The 25th DCS Users Group Meeting October 17, 2018
Barry began our meeting at 7:00 pm by announcing that, beginning in 2019, there will be one annual meeting in October. The reason is because overall York April meet attendance was down and projected DCS meeting attendees was extremely low. Barry also pointed out that the Legacy group is going to move to an annual, October, format , as well.
We then discussed a possible change of venue for the meeting. Salient points that were discussed included:
- Is Wednesday still the best night? Thursday night is the OGR Forum get-together and many people depart on Friday night.
- Is food service important?
- Should we change the meeting place?
Some options discussed were:
- One option was to have the meeting on Thursday at 10AM before the meet. This could take place in the Gold Hall (where the Friday afternoon OGR meeting is conducted) and would not be catered for food or beverages. The major drawback would be a lack of heat or air conditioning.
- A second option was to have a “pizza party”, perhaps at Marco’s Pizza (originally Alexander’s Restaurant). (Unfortunately, a follow-up conversation with the restaurant’s owner determined that this wasn’t feasible.)
- A third option, suggested by Dave Hikel, was to have a dinner at the Eagles Nest restaurant at the Heritage Hills hotel. Dave will further investigate this option.
Over the next few months we will research further the options for next October's meeting via a DCS Forum thread in which all interested parties can provide their thoughts and feedback.
Barry then continued the meeting with a question and answer session:
Q & A Session
Will DCS operate trains in conventional?
The answer is “yes”, if using the DCS Remote or the Premium version of the DCS App, and the TIU’s variable channels.
On our layout we are using multi-rail track for both O and standard gauge with a Z4000 that starts at 5 volts. The DCS Remote and the DCS App also start at 5 volts for variable channel voltage management. How can we use a track voltage lower than 5 volts?
The answer was to discuss with MTH the possibilities of having the variable channels allow a lower voltage than 5 volts.
When will MTH release DCS protocols as Lionel has released the Legacy protocols? It would allow outside entities to become DCS partners and enhance the technology.
The answer was, again, to refer the question to MTH.
What is the best way to make the TIU “bullet proof”? Discussions on the OGR forum have discussed methods to prevent TIU failures on club layouts that experience extreme overcurrent situations.
While there isn’t a great deal of information available on the subject (the only real documentation is from one club layout in California), MTH has indicated that TIUs sent in for repair will have a preventative modification made to mitigate this type of problem. (This is discussed on the DCSD Forum in a thread entitled “TIU MODIFICATION - SERVICE BULLETIN”.)
Regardless, there is no data to determine the frequency of this issue and if the average DCS operator should be overly concerned. However, there is a kit available that allows one to test TIU channels for proper operation. This is discussed on the OGR DCS Forum thread “DESIGN OF A $10-20 DCS-TIU PORT TESTER TOOL?”.
For Christmas and Halloween engines in DCS, how do you toggle off the festive lights? Which soft key is used? In conventional mode one can use the bell and whistle buttons.
Typically, the LMK soft key toggles the lights on and off.
After uploading a PS3 sound file into a Santa Fe F3, the Mars light did not function correctly. I then uploaded an E 8 and still did not have a working Mars light. What is the answer?
Find an appropriate sound file. Calling MTH for assistance might also be in order.
Also, the uploading of the sound files to the engine was very slow.
It was suggested to use a short piece of track, connected directly to a TIU channel, and also to use DC power to the track.
When using the variable channel on the TIU with the DCS App, the app does not see the engine.
The response was that when starting up the layout's operating session, allow the WIU two minutes to boot up before using the DCS App to operate trains. Also, after the two minutes, issue a Refresh command from the DCS App to that the app can communicate with both the TIU and the WIU.
What is the advantage of using MTH mode over Home mode with the WIU?
The basic answer is that MTH mode simplifies communications since the DCS App’s smartphone or tablet communicates directly with the WIU without going through a home network router.
A disadvantage is that Internet connectivity is not possible using MTH mode.
Dave presented an expanded discussion regarding how to get the best performance out of the WIU. He iterated best practices as follows:
- When possible, use the newest mobile devices.
- Always use the latest MTH device firmware available.
- For single TIU/WIU layouts, operate the WIU in MTH mode
- For multiple TIU/WIU layouts, operate the WIUs in Home mode
- In your operating sessions avoid using the DCS remote and DCS app at the same time since their response times can be different. This can adversely affect the TIU’s operation.
- When utilizing the WIUs in Home mode it is suggested to hard wire the WIUs to your home router using Ethernet cables.
A complete copy of Dave’s presentation, "DCS WIU Networking Presentation.pdf", is attached to this post as an Adobe Acrobat/Reader document.
Andy introduced himself and pointed out that this is his 63rd York. 2019 catalogs were made available to all. He mentioned that starting in this catalog we will see new tooling for products, beginning with the new R40 subway cars. Also, there will be new tooling in the G gauge line. For more info he suggested that you listen to his new Notch 6 podcast with Derrick Thomas to get more insights. He also emphasized that if you let MTH know your needs, they will be receptive.
Andy stated that, starting in 2019, diesels will have playable horns. Also, on packaging you will see hardware info to let you know if a product needs updating. It will also be on the instruction packet as well.
Andy pointed out that there will be no updates to the DCS remotes in the future. It is 18 years old technology. However, MTH will continue to show them in the catalog and service them.
MTH is reviewing improvements to the DCS App screen. One example is to move the couplers to the Engine Control Screen and, perhaps, replace the circular speed dial with a bar graph. Stay tuned for updates.
The meeting was adjourned.