• Jerry Quinn

    Bummer to see the somewhat limited options for LocoNet now that you got be excited to consider that direction! I’m trying to determine if I want my next layout to be more ‘modular’ in design, or not.

    Great article by the way. Your blog is very helfpul for me in figuring out what I really want from my next layout!

  • Jerry Quinn

    Great Post! Loconet seems really useful. Shame that the ESU does not support it! Arghh! Thanks for this- it’s excellent info as I try and deterine what I want from my next layout!

    • Well, ESU actually does have a Loconet adapter for the Ecos II now: http://www.esu.eu/en/products/digital-control/lnet-converter/
      It comes with a big hidden caveat IMHO: it is (for now) impossible to send the Loconet occupation information to a PC via the ECOS. So using Loconet for detection + ECOS II with Lnet adapter is a bad idea (not future proof).
      But I still love my ECOS II. One future-proof setup could be:
      – ECOS II + LNet converter (e.g. for cheap Loconet throttles)
      – Using the ECOS’ S88 port or proprietary ECOSlink for occupancy feedback (these can be transmitted to a PC if ever needed).
      – Of course, using smartphones with an app (or even the fancy ESU Mobile Control II) is also always an option.

      The cleanest Loconet option these days is the Roco Z21 (the “black” version with the big Z, not the white version). But in that case, no fancy touchscreen, you need to “bring your own screens” (free apps on phones, tablets, or expensive PC software) or connect physical Loconet throttles. And again, since you mentioned the ESU Mobile Control II on your website, remember: although you can (already) install and use the Z21 app on the ESU Mobile Control II, the MCII’s buttons and physical throttle will NOT work unless Roco decides to update their app…for the competition. Which basically means, if you really need to have an ESU Control II (and I would tend to agree 😉 ), using it with a Z21 would bring no added value compared with the same Z21 app on an old iPhone or Android phone without physical buttons….
      I stand by my remote control analogy: touchscreen are great, physical buttons remains vital. Just as you need to “feel” where the volume buttons are with the eyes still on the TV, you need to “feel” where the throttle is while keeping the eyes on the train. No smartphone or tablet can provide this… the ESU Mobile Control II is the only solution to bring (on paper) all advantages together.

      Yep, for command stations and DCC…it’s also a mess, but it’s becoming a fancier mess 😉

      • Jerry Quinn

        Thanks again. Yeah, like you, I can’t ‘run’ trains just off a touch screen. I think your Ecos II solution makes the most sense.

      • Curtis

        Nice clear concise description. I have the Roco Z21. IT is really a very nice unit and I love the interface, but as you said, I would love a knob to turn. My end goal was however to run a computer with it and I could hide the Z21 very easily. One question: The Z21 doesn’t use a fully compatible LocoNet like digitrax. For instance the Digitrax BDL168 can’t be used in the LocoNet bus, however the Uhlenbrock 63320’s can. So the Z21 has a different type of LocoNet Bus than here in the USA. It is a Uhlenborck type LocoNet Bus. Then you have the R bus, which is limited to 128 inputs (I think.) It can all get so confusing sometimes. The L Bus is the way to go in my opinion, however, I was wondering if the Z21 can use a combination of RBus and LBus together. One could use the RBus to designate stopping zones with out cutting rails (Reed Switches) and then use the LocoNet Bus for the big zones. the advnatage of reed switches is you can move them incase you need to adjust a stopping zone. Cutting rails is just like a tatoo . . . it is forever . . . haha 😉 Just thinking out loud. Tell me to shut up, I’d be good with that! haha! Thoughts?

        • Hi Curtis, I’m not an expert on Loconet so I’m afraid I cannot help. I would however recommend cutting tracks for detection zones: yes, it is permanent, but the DIY with the reeds and other contacting methods is something I am personally glad to have relegated to the past.
          As for the Z21 Loconet, I am surprised to read it doesn’t work with the Digitrax BDL168. Are you 100% sure?
          I know some EU manufacturers (Uhlenbrock mainly) had weird implementations of Loconet (mainly related to booster connections I think), but detection is a “basis” function of the Bus: it would be disappointing for Roco/Fleischmann to have missed than on the Z21.

          • Curtis

            Pierre, just an update. The Roco Z21 is a loconet T device and Digitrax is true Loconet B device. Roco is coming out with an adapter for loconet T to B, so by the end of the year, Roco should be able to use all Digitrax components!!! I am fine with Loconet T though as there are plenty of products out there that support it. I am using Uhlenbrock 63320’s and Digikeijs components for detection and I am using DCC decoders for switches. I have my layout running on Traincontroller Gold and all seems to be working well. All the best.

          • Hi Curtis,
            Thanks a lot for your feedback. In fact, I’m not a Loconet expert and this difference between T and B Loconets is still kind of a mystery to me. The only thing I knew was that Uhlenbrock kind of tweaked things a little. Any link you may have that might clarify things?

  • Jens Michael

    Hello, my Pico Zentrale has no entry for any net, just good for loko-control. I’m looking for a PC-program that can handle/convert S88-N signals and show status on a trackplan on a wall-display, trying to do i simple (and low cost), I’m a DIY-freek. The display is just for looking at, the track- and signal-switching will happen via an old Wireless phone.
    Anybody have an idea of a usefull program for my needs?

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