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Z21 start and peco code 80 turnout

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  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Z21 start and peco code 80 turnout
Posted by JustinLevi on Monday, August 7, 2023 8:21 PM

Good morning everyone!

This is both my first post and my first foray into model trains as an adult.  The last time I had model trains was as a shared hobby with my father some 35 years ago!

I was lucky enough to purchase a second hand N gauge set up at a very reasonable price.  I've now got far more than I need for my first layout, so I'm spoiled for choice !

Included amongst other things is a Roco Z21 Start co troller, 8 engines and a lot of peco code 80 track.

I have two questions.  The first is probably easily answered.  How do I determine which engines are dcc and non dcc?  I understand that i can damage a dc engine by placing it on a dcc track.  Is it simply a matter of looking under the hood for a DCC logic board?

My second question relates to dcc control of the turnouts.  From what I can see, I will need the Roco Z21 Switch decoder together with the peco PL-10e turnout servo and PL-9 mounting plate.  Is this correct?  I see there are a number of cheaper switch decoders (eg SwitchPilot 3), but I can't seem to easily see if DCC decoders etc are compatible between brands.  I should note that I reside in Australia so availability can sometimes be an issue, and prices are significantly higher than either Europe or the US.

Many thanks,

Justin

  • Member since
    July 2018
  • 661 posts
Posted by IDRick on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 8:10 PM

Welcome aboard Justin!

Your first five posts will be moderated (system is preventing spam) which means your responses will be bit delayed.  Not to worry, we are ready to help!

I'm not a DCC guru by any stretch.

Question 1.  Yes, looking under the shell is the easiest, quickest method to determine if the locomotive is dc or dcc.  I suggest going to tcsdcc.com  They have several example installations of n-scale dcc decoders.

Question 2.  The peco pl-10e is a twin coil switch machine that mounts on the PL-9.  The Roco z21 switch decoder is designed to operate twin coil switch machines and will not work with a servo motor.  The operation manual for the switch decoder, switch machine, and z21 start controller are available at z21.eu.  Easily found by google.

Good luck and have fun with your model railroad!   

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • From: Shenandoah Valley
  • 9,094 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 8:12 PM

Welcome to the forum.

I'm neither an N-scale guy nor a Roco guy. Best I can do is to bump your post to the top of the list.

JustinLevi
Is it simply a matter of looking under the hood for a DCC logic board?

If you don't have original boxes, that's probably the only thing you can do.  If they all came in the same lot with the Z21 controller, hopefully they are.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

  • Member since
    February 2018
  • From: Danbury Freight Yard
  • 454 posts
Posted by OldEngineman on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 9:52 PM

I have the z21start also. I've never tried using it to control turnouts, as I use Kato Unitrack, and use the Kato switch levers to throw the turnouts.

I do recall watching a Youtube video or two that shows how the z21 system can be used to control switches. That's where I recommend you look.

As for decoders in engines, well, you pretty much have to open them up and take a look. Hmmm... I'm HO, N would be a completely alien world to me.

If you put an engine on the track and it starts humming and buzzing, but doesn't go anywhere, don't let it sit there -- take it off ! Probably DC and no decoder.

What are you using to control the z21?

A Minimaus (or other wired pushbutton controller), or do you have the TPLink router as well?

I have the TPLink (for wifi), and use a Samsung tablet. That way, it's possible to have 2 engine controls at once, side-by-side. I've "locked" the tablet into horizontal orientation, makes things easier.

  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Posted by JustinLevi on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 11:44 PM

Thank you for your warm welcome and helpful advice!

I'm a little confused between the difference between a twin coil servo motor (eg pl10/PL-10e) and a twin coil machine.  Is an example of a twin coil machine the PL11 track mounted motor?

 

Thanks again,

 

Justin.

 

  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Posted by JustinLevi on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 11:45 PM

Thank you Henry, appreciate the response.

  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Posted by JustinLevi on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 11:47 PM

Thanks for the response.  I've ordered the wireless kit so I can use the app on a tablet.  That looks super.  It came with the multimaus however.

  • Member since
    July 2018
  • 661 posts
Posted by IDRick on Wednesday, August 9, 2023 11:11 AM

JustinLevi

Thank you for your warm welcome and helpful advice!

I'm a little confused between the difference between a twin coil servo motor (eg pl10/PL-10e) and a twin coil machine.  Is an example of a twin coil machine the PL11 track mounted motor?

The PL-10e packaging lists the product as "Peco / PL-10E Switch Machine with Extended Pin"  The twin coils are readily visible on the switch machine and a specific control board is needed to operate twin coil switch machines.

The PLS-125 is a smartswitch single servo motor.  Peco sells a complete smartswitch set (PLS-100) that includes:  4 Servos, operating wires, mounting brackets and switches plus a Smartswitch Control Board, Programming Board and Instruction Manual.  Note, all Peco servo system parts have a PLS prefix followed by a part number.

Peco Lectrics has a nice 3-part video series on how to install smartswitch servos on youtube.  Take a look!  Very cool setup!  

Hope this helps!  Have a great day!

  • Member since
    July 2018
  • 661 posts
Posted by IDRick on Wednesday, August 9, 2023 1:35 PM

Here is a link to a video that describes setting up turnout control with the z21 app.  The presenter is focusing on the z21 app and does not identify which switch machines were used in the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb_EKMxyQcQ

 

  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Posted by JustinLevi on Wednesday, August 9, 2023 3:58 PM

Thank you very much, really appreciated!

  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Posted by JustinLevi on Wednesday, August 9, 2023 4:00 PM

Thanks.  Yes I did see that videozl, that will undoubtedly be helpful when it comes time to set the app up.  I was left in suspense about the actual turnouts though ha!

  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Posted by JustinLevi on Thursday, August 10, 2023 4:39 AM

Thank you so much.  This seems exactly what I need and happily it's available in Australia to purchase easily enough.

 

As an aside, I've settled on a track plan (more or less ha!).  When I start building I'll put photographs up in the appropriate forum.

 

Cheers and thanks,

 

Justin.

  • Member since
    August 2023
  • 8 posts
Posted by JustinLevi on Sunday, August 13, 2023 8:15 PM

Thank you that's grand!

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