New Battery DCC Kit from Fosworks a review. UPDATED NOW HS 12 FUNCTIONS

dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

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Fosworks OMNI Tx-4.1 and OMNI Rx-4H DCC System for Battery Control

After the disappointment of Massoth DRC 300 non appearance you wait for ages to get a UK Battery System that will work with DCC Chips then 2 come along at the same time! I have elsewhere on the Forum reviewed another system and in truth Steve of Fosworks has been passing subtle hints for a month or three about a possible Fosworks solution. Well he very kindly asked me to be one of his Beta Testers and with his permission I have produced this review.

What has changed in the Product Line is to produce a DCC compatible Transmitter and Reciever. These and the Battery Setup are the key to updating an existing DCC Locomotive to Battery DCC Operation.

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The Transmitter (4x11x6.3 cm over buttons) differs from previous Hand Held ones only by having a Shift Button which allows the 3 normal buttons to have a dual function thus allowing 6 DCC Actions to be triggered. This may appear a little restrictive compared to perhaps the Aristo System with its clunking Shift Function to get more functions, to me I find that 6 is more than enough and some Function Mapping revisions will take care of ensuring that I have the ones that I need. Fosworks have intimated that they may be able to offer a service to carry out such re-mapping. The other difference on mine was that there was no Inertia Knob, something that should be irrelevant with a Decoder. You will also find a massive cost difference between the 2 systems, Fosworks being the less expensive by a pretty large margin. It is possible to change the 3 buttons to allow for Momentary or Latching but I would prefer to leave the Chip to decide those options. In any case Holding the relevant button down gave continuous operation of the Bell and Whistle on the Chips that I tested out which suited me just fine. The re-programming (Binding) process for this change in Functions for both the Switch and Binding with a Different Receiver uses the Top Buttons, I have had difficulty with this but I believe that it is one of those things that once you get the hang of it you will wonder what the problem was! 2 aaa batteries neatly fit into a sliding cover on the front and my previous systems have lasted a pretty long time.

There is very little to say about the Receiver except to say that it is 2 small boards linked together with Radio Control Type Plugs with a Spare for an ESC (whatever that does, presumably for programming). This unit has Rx5 (4.3x3x1.2 cm plus to be added the Plugs and Wires) on a label so that is what I will refer to it as. Clearly you will not want to unplug this and get the thing plugged back in the wrong way round. So if you need to for fitting I would suggest carefully noting as well as taking a picture to make sure that you get it all back together correctly. The other board I will refer to as the Rx4 (3.3x3.3x1.2 plus the wires) has the 4 Screw Fit Choc Strip Type holes that are the link to a Locomotive. The two sockets that are labelled DCC go out direct to the DCC Decoder. These could be connected via a DPDT Centre off so that they could be changed over to be Track Powered if that were the requirement. In this case the Battery should be turned off as well, the other two sockets are for Battery Power please note that the Plus must be that! I tend to use a Fosworks No.1 Loom and Batteries thus making it all fit together without any hassle providing you remember to ask for a Wire to feed this unit! On the label this suggests a Battery input of 7-24 Volts so there should be plenty of power available at the top end.

Setting up a Loco is pretty straightforwards. With a 4 Pin LGB Loco 2 are Track Power the other 2 are to the Motor, those 4 wires will come from the Chip so first up is to cut the two from the Chip. The motor ones do not need to be cut. If you wish to maintain the Track Powered option run the two wires from the chip to the centre plugs of the DPDT. The other two to two at one end maintaining Colour Co-ordination for simplicity. Now connect two wires of the same colour to the RX4 to the DCC out Contacts. Again use Colour Coding to get the orientation correct keeping to the Chips notation of DCC + and - even though this does not hold strictly true with DCC. Now via the No1 Loom an output feed from the Battery should be connnected to the other Battery ve Contacts. Ensure that you get + and - correct for this. I like to have all + Wires as Red to get this right, - are Black. This is Vital that you get it right! So you are now ready to go.

The pics below shows my Fosworks Test Setup exactly the same as I used for my Aristo Testing.

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The Pic below shows the setup not yet coupled to a Chip. Note the Standard LGB Colour conventions that I have used in my Test Rig.

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I have tested this kit out using the following DCC/MTS systems:-
Loksound XL Shay
Massoth XLS with Historic Streetcar Sounds
LGB Europa Steam Sound Box LGB 65000 and 55021 Chip.
All operated in exactly the same way when I checked them out on both Track Power DCC/MTS as with this kit via Battery Operation. So I can honestly say that if you can cope with just 6 sounds this may well be for you.

In Operation, I am assuming that Fosworks will have bound the TX to the RX for you. Turn on the Battery having first ensured that your DPDT Switch (if you fitted one) is switched for Battery Operation. A light will come on on the RX-4 and you should hear a hiss or rumble of a Diesel. Turn the Controller and away she goes. You can Stop the Loco or leave it running and see what F1-6 gives you, they will be the same as if you are driving on a DCC System. That is it pretty seamless and can only add to your enjoyment, now enjoy running with no Track Cleaning.

This is a 2.4GHz System with a claimed range of 800 metres. It is already advertised on the Fosworks site so I will not do any pricing information here as these things can change.

I must complete this review by saying that I have no connection with Fosworks other than being a satisfied customer.

Finally. There is also the possibility to use a Viper with this setup which one needs one to match the Driving Speed with the sounds of the Chips. Frankly I have not tested this and I may get round to it in the near future.

I also asked about Amps Rating and will get back when I have a reply. But for the moment I would think that all LGB Locomotives should be fine,mit may be a bit limited if one were trying to hook up one or two lumpy USA Locomotives via the same chio.
 
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dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

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I have recieved the following reply from Fosworks about the Amps:-

"Regarding Amps, it's not such a straightforward thing. I'm confident that our Cobra will happily drive any garden railway loco. We rate it at 30W continuous loading, but we could get int trouble if someone was driving a big loco on 6V, where 30W would mean 5A. Of course most locos have much higher voltages, so 30W at 24V is only 1.25A"
 
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beavercreek

beavercreek

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Thanks for the review Jon.
Aristo do not make/distribute the Revolution DCC kit as they have folded a few years ago but the guy who was the designer of the original DC kit is now in charge of the making and distribution under the name of Revoelectronics ( Train Engineer Revolution)

'ESC' would probably be the connection to a non-DCC controller for powering motors and lights if the receiver was being used in a DC environment.

Although you say that there is a maximum of 6 functions achievable for sounds, there are other functions that might eat into that like lighting (where a loco has more than the directional one eg cab light, ditch lights, number boards etc etc) and also functions such as volume (where sound can be lessened or shut off), shunting (where power is lessened by the function), smoke etc.
If only sound functions were desired, then 6 would probably be enough for an average loco/decoder setup, but for those that have a greater variety of functions (sound or lighting or combination of both) it may well be a little restrictive.

There is no feedback screen on the handset.
There needs to be space for two boards besides the decoder (obviously not a problem if everything is in a following truck etc).
But probably crucially for those that may have more than one loco, where a system of RF DCC is to be employed, having to bind to the different locos each time they are to be used is not as convenient as having the 'binding' for all the locos saved in the handset/transmitter.

But having said that....
You have stated that it is cheaper.... do you have the cost (apologies if I may have missed it your review Jon)?
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

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£65 for the Tx handset (or £70 for one with an inertia knob, which as mentioned above is not really necessary for RC-DCC operation) and £47 for the Rx setup. So yes, significantly cheaper than either the Revo DCC or the Tam/Stanton system - but, it does appear offer only limited facilities compared with the two US-based options.

It does present another option, however, and it will be very much a case of "you pays yer money and takes yer choice"......

Jon.
 
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stockers

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Does this connect to multiple locos?
 
beavercreek

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Does this connect to multiple locos?
It seems that the Fossworks system needs to be 'bound' to a loco and then 'bound' again to a different one. The original binding will be lost.
The 'Revolution' system allows you to bind to multiple locos, remembering all of the locos
 
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stockers

stockers

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It seems that the Fossworks system needs to be 'bound' to a loco and then 'bound' again to a different one. The original binding will be lost.
The 'Revolution' system allows you to bind to multiple locos, remembering all of the locos
A better solution if you run more than one loco at a time then.
 
beavercreek

beavercreek

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A better solution if you run more than one loco at a time then.
The Fossworks system is cheaper than the Revolution and will suit those who only want to control one loco at a time and are not wanting more than six functions of the DCC decoder to operate.
Personally I like having the feature of multiple locos linked to the handset even if I am not using them at the same time as it is easier just to set them on the track and select the loco from the handset.
I do this with my Deltang transmitter handset for my live steamers and some 'normal' battery locos.. they each have a 'bound' number on the Deltang 12 position selector.
No faffing around with rebinding and definitely no faffing with multiple transmitters (one for each loco) that are really meant for aero-modelling.

I also like having a handset that has a feedback screen giving useful operating information (the Deltang system does not have this but as I only use it for live steamers and DC battery locos, it is fine).

This is only my personal opinion, others will obviously differ. :cool:
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

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A better solution if you run more than one loco at a time then.
Yes, that's my feeling also - I think that will be a serious operational limitation for this new system...... the Revo can, as Mike says, be bound to multiple loco receivers which are then simply selected from the handset..... the Tam/Stanton system, on the other hand, actually works much more like a conventional track-power system in that you simply key in the DCC address of the loco you want to control. I think that in some ways I still prefer the way that the Tam/Stanton system does things (by transmitting the actual DCC command signal wirelessly rather than using a proprietary protocol which is then translated into DCC command at the receiver end) - it's just a shame that someone can't merge the very flexible control system that Tam Valley uses with the greatly increased range advantage of the 2.4 GHz frequency as used by the Revo system and this new Fosworks one.....

Jon.
 
Steve Foster

Steve Foster

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It seems that the Fossworks system needs to be 'bound' to a loco and then 'bound' again to a different one. The original binding will be lost.
The 'Revolution' system allows you to bind to multiple locos, remembering all of the locos
Please allow me to clarify the Fosworks OMNI radio binding system.

1. You can bind as many locos as you wish to one transmitter, a loco only loses it's bind to that Tx when it is re-bound to another Tx. Therefore if you only have one transmitter, you can have all of your locos bound to it without any problem, but you can only run one at a time. Our idea is that handsets are economical and easy to bind, so you can have one for every loco you are running at any one time.

2. Our binding process is barely any more than switching on the transmitter. No access to the loco is required. Have a look at this video to see what I mean:

3. If you have multiple locos, you could have one for each loco and simply turn and go, but you ACTUALLY only need as many handsets as you can run locos simultaneously. So, if you invited three friends round for a running session, our system is so simple that you give them each a handset and they turn on and bind to their loco and away they go.

The big difference with the OMNI system, is that all the loco set-up data is stored in the receiver and all the Tx's are the same. You are really binding the transmitter to the loco rather than the usual way of binding a loco to a Tx. The locos are the immovable objects.

I hope this helps, as it is a little different to other systems.

Steve Foster
 
dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

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I have to say that I have been using Fosworks Kit non DCC for some of my other Battery Locomotives and am hapy to have an individual Control for each Locomotive up to around 4 or 5 Handsets which I will soon have. I also have 3 Handsets from the Spoerer Days for my Live Steam, this may seam a bit extravagent but if any of you have seen Casey's selection of RC Big Units my little collection pales into insignificance. When I have Operations Sessions it makes sence to have 4-5 Handsets as at least 3 and sometimes 5 people will be running Trains.

My DCC requirement is evolving now, but Fosworks will feature in the equasion as I like the kit, am not worried about the lack of a screen. After all we never used to have them in Pre DCC Days though I do accept that things have moved on some.

For me at last there is a choice of creating a Battery Fleet sans Track Cleaning for running. At times I think that we should be thankful for the great products that we have.
 
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Cliff George

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Thank you for the review of the new battery DCC system.

For me being limited to six functions would be too much of a restriction, as would being forced to remap everything I wanted to use to be within the first 6 functions. Considering functions that I would use such as headlights/interior lights, momentum on/off, Sound on/off, Sound fader, uncoupler front/rear, shunting mode on/off, sound toggle, smoke on/off and all of the sound functions 6 is just not enough.

I agree that with a Tam receiver coupled to a DCC decoder there are no restrictions placed on the DCC protocol. However when coupled with the Stanton transmitter restrictions such as 28 speed steps and 12 functions only are introduced. If using a Tam transmitter on the track output of a DCC system them anything DCC can do is available.

However I also think there is great advantages in the bi directional protocol adopted by the Revo DCC system, even though it is proprietary. It ensures changes in speed, direction, functions actually reach the receiver/decoder and contention in the ether is reduced.

The software in the Revo handset for DCC could certainly do with being better, examples are the clunky way function over 9 are selected, and the banks of cabs idea which (as Greg has said) seems to be an extra level of unneeded complexity that gets in the way rather than helps.

2.4Ghz DSSS should be better than 8.69Mhz.

I look forward to some better software for the Revo DCC handset.
 
dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

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Have to say Cliff I am a bit of a pleb when it comes to lighting. Most of my recent Battery Conversions have ditched lighting as I hardy ever use it. Though I must admit that the 3 Lights on German Locomotives is attractive. I am also a bit blasee about many of the sounds that are available with full blown DCC as I have mentioned before on other threads, for me Whistle, Bell, Blowing off and perhaps a Shorte Crow Whistle is ample for my needs and in fact for the others that run my line. Less to remember!
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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I think the difficulty here is mapping a highly functional DCC system to a controller with limited abilities.

One can make the argument that there are people who run DCC decoders that will only use horn/whistle, bell, and lights. Many battery operated people only desire these things.

So, I think it depends on the market you are going for.

What frequency does this system work on? Haven't talked about range as I remember

Greg
 
dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

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I think the difficulty here is mapping a highly functional DCC system to a controller with limited abilities.

One can make the argument that there are people who run DCC decoders that will only use horn/whistle, bell, and lights. Many battery operated people only desire these things.

So, I think it depends on the market you are going for.

What frequency does this system work on? Haven't talked about range as I remember

Greg
I guess that you are going to say that 2.4 GHz as stated in the first post is not adequate?
 
dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
14,014
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St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
To bring this up to date Fosworks has listened to my and others comments. The Hanset now has access to 12 Functions. Surely enough for most users. I have tested it out on my Test Rig with a Massoth Small Steam Chip 8210100. All of the 12 Functions worked as expected and were the same as when used on DCC Track with my Massoth Handset with the exception of F6 which turns Sound on and off. Initially I found that this did permantly not turn off the sound as excpected, just acting only while the button was pushed. Looking at the instructions one can change a Buttons Reaction within DCC to be Latch or Momentary. Clearly this would appear to be the case and I have spoken to Steve at Fosworks and he confirms this will be the case. So all OK as expected.

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In operation
F1-3 work by just pressing the 3 black buttons Left to Right.
F4-6 as above when holding the Green Button down as well.
F7-9 as above when holding the Red Button down as well.
F10-12 as above when holding Both Button down as well. This may appear a bit tricky, but was surprisingly simple to use.

My first DCC Battery conversion will be on the bench pretty soon, this will be done using Fosworks DCC.
 
dunnyrail

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dunnyrail

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Do you hold your throttle in the right or left hand? Do you use 2 hands for functions or only one?

Greg
Tend to hold it my left hand with Index Finger pressing Function Buttons Centre Finger does the ‘Shift Buttons’ twiddling Controller with Right Hand if pressing buttons but can do it with left hand only if not pressing buttons as well.