Well my ECoS eventually got here. I ordered this last November or December and it's just turned up last week. I have found out subsequently that it has the latest software, version 1.0.3, so this is some compensation. I have been messing around with it for a week or so and am starting to come to terms with it's usability. From the minute it is turned there are help options available. There are various menus which help explain the many functions of what is a very easy to use system.
I had it up and running in no time. I bought this from Germany so it came with German instructions. I had already downloaded the English language instructions previously so I used these to assist me with setting the system up. They weren't really necessary though, most processes are self explanatory and easy to work through.
I had logged my first loco in the data bank within minutes. Rather than allocate just a number the loco can also be given an alphanumeric name, for example PENN GG1.
This is the "enter new loco" screen as it comes up.
This is how it looks once filled in.
The locos are also allocated icons from a database of several types of steam, diesel and electric. Most of these are readily recognisable as popular German locos.
This and the alpha numeric name make any loc readily identifiable. You can also have a list of favourites so that they are more accessable.
Once it has been added to the list of locos you can then run the loco. The loco then shows on your screen as an icon at the top with a speedo dial below showing the speed or the speed step of the loco.
The actual address number appears in the centre slightly to the right, the black triangles indicate the direction and the functions show in negative (black) if they are activated.
The loco functions are shown around the dial. You can allocate a picture icon for each function if you wish to personalise it. I found that the standard is for eight functions to come up on the screen. For locos which have more than eight functions you have to go into edit mode and allocate an icon for the icons 9- whatever. If you do not do this they do not appear on the screen and are not usable.
When you add a loco to the list you can specify the number of speed steps. These can be seen on the speedo dial. You can also set a default. Note here the GG1 has 28 and the Class 31 has 128. You can see also on the top line that some of the menu buttons are the same on each side, these are for each individual cab.
Like most things on the Ecos this is set by means of a drop down box. This one lists which decoder types the loco has so you can input the information.
There is also a feature where the Ecos can tell you what type of (ESU) decoder is in any given loco. With my new BR19 for instance I was under the impression that it was a version 3.0 which was in the loco but ECoS revealed that it was in fact a version 3.5 and that the whistle could be ativated by using the toggles.
The large screen is an excellent feature and is something that really helps. I found a lot of DCC systems had very small display screens and tried to convey too much information in too small a space. I initially used my fingers a lot to use the touch screen but am finding that using the stylus is a lot easier and more accurate.
The arrival of the ECoS ment a swift change of direction from my scenery building at the front of my layout to a focus on the technical aspect. I have now set up a designated programming track as I need to be able to programme and read decoders. This was easily done It is connected but electrically isolated from the rest of the track. The ECoS can read your decoder and then gives you a clear visual display of what your settings are.
Programming is pretty easy, this is the programming screen. You type in the CV you want to change and what value and then write.
I got a Veissmann occupancy detector with the same model shop delivery so I will be trying this out at some point in the future. I have been well impressed with the ECoS so far, it is remarkably easy to use. It reminds me of using Microsoft windows. It puts a user friendly face onto some pretty complicated goings on. You tell it what you want and it goes off and sorts it out for you. It really is Windows for model rail in terms of format and functionality.
Just as I have got this system up and running unfortunately events dictate that I must return to Scotland urgently so it may be a month or so before I can continue my voyage of discovery in ECoS world. At least there’s something to look forward to when I come back. There plenty needing done.
With all the discussion about installation of decoders in allegedly DCC ready locos, I thought for comparative purposes it would be of interest to show what DCC ready should be and currently is in Continental models. The model I have shown is a Roco S3/6 which I am going to install with a Lenz Gold decoder. I don’t need any tools like a screw driver or soldering iron. You may ask why would someone need a soldering iron for a loco with a socket? Well I did with the White Knight as I had to cut the wires, extend the wires and then reconnect them in the tender as there was no room in the loco for the decoder. The loco here actually has a pre-prepared compartment specifically for the decoder which isolates it from the motor or any other electrical or heat source.
The first step is to remove the tender body. This is held on by clips underneath and comes off easily with your fingernail inserted in the gap on either side. The decoder socket is on the left at the front of the tender. This also helps as there is only one way the decoder can go in so you don’t have to check where socket 1 is.
The Lenz Gold has two sets of connecters to the decoder. One for hard wiring and another for DCC ready sockets. We connect the plug into the socket without the decoder.
We then remove the top cover, which is the simulated coal load, and thread through the 8 pin connector which connects to the decoder. At this point we need to disconnect the tender from the loco for increased manoueverability.
We connect up the connecter and the decoder and sit the decoder into the compartment. All that is needed now is to replace the coal load cover and we're done.
The finished item.
The whole process took ten minutes. No swearing or tools required. If only they could all be like that.
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