2016 is there, and European manufacturers have announced what’s to come…
Digital model railroading won’t undergo a revolution in 2016. No new disrupting technology, no new protocol or fancy function. There are however a few trends.
Released more than 2 years ago, he Z21 (and “z21”) command stations from Roco/Fleischmann confirmed we were entering the modern er. Tablets and smartphones are now able to control layouts.
This trend is being confirmed. ESU has released the Mobile Control II, an Android hybrid device. Piko markets a similar device as “Smart Control“, which I suspect is a rebranded version of the ESU device. However, Piko also sells a pack with a sort of “track connector”. As opposed to the ESU solution, the Piko one doesn’t require an expensive command station to connect to.
Some German manufacturers still expect you to bank for more “old world” devices though. Uhlenbrock‘s Daisy II is great…or would have been, if it had been release in 1995. This brand is out of the game IMHO. Zimo has announced the MX32 handeld control which is an interesting compromise between new tech and old control handelds for highly technical users; of course this is only for those using Zimo’s control system (which is very complex and expensive, but seems to satisfy some users according to forums).
There is a digital interface war going on. I explained it here. The Next18 interface seemed like the best alternative to me, see my post about Next18 here. It seems I was right, this interface is gaining traction. More manufacturers are announcing models with a Next18 interface, instead of the old NEM651. This includes Arnold (Horby International), Fleischmann, Graham Farish/Bachmann Europe Plc.
ESU Loksound Micro v.4.0 + Doehler & Haass Adapter board
There are exceptions though, the digital plug wars are not over. Exceptions include:
There are a few noticeable new products.
ESU decoders are great. But the manufacturer from Ulm was missing a very small model, fitting in the smallest N scale models. Manufacturers like Ct-Elektronik (Tran) from Austria are known for their much smaller items. ESU if filling the gap, announcing the LokPilot Nano Standard. They are also releasing soon the equivalent Function Decoder, the LokPilot Fx Nano.
I know Doehler & Haass is not very well known outside of Germany, but they’ve become my brand of choice (despite their website still being, unfortunately, only in German). The function decoder FH05B is replacing the FH05A, with even more outputs and RailCom support. This makes it a great function decoder for N scale and even now for HO models who often have room for more gadgets to power in cars. They are also releasing a new sound decoder, the SD10A. I’ve already reviewed the SD18A Next18 sound decoder here and installed the SH10A sound module in many models, for example here in an Henschel-Wegman train.
Decoder testing benches are a thing for digital experts or DIYers. ESU is updating its bench in Q3/2016, to keep up with newest decoders, see here. Zimo is releasing 2 decoder testing benches, the MXTAPS and MXTAPV. Also, they are now selling a “discount” decoder, the MX600, for €21.
This is just a very small list of things to come this year in the digital model railroading scene in Europe. Beware that many products are just announced, and may not see the light before the end of 2016. In fact, it’s a sad practice by German manufacturers to sometimes be one year late on their announcements.
Of course, there are dozens of new fascinating train models as well! A great news source is still the news section from 1zu160.net (in original German here, or through Google translate here).
Did I miss anything important? Don’t hesitate to comment!
Also, if you don’t want to miss any of my N scale ramblings, you can now subscribe to the newsletter!
Thaks for the great summary! Due to other distractions in the past couple of years, I have not kept up as much as I used to, so this is a great summary! I have to admit, I was perfectly happy to continue using my Roco Multimaus Zentrale Pro system for years and years – the idea of operating a train via touch interface has just not appealed to me. But this new controller from Piko is really interesting! Thankfully it doesn’t require the Ecos Central Station investment. I’ll be keeping my eye out for these once they start to get produced! I may have to switch after all! I also have to say, Piko is really quite impressive, from nothing in N Scale a mere 5 or so years ago, to no having a nicely broad line up of models AND now with a great looking controller? Impressive!
Hi Jerry, nice to see updates pouring on http://quinntopia.blogspot.com again!Piko is indeed a nice surprise, although I haven’t tested the ESU/Piko Android handheld yet, it seems like a great product.
You seem to always be scared by expensive command stations (which I understand), but I just commented on Quinntopia: in order to save on a $500 purchase, you’re investing in a terrible solution that will end up costing 50% more, causing 200% more pain, and providing 20% of the flexibility you could have. Not having an intelligent command station or a more basic command station connected to a PC means you have to put little expensive and hard to configure “mini-brains” all along your layout. It’s frankly the 1980’s way of doing things.
Think about it. I am humbly warning you on your blog and here on mine 😉 If you wanna have a quick Skype chat or similar someday, please don’t hesitate to let me know via email. I can’t say I hold the ultimate truth, but I am pretty sure you’ve selected the wrong angle of automation. You do such wonderful things with your layouts, it would be sad to see Quinntopia get lost in frustration again 😉
Weird, my profile shows up with the wrong name! I have too many profiles (this is QUINNTOPIA or Jerry!
Hi Jerry, I know it was you. My Disqus comment system integrates with google, so you were probably logged in with this google profile at some point within the same browser.
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