use it just as I have been using my Multi Central Pros.....(and 4 multimauspros) And happily (?) Continued entering local numbers 'on the fly' because we had not gotten around to preloading either of them with up to 64 locos by name in each of the handsets (although they can be copied easily from one to another, including an existing cabled handset that is plugged in to the Z21 ....a thought that has only just occurred to me).

 

I do have photos of all my locos and rolling stock on computer, and regularly print 'stock recognition' pages on A3....

But don't know of a quick method of loading XXX locos and photos into the Z21 ! .... And because I also have 'rocomotion' software to use with the MCPs which I primarily use for 'route selection' with a 24" touch screen I haven't yet felt the inclination to repeat the drawing process for each of our layouts... Is that phone-screen phone system suited to a dozen or 40 or 120+ points?? Can it compete with a 40" monitor (loft layout) or 24" at exhibitions

 

It is a good system, but having (multiple) and compatible existing good systems, makes the changeover of limited benefit.

I still have a 2 metre long Zero1 micromimic display with 130 points and signals represented on it.... Unfortunately that layout no longer exists, and so is a museum piece to 'inflexible' electronic hardware compared to updatable vdus.

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I have had one for 3 years.  Purchased as I have a few iPhones and Android devices around.  Very good with point control and routes.

 

My only gripe is that the Apps fequently don't respond.  As it is does what asks, but graphically it does not indicate.  For instance, sometime pressing the F1 icon for sound does not light up, but the sound is activated.  If you go back to the main screen and then back into control, the screen is updated.  Most odd and appears never to have been sorted.

 

Overall, very good.

 

Anyone have a link to the handheld controller, might want to add that to my Xmas List.

 

Got mine here:

 

https://www.modellbahnshop-lippe.com/produkt/Roco/1-7-0-252083-003003-0-0-0-0-0-0-grp-gb-p-0/ein_produkt.html

 

Here's one in UK:

http://www.scograil.co.uk/roco-10813-wifi-multimaus-11388-p.asp

 

 

Cheers ... Alan

Edited by Alan Kettlewell

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Out of interest why do they say it meets all European legislation for Wi-Fi when the say it only for sale in USA and Australia?

 

Why is it not being sold in Europe - though I will admit that at that price I wouldn’t be swapping my Z21 for it, especially as it doesn’t seem to have the same interoperability that Roco has created :)

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Out of interest why do they say it meets all European legislation for Wi-Fi when the say it only for sale in USA and Australia?

Why is it not being sold in Europe - though I will admit that at that price I wouldn’t be swapping my Z21 for it, especially as it doesn’t seem to have the same interoperability that Roco has created :)

Phil The leaflet said: "Compliant with all relevant IEEE WLAN standards. Suitable for use in America and Europe"   

IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers  - acting as a Standards body in this case.  No mention of only EU/ EC 'standards'

Since the Plko Smart Control is basically the same, produced by ESU, perhaps they have the European Distribution Licence ?

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...Why is it not being sold in Europe ....

 

 

....Since the Plko Smart Control is basically the same, produced by ESU, perhaps they have the European Distribution Licence ?

 

 

Like Phil, I suspect when ESU and Piko signed the deal over the SmartControl, there was some inbuilt protection that ESU wouldn't pull the rug from under their customer's (Piko) feet, by selling it under their own brand name.

 

It remains to be seen, but I strongly suspect that there's a time limit on any such agreement (if there is such an agreement in the first place) and that ESU will be offering the CabControl in the European marketplace in due course.

 

Note that ESU stopped selling their entry level Navigator system almost 2 years ago and since then have not been able to offer a lower cost alternative to their top end ECoS system.

The new CabControl system finally fills that gap.

 

(p.s. For those that don't know, the ESU Navigator is/was their own version of the Bachmann Dynamis Ultima...which they make for Bachmann)

 

 

 

.

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Could I get some further advice from learned colleagues. 

The z21 I have seen is advertised by various shops in the UK for around 165. 

Is this starter set all I need to get up and running with it or are there additional modules that are needed before I can begin?

Also my house is entirely Mac so is there a requirement for a windows PC to set it up or will it work on both?

 

Thanks 

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There is also the Z21 Maintenance programme which I know runs on a PC as that is where I use it, not sure if it runs on a Mac.

 

you need this programme to update the z/Z21, change the IP Address and a pile of other things

 

Edit:

 

Here is the link for the tool and other stuff, you can check whether it has the right installation routines for the MAC

 

http://www.z21.eu/en/Downloads

Edited by WIMorrison

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Posted (edited)
On 10/10/2017 at 16:24, PaulRhB said:

Sorry but I use the Z21 app and I haven't found it necessary to use two hands. It's all in easy reach and that applies to the bunch of friends, of various sizes https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/emoticons/default_wink3.gif

One useful thing is to buy a protective case so they are easier to grip than the smartphone basic case, you can pick up a basic silicone one for £3-£5 on eBay or more if you want a certain style.

 

I got a Z21 for my second layout was looking forward to getting it but bitterly disappointed with the concept. The Z21 is a well engineered and flexible system but smartphone touch screen interfaces just don’t cut it at all for cabs. Phone cabs being touch screen require “eyes on” instead of eyes off depending on tactile feel of buttons or physical knob for throttle control on a cab you don’t have to look at. It is utterly useless for shunting and forget marshalling stock using Kadee uncoupling magnets. Touch screen is a disaster for precision shunting.  I’ve tried the old and the new Z21 mobile apps and the throttle slider just does not behave as I want.

 

I made a huge mistake and should have gone for something like an NCE PowerCab with its superb onehanded blind use cab. A cab should be an extension of ones mind where one focuses on looking at the trains and not the stupid screen, instead think what you want a loco to do and it just happens. With the touchscreen UI it nigh is impossible to reliably stop a loco at a precise position.  The technology is clever and an inexpensive way to have wireless throttles, however it’s just horrible for precision train driving.

 

Another bug bear is the app is clunky to use and it’s ridiculous that you have to painstakingly add button for functions instead of a default f1 to f10 buttons, so out of the box you cannot control sound locos until you go through the time consuming process of assigning functions, mnemonics and symbols to function buttons. Personalised Fn buttons is a great idea for sound locos but it is so cumbersome to have to do this individually for each loco. No copy and paste. Pick up any other physical cab and you have direct access to 28 functions without having to pre set them up. For me the Z21 has proved a disaster and useless, wished I’d gone for NCE or other, which is so drivable and really works for precision shunting with one hand and eyes only on the train instead of needing to look at the cab. Touchscreen just doesn’t cut it  for one handed throttle use. No tactile feedback.

Edited by NoelG

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Posted (edited)

Why don’t you just use a wireless, handheld throttle such as the MultiMaus if you dislike the app that much, or you can get almost any wired throttle you feel like and plug that into the Z21.

 

The Z21 in the command station - how you choose to drive the Z21 is your choice and there are probably hundreds of ways to do that. I use iTrain 95% of the time because I like to watch the layout running - bit like being at an exhibition in my own home - and for the 5% of the time I want to do something manually I use the WiFi Multimaus.

 

I suggest that you need to open up your horizons and see what you have before you start condemning it, it is one of the most flexible command stations available.   

Edited by WIMorrison
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Posted (edited)

Noel, it may be not what you want but it hardly makes the system bad, just not right for you with touchscreen. 

If you want the default 1-10 functions you can set them pretty quickly in less than a minute or use the wired or WiFi multimaus instead of tablets which has the conventional button layout you desire. 

 

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Personally I like being able to choose the F order laid out onscreen without having to remap the functions on the chip as it makes it easier for first time users. I also find if I set the speed range I can happily control speed without looking at the screen just by sliding my thumb up or down, knowing if I slide it to the bottom it will stop. 

Uncoupling kadees can also be done by tapping the other direction without touching the speed or on ESU, and no doubt others, you can set a F button to automatically do the uncouple shuffle. 

I use Kadees on Lulworth and it works well at shows. 

 

1BCA94B7-41C9-4CDB-800A-DA2C21A715C3.jpeg.d6096962db98e46ffc58a7096758c631.jpeg

 

01243CD0-AAE0-48CA-926F-8DABDFE0D62D.jpeg.e4b2301b2f222da1497a842507bef8e2.jpeg

Edited by PaulRhB
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  • Informative/Useful 1

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Posted (edited)

I am surprised anybody could prefer the NCE against a z or Z21. You need to know which functions are on which key and have to map f keys if you  want it on the same key on all engines and decoders used. On the z21 or its black sister you have everything on graphic symbols.  You can move everything around as you want. Dead easy to use. Really easy to copy to club colleagues.  We have both NCE an z21 in the club. I would never dream of going back to an NCE. 

Ok everybody to its own. 

For me it is a z21. 

Vecchio 

Edited by Vecchio
  • Agree 2

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