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Most of you probably already know this, but there is an upgrade available that allows both the LH90 and LH100 to accomodate 28 function loco's. I recently took my LZV100 and LH90/LH100 to the UK Distributor for Lenz A&H Models of Brackley tel; 01280 701410. If someone has already posted this sorry about that but I havent seen anything.
 

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Good news if you have Lenz - presumably it is a software or firmware update?. As a newbie to DCC (just bought Digitrix) I am struggling to discover whether and how owners update their firmware on line. Am I right to assume they do not? And if so why not? I update my Nokia phone firmware though my PC on line. Is a DCC throttle really that more complex?
Grateful for any help - particularly if I am talking out the back of my head (not unknown).
 

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QUOTE Is a DCC throttle really that more complex?

The truth is that some DCC throttles are actually _less_ complex. The chips used to store the program code in older throttles are not capable of being reprogrammed in circuit which is why you read about ROM / EPROM swaps. Newer throttle designs and phones use a chips which can be reprogrammed, usually some form of "Flash" memory.

David
 

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Thanks David - much appreciated. So are we being sold old technology at inflated prices?
 

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QUOTE So are we being sold old technology at inflated prices?

No. The older chips are probably more expensive simply because they are no longer made in large volumes. I'm not sure of what market conditions are like at the moment but a few years ago, there was an insatiable demand for "Flash" memory and the semiconductor companies were building Fabs (Fabrication facilities) as fast as they could to keep up and get a slice of a lucrative market.

You will now be wondering why the older kit is not redesigned to take advantage of the new chips. For the amount that it would cost to design a new PCB, get it into production etc., etc, the savings probably aren't there to justify it. It may be a bit of a pain to upgrade the older throttles but at least it can be done and it has to be said that they are very good at delivering what they promise. If everyone wanted the "whizzy" up to date stuff, the old throttle companies would have gone out of business long ago because buyers would have left them.

David
 

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David - thanks again. A clear reply that even I can understand!
But is there not a high possibility that a new company will come in with more up-to-date kit and force the old throttle companies out of business if they fail to keep up? Their saving grace and defence is no doubt
QUOTE they are very good at delivering what they promise

Perhaps I am making parallels with the US car industry which are one step too far in terms of comparison; GM, Ford and Chrysler thought they could continue to produce old fashioned cars, for which they have the kit, and are being forced out of business by more modern manufacturers. I cannot see the US Govt bailing out Digitrix and it is not certain they will bail out GM!

I suppose my questions are rhetorical really and I just have to accept the position as it is - no on line upgrades, at least for a while.
Thanks again.
 

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QUOTE But is there not a high possibility that a new company will come in with more up-to-date kit and force the old throttle companies out of business if they fail to keep up?

Since Digitrax produced their current line up, ESU, Hornby, Bachmann and Viessmann have come along and all introduced products which are online upgradable. If that combination isn't causing Digitrax any loss in sales, I can't imagine anything else making a difference. One of the key things about DCC is the base line compatibility with comes through the NMRA standards. This is the modeller's guarantee that their current investment in DCC kit will continue to be useful until the time it "pops its clogs" through old age, not because something bigger, better and incompatible is introduced to make it obsolete.

David
 

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***The costs are in the software creation, nothing at all really to do with the style of PCB etc - in fact as David said, if anything the "operating system" based products are lower cost to produce.

Lenz and Digitrax have been incredibly slow at updating their gear in comparison to other "chip replacement" products like NCE, who do so almost annually and after long user consultation and pre-test.

There are a couple of things worth thinking about:

In the end you should buy systems for a few very simple low tech reasons - that they comfortably do the very few critical things you want well and easily and are comfortable to use both in the way they operate and in the way they fit your hand. The other 10,000 specifications are simply irrelevant.... We are running trains, not programming computers.

Ease of use wins every time providing the performance is as it should be. Hi-Tech toys are always more about the need to own high tech toys than driving the trains!

The PROM based systems tend to need LESS updating than operating system based product like Hornby, ESU and Veissmann etc because they release cumulative updates that are fully field tested for months prior to release.

Operating based system brands can be more frequent because they MUST be - they use YOU as the Beta tester which saves them time and money, so they use updates a little like Mocrosoft - largely patches for reported problems the brand didn't find and correct before release, improvements to existing functions or corrections of errors, with the occasional feature update. If they are very clever (and most are) they use this "maintenance programme" to make them look up to date rather than be seen as careless.....

The PROM based systems use absolutely bulletproof processors very similar to those used for the most sophisticated CAD/CAM Machinery - they are absolutely stable and have none of the vulnerabilities of operating system based products. (Look back to see how many have problems updating ECOS or Veismann for example).

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MOST OS differences are nothing to do with DCC per se - DCC is a very, very low level slow comm speed technology designed to be reliable in use. It cannot be improved by changing the OS. The loc driving ability of all (most anyway) systems is good. The frequent updating of NEW Capabiities for the EU systems is to do with in-house proprietary issues, not DCC operation.

The two should not be confused..... There is an insidious dilution of standards happening with the race to have a sexier console type system and an attempt to lock users into over-high priced accessories of that brand as a result...

My definition of quality/Serious brands is that those are the ones who forget the own brand frills and work to do more to make use easier, more relaxed and more instinctive for modellers.

If I had to sum it up I'd say that the difference in OS type is in fact 100% irrelevant.

It comes back to preferences, and as touch screens are about to become "street priced products" so we can all have 22" touch screen controlled layouts no matter what brand we have, I'd say that it is less of an issue than it was 12 months ago.

Inevitably all brands will become operating system based.... However that will not be because of comparative performance, but to lower cost and allow adoption of NEW standards and technology that will come into being over the next few years. This will shake things up, as the last to be changed to OS based systems will probably then become the most advanced, and early adopters will be at the rear!

Richard
 

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I am grateful to David and Richard for explaining. I particularly agree

QUOTE Ease of use wins every time providing the performance is as it should be. Hi-Tech toys are always more about the need to own high tech toys than driving the trains!
I feel much better about my choice of Digitrax now too.
Thanks again. This forum is very impressive for a simple chap like me.
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 4 Dec 2008, 02:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The PROM based systems tend to need LESS updating than operating system based product like Hornby, ESU and Veissmann etc because they release cumulative updates that are fully field tested for months prior to release.

Operating based system brands can be more frequent because they MUST be - they use YOU as the Beta tester which saves them time and money, so they use updates a little like Mocrosoft - largely patches for reported problems the brand didn't find and correct before release, improvements to existing functions or corrections of errors, with the occasional feature update. If they are very clever (and most are) they use this "maintenance programme" to make them look up to date rather than be seen as careless.....

The PROM based systems use absolutely bulletproof processors very similar to those used for the most sophisticated CAD/CAM Machinery - they are absolutely stable and have none of the vulnerabilities of operating system based products. (Look back to see how many have problems updating ECOS or Veismann for example).

----------------------------------------------------------

MOST OS differences are nothing to do with DCC per se - DCC is a very, very low level slow comm speed technology designed to be reliable in use. It cannot be improved by changing the OS. The loc driving ability of all (most anyway) systems is good. The frequent updating of NEW Capabiities for the EU systems is to do with in-house proprietary issues, not DCC operation.

The two should not be confused..... There is an insidious dilution of standards happening with the race to have a sexier console type system and an attempt to lock users into over-high priced accessories of that brand as a result...

My definition of quality/Serious brands is that those are the ones who forget the own brand frills and work to do more to make use easier, more relaxed and more instinctive for modellers.

If I had to sum it up I'd say that the difference in OS type is in fact 100% irrelevant.

Richard

While I do not disagree with most of what Richard Johnson writes, I think that there is a bit more to it. I write in the light of my experience with my digital system, an Uhlenbrock Intellibox, which I have had for 8 years. During this time there have been several software updates to download without charge via the internet. I have not felt like a beta tester. Certainly some bugs have been corrected, but they were mostly fairly obscure ones that had not caused me any trouble. Certain worthwhile improvements were incorporated in the updates, and I certainly find it preferable to be able to incorporate them without having to leave my railway room, rather by than wrapping up a parcel to send the equipment to the manufacturer (possibly abroad) and pay a fee.

I think that Richard is unduly dismissive of what he calls "in house proprietary issues". He is right that "the loco driving abilities of all (most anyway) systems is good", so if all you want to do is drive trains then the frills are irrelevant. However I for one want my system to do other things. Most of the Uhlenbrock updates have been primarily to enable the Intellibox to control new accessories, such the infra red controllers, the Loconet display, the LISSY infra red control system (a.ka. Fleischmann Train Navigator) which enables the system to identify individual locos or classes of train and automatically do various things. It is hardly surprising that manufacturers want to sell their own brand frills; because of the lack of any norms or standards for accessory buses they can hardly do anything else (if you want everything altogether standardised you can always change to Selectrix). The EcoS, Commander and Intellibox all offer facilities for connecting various items from other manufacturers, so it is not altogether true that they lock you into one system's overpriced accessories (though some of them are undoubtedly overpriced). For me all the accessories add to the interest and the fun. The reason in my opinion that Digitrax do not need to bother with updates is that for years they have produced very little that is new. They have a sound basic system but for innovations you need to look elsewhere.

Inevitably complicated systems like EcoS and the Viessmann Commander have teething problems and bugs. The important thing is whether the makers make serious and successful efforts to sort them out reasonably quickly. In the end each of us has to decide what he wants; but in addition to simple foolproof systems there is room for those with all the frills.
 
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