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Offline 5HorizonsRR  
#1 Posted : 10 February 2020 23:20:20(UTC)

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2004(UTC)
Posts: 2,886
Location: NY, NY
Hi everyone,

I have been gearing up to move along to a new controller, from my longstanding ECOS 50000, the very early one. Mine is actually still good, but it somehow lost mfx capability, and I really use it nonstop on the test bench for programming decoders etc...

So getting back to a main (and future layout) controller, I'm debating between a CS3 (or plus) and a new Ecos. I'd like some objective thoughts on the matter. Here is my list so far:

- Ecos is ~$150 cheaper
- I already know the general ESU/ecos design and functionality from a UX point of view
- ESU has excellent customer care in the USA. (Marklin's digital pros are excellent, but I'm talking warranty and hardware support. And my ECOS has lasted ages longer than my CS1 ever did)

- well, its Marklin. I'm assuming there is some extra "native" functionality to this which the ecos does not have

So my core question- what can either unit do which the other unit cannot? Or are they effectively comparable? Pretend they were both Marklin products- which one is functionally better (if any) and why?

I should add what my existing equipment consist of:

1- The current roster of digital "layout" hardware such as feedback components and braking modules is slim to none. I'd actually prefer purchasing DCC-based units for everything in the future. All I have for Marklin Motorola is some C track Switch decoders. But even those can be scrapped. (and regardless I think both units can support them anyways)
2- My locomotives are largely MM, at least 65% of them.
3- I do have some ESU boosters. But again I can leave these behind if need be

I think I'd go computer control/assistance if things got really intricate, but not sure how that relates to these controllers since they both have computer connections

Lets keep this a positive thread, I'm just trying to sort where this large amount of money gets spent!
FS + SBB Era 2-5 and Vintage Marklin
Offline David Dewar  
#2 Posted : 10 February 2020 23:38:34(UTC)
David Dewar

Joined: 01/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 6,848
Location: Scotland
From what you say you appear to prefer ECOS so maybe better to buy it. I have a CS3 Plus and am more than happy with that. The ECOS boys will be on telling you it is better. Try both if you can find a dealer who is local.
Take care I like Marklin and will defend the worlds greatest model rail manufacturer.
Offline xxup  
#3 Posted : 11 February 2020 00:53:23(UTC)

Joined: 15/03/2003(UTC)
Posts: 8,994
Location: Australia
Actually, this eCOS boy will say that the CS3+ is a much faster controller than the old eCOS.. mFx registration is WAAAAAAY faster on a CS3+ than an ECOS..

I am going through the same process myself. The eCOS 2 has started to develop screen problems - not an urgent issue for me as I mostly run the trains using WindigiPet. However, it will die at some time and I would like to be able to do the change over on my own terms and not wait until it is urgent.

The current eCOS (2.1) has the same processor as the first eCOS so there is no performance improvement, but it supports a higher output (6A).. Means more trains can run before you need a booster. I am disappointed that ESU did not announce an entirely new eCOS.. See http://www.esu.eu/en/products/digital-control/ecos-50210-dcc-system/what-ecos-can-do/

The cost of change over is significant. The CS3+ does not come with a switched mode power supply (you can't use transformers with these units), nor do the boosters. So you need to replace the boosters and their power units. As I have computer control and the S88s are connected directly to the PC, I don't incur change over costs here, but if you have the older S88s, then you need to change the first one to a s88 that has both a RJ45 connection and the legacy connection OR find an adapter OR replace all the S88s OR buy a LINK88 (lots of options and all cost money).. I also have to ditch the Mobile Control II and replace it with the new CS3 mobile unit - I like big knobs and mobile phone apps over Wi-Fi just don't do it properly for me. Do the sums, it adds up quickly to a big figure.

My personal view is that the CS3+ has a much more modern interface than the eCOS and will be more intuitive for younger users that have grown up with smart phones..

I suspect that I will have to move over to the CS3+ later this year.. However, if an eCOS 3 was released that was able to reuse the boosters, then my decision might be different..
Australia flag by abFlags.com
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Offline 5HorizonsRR  
#4 Posted : 11 February 2020 01:58:37(UTC)

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2004(UTC)
Posts: 2,886
Location: NY, NY
Thanks for the replies- keep them coming! And I'm actually leaning towards marklin- not the ecos- but trying to learn more and see if they justify a higher price tag (plus power packs in marklin's case) and me learning a new UX. I'm happy to do it if its faster/better/does "x" with an ecos doesn't
FS + SBB Era 2-5 and Vintage Marklin
Offline TEEWolf  
#5 Posted : 11 February 2020 03:09:16(UTC)

Joined: 01/06/2016(UTC)
Posts: 2,255
Have you checked the various other topics for your theme about the CS 3 here at marklin-users.net ?

For example:


Whereas on thing has changed: the track format mfx+ is no longer as important as it has been, since Maerklin offers mfx generally to the public. The only difference between mfx and mfx+ are the display of the operating supplies.

I never used an ECos so I cannot tell you anything about a comparison of these 2 controllers. When you write you have several boosters I would recommend a CS 3 plus. You must not buy the Link S88 or the terminal 60145 to start the CAN Bus for your CS 3. Using several boosters you must install a CAN bus anyway and you have the galvanic islotation inside the CS 3+ already. Somewhere I read, it is not necessary to use Maerklin boosters, but you always shall use boosters from the same company. If you have only ESU boosters it is fine, but stay with them.

BTW I compared a CS 3 with a CS 3+ based on the Maerklin database prices in €.similar equipped they only have a price difference of about 20 €. Compared to the ECos I do not know.

Have you seen Maerklin's safety regulations?


They are classifying different sizes for a MRR. For myself it is a good help to estimate the power consumption of a MRR and needed boosters. I do not kow as it is in the US, but here in Europe you have the choice between 2 switching power supplies. The smaller one brings you 3 A at the CS 3. The bigger one brings 5 A, whereas Maerklin always say 3 A shall be the maximum for gauge H0. This is correct because of security reasons.

Only with a CS 3 you get the full comfort of the mfx system. Maerklin's goal is now obvious. Mfx is not only usable for Maerklin, all digital components shall be usable for all their brands. This matters not only its locos have the feedback capability of the mfx system. All digital components like signals, decoders, etc. will understand mfx. They all are registering themselves at the CS 3. The CS 3 gives them all a digital address and manages by this way all its digital addresses. You do not have to know the digital address of any digital device any longer. It is given and ruled automatically by the CS 3. I realized in the catalogues, Maerklin is now offering only locos with mfx decoders, even for all start-up models. And they make more and more digital devices mfx capable. The newest ones are the mounted decoders for the C-tracks. See this marklin-users.net thread


But it also looks like all devices will be multifunctional by the track formats. So they all can handle DCC and MM as well. The CS 3 knows all formats and the ones you do not need can be switched off at the CS 3. But in all cases the CS 3 is now based on a 32 bit computer architecture - good for speeding.BigGrin
CS 3 is a controlling station from Märklin - not a central station.
Offline michelvr  
#6 Posted : 11 February 2020 03:18:08(UTC)

Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,102
I'm a diehard ESU ECoS user and if I may say a very satisfying one at that! BUT with today's selection of Märklin’s MFX+ decoders I would go Märklin, exclusively.

Märklin’s Digital is unique, it's made for Märklin and just for Märklin. Yes they have made it to have the functionality for DCC but it's designed for Märklin’s products! No other DCC system producer has the functionality to run Märklin’s products except for Märklin. This is the real and true reason that if you are a Märklin user stay with the whole Märklin Digital system and buy the CS3 and nothing else, period.

If I’m wrong then.......Flapper
Picture taking I do, caught “The Ghan” in Livingstone in 2017 when my daughter lived there! Livingstone is an outer rural locality Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. The name "Livingstone" derived from the war-time airstrip which was named after John D Livingstone, Jnr.
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Offline TEEWolf  
#7 Posted : 11 February 2020 04:28:12(UTC)

Joined: 01/06/2016(UTC)
Posts: 2,255
And you get new books from Maerklin (in English too) about the new CS 3 too.


Much better than the manual.
CS 3 is a controlling station from Märklin - not a central station.
Offline H0  
#8 Posted : 11 February 2020 08:35:44(UTC)

Joined: 16/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 13,628
Location: DE-NW
Märklin's exclusive feature is mfx+ cab control. I think it's unrealistic and boring, so it is not a plus point for me, but your mileage may vary.
Yes, mfx registration is much faster with recent Märklin products than with ECoS.

The ECoS has RailCom+ and registration of new locos is blindingly fast. It still has physical function keys beside the screen - good if you have your eyes on the train and the fingers on the controller.
ECoS and RailCom allow advanced train automation without need for a PC.

When I try to stop a train on the CS3, I quite often just move a window around instead. At the moment this would be the deal breaker for me: you have to be very careful when you use the screen with a finger and unexpected things will happen if the finger is off by a millimetre or two. A standard stylus does not work with the CS3.

I wish the ECoS was available with the endless speed knobs we know from the various Central Stations.

Originally Posted by: TEEWolf Go to Quoted Post
And you get new books from Maerklin (in English too) about the new CS 3 too. [...] Much better than the manual.
It's a shame that the manuals are not so good and that you have to buy books.

Conclusion: There is no winner. Concepts vary and will have different appeal for different users. I'd most likely go for the ECoS if I needed a new controller at the moment.
I strongly recommend getting hands-on experience with the CS3 before making a purchase decision to see if you can handle the screen efficiently.
"In all of the gauges, we particularly emphasize a high level of quality, the best possible fidelity to the prototype, and absolute precision. You will see that in all of our products." (from Märklin New Items Brochure 2015, page 1) ROFLBTCUTS
Offline 5HorizonsRR  
#9 Posted : 11 February 2020 08:56:56(UTC)

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2004(UTC)
Posts: 2,886
Location: NY, NY
Thanks for the updates, some notes and answers:

1- for sure decision is made to throw out the CS3 in favor of CS3+, I don't mind the extra flexibility the additional cost offers.

2 - The MFX accessory line for auto-registry is indeed a clear advantage to the Marklin system, Thanks TEEWolf for the good point.

3- MFX+ simulated control isn't really of interest to me

4- The screen UX on the CS is a good point, and I think I should try one out if I can locate one locally.

More to follow. It is an interesting conundrum as they really do seem comparable...

Other thoughts are of course encouraged!

FS + SBB Era 2-5 and Vintage Marklin
Offline mbarreto  
#10 Posted : 11 February 2020 09:28:34(UTC)

Joined: 18/02/2008(UTC)
Posts: 933

Some (the ones that find it difficult to use the finger as a pointer) may like to use a mouse with the CS3/CS3+.
Mostly Märklin H0.

Offline Goofy  
#11 Posted : 12 February 2020 05:45:47(UTC)

Joined: 12/08/2006(UTC)
Posts: 8,262
I did wrote mail to ESU and they answer back in question about Ecos 2.
ESU will present a new generation Ecos 3 in about 2-3 years.
I find CS3 is a good system but it´s a override system too.
Both system do have pro and cons.
CS3 is a more advance system than Ecos, but Ecos do also have "kind of" mfx, so called RailComPlus.
The list is long i can present in both pro and cons.
Take a watch at Youtube and learn how they works.
Offline mvd71  
#12 Posted : 12 February 2020 07:51:58(UTC)

New Zealand   
Joined: 09/08/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,099
Location: Auckland,
I moved from my cs2 to a cs3+, and while it is a very capable controller with a lot of features I found the screen layout and responsiveness to using a finger disappointing. The suggestion to use a mouse for the screen is a a good one and will help a lot.
As others have said, the mfx registration is considerably faster, and that's a big plus.


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Offline franciscohg  
#13 Posted : 12 February 2020 15:08:15(UTC)

Joined: 10/07/2002(UTC)
Posts: 3,185
Location: Patagonia
Hi, agreed with issues with the finger management of the TS. A mouse helps, a standard stylus will not work indeed, but one designed for tablet use will, and very well I must say.

UserPostedImage German trains era I-II and selected III, era depends on the mood, mostly Maerklin but i can be heretic if needed XD, heresy is no longer an issue.. LOL
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Offline mvd71  
#14 Posted : 12 February 2020 18:42:29(UTC)

New Zealand   
Joined: 09/08/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,099
Location: Auckland,
Hi Francis,

Good to know about the tablet stylus, that will help people.


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Offline 5HorizonsRR  
#15 Posted : 12 February 2020 21:51:42(UTC)

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2004(UTC)
Posts: 2,886
Location: NY, NY
Interesting on the new ECOS coming, although I think I need to make a decision soon. I'm going to test a CS3 in the coming weeks, I'll report back on what I end up going with ;)
FS + SBB Era 2-5 and Vintage Marklin
Offline gcanton  
#16 Posted : 13 February 2020 18:25:09(UTC)

United Kingdom   
Joined: 15/06/2004(UTC)
Posts: 61
Location: Hampshire, UK

I am an ECOS user and have recently played with the MSD3 decoders, if you use a computer and Railcom to feedback the identify of a loco on the track back to either a computer or controller rather than just that a section is occupied then I believe Marklin do not have that capability. I know you can track an item but Railcom gives you direct feedback of where things are from compatible decoders. There is no Railcom feedback with an MSD3 so if you use Marklin decoders exclusively then going CS3 is attractive.

Marklin controllers are better at programming Marklin decoders I suspect, as I found it needed some work to change CV's reliably in an MSD3 with my ECOS.

The poor selection of icons for functions is increasingly frustrating with an ECOS and I suspect talking to people who have tried to raise with ESU this it will be the next generation controller that that is fixed in not a software release.

If you use mobile stations then CS3 is the only way to go with more recent versions.

I would be driven by your choice on the decoders you use, Marklin cheaper but lack Railcom, ESU more expensive but have it.

I know this is a personnel judgement but I believe the ESU sounds are better but a much smaller variety.

I choose the ECOS many years ago because I run my Gauge 1 trains outside and ESU did a radio controller rather than infra red before smart phones took over. Now I would be very tempted by Marklin as they are offer multiple protocols and better, more descriptive icons, The ECOS feels dated and that the investment has gone into decoders at the expense of the controller. If I was indoors on a complex computer controlled layout I would look long and hard at Digikeijs with ESU decoders as they go beyond ESU in allowing the identity of more than one loco per section to be identified so consists report more accurately. Keep the programmers for loading sounds on the bench and a Lokprogrammer will let you drive the loco to test it. You can add handsets to the Digikeijs loconet connections too.


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