Hello 2015! A good start for 2015 with my further review of the z21 controller. In my last post for 2014, I gave a quick run through of the setting up and running the trains. In this post, I would like to explain more about the Z21 settings and how to read and program decoder values.
As mentioned in my last post, you need to change the default settings in z21 controller to suit your scale. The Output and Programming Voltages allow a value between 12V and 22V. The default settings are per the first photo.
The default Output Voltage was set at 18, a value typically applies to HO-scale (between 16V and 20V). For N-scale, this value varies between 12V and 16V. As the Programming Voltage could not go below 12V, you have to set this to “12” instead of “10” as earlier posted. You will get a notification “Data was sent”. For N-scale, I set to the following:
RailCom allows decoders that support decoders to feedback to command station (in our case z21 controller) the status of the decoder. This is particular useful when one would like to know the position of a loco (or train). This function is only possible if a decoder supports Railcom. The use of train automation software such as RocRail, iTrain allows TrainID to be reported on the display. You can turn this off/on anytime.
Center-Stop Key is found in the middle top panel. This is like an emergency stop button. You could set this to either “TrackPowerToggle” (i.e. turning the power on/off to the track. If you examine the z21 controller carefully, there is no power on/off button. Just “Stop”) or “EmergencyStopToggle” which stops all locos but not just the power to the track. See the difference. I like to set “TrackPowerToggle” since the z21 controller would be a distance from me and in the event of a short circuit, I could turn off the power to the track. When using “TrackPowerToggle”, you also stop all locos.
Programming-type allows you to specify using bit or byte (1 byte is 8 bits) value. Click any toggle (more about this later)
I am not sure what Program-Settings meant but these values were given by Roco/Fleischmann technical support for N-scale.
I tried out the Roco z21 app on my HTC Desire (Android phone) and found that the same track settings that I made earlier via the tablet were read by the the z21 app on the HTC too. In effect, the z21 is a mini computer. Any track settings sent to z21 controller are stored and could be retrieved by any smart devices connected to that z21 controller (via the WLAN). How I wish the train (mobile decoder) settings could also be stored and retrieved from z21 controller.
When you select “Programming” on the main screen, you will come the programming page with Program on Main (POM), Programming Track and Loco Address functions.
Loco Address function
I start with Loco Address function. The right panel allows you to read and program a decoder in a loco (could we read/program accessory decoders with z21 too? A good question to be answered). Click “Read” to read out the CVs on the decoder (known as CV Readback function). There are 4 CVs readable by z21 Loco Address function – CV1 (short address 0-255), C17/18 (extended address up to 4 digits 9999), CV29Bit5 (value 0 or 1) (note: this does not mean you cannot read other CVs. You can use Programming Track function to read/program other CVs)
When you read or program a decoder, the loco headlights will blink intermittently and the loco will jump forward a few small steps. It sounds like a manual typewriter when a decoder is read or programmed. The LED will turn green when in programming mode and return to blue when the programming completes.
Programming Track function
When using (separate) Programming Track function, you must have only 1 loco at a time. You can read/program the decoder by first identifying which CV# you want to change. In the second photo above, you will see that the loco decoder has a short address “3” which corresponds to CV1.
In Programming Track function, you select the CV# you want to change, in this case CV1 (i.e. CV-Address) from CV-Value “3” to “52” (the road number of P42 Genesis). Again, the LED will turn green and the loco will jump a few steps.
You can go to Loco Address function and click “Read” to see if the CV1 value has been updated.
Change Loco Images
I have shown how you could add new loco to the pre-configured list. Here I will show how to add a new image. Earlier the P42 Genesis had a blank loco image. Click on that image and you will be asked whether you want to select an image from a gallery or from a camera. I chose “camera” and snapped a picture of the P42.
You can then crop the image and the save the final version. I did this on my HTC phone and would need to repeat the same on my Samsung tablet or any other new devices.
I was updating my Roco z21 mobile app and found that Roco/Fleischmann has published a z21 Updater app too.
The first app is your virtual throttle. The z21 Updater allows you to update the firmware in your z21 controller and SmartRail (aka “loco on threadmill”). When you click “Connect” (do not change the default IP address), the z21 Updater will check the current firmware version in your z21 controller. My current z21 firmware version is V1.21 (the latest versions for z21 and SmartRail are shown below the IP address)
Click “Update” and the server will push the latest version to your z21 controller (or SmartRail). So, the firmware version is now V1.25.
This z21 Updater app does no more than checking your current firmware version and send request to server to push the latest version to your z21 controller (and SmartRail). The z21 Maintenance.exe does more.
I hope this short review helps you to understand more about your z21 system and what it could and could not do. I look forward to your comments or feedback.