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Decoder programming in 2014 - Jurassic interface?

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Noel
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I'm enjoying playing with and learning DCC which is an ongoing process. BUT I am mildly surprised how hideously dated and 'techie' decoder programming is in 2014. Who needs to know binary, or even decimal nowadays, surely by now all the mainstream DCC vendors would have as standard functionality with their basic systems, an elegant software interface to program any manufacturers decoder.

 

Just stick WIFI in the control box and then any Android or iOS mobile device or smartphone could be used to configure and backup decoders in plain english, not numerics. The interface is so mid 1990s. I know this can be done with a kludgy solutions using a laptop and software like JMRI, or vendor specific programmers, but heck DCC is supposed to be a standard, so surely a touch screen colour interface to smart software using vendor libraries should be useable to programme any vendors decoder without the need for a daft PC in the mix (i.e. programme on console or via smartphone/tablet)? I find it bizarre in 2014 that most folk have to put up with decoder programming on two for four line mono LCD screens one value at a time - its stone age. I know ESU have made a decent stab at it, but thats out of reach of many and smart software interface should be standard now we live in the smartphone era. Forcing consumers to buy proprietary programming accessory hardware is a very yesteryear business model. Mini-rant over! :)

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Hi Noel, the American stuff has fallen way behind. It seems its a case of if it ain't broke don't fix it! The NCE powercab is a good example of this, the ESU system is one of the best out there in my opinion. The Roco Z21 system is very good and is still developing all the time. But if you by a decent 5 amp NCE or Gaugemaster for a little bit more you can buy the ESU Ecos.

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Hi Noel, the American stuff has fallen way behind. It seems its a case of if it ain't broke don't fix it! The NCE powercab is a good example of this, the ESU system is one of the best out there in my opinion. The Roco Z21 system is very good and is still developing all the time. But if you by a decent 5 amp NCE or Gaugemaster for a little bit more you can buy the ESU Ecos.

 

Hi Dave.

Thanks for feedback, I very nearly did buy the Ecos but I didn't like the large size of the twin control console (i.e. not for hand held walk around use), but it did seem to tick nearly every box I could think of except for direct smartphone/tablet interfaces. Reading the technical specs and manuals it really did look the biz. In the end I went for the 5amp NCE Pro Cab as a compromise. There was a delay in shipping it, and I very nearly had a change of heart and changed the order to the Ecos, but glad I didn't for now. What put me off was the insane price of the additional touch screen cabs (android 'Mobile Control II'), which would be better off as wireless cabs via apps on a Samsung, HTC, etc or iPhone/iPad. The more I learn about DCC the more I realise that the heart of the system is the decoder used and really ergonomic cabs, the control unit being the least important component, as the decoders and cabs do the smart work. With the growth in sound it seems CABS, many of which have very similar button layouts need a fundamental redesign to accommodate direct one key access to 20 functions. As a software bod, I find some of the NCE cab screen interface rather bizarre (e.g: when displaying function status, no cab controls work until you exit that display). I'll continue the partial rewire, and installation of decoders over the next year or two, and then if a decent smartphone interfaced DCC system has appeared on the market I may put the NCE on ebay and update. It's a pity ESU didn't make the twin cab smaller leaving the touch screen interface as an app on popular tablets (i.e. for system setup, decoder programming, routes, accessory control, etc). In my line of work I just have a low tolerance for poor software that is neither smart nor intuitive. Ah, everything is a compromise. :)

Cheers

Noel

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Hi Dave.

Thanks for feedback, I very nearly did buy the Ecos but I didn't like the large size of the twin control console (i.e. not for hand held walk around use), but it did seem to tick nearly every box I could think of except for direct smartphone/tablet interfaces. Reading the technical specs and manuals it really did look the biz. In the end I went for the 5amp NCE Pro Cab as a compromise. There was a delay in shipping it, and I very nearly had a change of heart and changed the order to the Ecos, but glad I didn't for now. What put me off was the insane price of the additional touch screen cabs (android 'Mobile Control II'), which would be better off as wireless cabs via apps on a Samsung, HTC, etc or iPhone/iPad. The more I learn about DCC the more I realise that the heart of the system is the decoder used and really ergonomic cabs, the control unit being the least important component, as the decoders and cabs do the smart work. With the growth in sound it seems CABS, many of which have very similar button layouts need a fundamental redesign to accommodate direct one key access to 20 functions. As a software bod, I find some of the NCE cab screen interface rather bizarre (e.g: when displaying function status, no cab controls work until you exit that display). I'll continue the partial rewire, and installation of decoders over the next year or two, and then if a decent smartphone interfaced DCC system has appeared on the market I may put the NCE on ebay and update. It's a pity ESU didn't make the twin cab smaller leaving the touch screen interface as an app on popular tablets (i.e. for system setup, decoder programming, routes, accessory control, etc). In my line of work I just have a low tolerance for poor software that is neither smart nor intuitive. Ah, everything is a compromise. :)

Cheers

Noel

 

It certainly is, I still have to make the move to a decent controller as I'm using a Bachmann Dynamis. For the same reasons I held off on the Ecos. I guess I'll be waiting for a while too.

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Hi Noel, the American stuff has fallen way behind. It seems its a case of if it ain't broke don't fix it! The NCE powercab is a good example of this,

 

I think you hit the nail on the head there, Dave. I think it has to do with the older demographic of the US market. You've got a lot of old timers (no offence intended there!) who don't want to give up the feel of a throttle in their hand. Mention computer control and it's like a red rag to a bull!

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I think you hit the nail on the head there, Dave. I think it has to do with the older demographic of the US market. You've got a lot of old timers (no offence intended there!) who don't want to give up the feel of a throttle in their hand. Mention computer control and it's like a red rag to a bull!

 

Having watched some youtube videos the age demographics in usa modelling seems a factor alright.

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There are a few dcc throttles that mimic prototypes but it's hard to beat the simplicity of driving a loco with your phone :)

 

Agree

 

Wireless hand held walk about for FREE with WiThrottleLite app or only €9 for full WiThrottle version. Costs a micro fraction of manufacturers wireless systems.

 

WiThrottle controlling NCE system using WIFI via JMRI on a Laptop

2c1463b5-9abf-46b1-bd86-fd706c3cf0c6.jpg

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