As I mentioned in a recent post, I have recently switched from S88 to Loconet train detection.
However, I didn’t want to buy new Loconet detection modules. It would have been expensive, and above all I would have had dozens of track sections to reconnect.
The solution comes from the German manufacturer Uhlenbrock. The S88 to Loconet adapter (ref. 63880) allows a smooth transition from S88 to Loconet.
What is does
The adapter allows to connect S88 modules (up to 31, so an entire S88 chain if necessary) to a Loconet network.
It converts the S88 detection signals to standard Loconet messages, that can be transmitted to any Loconet command station (or in my case, the Locobuffer USB and my PC).
Installation & configuration
The adapter is quite small (about 6*5 cms). Only two connectors are there: S88, and Loconet. No need for any external power supply. Just connect the adapter to both the Loconet on one side, and to the S88 detector(s) on the other side.
The module works immediately: it reports occupancy messages with address 1 of the S88 bus reporting as address 1 on the Loconet network.
If you are connecting your entire S88 chain to this module, that means you are done: that was easy!
If, like me, you want to have several of these modules, or if you want the Loconet occupancy reports to not start at address 1; you will have a bit of configuration to do.
I will discuss the programming of Uhlenbrock Loconet modules in another post. Suffice to say, if you don’t have a Uhlenbrock command station, it may be a little tricky.
Here are the changes you can configure in this module:
- Loconet CV# 4: The initial “reporting address”.
Called the basic address in the manual, this is the first Loconet address that will match the track section 1 of the S88 chain. Say you go for “100”, then the occupancy message of the 1st S88 track section will report as #100, the second, as #101…
In my case (4 adapter modules, each on one of my 4 layout modules), the modules have been configured with discrete reporting ranges: module 1 reports addresses starting at 100, module 2 reports addresses starting at 200…
- Module Address: CV# 0
Uhlenbrock has implemented a module number for all of its Loconet devices in the chain. The default address is 1. Although having several modules with the same address won’t prevent them from working, you won’t be able to program them independently if they are all connected at the same time.
In my case (4 adapter modules), I have numbered these little box as #11, #21, #31 and #41.
- Number of connected S88 modules: CV# 3
This tells the Uhlenbrock module how many (16x) S88 modules are connected to the S88 chain. I haven’t used this setting, as it seems to work without any change (configured as 31 modules)
- Startup delay: CV# 2
This will delay the initial reporting of occupancy after switching power on the tracks. This helps if your central station needs time to startup its Loconet capability.
I have been using this adapter for a few weeks. In fact, since I now have a modular network, I decided to install 4 of them. With one adapter per module, I have fully gotten rid of S88 connections between modules: only the Loconet runs across the entire layout.
I haven’t had any problem with them, and for about 30€, I would say it’s a time and a money saver for anyone who wants to upgrade from S88 to Loconet. The 4 available settings respond to any situation I could imagine.
Programming does require either a Uhlenbrock command station, or another method that allows configuring Uhlenbrock modules: there is no “programming button”. That’s the only drawback I found; but otherwise, this little device will come pretty handy to some of us.
- S88-Loconet adapter page at Uhlenbrock (in German): http://www.uhlenbrock.de/intern/Produkte/Adapter/IE6E3E4D-001.htm
I always try to be fair and square when giving grades, see the details about the evaluation criteria here !
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