Roco Z21.

All aspects of DCC & computer control.

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Roco Z21.

Post by ChiefPenguin » Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:59 pm

After having reliability issues with the Piko Smart system (I suspect I was just unlucky with mine - it's a great system) I obtained a Roco Z21 (black).
At the time of purchase there were two versions - the "Black" full version & the "White", a slightly cut down but still competent system.

I also purchased a wi-fi Multimaus & an Android Tablet, intending the tablet to be used purely for inputting data & the Multimaus for operating. In the end, I use the Multimaus for inputting & operating (yes, I know I always said I would never control my model trains with any form of computer) & the Maultimaus for emergency stopping !

I do use the app on my smartphone too but it kills the battery life.

Setting up is easy - download the Z21 app, plug everything in & provided you have a locomotive on address 3 you are good to go. At the time there was only one app - the Z21 with a colour icon. I got part way through setting up my fleet (the locomotive data is stored in the device, not the Z21 "box" and then the newer Z21 app came out. So, I downloaded the new one and started again, but to be honest preferred the first version and went back to it, starting yet again.
I use a separate keyboard & mouse for inputting data - make it much quicker for someone old school like me.

Because the Z21 is alphamerical & able to display small icons of the locomotives (which you can take yourself or use some of the published ones) the actual numbers use for the address is not really important. I'm using numbers based on loosely German practice - Steam locomotives are 1***, Diesel locomotives are 2***, Electric locomotives 3***, Multiple Units 4999 & oddments 5***.
Many people use the last four digits of the locomotive running number so that say West Country Class Bodmin (34016) would use 4016 - as good a system as any.

The Z21 is easy enough to use once, like many of these things, you get your head round it. Setting up sound locomotives takes a little longer but I don't have that many.

The Z21 is a very good system, one I would recommend, even to a newcomer to DCC - if you can use a smartphone/tablet or laptop you will have no issues with the Z21. Boosters are available if you need more track power and you can control the points & have on-screen track layouts, not that I have any experience in this aspect & doubt if I ever will.

On my shopping list though is a camera locomotive - just think, using a smartphone you could drive a train round your layout with a drivers view from anywhere in the world with a phone signal - how cool is that ?
Brian Considine

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