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I am seriously unimpressed with these.
I tried out my first one this week and it's cost me $150 so far in related damage. It took me ages to get the thing to take an address and then, for reasons that are beyond me, it managed to unprogram all my other point decoders. The address it took was not the one it was given either.

While reprogramming my other point decoders I managed to blow my Lenz LS150 which controls my slow motorised points on the main line (by my own stupidity to be fair, I was rewiring it while the wires were still live). Now to cap it all the Switch decoder will not work at all.
I had really hoped that these decoders would be an improvement on the fickle articles currently on the market but I'm afraid this actually seems to be worse in many respects. It will only control snap action motors for one thing. If you want it to control slow motion motors you have to buy the extension which you need the Main Switch pilot to operate it with so you end up paying for two point decoders to get slow motion point control of four points. There are also limitations on what kind of slow motion point motors you can use with it. e.g. it doesn't seem possible to use Tillig although you can use Tortoise.

I really fail to see the need for the servo motor outputs too, How many people will actually need these?

Much of the manual touts how easier it is to programme these with the ECoS. Oh really? It refers you to section 13ff of the ECoS manual, which doesn't offer any advice on the matterl.

It also gives you CV's you need to program for Peco points, this is not straight forward as you have to change the power in if you are using an external source and use an 180ohm resistor across output one. If you don't do this it can be fatal.

It has railcom and is supposed to give you feedback on the point position, good luck to you if you get that far.

So to sum up last week I had slow motion motorised point control and this week I have none and a dud point decoder which is going back to Germany. I have canceled my order for the extensions too.

Now that I've got that out my system I'm going back to the garage to do something else on my layout which will hopefully not be so costly or frustrating.
 

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Now see Neil, high faluting technology is not always the answer


The old fashioned way of controlling points still works as good & not as expensive.
 

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QUOTE (Sol @ 12 Jan 2008, 12:23) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Now see Neil, high faluting technology is not always the answer


The old fashioned way of controlling points still works as good & not as expensive.
I bet you're loving this Ron.


The biggest problem is that there are no english language instructions and it refers you on to non existent manuals which have not yet been published. A bit of co-ordination would have been good.
 

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Yes, I suppose I can stir the pot for a little while yet until my NCE unit turns up then I will have to shut up.

Perhaps if one lot of instructions refer to another lot that don't yet exist, that would be a good reason to return the units & get your money back.

For the other members of MRF who are wondering what is going on, until late Dec 07, I was a committed analogue user from when I started in the hobby in 1957.
I had started an e-mail link with Neil mid-07 & we met at a National Modelling Convention in Oct & up to Dec, I enjoyed giving him a bit of stick regarding DCC & how it could not do some of things I could do in analogue for the same ease & cost. Now I have to eat humble pie.
 

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Sorry to hear about your problems Neil.

I have one switchpilot on order to compare it to my MERG point decoders to see if its worth the extra money, but I'll maybe think about cancelling my order until all the manuals are out!

Do you think there is any chance you had a duff one or are we looking at a poorly designed bit of kit? I don't need to worry about slow motion drive as all my motors are peco or seep.

Rob
 

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QUOTE (80class @ 12 Jan 2008, 11:43) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Sorry to hear about your problems Neil.

I have one switchpilot on order to compare it to my MERG point decoders to see if its worth the extra money, but I'll maybe think about cancelling my order until all the manuals are out!

Do you think there is any chance you had a duff one or are we looking at a poorly designed bit of kit? I don't need to worry about slow motion drive as all my motors are peco or seep.

Rob

Well that's bad news I was waiting to see if these were worth buying, but obviously not, still not sure what's the best aux decoder for Peco points that isn't over expensive
 

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QUOTE (Vulcanbomber @ 12 Jan 2008, 22:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Well that's bad news I was waiting to see if these were worth buying, but obviously not, still not sure what's the best aux decoder for Peco points that isn't over expensive

***The Lenz LS150 - One unit will power six points for you - it is economical and pretty robust and easy to programme with every brand of system I've tried it on

Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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hi neil,

sorry to hear your problem. i would return it and get your money back without question, or in a previous post above it could be a batch of faulty units. and you were one of the unlucky ones to get one. let's hope you get it sorted, and that it is a faulty batch.

john
 

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[quote name='Richard Johnson' date='12 Jan 2008, 14:52' post='44742']
***The Lenz LS150 - One unit will power six points for you - it is economical and pretty robust and easy to programme with every brand of system I've tried it on

I have a good number of Lenz LS150's operating Peco P/motors thru my Ecos with no problems.
Sorry to hear of Neils trouble with ESU Switchpilot but surely one failure does not mean the product overall is no good, not that I am going to rush out and by any, the LS150's will do me.
Happy DCCing
Ian sa
 

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[quote name='Sol' date='12 Jan 2008, 02:36' post='44709']
Yes, I suppose I can stir the pot for a little while yet until my NCE unit turns up then I will have to shut up.

Hi Ron, have you sold all your pieces of colored string yet? I hear they where going cheap.

Happy DCCing
Ian sa
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 13 Jan 2008, 01:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>***The Lenz LS150 - One unit will power six points for you - it is economical and pretty robust and easy to programme with every brand of system I've tried it on

Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
This is pretty much my conclusion. One of the problems with the Switch Pilot, other than being faulty in this case which is a separate issue, is that it is aimed at combining the functions of two Maerklin decoders the K83 qand K84. The K83 is the type that drives snap action point decoders and the K84 peforms another function which escapes me for the minute although I think it was current as long as your finger was on the button for uncoupling ramps and the like. In K83 mode it is set for snap action motors but the default settings are for lower current than required for PECO points, you need to prgram it to get it to provide a higher current. You only get four outputs for your 35 euros against six for the Lenz LS150 which can be bought for 33 euros. The Lenz can also handle slow motion point motors which the Switch Pilot cannot. In order to drive four slow motion point motors you need a Switch Pilot and a Switch pilot extension, a total of 70 Euros as opposed to 33Euros to drive six with Lenz. The only benefit is that Railcom is an additional feature with the SwitchPilot option. Personally I would rather save money than have the limited benefit of Railcom in this instance. There are only six points on my layout that I cannot see so the extra hassle and mony do not make this feature a big deal for me. If I use Tillig slow motion point motors, whic I tend to, I can hear very clearly whether the point switched or not. Most of my point motors are slow motion too and I have no intention of going back to snap action ones so that reduces its appeal as well.

The other issue you have to contend with is that there is no English language manual available and it is unclear how you are supposed to programme it. Unlike conventional point decoders it has CV's which you can, and if you are intending to use PECO motors you will have to, adjust. You have to set CV 3-6 to 1 for PECO pointsto allow for the higher current, if you cannot set this CV then you are probably not going to have much joy with this product. From the translations I have got through bablefish etc all it says is that it is incredibly easy to do this with ECoS and refers you to instructions that do not seem to have been made available yet. The net result is it tels you what the cv's are but not how to program them. There are several lengthy threads on the ECoS forum about this product and it does appear that there are some issues that need to be sorted out. So even if you do speak German and have the instructions it doesn't stop there. I tried all the usual methods of prgramming before it gave up the ghost and they were unsuccesful until at one point it took on an address I did not give it. I also was not able to read the CV's on it and there doesn't seem to be any advice on how to do this. Too many unanswered questions really.

The ESU website did say that some initial models had a fault and that they would replace these, so I am guessing that is what I have encountered. I have contacted the place in Germany I bought it from so I can hopefully change for another one or preferably a Lenz LS150.

Rob,
I would not say the product is no good. I'm sure once the problems are ironed out that it will be a decent piece of kit but there are some problems and limitations and it is not the cheapest or most reliable option currently. It seems to be primarily aimed at combining the functions of the two Maerklin point decoders with other point switching options as an after thought. I will stick with the LS150 for the moment and when English language instructions are published possibly revisit it as the problems will hopefully be sorted by then. I would recommend waiting until English instructions were available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
For those who do have a go with the SwitchPilot, I received this advice on how to program them. This may be of use to others so I will replicate it below.

Dear Neil,
I try to give you a short instruction how to get the CVs read and write:
1. if you are not able to adress the SWP via the decribed procedure in the instruction (program switch on the board, yellow LED etc.), the SWP is failed. This failure has been reported several times in the forum and is based on quality problems during the fabrication of the first batches.
2. in order to read and write the CVs first you have to connect the SWP with the programming track. Parallel you have to use the same connection for the power supply.
3. please don´t connect any output channel with a point machine or something else. Only connect the output channel 1 (OUT A and C) with a resistor of 180 Ohm. You also can use a lamp. This is important!
4. Open the menue for decoder programming in the ECoS. Fill in the correct DCC adress! This means, with regards to the created point on the point panel, you have to use the DCC adress 1 for the point no. 1 to 4, the DCC adress 2 for the point no. 5 to 8 etc. Select the programming track and DCC.
5. Now you can start reading the CVs and writing the CVs.
6. For reading and writing the CVs from the main track you have to write the value 6 to CV 28 and the value 136 to CV 29. Afterwards you can check reading the CVs via main track while selecting the main track, DCC mode and point load.
7. When everything is ok, you can install the Switch Pilot and connect the points.

It is very important to note the part about the power supply and resistor across output 1 during programming!
 

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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 14 Jan 2008, 17:06) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>For those who do have a go with the SwitchPilot, I received this advice on how to program them. This may be of use to others so I will replicate it below.
Dear Neil,
I try to give you a short instruction how to get the CVs read and write:
1. if you are not able to adress the SWP via the decribed procedure in the instruction (program switch on the board, yellow LED etc.), the SWP is failed. This failure has been reported several times in the forum and is based on quality problems during the fabrication of the first batches.
2. in order to read and write the CVs first you have to connect the SWP with the programming track. Parallel you have to use the same connection for the power supply.
3. please don´t connect any output channel with a point machine or something else. Only connect the output channel 1 (OUT A and C) with a resistor of 180 Ohm. You also can use a lamp. This is important!
4. Open the menue for decoder programming in the ECoS. Fill in the correct DCC adress! This means, with regards to the created point on the point panel, you have to use the DCC adress 1 for the point no. 1 to 4, the DCC adress 2 for the point no. 5 to 8 etc. Select the programming track and DCC.
5. Now you can start reading the CVs and writing the CVs.
6. For reading and writing the CVs from the main track you have to write the value 6 to CV 28 and the value 136 to CV 29. Afterwards you can check reading the CVs via main track while selecting the main track, DCC mode and point load.
7. When everything is ok, you can install the Switch Pilot and connect the points.
It is very important to note the part about the power supply and resistor across output 1 during programming!

Hi Neil,
Thanks for the help, I just joined this forum, b/c its about the only place where english speaking people seem to be using ECOS + Switchpilot.
I am still confused by the addressing of switches and accessories. The SWP has its own address (Just like any loco has). While the points have different addresses. I have been scouring the ECOS forum, but sadly my german is too basic.
If you have any pointers I would be greatful.
I use tortoise switch machines, and I must say so far all I got from the SWP is a LED plugged in the output channel 1 that I get to blink!

Thanks

Fred
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Fred,

In the end I gave up as I eventually found out that they would not do what I wanted them to do at a reasonable price. You can do tortoise switch machines but you have to get the SWP extension. No-one seems to know how to program these. The basic SWP will do the job of a K-83 or K84 whereas the SWP Extension will only do slow motorised machines. The wiring I seen in the manual will apply to the Tortoise machine i.e. two wires, however I use a lot of Tillig machines which are three wires and there is no wiring shown for how to connect these. All things considered I figured I was better off with Lenz.

The advice I put below is probably the best english language info available on these points and the guy who gave me this advice doesn't know about the SWP extension. I think that most German users will be using Maerklin, Roco or Fleischmann track and the related point motors which will be snap action. For this reason the SWP extension may not be in such great demand.

My best guess for programming the extension is to connect it up to the SWP and program the first address of the SWP and hopefull it should become programmed along with the remaining three points of the SWP.

I've pretty much translated the whole manual although my translation may leave a lot to be desired. If you have any specific questions ask away.

cheers Neil
 

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Neil, that is normal practice - like just after one has kit or scratch built a loco, a RTR is available.
So your translation is the same - spend hours trasnslating & the next day, the English version is available.

Sol
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
QUOTE (Sol @ 22 Jan 2008, 13:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Neil, that is normal practice - like just after one has kit or scratch built a loco, a RTR is available.
So your translation is the same - spend hours trasnslating & the next day, the English version is available.

Sol
I'm telling you Ron, my German has really come along big time since I started with the ECoS.
 

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So you can read it with a Scottish accent?
 

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Thanks but no thanks, Neil, I am just starting to read up on NCE which should be here next week. I can't get too confused at my tender age !!

Anyway, I use LEDs or signal/point levers to tell me how things are set.
Can't get too lazy & have everything in the palm of your hand/on thePC screen
 
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