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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,

I read many useful information on this forum, and read many good reviews on various digital systems,

I have question about the DCC System, I am looking to buy ECOS, or Marklin station 2 for my layout, the problem is, my local hobby shop gave me some comments like I shell try the DCC system with my locomotives before I buy, because not all DCC systems are supporting all decoders, and it is better to try out before buy. This statement made me nervous about DCC, the guy was not very confident about ECOS either.

On this forum, I see people running with different dcc systems, can you please advice me if ESU ECOS will be able to run most of the decoders, with out any problem? as I mentioned I have locomotives installed with Atlas DCC (QSI I believe) Broadway Import series again QSI, and some are with ESU Lokpilot.

please do not ask me if I have so many locomotive already installed with decoders, what I am waiting for so long.

I am in railroading past 10 years, and running on DC, recently I got many Broadway Blueline and Blueline Import locomotives , I got some Atlas Gold series loco as well which are already DCC decoder install

Thanks
Ravi
 

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As I undertand things, if the system and the mobile decoader are NMRA compliant, things will work at least on a basic level. Problems seem to come when an individual manufacturer of either controller or decoader has a special feature which is regarded as so special that it is not part of the international specification and is to good to share with the competitors !

I've not come across anybody or dealer or shop owner who knows all systems and all decoaders. Maybe the lack of enthusiasm about one make isn't because it's not very good, just lack of knowledge. Unless someone on the forum knows better...........
 

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ECOS is a state of the art modern controller that can operate any NMRA decoder without problems. Any and all CV's can be changed or adjusted using any command station. All you require is the command station to be able to read and write CV's and a list of same with their default values. ECOS will change any of them to a value of your choice. It also has the claimed facility to download sounds to ESU Loksound decoders

Where problems can occur is in using feedback. There are three mutually incompatible systems that I know of BUT ECOS has a 'sniff' facility which claims that it can communicate on any or all of these systems but probably not at the same time.

Feedback is to allow the loco decoder to communicate with the command station software to tell it where the loco is on the layout and what position each point is in, operate signals, announcements and other automated features.

You could operate a full DCC layout without ever needing to use feedback.

ECOS majors on RailComm but, at the moment, not all decoders support this.

The Marklin system, I believe, is a proprietary system which may not be NMRA compliant in all respects. I do not know whether ECOS supports Marklin but, being German in origin, I suspect it will. Certainly, ESU make Marklin mfx supported decoders.

You may experience difficulties in applying a Marklin system to other NMRA decoders.
 

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Maerklin owners appear to have a dilemma with regard to digital control at present. After several years of using ESU as their command station supplier, Maerklin have either brought the design of their new station in house or gone elsewhere. ESU have stepped in to assure owners of the previous generation of Maerklin controller (ie the ESU one) that they will continue to support and develop it. This command station gets several pages to itself in the ESU 2009 new product announcement brochure which is being discussed here. As an ECoS owner, it seems to me that ESU do a lot to try to support Maerklin owners.

David
 

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Yes David, they are doing a lot to support Maerklin product owners where they made the product for Maerklin.

Either the CS2 or the ECoS would be good as CS2 also supports DCC as well as Motorola and MFX. CS2 has the additional benefit of a colour screen but you now have this option with ECoS too.

One issue you will have with both and with most other controllers is programming QSI decoders. To do this succesfully you have to buy an additional booster. This is not unique to these controllers it is a problem with QSI decoders and one of many reasons why people try to avoid them. Loksound and lokpilot decoders work perfectly with ECoS.

I have a couple of locos with QSI decoders which work as well as they are able (given their inherent limitations) with ECoS. The new QSI decoders are far better than the old but still not a patch on Loksound.

There are many ECoS users on this forum who are very happy with the product including myself. I think your hobby shop owner is speaking from lack of knowledge of these controllers and being cautious. It would be ideal to try out any controller before buying but this may involve a bit of a drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks a lot guys,

Your input gave me lot of confidence, I am going to get ECOS , may be a color one, is somebody knows, how long it takes for the product to hit the market since the announcement from ECOS, some companies are very bad with timing, but I have no experince with ECOS.

I really feel at home in this forum, multiple replies with long comments , I appriciate it , thanks

Regards
ravi
 

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Welcome to MRF ravi,

The ECOS would be a good choice - don't know if it's worth the extra for the colour screen though.

There are a number of experienced ECOS users here so there's plenty of help available should you require it.
 

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Hi and Welcome

Tell us about your layout, will the ECOS suit you. I had cash in hand ready to buy an ECOS which was in stock from DCC Concepts and when Richard saw the plans for my layout he suggested the NCE and thats what I walked out with. A decision I have never regretted for 1 second!

I think giving the guys on here a bigger picture will help with your decision and yes ECOS will work with just about any decoder, the only ones to stay away from are the Hornby ones, Why if you plan to spend that type of money on a controller get fully functional decoders like TCS Loksound Lenz etc.

Best of luck

m
 

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The ECOS is a good choice if you want a desk top controller, and the NCE is good if you want a walk around controller.

Lets be Honest, Marklin users are a big compnent of ESU's business and ESU need to get the colour screen EXOC out PDQ because the Marklin CS2 has been out for about 3-4 mnths already!

Cheers

John
 

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Ravi,

I have an EcoS and am very pleased with it. It runs ZTC, ESU Loksound, Hornby and Bachmann locomotive decoders with no problems. I have still to try it with accessory decoders.

You can change the CVs on all decoders with the EcoS, but at the moment you can not use it to load new sounds on to a Loksound sound decoder. You need a separate piece of kit, the Lokprogrammer to do that.

The ECoS also handles the Selectrix protocol, and I believe it can handle decoders of all three types, DCC, Maerklin & Selectrix at the same time on the same layout. When you set up a new loco on the EcoS it allows you to change the protocol with which it communicates with the particular decoder in that loco, but you can set it up so it assumes all new decoders are DCC ones, or Maerklin or Trix, the choice is yours.

You can control two locos simultaneously with the ECoS without having to switch between them so you always have full control of both locos, as it is two driving consoles in a single box, unlike may DCC consoles where you do have to switch between locos, and lose immediate control of the "other" loco.

I think Maerklin are moving to a new decoder protocol called M4 and from looking at the ESU 2009 catalogue, it's in german and I don't speak german, I got the impression that the EcoS will be able to handle that also when it gets it's new firmware upgrade (to version 3.0.0) later this month. As a registered ECoS user you can download the firmware upgrade yourself and load it on to your ECoS without having to return it to the dealer or to ESU.

ESU make the firmware updates available on line and you download them via your PC. The ECoS has an RJ45 Cat5e network socket on the back so it is easy to connect to your PC via a hub or switch if you have one, or via a crossover cable if you haven't.

The colour screen ECoS is likely to be very expensive, and the cheaper black ands white screen version (the current ECoS) will still be available from ESU. Both will use the same firmware, so apart from the colour screen, you will be able to use either of them in the same way. It will be interesting to see if ESU reduce the price of the black and white screen version of the ECoS now that they have announced the colour screen version. I would love the colour screen one, but I only bought my ECoS 6 months ago and it seems silly to think of changing so soon. So you might find in a few months time, that you can get an EcoS for less than it costs now?

ESU can be very, very, slow at releasing new products and this might be true for the Colour ECoS. For example, the ECoSControl Radio was announced as a new product in 2008, and the yhad said last month that it would be available sometime this month, February, but the latest word on the ESU users forum is that it won't be ready until this Autumn. ESU developed the Dynamis system for Bachmann and I think that was late being released. They are also developing the Dynamis Pro-Box for Bachmann, but that too is much delayed.

ESU are launching their own version of the Dynamis this year called the Navigator, but again there is no news on when that will be available.

I think that the ECoS will always be able to handle DCC, Maerklin and Trix decoder protocols as that maximises their potential market for what is an expensive, but very good piece of kit. They have to offer Maerklin and Trix as those are used a lot in their home market in Germany, and offer DCC for non-Maerklin and Trix users in Germany and in the rest of the World where Maerkin and Trix are much less common. As I have said, it already includes a PC interface so you don't need any additional hardware other than the hub or crossover cable, if you want to go down the automation route, but you will need the appropriate software. There is supposed to be a programme ControlGUI that interfaces very well with the ECoS. I have still to try it.

The accessories for the ECoS are also expensive, but apart from cost, I do not remember seeing any complaints from ECoS users about the ECoS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
QUOTE (Martin71 @ 2 Feb 2009, 11:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi and Welcome

Tell us about your layout, will the ECOS suit you. I had cash in hand ready to buy an ECOS which was in stock from DCC Concepts and when Richard saw the plans for my layout he suggested the NCE and thats what I walked out with. A decision I have never regretted for 1 second!

I think giving the guys on here a bigger picture will help with your decision and yes ECOS will work with just about any decoder, the only ones to stay away from are the Hornby ones, Why if you plan to spend that type of money on a controller get fully functional decoders like TCS Loksound Lenz etc.

Best of luck

m

Hi All

I am delighted to see you all on this forum, Great to hear your experience, just to let you know my layout is 3.5 X 1.5 meters, the tightest curve is about 60 cm radius(I have many steam engines with sound which needs minimum 22 inches radius). so far I have been running my railroad on the floor , but soon I am going to build the same size of layout on board.since 2 sides of my layout will be touching walls on "my" room, I can live with a table top controller, and that is why ecos looks great to me.

I can understand german as well, I read the release document from ECOS about color screen, I find it is not only the screen which is new in ECOS, but the processer , memory is also more then previous model.

Thanks
regards
ravi
 

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QUOTE (Ravi @ 2 Feb 2009, 18:00) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>....I can understand german as well, I read the release document from ECOS about color screen, I find it is not only the screen which is new in ECOS, but the processer , memory is also more then previous model....
Ah, That explains why they call it a "zweite" or second generation ECoS.

Thanks for that.

Keith.
 

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QUOTE but the processer , memory is also more then previous model.

With the speed of development in microprocessors and shrinking memory sizes, this is inevitable.....

David
 

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Hello,
European dcc must be different than North American. There is no memory on the command station board. The only thing you replace is the EPROM when the manufacturer upgrades their software.
What is the memory for on European command station boards?
Ian
 

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It would be almost impossible to build a command station without using a microprocessor of some sort, plus some memory which will contain things like current selected speed/direction/functions for the locos currently or recently selected. The difference is that the American command stations plus some European ones such as Lenz disguise their computer to look more like a classic controller, and with the likes of EcOS the system is much closer to a conventional computer.
 

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*** There is certainly memory in the command station... that is also why in some units there are onboard batteries, to keep the memory alive active for a very long time.

The EPROM in products like NCE and Lenz contains the programmin for the unit. It stores things like macros, advanced consiting and other things such as Edwin described on an EEPROM or memory chip. Storage such as this is critical to any high quality unit.

Richard
 

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Hello,
As I said in my first post, EPROM. Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory.
The comment that caught my attention was "shrinking memory sizes".
This does not really apply to an EPROM device. My system has an EPROM which is simply replaced when an update is announced.
If you download upgrades and apply them to your EPROM, you really have an EEPROM, Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. You update commands, but you cannot change the memory capacity.
The only way to erase an EPROM is to expose it to ultraviolet light. Obviously, hobbyist are not in a position to do so as a result of costs. Thus the EEPROM approach or simply replacing the old EPROM with a newer version.
 

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***Yes and no.

On those with chip replacement, the chip that IS replaced is a one time burn/static memory device.... it contains no volatile memory storage and is not affected by operations.

The one that is not replaced is a totally separate chip / flash memory/ an EEProm... whatever you choose to call it.

The OS based systems like ECOS are basically PDAs or PCs with dedicated interfaces - nothing other than software is changed, but these too have separated devices - one for OS and one for active/interactive operational specific loco and layout data.

Richard
 

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how does the feedback system work on these controllers? - i read from an earlier post on this thread that the eco supports decoders with advanced functions like for example, feedback which tells the controller where a loco is on the layout!. how does A) the decoder know where it is?. B ) do u have to program into the decoder and the controller the "layout" of your tracks ... so it can work out where it is? ... this is very interesting. (i read somewhere that the fleischmann twin centre supports s88 feedback - is this the same system?)
 

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Feedback from locos has to come through the rails. Digitrax and Zimo have their own systems, only useable with their own command stations and decoders, and Zimo and some other European manufacturers have now adopted the Lenz Railcom system which it is hoped will become a common standard (however other suppliers seem to be resisting this).

Feedback from accessories can and does come through separate wires. Here s88 is the closest to an open standard - Lenz, Zimo and Digitrax all have their own systems which are incompatible, although some third party products will work with them. Just to make things even more confusing, a few accessory decoders now include feedback via Railcom.
 
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