Following are notes from the 22nd York DCS Users Group Meeting, conducted on October 19th. Many thanks to Don Klose for, once again, being our scribe and compiling the meeting summary. Any errors that you may find in the following information were more than likely introduced by me during the editing process.
The 22nd York DCS Users Group Meeting
October 19, 2016
Barry began our session at 7:00 pm. Thanks were given to Marty Fitzhenry, Pat Marinari and Robert Robertory for doing numerous DCS Remote, TIU and WIU updates at the session. Barry also thanked Don Klose for, once again, serving as our meeting scribe.
Barry welcomed the new members to the meeting and thanked MTH for providing the funding for our meeting space.
Barry noted that DCS has come a long way in our 11 years of coming together for our meetings and is about to take another huge step forward with the highly anticipated release of the Premium DCS WiFi App in December. It is expected that a new DCS version update, and possibly a new DCS Loader Program and a new WIU firmware release, will coincide with the release of the Premium version of the app.
Barry noted that the 3rd edition of the DCS Companion will be the last edition of the book. However, The DCS WiFi Companion, a new book, is being written and is planned to be released about the same time as the release of the Premium app. It will be an extension of the current book, and will discuss in detail the capability of the free, standard and premium versions of the DCS WiFi App. It will also discuss the WIU in detail.
Barry then opened the meeting up to questions and comments.
One of the first questions asked was, what will the premium app do and will it be able to operate lashups? The answer is that the Premium app will do everything that the DCS Remote currently is able to do except control Z4K tracks. The reason is that there is, at present, an inability of the DCS App/WIU to communicate with the Z4000 receiver.
It was noted that, while you will still need one WIU for each TIU where WiFi control is desired, the hardware requirement is still less than, on on a par with, the hardware requirements of the Lionel legacy system for using equivalent features and functions..
With the release of the Lionel Legacy protocols, many Lionel Legacy operating features are expected to be accessible using the Premium version of the MTH DCS App.
One individual pointed out that when accessing engines via the DCS App, they found refresh is faster than the DCS Remote’s READ command.
Another person asked about the pluses and minuses of geographic assignment of TIUs when setting up power districts on a large layout for operation of multiple, power-hungry trains. It was suggested to operate in Passive TIU mode.
A question was asked regarding what gauge of wire should be used when operating with WIFi on a large layout. The answer given was that the wire should be either 14 or 16 gauge, as in normal DCS operation.
It was also pointed out that it was expected that any outstanding lashup lighting issues will be corrected in the next TIU update with the release of the Premium app.
A person new to DCS started that they had begun building a layout and were utilizing Lionel FasTrack and switches. They were concerned about signal strength vs. voltage issues. DCS signal strength was poor and they were adding multiple drops per line for power. Also, they were powering their switches thru track power. It was pointed out that switch track coils or motors, when using track power for their operation, could potentially degrade the DCS signal. Therefore, switch tracks should be always powered through a power supply that its separate from track power. Further, multiple TIU connections in a single track block can also degrade the DCS signal. Typically, one connection per track block is suggested for best results.
One individual operates long trains and multi-engine lashups in Passive TIU mode. The problem is they are getting short circuits. What is the problem and the solution? First, it was pointed out that this is a power distribution/wiring problem rather than a DCS problem. Second, if operating long trains it was possible that it was the last lighted car crossing two different sections of track which may create a problem.
Barry then closed the Q&A session, and welcomed Andy Edleman, VP of marketing for MTH.
Andy Edelman - MTH
Andy began our next segment of the meeting by emphasizing that the Premium version of the DCS App will be available this fall. He noted that Fall officially persisted until December 21st. The Premium version of the DCS App would be available for both IOS or Android smartphones and tablets.
Andy went on to present the Premium app’s various screens. He showed screen shots for the various functions of the app, including the Track, Switches, Routes, and Accessories screens. Each has windows which will slide side-to-side for easy access.
The windows for these screens will allow you to name things (switches, accessories, routes, scenes, etc.) as on the DCS remote. However, you will be able to do so using the smart devices’s keyboard.
You will also be able to import and export data to and from the DCS remote to the Premium app.
Under the Engine screen a new window will allow additional app features, including building lashups of DCS, TMCC and Legacy engines. There will also be additional soft key features, such as maximum speed settings and battery check.
There will be a screen for advanced features for TIU setup, Super TIU mode, E-Stop and voltage settings.
Andy understood the desire to have Z4K tracks, however, new hardware would be required to do so via the app because the Z4000 receiver and WIU operate using different radio frequencies.
Members at the meeting also hoped that an Engine list could be expanded beyond the present maximum of 99. It was suggested that, since lashups do not in reality require using DCS engine locations and that they only do so due to the limitations of the DCS Remote hardware, the app could use a separate lashup list, e.g., “L1”, “L2”, etc., instead. This would allow all 99 DCS engine ID#’s to be used for individual engines, while also allowing a virtually unlimited number of lashups.
The meeting was adjourned and the latest MTH O Gauge catalog, 20107 Vol. 1, was distributed.