I was casually walking around the show and came across the Zimo stand. It was like an Aladdin's cave, full of electronics and displays. Each podium that featured a new device and a small section of track that allowed the visitors to test out the features of the device. They certainly put the products to use.
Arnold Hübsch and Dr Peter Ziegler showed me around their stand and gave me full demos of everything on show. They kindly put up with my ignorance - and I though I knew all about DCC - of the technical possibilities of Zimo products and RailCom.
MX31 Cab controllers connected to the CAN bus.
MXFU wireless transmitter. This can be installed anywhere along the CAN bus.
MX31ZL. This is a fully functional DCC command station and cab controller. Connect it to a power supply and it gives 3 amps to the track. It also acts as a cab on the CAN bus on your track with another command station. Useful when you are perhaps moving between the track and a workbench.
A fantastic range of decoders. Small to big. Normal DCC and with sound.
Sounds can be uploaded to the decoders from a source on a PC via this MXDECUP device.
Big sound decoders for G-Scale and bigger locos.
The CAN bus can be extended over a Wireless LAN using WiFi. Any tablet PC - or other portable for that matter can be used as a Zimo controller. Here the Samsung Q1 tablet PC. You can configure the device to control or program multiple locos.
Very simple interface.
Moving on, the same concept of computer control can be applied when you attach a simple touch screen to the computer interface. Here the touch screen is set up to show a control panel. Routes are defined and using the full feedback of the locos, we can see exactly where they are on the layout. Destinations can be set and the train is sent off. Points are automatically set accordingly and other locos are asked to wait until the right slots are made available for them to pass. More info can be found here: http://www.estwgj.com/
An alternative program, basically doing the same thing. It just shows that there is more than one way of doing anything with Zimo. It is so flexible and so powerful. You are not tied in to the technology and you don't have to only have to use their products - there are many other developers working on compatible devices and software.
MXFU Wireless base station that works on 433 MHz.
MX1 Command station. This gives a stabilised track voltage of 12 to 24 volts. 8A current, 3A on programming track.
MX1HS with 2 x 8A outputs
MX1EC Economy Command station without LCD readout on the front. 8A output. Use with external display if required.
MX9ZIA 8-digit display that connects to the MX9 occupancy detection module.
MX9 16-section occupancy detection module.
Power injector of the CAN bus developed by AMW, Mr Hübsch's company. This gives extra power along the CAN bus as required if you have quite a few devices and modules plugged in.
MX8M Accessory module for controlling 16 turnouts (solenoid or motorised) with a paired output or 32 signals with on-off output. The MX8S only handles solenoid points.
Arnold Hübsch and Dr Peter Ziegler
Arnold Hübsch was talking to me about the RailCom developments and possibilities:
Just imaging your little Diesel loco has to go to the service centre to "fill up" with fuel. This fuel is going to run out and then the loco is going to stop. With you cab controller and RailCom feedback, you can check your fuel levels and then go back to the depot or find another depot to fill up. The same can be done with water and coal.
A fully loaded loco or train is going to handle differently to a lighter empty loco or train. RailCom can feed back to the driver the status of the load. The train will then handle differently depending on the load and track. A double header unit may even have to be called in to help it up an incline when loaded.
A passenger express train loads up with passengers and deservers priority as it gets closer to the city centre. RailCom tells the signal boxes en-route which train it is and what the priorities are for the train - with the prototype, the train may have had indicator disks or these days, they use radio.
The possibilities are endless and this adds to the realism and game-play of model railways. This sort of thing when packaged right could bring the kids back into the hobby in a big way.
... what fun