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Offline plavnostruev  
#1 Posted : 26 February 2013 20:44:33(UTC)
plavnostruev

United States   
Joined: 18/11/2004(UTC)
Posts: 752
Location: New Jersey, USA
Last week I received first shipment of much talked about Z21 digital control system and SmartRail functional presentation stand, and, boy, did my hands were itching to play with them!
Before I delve into details - I post this on Marklin forum because both Z21 and SmartRail work fine with Marklin digital system, and I thought it appropriate to post my impression in this Forum.

Z21, basically, is a digital control center which allows smartphones and tablets to be used as train/accessories controllers.
It comes in two flavors: full blown, stand alone "experts" version (retails for $499) and somewhat stripped down, but still plenty functional version to be found in several starter sets.

Stand alone version comes with Z21, wireless router, two power supplies (European, so you need two o f those traveler's conversion plugs here in the US), manual (German/English) and a LAN cable.
Manual is excellent, by the way.

Z21 Experts System

It took 2 minutes to connect everything together - power in, LAN cable from Z21 to router as directed, track (I used Marklin C track) connection into Z21 Main Line.
Next up was to download Z21 application from Google app store (it is free) to my 2 year old Samsung phone (it also works with iPhone, iPad, all Android phones and tablets).
You then turn on Wi-Fi on the phone, open up Wireless Networks settings, find that now you have this new Z21 network, connect to it with supplied password, and that's it.

I had one of the Marklin mfx locos lying around, so put it on track and in the downloaded app I entered its address and quickly setup some sound functions on the app screen.
Z21 offered to take a picture of my new loco and, this being smart phone, it imported taken image, cropped it automatically ThumpUp and there it was.

Z21 Locomotives

UserPostedImage

Once you setup all your locos and other digital appliances, it is time to play BigGrin

Pressing "Control" loads up digital inventory, you select the loco (I only had my Marklin loco and another Roco AC loco entered in). Control screen has throttle, direction control, functions icons and emergency stop. On a side it has small tab to switch to layout (turnouts, signals, etc) control mode. On the bottom there are icons of all your other locos; you swipe right/left to select the one you wish to control and off you go. On iPad (borrowed with considerable difficulty from my daughter) you can control two locos side by side.

I was mightily impressed. One of the things I did was to walk away with phone in hand to the other side of the basement, around the corner, and still I had connection to router and still was able to control my layout. Imagine getting few train buddies together armed with their smartphones walking around layout and operating different pieces of it!Cool

Z21 also offers downloading digital cab of several locos and to operate those via touching cab controls (much like in Marklin new MFX+), but I did not progress to that stage (yet).
It also talks about camera equipped locos that stream video into your cab control view, so you literally driving the loco around your layout as if you were an engineer inside your loco ThumpUp


UserPostedImage

But this will have to wait until another day.
Check out this website:
Z21 Website


Next up was to take wraps of very heavy, very handsome (and pricey) SmartRail Roco package.
SmartRail is a Rolls Royce treadmill for your AC/DCC locomotives. It is absolutely stunningly beautiful, beech wood, high end gloss finish - it is really something else.
And it has glass cover to keep dust away.


UserPostedImage

So it has these what looks like base guitar strings "rails" that run in the endless loop. It also has infrared detectors to make sure rails match speed of the running loco.
And it has basic controls: power, digital functions F1-F4, direction and speed control.

UserPostedImage

And if that wasn't enough - SmartRail has Z21 built-in, so you control all loco's functions from your smartphone.

Again, excellent manual. Plug it in (same European plug), light is blue, press On, light turns white and red square light blinks indicating it is ready for the loco.
I took Marklin mfx loco, put it on "rails" and pressed blinking light. It took all of 10 seconds for SmartRail to recognize the decoder address and all controls light up in white light -
ready for operations. And the loco responded to sound functions and to throttle/direction controls by starting to running in place. I could not get very precise with built in throttle control at first, it took some practice. Diesel and Electrics don't look like much running in place, but, of course, Steamers look awesome on SmartRail.

SmartRail happens to be terrific, albeit expensive loco test bench in general.

I then proceeded to put Roco DCC loco on and same exact thing happened - loco's decoder was recognized very quickly.

Seeing the picture of SmartRail I first thought that it is big enough for Marklin Big Boy, but, alas, it is notSad


Roco and Fleischmann have several very exclusive SmartRail + top locomotive bundles, including some AC locomotives.
It is an amazing high end product through and through, and I hope it will be made available as a stand alone item in the near future.

SmartRail has its website as well:
SmartRail Website


Well, another boring day in the office BigGrin
Michael
thanks 7 users liked this useful post by plavnostruev
Offline steventrain  
#2 Posted : 26 February 2013 21:31:29(UTC)
steventrain

United Kingdom   
Joined: 21/10/2004(UTC)
Posts: 32,750
Thanks for the link with Smartrail Video.

Smartrail price quite expensive for me.
Large Marklinist 3- Rails Layout with CS2/MS2/Boosters/C-track/favorites Electric class E03/BR103, E18/E118, E94, Crocodiles/Steam BR01, BR03, BR05, BR23, BR44, BR50, Big Boy.
Offline river6109  
#3 Posted : 20 March 2013 05:46:43(UTC)
river6109

Australia   
Joined: 22/01/2009(UTC)
Posts: 12,590
Location: On 1965 Märklin Boulevard just around from Roco Square
I looked at the Roco website and saw this smart rail but never took much notice of it and now it is explained why it is so expensive (well to expensive for me)

and it is most probably suitable for many people who have smartphone (I don't think there are many who haven't one, like me)

one question: you wrote:

You then turn on Wi-Fi on the phone, open up Wireless Networks settings, find that now you have this new Z21 network, connect to it with supplied password, and that's it.
so how does this work when you've got friends over and they use their smart phone to run your or their locos ?

John

https://www.youtube.com/river6109
https://www.youtube.com/6109river
5 years in Destruction mode
50 years in Repairing mode
Offline Bigdaddynz  
#4 Posted : 20 March 2013 06:16:09(UTC)
Bigdaddynz

New Zealand   
Joined: 17/09/2006(UTC)
Posts: 16,733
Location: New Zealand
Not sure what use there is for Smartrail, it's a bit of an expensive paper weight. If I want a controller, I'll buy a controller and if I want a rolling road I'll buy a rolling road. But I would never want to buy a controller that is inside my rolling road!
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by Bigdaddynz
Offline Bigdaddynz  
#5 Posted : 20 March 2013 06:18:06(UTC)
Bigdaddynz

New Zealand   
Joined: 17/09/2006(UTC)
Posts: 16,733
Location: New Zealand
Originally Posted by: river6109 Go to Quoted Post
....so how does this work when you've got friends over and they use their smart phone to run your or their locos ?


Wifi is not restricted to a single user (although there are ways to lock it down), so your friend with a smartphone would see the Z21 network, same as you did.
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by Bigdaddynz
Offline NZMarklinist  
#6 Posted : 05 April 2013 16:39:03(UTC)
NZMarklinist

New Zealand   
Joined: 15/03/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,757
Location: Auckland NZ
Originally Posted by: Bigdaddynz Go to Quoted Post
Not sure what use there is for Smartrail, it's a bit of an expensive paper weight. If I want a controller, I'll buy a controller and if I want a rolling road I'll buy a rolling road. But I would never want to buy a controller that is inside my rolling road!



I see it as a bit of a show off thing for a guy on his office desk, that is, if he doesn't get riddliculed out of the building, so He'd better be pretty senior. It's hardly a test stand unless it has a measurement device. A nice, but expensive, toy all the same Blink
Glen
Auckland NZ

" Every Marklin layout needs a V200, a Railbus and a Banana car", not to mention a few Black and red Steamers, oh and the odd Elok !

CS1 Reloaded, Touch Cab, C Track Modules, K track layout all under construction. Currently Insider
Offline xxup  
#7 Posted : 05 April 2013 23:44:25(UTC)
xxup

Australia   
Joined: 15/03/2003(UTC)
Posts: 8,948
Location: Australia
Actually, it would be great for my LUX wheel cleaner - one of the problems with the current version is that the loco can move off the end of the cleaner if you don't stand there and hold it.. Some bump stops with sensors would be a great way to regulate the speed of the loco.. Very nice - very expensive..
Adrian
UserPostedImage
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Offline xxup  
#8 Posted : 05 April 2013 23:51:53(UTC)
xxup

Australia   
Joined: 15/03/2003(UTC)
Posts: 8,948
Location: Australia
Yikes.. 1500 Euro for the loco in the box... Scared

http://www.fleischmann.d...501-002001/products.html
Adrian
UserPostedImage
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Offline plavnostruev  
#9 Posted : 23 April 2013 20:08:37(UTC)
plavnostruev

United States   
Joined: 18/11/2004(UTC)
Posts: 752
Location: New Jersey, USA
Of course that guy is a senior manager, otherwise he couldn't afford it BigGrin

Folks, you'd be very surprised how many people just collect models without having an inch of rails to run them on.
So SmartRail provides facility to run any digital loco in place, and what a beautiful facility it is! Z21 and smartphone comes into play when your model has loads of functions, otherwise provided F1-F4 are fine.

Roco marketing department has decided to bundle SmartRail with one of their top DCC and AC locos and that pushes the price of the bundle to $1800. I wish they'd just offer SmartRail board solo...

Michael
User is suspended until 23/03/4752 12:54:35(UTC) Mulldog Lemon  
#10 Posted : 25 April 2013 22:52:01(UTC)
Mulldog Lemon

Australia   
Joined: 27/11/2010(UTC)
Posts: 635
Originally Posted by: xxup Go to Quoted Post
Yikes.. 1500 Euro for the loco in the box... Scared

http://www.fleischmann.d...501-002001/products.html


buy it locally then



all aboard?
UserPostedImage
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by Mulldog Lemon
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