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Offline Ricinport  
#1 Posted : 08 April 2021 18:35:46(UTC)
Ricinport

Portugal   
Joined: 14/01/2021(UTC)
Posts: 45
Location: Faro
Hi

My first Z scale (any scale for that matter) project, aptly originally titled Project Z, is at completion stage and I'm hooked.
Below are a few images of my progress.

So I move on to my next project/s, of which there are already 3.

1) An extension of Project Z by way of an added module to instal the Marklin turntable.
2) The setup of a DCC test track to try and 'get into' DCC.
3) The building of the 'Little Gem' project featured in the 2021 Marklin insiders magazines.


1) Should be fairly straight forward. I've learnt a lot already in my relatively short time in Z.
I read some forum comments that suggested modules were the way to go (as one is never satisfied with just a small oval).
I was fortunate to have two sidings facing the same direction and almost at the end of each side of the board.
And I can just squeeze a module onto my work desk.

I figure a turntable should be fun as I find shunting trains around quite therapeutic but I don't have space for a fiddle yard.
In the images you can see the early completed Project Z, and my layout plan for the new module.

I've seen some YouTube posts recently with wonderful ways of linking bus wires and joining tracks between modules.
Needless to say finding such goodies doesn't seem so easy in Z.
Can anyone suggest the best way to easily attach and detach tracks between modules?

3) The building of little gem will be by following the guide in the 2021 Marklin mag. I can post further information here in case anyone is interested.


2) DCC. This one is going to be the trickiest and any help or advice here would be very much appreciated.
I have purchased a load of Atlas flexitrack and some turnouts to make an experimental track layout on a small board.
I also purchased a Digikeijs DR5000. I'm hoping to use this as a hub and then use an iPhone or iPad as a throttle.
I've reduced the track voltage using 3 TL Smoothers in series. This is a type of diode used to smooth out voltage in 3D printers.
I then purchased (possibly foolishly) 3 used loco's with Velmo decoders fitted.

I've had a quick go (and aim to spend a lot more time on it this weekend), but I'm not having great success so any experienced Z scalers who can help I'd be grateful.

A few questions:

With the DR5000 connected via the smoothers I've got a track voltage of 10 volts.
I'm running the Digikeijs Windows setup software which has a very basic throttle app. and I can get one of the locos to run back and forth.
The other two locos don't move but I can hear a faint motor whirring noise from within. Any ideas.

What do I need now? What software can I use to wirelessly connect with the DR5000 as a controller?

Is it possible that the DR5000 that can be set to varying voltages of which the lowest 15 volts won't function correctly at my reduced voltage of 10?
Similarly for current, of which I know nothing, could I have amperage problems too? I had only allowed to reduce the voltage.

Any help greatly appreciated.




pz1.jpgpz4.jpgpz3.jpgpz2.jpg






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Offline Zme  
#2 Posted : 09 April 2021 06:48:33(UTC)
Zme

United States   
Joined: 02/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 348
Location: West Texas
Hello. I think your layout is fantastic and will provide a lot of action in a compact space.

I have always liked the idea of adding a transfer table to my layout but just have not been able to spring for one yet. I like that they seem a bit more compact than the roundhouse. That is just my take in comparing the two. I just don’t seem to be able to find space for either one. Of course if there is the space in your plan for it, a roundhouse is a great addition.

Sorry I have no experience with digital, but one day I might get into it. Beginning in April 2018, Trainini started with a series of articles about digital which may confirm what you know or have already learned about it. Here is a link to this first issue and part 1: (open and scroll down till you find it.)

https://www.raildig.com/...trainini-int-2018-04.pdf

Here is the link to archived Trainini issues which will help you to move thru all of the discussions in 2018.

https://www.raildig.com/...ction/trainini-magazine/

I believe Trainini may have completed their articles in December of that year but you can check to see if other articles were published after that.
It is always interesting to review the back issues anyway.

Sorry, this may be all which I can contribute to your questions. Specific questions about a digital component might need to be directed to the manufacturers website or a forum specific to the particular piece. You will likely find some help. Vendors can help too.

It seems like you have a great project ahead of you, keep us in the loop.

Take good care and best wishes


Dwight




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Offline Carim  
#3 Posted : 09 April 2021 09:45:20(UTC)
Carim

United Kingdom   
Joined: 15/09/2014(UTC)
Posts: 508
Location: London
You may want to read the thread written by Wal, "Z Scale Digital Operation - My Journey".

Carim
Offline michelvr  
#4 Posted : 09 April 2021 15:15:55(UTC)
michelvr


Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,200
Hello Ricinport,

Thank you for the interesting post about your z scale adventures so please keep us posted on your journey! I’m quite sure there are quite a few z scaler lurkers on this forum so keep the posts coming!

I remember when I was in elementary school I saw my first z scale layout and that was most likely 1974! I was really surprised at how small it was and what could be achieved in such a small space. Now that it’s 2021 there’s so much available and the possibilities, makes me want to join in the fun.
Offline marklinist5999  
#5 Posted : 09 April 2021 16:03:55(UTC)
marklinist5999

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2021(UTC)
Posts: 743
Location: Michigan, Troy
I didn't even know dcc was scales for Z yet, but microchips keep becoming smaller. Soon may be nano chips.
I almost bought a Z scale train about 20 years ago. My own dealer talked me out of it. "Stay with what you have". It is a sizable collection. She also was more pro Microtrains for Z than Marklin for a better motor and gearing. Has Marklin Z improved?
Offline Zme  
#6 Posted : 10 April 2021 01:23:22(UTC)
Zme

United States   
Joined: 02/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 348
Location: West Texas
Hello. Thanks for your comment.

I can tell you, significant improvements and enhancements have come to the Z Scale hobby since you first considered it, 20 years ago. I am sure others modeling scales would make the same observation. You are correct, the digital world has come, even to some of our smallest z scale locomotives. I recently saw a digital nano module installed in the V260, buffer to buffer this engine is only 5 cm. The model is so small, lights were never added to it, but now it is digital. The user admitted some grinding to the shell was necessary, and that is not for everyone. Still it does show the progress being made by Z Scale modelers.

There was a time when Marklin was the only maker and now there are at least two other mainstream makers, in American company and the other from Japan. Marklin had never had so many models, and frequently an American locomotive is still in production. Details and internals have improved to their line, and this makes them well accepted by their appreciative buyers. Digital modules for z are offered by a number of vendors including Zimo, Doehler & Haas, and others. Twenty years ago, there were just a few companies modeling structures in z scale, Marklin, Kibri, Vollmer, and Faller. I believe with these makers, you could likely purchase 8 or more different strain stations. Now, laser cut models are produced by a number of new vendors, Archistories and Laffont offer more unique and varied buildings. Of course these makers still offer a number of train stations. Modelplant and Luetke have also been in the market with their plastic model offerings. More vendors now offer track some with roadbed.

Yes, it is not uncommon for hobby venders to offer American made locomotives and convince a buyer to stay in that market. Marklin might not offer as many American locomotives, but I can just mention a few of their models over the years.

F7s
GG1
2-6-0 Mogul
New York Central streamliner
Casey Jones steam locomotive
Gp 35
Mikado 2-8-2s
E8A and B. I likely forgot to mention a number of other equally important models, but you get the idea.

Marklins problem is that not all of these examples are in current production. Some are, but others can only be found in the secondary market. Stateside vendors have a hard time selling only one or two models in a given year, so encourage buyers to stick with something known. I can appreciate that recommendation. Perhaps there is also the thought that z scales is not well supported and Marklin may end production at any time. I think I have heard this since 1972, but they are still here with no thought of leaving the z market to others.

If you are not really into American Railroad locomotives, well, European locomotives are the Marklin specialty. There are so many models, you can afford to buy them all. It is not unusual with so many models in production, different locations are tried and sometimes quality suffers. It is important to remember, many in Z commend their in house service and repairs. It may take a while, but the problem will be correctly solved.

Yes Marklin models in Z are expensive but they last with a normal amount of care. I am still rolling a BR 216 which I purchased in about 1985. I am certain others in z could make the same observation.

If you think you might be interested, there are many starter sets available for a modest price. I have heard of Spur1 collectors having a z scale track on their layout to replicate a garden railroad for that scale.

I hope I have not bored you with this long winded reply.

Best wishes with your hobby. It’s it great?

Dwight

Edited by user 10 April 2021 22:40:26(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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Offline blid  
#7 Posted : 10 April 2021 14:30:40(UTC)
blid

Sweden   
Joined: 02/01/2012(UTC)
Posts: 183
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Ricinport,
I am fairly new to DCC in Z scale too. The main problem has been to find components for the low voltage. I read the Velmo website and found some tips. About track voltage he recommended 11V DCC, but now it is changed to 12V, https://velmo.de/html/-_track_voltage.html. I followed the recommendation about the DSR, DSR. I don't know about electronics, so I can't comment on your solution. I assume you know how to measure proper DCC voltage.
After a while my engines started to misbehave. I found out that the voltage dropped for no obvious reason. To be able to read the DCC voltage I got me a RRAmpMeter II. If you don't have something like that, I can recommend it. It is important to measure with a load. It turned out that my old CS1 Reloaded was no longer reliable. I used it for my Spur1 as well and I now have a ESU ECoS 2.
Freudenreich, Freudenreich, was what made me restart Z. They make a lot of Swedish rolling stock and DCC out of the box. The Nohab with sound! Yes, expensive. Very nice.
blid
CS2, 60215, 4x60174, C-tracks, LDT HSI-88, TC Gold. OneGauge Marklin and MTH, ESU ECoS 2.1 on LGB tracks. MTH 3-rail 0-gauge, DCS on GarGraves tracks. Z: Rokuhan tracks, analog or DCC+TC.
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Offline Ricinport  
#8 Posted : 10 April 2021 23:00:25(UTC)
Ricinport

Portugal   
Joined: 14/01/2021(UTC)
Posts: 45
Location: Faro
Hi all

Thanks for the replies.

There may only be a few of us but I can feel the enthusiasm.

Today I aimed to spend the day with my Z hobby.
This I did, but I didn't actually achieve much. However after a very slow start I achieved one small thing that left me elated enough to call it a successful day.

You can see form the attached image that I now have a dcc test track.
I purchased some Atlas track which arrived on Friday. It's a little cheaper than Marklin but i'm impressed with the quality. Our USA friends can engineer like the Germans :-)

I simply used 3 600mm flexitracks to form a rough circle. It's tricky getting the couplers to stay in place whilst trying to form such a tight circle.

My DCC central is a Digikeijs DR5000 and it's proving quite good. The software is a little flaky - mainly wifi configuration problems.

@carim I looked at your link Carim thank you.
Very informative even if a few years old.
I note that the poster was using Marklin DCC kit. Not the cheapest. I chose the Digikeijs mainly on price and because it had good reviews.
I also intended to use a mobile phone or tablet as the throttle.
At one point this morning I was wishing I had invested in the Marklin kit but it really is quite costly at this experimental stage.

My main problem today was having to use a Windows PC for the Digikeijs configuration.
Years ago I switched to Macs because I was sick and tired of blue death screens when trying to do anything slightly out of the ordinary.
Recently I purchased a PC so I could play MS Flight Simulator and I instantly ran into USB corruption problems with hardware.
I turned to Macs with the very first Mac mini they introduced and haven't looked back until recently.

Today I was forced to use a PC again to configure the DR5000 and what a pain it was.
I'm using a Mac booted into Windows and it took 3 hours just to get a stable wifi connection.

Well finally I'm pleased to report that I have a working DCC system and I'm very happy

In the image you can see the DR5000 connected to the Atlas track via a series of diodes.
These are in fact TL smoothers usually used for 3D printing but I saw a YouTube video suggesting them and they work well.
There is a Digitrak product that will lower voltage out of the box but I can't find it easily in Europe.
I've managed to get the set minimum DR5000 15 volts down to 10 volts track side by wiring in 3 smoothers.

After finally getting the network setup I looked at iTrain but the Digikeijs instructions didn't seem to marry with the latest version so I downloaded the Z21 app on my iPhone and iPad to try. I believe it's a Roco application.

Another YouTube video for help and a lot more messing with patchy/buggy network configuration and I finally got a connection between my iPhone/iPad.

I have now happily put Windows to one side and can control a Z scale train with my phone or tablet with direct wifi connection to the DR5000.

10pm. Enough for one day but I'd suggest quite successful one.



digify.jpg
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Offline blid  
#9 Posted : 11 April 2021 13:16:53(UTC)
blid

Sweden   
Joined: 02/01/2012(UTC)
Posts: 183
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
I'm happy to hear that you have solved a lot of your problems, but can you get the engines to move?
With a name like “TL smoothers” I wouldn't expect the DCC signal to survive to the tracks. Now, I don't know much about electronics like I wrote in the previous post.
The device for lowering the DCC track voltage I have, a DSR, was manufactured in Vienna Austria. See the link to DSR above.
CS2, 60215, 4x60174, C-tracks, LDT HSI-88, TC Gold. OneGauge Marklin and MTH, ESU ECoS 2.1 on LGB tracks. MTH 3-rail 0-gauge, DCS on GarGraves tracks. Z: Rokuhan tracks, analog or DCC+TC.
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Offline Ricinport  
#10 Posted : 11 April 2021 23:46:45(UTC)
Ricinport

Portugal   
Joined: 14/01/2021(UTC)
Posts: 45
Location: Faro
I now have all 3 of my DCC locos functioning well on my test track.

All 3 locos were purchased second hand from a small store recommended by Claudius at Velmo.
I rather took a risk of purchasing 3 used loco's especially with my recent problems buying kit from Ebay Spain.
I needn't have worried. William at Spoorz-reno in the Netherlands gave me excellent service with super fast DHL shipping and I received 3 great condition locos all nice and clean with their Velmo decoders fitted.
My experience with buying second hand on Ebay hasn't been a great success but these have been a much better experience. All nicely boxed too.

I will say at this point that this seems to be a step up in running quality too.
The DCC locos all run beautifully smoothly. Their crawling ability is more akin to larger gauges.
From the start of this adventure one of my few slight disappointments was that the Z gauge locos, even when new (and run in a little) were patchy running at very slow speed, especially over turnouts.
With DCC it seems that the constant power allows them to be far more controllable.
They really are super-smooth.

@blid
I would suggest that the TL Smoothers can't block much digital information because the same would happen in the 3D printer environment which I would have thought to be equally sensitive.
I re-read your link on voltages and you make some good observations.
In fact I had only managed to get one loco working at 10 volts.
The DCC loco itself consumes over 1,5 volts just sitting on the track.

So I removed one of the three TL smoothers to give 11,8 volts on the track (before a loco is placed).
Now the other 2 locos started to run and the commands from the Z21 App on my iPhone became much more responsive. Essentially instant.

I've now 'programmed' in the light function switch.

It's been a pretty sweet weekend.
I even managed to get a little landscaping done on my original Project Z.

Next up for the DCC project has to be a bigger layout so I can play with multiple locos all on the same layout.
I have a dozen Atlas flexitracks, 6 turnouts and a crossover so there should be some scope.

I'm also in the market for a decoder with sound for either a new loco or one of my existing DC locos.
Decoder's seem to be in short supply currently. It looks like I'll be browsing Ebay again (sigh).

Rick

Image attached shows my 3 DCC enabled locos from William at Spoorz_Reno.

3_locos.jpg
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Offline Jakobsmirnoff  
#11 Posted : 12 April 2021 19:43:23(UTC)
Jakobsmirnoff

Canada   
Joined: 12/04/2021(UTC)
Posts: 1
Location: Manitoba, Winnipeg
Originally Posted by: Zme Go to Quoted Post
Hello. Thanks for your comment.

I can tell you, significant improvements and enhancements have come to the Z Scale hobby since you first considered it, 20 years ago. I am sure others modeling scales would make the same observation. You are correct, the digital world has come, even to some of our smallest z scale locomotives. I recently saw a digital nano module installed in the V260, buffer to buffer this engine is only 5 cm. The model is so small, lights were never added to it, but now it is digital. The user admitted some grinding to the shell was necessary, and that is not for everyone. Still it does show the progress being made by Z Scale modelers.

There was a time when Marklin was the only maker and now there are at least two other mainstream makers, in American company and the other from Japan. Marklin had never had so many models, and frequently an American locomotive is still in production. Details and internals have improved to their line, and this makes them well accepted by their appreciative buyers. Digital modules for z are offered by a number of vendors including Zimo, Doehler & Haas, and others. Twenty years ago, there were just a few companies modeling structures in z scale, Marklin, Kibri, Vollmer, and Faller. I believe with these makers, you could likely purchase 8 or more different strain stations. Now, laser cut models are produced by a number of new vendors, Archistories and Laffont offer more unique and varied buildings. Of course these makers still offer a number of train stations. Modelplant and Luetke have also been in the market with their plastic model offerings. More vendors now offer track some with roadbed.

Yes, it is not uncommon for hobby venders to offer American made locomotives and convince a buyer to stay in that market. Marklin might not offer as many American locomotives, but I can just mention a few of their models over the years.

F7s
GG1
2-6-0 Mogul
New York Central streamliner
Casey Jones steam locomotive
Gp 35
Mikado 2-8-2s
E8A and B. I likely forgot to mention a number of other equally important models, but you get the idea.

Marklins problem is that not all of these examples are in current production. Some are, but others can only be found in the secondary market. Stateside vendors have a hard time selling only one or two models in a given year, so encourage buyers to stick with something known. I can appreciate that recommendation. Perhaps there is also the thought that z scales is not well supported and Marklin may end production at any time. I think I have heard this since 1972, but they are still here with no thought of leaving the z market to others.

If you are not really into American Railroad locomotives, well, European locomotives are the Marklin specialty. There are so many models, you can afford to buy them all. It is not unusual with so many models in production, different locations are tried and sometimes quality suffers. It is important to remember, many in Z commend their in house service and repairs. It may take a while, but the problem will be correctly solved.

Yes Marklin models in Z are expensive but they last with a normal amount of care. I am still rolling a BR 216 which I purchased in about 1985. I am certain others in z could make the same observation.

If you think you might be interested, there are many starter sets available for a modest price. I have heard of Spur1 collectors having a z scale track on their layout to replicate a garden railroad for that scale.

I hope I have not bored you with this long winded reply.

Best wishes with your hobby. It’s it great?

Dwight


I too am knew to Z scale and to this site so I hope I'm doing this correctly.
To ad about Marklin, I believe they're American locomotives are made for them by AZL. They use Marklin couplers. I hope this helps.
Jakobsmirnoff
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Zme
Offline Zme  
#12 Posted : 12 April 2021 22:59:02(UTC)
Zme

United States   
Joined: 02/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 348
Location: West Texas
Hi That is a good point. Not all of the Marklin Americasn Z models are made completely inhouse.

Thanks

Best wishes.

Dwight
Offline husafreak  
#13 Posted : 13 April 2021 17:04:56(UTC)
husafreak

United States   
Joined: 09/04/2019(UTC)
Posts: 329
Location: California, Bay Area
My electrical knowledge is pretty poor but remember that DCC can put a lot of amps into a loco if it stalls or gets stuck. So moving from DC to DCC you need to be more vigilant. Not walking off to get a coffee (or a beer?) while the trains run round. I have a protection circuit which I would use if I ran a DCC train unsupervised or at a show where other distractions come up, but it can be as simple as a car tail light used as a fuse. Just be careful of that.
Yes our Z scale community is small here on the Marklin forum. But may I suggest the Trainboard Z scale forum for a lot of interesting reading, projects, camaraderie? I love to "hang out" there. Here's a link to get you hooked:
https://www.trainboard.c...he-old-port-shop.125242/
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Zme
Offline Ricinport  
#14 Posted : 14 April 2021 15:22:27(UTC)
Ricinport

Portugal   
Joined: 14/01/2021(UTC)
Posts: 45
Location: Faro
@husafreak
More interesting information - there's a lot here to learn.
I've already damaged one loco which now only runs in one direction at maximum speed.
A Google search is very thin on the ground (no pun intended), but I reckon I short-circuited it.

I have the Digikeijs set at 1 amp.

I am already researching circuit protectors.

Thanks for the forum link.
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Offline marklinist5999  
#15 Posted : 14 April 2021 16:19:06(UTC)
marklinist5999

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2021(UTC)
Posts: 743
Location: Michigan, Troy
Not unusual for ho scalers to fry a decoder either.
Offline Ricinport  
#16 Posted : 14 April 2021 16:23:41(UTC)
Ricinport

Portugal   
Joined: 14/01/2021(UTC)
Posts: 45
Location: Faro
Do you think that would just be the decoder?


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Offline marklinist5999  
#17 Posted : 14 April 2021 17:34:05(UTC)
marklinist5999

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2021(UTC)
Posts: 743
Location: Michigan, Troy
You won't know until you remove the motor from the decoder and check it with 8 to 10 volts analog. I know Z scale motors are more sensitive of course. If it runs fine for a time without heating up too much, then it's ok.
Offline Ricinport  
#18 Posted : 14 April 2021 17:40:37(UTC)
Ricinport

Portugal   
Joined: 14/01/2021(UTC)
Posts: 45
Location: Faro
That didn't occur to me. (I'm a bit green to this). I can always return it to it's DC state.
Having said that I have a feeling this one had some soldered wires running from the decoder so it's more than just unscrewing it but I've little to lose.

Offline husafreak  
#19 Posted : 14 April 2021 18:09:25(UTC)
husafreak

United States   
Joined: 09/04/2019(UTC)
Posts: 329
Location: California, Bay Area
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