Hornby Zero 1 - help!

A visit to the loft revealed my '80s Hornby track, locos, rolling stock etc. I see that I junked the controllers in favour of the Zero 1 control system
inc one slave unit.
Not all locos have modules, but I wonder if I should module them or perhaps "un-module" the ones that have them!
Has anyone any experience/expertise of this contro system? Is it worth pursuing, or are there problems not making it worthwhile?
This might be very important because I'm thinking about a "loft" conversion in our double garage to provide a family and animal free environment in which to have a really good-sized room dedicated to this hobby. This could be expensive enough without paying out for something that proves not to be worthwhile.
All advice gratefully rec'd about any of this, not just Zero 1.
Thanks
PS. This is my first effort with Newsgroups, so please excuse any cock-ups!!
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As I understand it although Zero 1 is still supported by some modern DCC systems (sort of a very modern Zero 1 with bells and whistles) Zero 1 itself is obsolete, it's not going to be developed further and as time goes by support for it will wane. So although you could quite probably enjoy yourself for the time being you may find 5 or 10 years down the line having to either replace everything or having to make do with a system that is increasingly difficult to keep going.
My advice then would be to scrap it now and start from scratch either with a modern DCC system or "conventional" control. 'Fraid I don't know enough about DCC to advise - I only got back into the hobby myself a couple of years ago and I plumped for conventional control. I think though that with the benefit of hindsight I should have gone down the DCC route rather than try to salvage older stuff and make it work ... in any event much of my older stuff has now been replaced only 2 years down the line yet I'm committed to conventional wiring with all that entails.
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All the best,

Chris Wilson
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"Peter Wall" wrote

etc.
perhaps
Zero 1 has been obsolete for night on 20 years. Locos with Zero 1 chips will operate (exclusively I believe) with ZTC DCC control systems, but that are the most expensive and least reliable DCC system currently on the market.
My suggestion would be to dechip your locos, give them some serious running using conventional DC control, and then look at DCC (probably Lenz) if the bug takes you again.
Modern DCC systems are infinitely superior to the old Zero 1 system, and to persist with that would be folly in my book.
John.
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I totally agree with John. When I started again in 2001, I bought a lot of Zero One from E Bay, should of just flushed the money down the Loo. However, it did give me the DCC bug, and as I was starting fresh, I went with Digitrax. Bit of a learning curve, but once mastered is easy, reliable and fun!! Another good reason for going with a modern DCC system is that its even possible to chip a small loco like a terrier, something that you cant do with Zero One chips. Good luck Rob
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On or about 2004-10-31,

You can use Zero 1 with ZTC's DCC system. I forget whether you can run Zero 1 and DCC locos at the same time, possibly not. Google will find their web site. However if you're going to go DCC, you may be able to equip all the locos you have and junk the Zero 1 stuff for the same price with another supplier. Personally I quite liked the ZTC "base" controller and so went for it a few years back. Now I might choose differently.
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Phil: From being a large Zero-1 user (over 100 locos, and many duplicated codes as a result), with a large Micromimic display of 130 points/signals (diagram available through http://www.fillin.co.uk railway links) I have now converted all current stock to dcc (now >150 locos), and am about to convert the point control over to dcc too - thus losing my current micromimic display....this being coincidental with a full loft conversion which is currently at building regs stage, awiting going to tender..(and which will make the existing micromimic redundant)
If you have only about 16 locos, then continuing for a while with the Zero-1 will cost you nothing, but allow you to make easy use of whatever you have. If you have upto 10 locos, then the new Bachmann EZ-dcc controller will be an easy way to change, at minimal cost (9 with modules/decoders, and 1 without). The cost has never been lower to change! If you have upto 99 locos, then there is a wide range of controllers to choose from (from minimal display' to very explanatory displays of what you are doing) You can use up to 10,000 locos on your system (subject to current availablility 8-) ) ---but what this really means is that you can choose between '2 digit' addressing (locos 1-99, (or 1-127)), or 4 digit addressing which allows more choice.. such as trying to use the locos running number in full eg D8002 4079 31x27
There is a FUNDAMENTAL wiring difference within each loco, compared to Zero-1, and this may make the change a bit awkward: Zero-12 used 3 wires, because it used only 1 half of the 'square wave' ac waveform to drive the loco (which half depended on the direction forward/reverse), hence the motors were ALWAYS pulsed (at 50Hz or 60Hz in USA). No DC locomotives could be placed on the track - conversion was TOTAL.
With dcc, they learnt from the past, and took on the greater capabilities in processors from the 4bit processors of Zero-1, and use '4-wire' connections: 2 to/from the track, and 2 to/from the motor: BOTH sides of the motor are ISOLATED from the track/chassis,,UNLIKE many Hornby or Mainline locos.
Why? ==The power is used by full-wave rectifying the track signal/power. This requires the isolation of motor and track - hence 4 -wire wiring.
This allowed power to be taken from 100% of the on-track waveform.
(Zero-1 was a maximum of less than 50%), and this means that.. a/ if pulse width control is used by the decoder module, it can be at any desired rate - originally often around the old 50Hz, but now commonly above audio frequencies (22kHz, 32kHz) for quieter running, and compatible with coreless motors too. (Control in the decoder COULD be by variable dc level too, but this would mean heat disipation, and a heat sink or larger decoder). b/ with each module running at its own rate, the current is not all taken at the same part of the power cycle - spreading the load (whereas with Zero-1, ALL locos going eg 'forwards' took power at the same time - and simply increased the time they took power at higher speed steps (14).
((There were some Zero-1 modules which didn't always switch off at the end of the power cycle, at which pooint the power reversed....and the motor went up in smoke. These early modules used Triacs, and were replaced by 2 devices by rev C or D))
Module prices are now from less than 10ukp - even without allowing for inflation from the late 70's, that is a LOT cheaper than Zero-12 modules! Just 2 years ago, when I started converting to dcc, the modules were about 30ukp.
DCC modules CAN offer much more in the way of 'features' than Z-1 modules or plain dc locos. -- perhaps the ultimate is SOUND,, and that is why that is the most expensive option to add at present! Usually included is lighting on/off or direction control.
DCC modules are usually physically smaller than Z-1 modules, and therefore easier to fit INSIDE the loco.. (except for the 4-wire isolation of old chassis)
There is a wide range of manufacturers producing compatible parts. So you WILL convert to dcc, which will become the standard (kids starting with Bachmann digital starts sets will look at dc wiring with total dismay)
It is not worth buying 'Z1/dcc compatible modules, because it is cheaper just to by dcc only modules. (Unless you use continental locos, where the later digital systems are still common, and they make 'multistandard' modules which might work on Marklin, Fleishcmann, Trix, AND DCC systems!!
A full loft conversion is expensive, and has taken us a year in planning so far.... so make use of what you have, whilst adapting over to how you WILL be using it in the rebuild when the conversion is complete.
regds Phil
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Phil Spiegelhalter: snipped-for-privacy@fillin.co.uk
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Probably the most sensible suggestion, particularly if you are tempted by DCC as the wiring for the layout is identical. The key here is that it costs you nothing to use what you have. ZTC make compatible chips but I'd avoid them as they are poor and very expensive. It is the route I chose and I've yet to upgrade to DCC.
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Alastair & Elmarie wrote:

Stage one: Use Zero One CU and decoders. Stage two: Replace Zero One CU with one from ZTC. Stage three: replace Zero One decoders with DCC decoders.
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"Gregory Procter" wrote

No, no, no! ZTC is over-expensive and far from the most reliable DCC system.
ZTC is the only one of the DCC systems that seems to need extensive advertising. All the others appear to sell in the UK by word of mouth and reputation.
John.
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John Turner wrote:

It (ZTC) also the only one that supports Zero One in addition to DCC - it seems the original questioner needs to do some costing!
Regards, Greg.P.
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"Gregory Procter" wrote

It would be cheaper to buy a top of the range Lenz system AND a set of decoders than use ZTC.
To be honest I think the original poster should forget Zero 1 altogether and either revert to DC operation or update to modern DCC.
John.
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a top of the range Lenz system AND a set of

I couldn't agree more. ZTC is hideously overpriced and from my experience does not work properly.

and
Except that either path will cost him money and if he goes the 12vDC route he has the complexity of wiring to worry about and may be wasting effort if he later goes DCC. At least using his current equipment he can convert to DCC quickly and easily.
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John Turner wrote:

Really? I sort of assumed that ZTC must be at least vaguely competitive!

I quite agree. (given your comments re ZTC price)
How does ZTC continue to remain in business if they are uncompetitive?
Regards, Greg.P.
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Phil: Like all things, it depends on how the comparison is made, and what user preferences are between different user interface designs! A Ford Ka and a Ford Volvo are different prices!
The ZTC ads feature the top-of their-range controller, and also frequently advertise a 'start-set- which includes examples of loco decoders and accessory decoder and other bits. It can access all addresses. There is a cheaper model. The new Bachmann controller can call only 1-9 on dcc, and analogue0 on '10' Early Lenz/Roco/LGB mouse controllers only called 8 locos LGB controllers cost more than ZTC! Current Roco Maus2 calls 99 addresses, as do the bottom Lenz controllers.
This unit has 'friendly' messages - many people don't like to have to look up 'codes'. It has a physical construction that some may prefer - metal with arm regulator. It is LENZ compatible - using Expressnet - and so will accept Lenz add on products (I use their Telephone adapter and computer interface, as well as a ZTC handheld).
Yes, the Zero-1 compatible modules are high/over priced (that is opinion) - but they have a monopoly in offering the 2 modes. I quickly reassessed costs, and decided to change completely to dcc, and buy their cheaper decoders (and Lenz decoders and now Bachmann or Maccoders)
In mainland europe, other manufacturers offer twin/multi system decoders - and these may be at comparable prices - but of course for Marklin/Fleischmann/Trix etc digital systems as well as dcc.
There is very little difference in decoder price, especially when buying in 10's from ZTC to others; although prices have been moving downward noticably over the past year or so (I started on the basis if 30ukp/loco, and now it is 10-13ukp except for 'special' applications like small size.
(Remember that you have FULL choice in brands for decoders, whichever controller you use: My preference was for Lenz controller Protocol which still gives a wide choice)
Module (decoder) reliability? Well, I've only had a few (4 or 5) failures in over 160 decoders - a mixture of Lenz and ZTC - but must admit that I prefer the Lenz warranty.
Possible reasons I've had for modules 'losing programming' is high temperature storage in the loft (albeit insulated) over the summer - and I've also experienced this with more expensive broadcast equipment when it was stored in a Cairo warehouse - so I don't blame a supplier, but reprogramme the chip.
So I go back to what I said originally - get it going again with what you have - at NO cost, then check that the wiring is acceptable for the new. (If you havn't separated track power and accessory power, using 2 x 2 wires, this would be a good time to do so --- I did that >20 years ago because of the APT otherwise triggering nearby Zero1 point modules!
TRY other controllers -see if you like 'push button'. knob or lever operation, and what type of display you are happy with.
(One option -not compulsory- is to use a computer to do the programming - - this may be a popular choice where the interface of the controller is limited in its display 8-) ) The Bachmann EZ unit seeems to have got basic programming down to a few simple push buttons!
Sound decoders - have only limited choice for UK sounds: The ZTC versions ESU Loksound chips programmed by SWD or yourself
(German and American sounds have a wider choice) LGB sound modules are even more expensive than ZTC 8-)
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Phil Spiegelhalter: snipped-for-privacy@fillin.co.uk
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