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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It seems rather pointless having this forum if the topics keep being closed before anyone can come back with a comment.

I can only participate during lunchtimes, and to find a topic I raised closed by the next time I can get to see it is very annoying and frustrating.

All I was suggesting was that manufacturers ought to publish which aspects of the standards their products support so that people with sufficient knowledge could make a judgement. So what if the majority of the public don't understand how to interpret specifications? Some of us do, and those who don't can choose to ignore them. If manufacturers are reluctant to provide this information it might imply they feel they have something to hide. Just a list of supported features would be better than nothing if they are reluctant to state what they have left out - we can work that out for ourselves.
It is not merely a matter of stating whether a piece of kit is compatible with NMRA standards - we need to know which aspects of the standards are included (or not) because some are mandatory and some are not. For example, taking the standards literally, any system which does not include baseline addressing ('2 digit' as most will know it) is not compatible with the standard because that capability is mandatory (or at least it was last time I looked). Same applies to certain CV programming modes.
Waiting for a particular exhibition isn't really going to clarify matters much either - we need the information in advance so that relevant questions can be asked at the event.
No doubt my comments here might appear to some to put me into the category of what some people would call a 'self-appointed expert'. Just for the record then, my active involvement with DCC started back in 1998 when I designed my own Command Station from scratch, just using the NMRA Standards and RP documents. Come and see me using it on the MERG stand at Warley if you like, this weekend.
Having gone through the process myself of deciding which of the available features to include in my system, I respectfully suggest that I am in a rather better position than most to interpret what other manufacturers have implemented - if only they'd tell us!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
QUOTE (Doug @ 29 Nov 2006, 13:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Gordon, the topics were closed for other reasons, not for anything you said. If you look at the threaded arguments going through the closed topics you may pick up why they were shut.

We welcome any constructive comment on any subject. Also it's great to have you hear with your hands-on experience. I'm very keen on what MERG collectively produce.
Thanks for that. I realise it is difficult in such a situation to discern the 'worth' (for want of a better term) of any postings, hence my reluctant inclusion of a bit of background.
Hopefully we will be able to persuade the manufacturers that production of relevant specification material (not just salesman's hype) is a worthwhile pursuit. As in most industries, I suspect that the people who write the stuff we get to see are salesmen rather than engineers. What we really need to see are the back pages of the user guides, not glossy brochures!
If the intention is merely to get people talking about the kit to raise awareness, it seems to backfire very badly once the ill-informed speculation starts. That's not to say it is all bad information, intentionally or otherwise - it's just unsubstantiated. All this could be avoided by providing a few of the relevant facts up front, and there seems to be no obvious reason why this couldn't be done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 29 Nov 2006, 21:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would ignore the "self appointed experts" comment as the individual who made this remark will not accept any source of information other then Hornby as factual and gets incredibly defensive where Hornby are concerned.
There was a time when I too regarded whatever a manufacturer said as 'gospel'. Fortunately I am now in a position to know somewhat better in many cases. The problem that manufacturers have is how to minimise comeback from their customers who might want to do things the manufacturers would find awkward to explain in layman's terms. Sad to say, but the general public are rather ignorant on technical matters these days, so it is much easier for a manufacturer to avoid the subject - or specify a minimum level of capability to avoid awkward questions.
Much of what has been discussed regarding the capabilities of these systems is only down to the software created for them anyway - once you have a sufficient level of knobs and switches on your kit, what it produces at the output is down to the effort put in to writing the code to make it do all the things you think you need. This happened when I was designing my own system - I wanted to add Advanced Consisting, so I wrote some extra code to interpret the way the buttons were pressed on the handset and produce the required set of output packets to the track. Any manufacturer could do the same if they choose to add features.

QUOTE I'd be interested to hear your views on some of the current DCC command stations available?
Any views or preferences you'd like to share with us?

I get asked this quite often, but because most of what I do is based on my own (and others) designs, I don't have much experience of commercial command stations. Also, it is only fairly recently that I have started using commercial decoders, most of my previous efforts having been based on Mike Bolton's MERG designs. Nowadays, unless there is a good technical reason for needing a 'special', it is usually not cost effective to build decoders yourself.

However, as a general rule, given the option between Digitrax and Lenz I would go for Lenz. This is for a number of reasons - first and foremost being that it was Berndt Lenz's original concept. Beyond that, I was less than happy with Digitrax's response to some queries I made a few years back regarding how their decoders respond when using Advanced Consisting. Their response was not to use that method. The fact that by a strict interpretation of the standards their decoders gave an 'Ack' response when they shouldn't didn't seem to worry them. Lenz decoders did not exhibit the same problem.
All water long gone under the bridge, but the die was cast...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 1 Dec 2006, 00:25) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks for the info Gordon. Have you seen or have any views on the ESU Ecos?

Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to do any investigation at Warley because our stand was so busy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
QUOTE (Gary @ 5 Dec 2006, 13:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>We sometimes forget that railway modelling electronics is not just about DCC but also about DC. MERG covers both.
It is unfortunate that many now seem to see a dividing line separating DCC from all other techniques. In simple terms, DCC is still two conductors passing current down the track to a loco, same as it ever was. In reality, DCC is merely another technique to be applied where it brings the benefits it was designed for. For traction and other loco on-board controls it is hard to beat. Trackside accessory control is rather less clear cut in this regard. I tend to go for a combination of the most suitable techniques for each case.
 
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