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    • May 8, 2018 1:37 PM EDT
      • Chelmsford, MA
         
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      Greg

       
      Alas we live at a time where products are routinely released with software bugs.
       
       
      That is why on our railroad most of our decoders (such as Lenz and Phoenix) can update their flash while installed in the locomotive allowing me to have the latest decoder software release in my locomotives.
       
       
      I think a large part of the problems with this thread is that most (such as Kevin, and Dan) were discussing TCS version 5 WOW 501 large scale decoders while you were likely discussing problems you have had with version 3 decoders installed in your Z scale locomotives.  I believe the first WOW 501 large scale decoders had a version 4 release.  Thus both you and Kevin were posting accurate information but on different products.
       
       
      That is why I think it is so important to identify specific versions when discussing problems.
       
       
      The portion of my message between the " " was written by Dan of TCS in specific response to TCS WOW Large Scale decoders being discussed in in this thread.  I would like to publicly thank Dan for taking the time to respond.
       
       
      Greg, I would call TCS Tech Support and talk to Dan directly.  I have no idea how old your decoders are or if they can be reflashed or not.  Hopefully they can help you out.
       
       
      Stan
      This post was edited by Stanley Ames at May 8, 2018 1:39 PM EDT
    • May 8, 2018 1:54 PM EDT

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      Stan:

       

      Thank you, will take it up with Dan, since he has actually admitted some of the issues I have brought up. Nice to be somewhat validated by TCS after getting a lengthy diatribe on how I'm wrong once again. Unfortunately because of the environment where everything I do is challenged, insultingly, all that I learn will be put on my web site to avoid more conflict. Note Well: LSC is affecting my spirit of sharing with this nonsense.

       

      I noticed I received my OhWowSound decoder in early April so I will return it for updating/replacement. I'll see if there is REALLY new firmware for my pile of defunct Z scale decoders.

       

       

      Dennis:

       

      I have had no programming issues with the Z scale TCS decoders in being able to program them. Keeping a program, going nuts requiring a reset, loss of motor control, erratic speed steps are all well documented problems, as well as personally experienced by me,  but CV read and write appears to work until the decoder goes nuts. The reset command always seems to "get through".

       

      I'll take my OhWowSound decoder to my decoder pro setup and see how it works, before returning it for replacement/updating. (My setup is quad core I7 on windows 10, latest non-beta release of JMRI, NCE USB interface, NCE PowerCab)

       

      Dennis, what specifically cannot you do with the CV's, not read any at all? Also what is your hardware between JMRI and the tracks?

       

      I'll see if I can help... I have another friend with Sprog problems, and I expect his is the old "current related" one... light bulbs and resistors are usually the solution.

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Greg Elmassian at May 8, 2018 3:00 PM EDT
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    • May 9, 2018 1:04 PM EDT
      • Maryville, Tennessee
         
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      I have sent the decoder to TCS for evaluation.

      Have several TCS G8's, WOW121 and a ESU. All works fine using either my Lenz Set100 or my DCC++ command station, used them to verify my setup works.

      Problem is I could not read CV's using DecoderPro "Read full sheets" on the WOW501. The first CV would read OK but the rest was garbage.  I could read individual CV's OK most of the time., sometime would get garbage back.

      Even just connecting a motor and programming track connection to the decoder on the bench made no difference.

      Allen Gartne,r who I have known for 20+ years,  suggested it was a timing problem in the decoder firmware in the acknowledgement. The decoder would accept individual writes OK.

      See what TCS has to say.

       

      ____________________________________

      Dennis in East Tennessee

       

    • May 9, 2018 1:18 PM EDT

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      Thanks Dennis.

      So to make sure I understand, your JMRI/DecoderPro setup is connected to what hardware? The Lenz, or a DCC++ command station? (that was my question what is "between" decoder pro and the tracks.

       

      I'll try the full sheet read this weekend and report back. Will be doing it with a Windows 10 computer, Decoder Pro and the NCE USB interface to a PowerCab system, just to state my setup.

       

      We had some readback issues with the first QSI decoders, until we realized that with verbal confirmation on, the decoder would not respond to the next read until it stopped talking!

       

      Greg

       

      ____________________________________

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    • May 9, 2018 9:07 PM EDT

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      Stanley Ames said:

      I think a large part of the problems with this thread is that most (such as Kevin, and Dan) were discussing TCS version 5 WOW 501 large scale decoders while you were likely discussing problems you have had with version 3 decoders installed in your Z scale locomotives.  I believe the first WOW 501 large scale decoders had a version 4 release.  Thus both you and Kevin were posting accurate information but on different products.

      I've got a variety of forms and software releases on my decoders. My "quirkiest" decoders were v.3 steam and diesel decoders, both the 101 boards. These were my first forays into TCS decoders. I put these in small LGB locos.

       

      My v.3 diesel board was probably the worst, as it would go haywire when I tried programming very basic CVs with my Airwire handheld. I had the paperwork printed to ship it back to TCS, but decided to give it one more factory reset before throwing in the towel on it. I then programmed it exclusively using "Audio Assist," and I got it tuned right. It was a bit tedious to go that route, but it worked. Now, it's one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" things. If it goes haywire, I'll yank it and have it re-programmed. Hasn't yet, though, so I'm optimistic. I run that loco fairly regularly on my shelf switching layout. (LGB #50 switcher) 

       

      My v.3 steam board (again, 101 form factor) was a little more civil when it came to programming, but the sound would cut out randomly. It also didn't like my Tam Valley Depot receiver, shutting it down every now and then. I don't know if the two were related. I replaced the TVD receiver with an Airwire Convertr, and the problems of the board shutting down went away. I think ultimately I did a CV-8-induced factory reset (as opposed to Audio Assist or the 4-CV programming reset) and things fell neatly into place operationally. There's still some weirdness with the sensitivity of the BEMF chuff, but it's not objectionable. I've got a spare 101 (v.4) that I may use in its place if I get the urge to dig into the loco. (LGB Porter)

       

      I've got a v.4 (121 form factor) which I had to send back, if I recall, because I somehow programmed it into a deep dark place from which it did not wish to emerge. (Operator error.) Got it back and it's worked well since then. This is one of the boards which did not play well with specific motors in the locos I placed them into, but placing them in different locomotives resolved that issue. 

       

      After these three boards, I switched to using JMRI to program my boards. In addition to TCS, I was getting much more heavily involved with Zimo, Massoth, and Soundtraxx boards, and it was apparent that JMRI was the way to go if I were to be programming DCC decoders and preserving what was left of my sanity. The rest of my TCS boards (501s and 101s, both steam and diesel) have been v.4 software. My 501 diesel board had a quirk when programming with JMRI where I had to cycle the power to get certain changes to show up, but my 501 steam board and subsequent 101s have all programmed just fine with JMRI. The 501 diesel board was an early v.4 release, but I don't know if it was the "first" v.4 release. The remaining v.4 boards were all purchased much more recently, so I'm guessing they have the upgrades. The only way I know to be able to tell the difference is to listen to the choices available under Audio Assist. Later versions have more choices. At this point, all of my boards are running without operational issues. "Happy camper." 

       

      I can't speak to issues involving reading CVs off of the boards through JMRI or other systems. I primarily use a wireless interface to do the programming which does not allow me to read back CV values. If I am programming direct to the decoder (no wireless interface), I'm going through a Sprog Nano, which also does not support the reading back of CVs. At some point I'll upgrade my Sprog so I can document the changes I've made to the decoders outside of JMRI, but until that point, that's why I have a pencil and notebook. 

       

      Later,

       

      K

      ____________________________________
    • May 9, 2018 9:24 PM EDT

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      Wow he's had a lot of problems... maybe it's clear why TCS is one of the last brands I recommend... like my first response a couple thousand words earlier..

      My past experience parallels this, so I don't recommend them. Unfortunately they make exactly what I need in Z scale, but the quality of the performance is too low.

       

      This weekend I will confirm my decoder versions, and if TCS claims they fixed them, great, a pile of worthless decoders might get shipped back and exchanged.

       

      We will see.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

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    • May 9, 2018 10:20 PM EDT

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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Wow he's had a lot of problems... 

      Problems? It's only a "problem" if it can't be resolved. That's not the case here at all, which is why I wrote "happy camper." Even my "quirky" v.3 boards are running just fine for me. How can something be a "problem" if it's working? Version 3 is obsolete, so any issues I did encounter with those old boards are moot for new customers anyway. My v.4 boards have been solid, so no "problem" there, either. 

       

      I understand your perspective. You've not had good luck with TCS's older boards, and your early experience with the large scale board wasn't exactly positive, either. "Once bitten, twice shy" as the saying goes. I don't have that long history with older boards. My experience with TCS lies solely with the WowSound boards, and my experience--even with a few quirks--has been overwhelmingly positive.

       

      Different folks + different boards + different experiences = different opinions. This should surprise no one. You're welcome to post your opinion, I'll continue to post mine. 

       

      Later,

       

      K

      This post was edited by Kevin Strong at May 9, 2018 10:21 PM EDT
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    • May 10, 2018 12:35 AM EDT
      • Chelmsford, MA
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Wow he's had a lot of problems... maybe it's clear why TCS is one of the last brands I recommend... like my first response a couple thousand words earlier..

      My past experience parallels this, so I don't recommend them. Unfortunately they make exactly what I need in Z scale, but the quality of the performance is too low.

       

      This weekend I will confirm my decoder versions, and if TCS claims they fixed them, great, a pile of worthless decoders might get shipped back and exchanged.

       

      We will see.

       

      Greg

      Greg

       
      I have a Dodge Caravan.  I can go on for pages on all the parts I have had to replace, including the alternator twice, brake lines, parking brake cables (required lowering the fuel tank) ...
       
       
      Does that make the car a bad one.  Yes if it were a 2018 model.  But its a 2001 model with a lot of miles which makes the entire story quite a bit different.
       
       
      TCS had some growing pains like all the others.  We can talk about older Digitrax problems, NCE problems, Lenz problems or god forbid QSI Solution problems at great length.  Confirming known past problems is kinda a waste of time.  (been there done that)
       
       
      However in deciding to recommend or not recommend  I base it on how the company as addressed past problems and the quality of the current release.  Also the business model of the comany to me is also important.
       
       
      TCS gets high marks on all my three criteria and very few companies can reach that level in my grading scale.
       
       
      But I do like the ability to perform software updates myself so my older decoders have the latest software.
       
       
      Stan
    • May 10, 2018 11:59 AM EDT

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      Guys, I have far more experience with software, firmware, and microprocessors and hardware than both of you combined.

      Lay off the patronizing talk about bugs, etc. I work with microprocessors, firmware, and hardware for a living. Oh I also have degrees in this from a university. Stop the lectures and platitudes.

       

      The simple point here was that of all the decoders I would recommend to Daniel, the WowSound and the SoundTraxx are at the bottom of my list because of their track records, past and current.

       

      The rest of this is a smoke screen.

       

      Greg

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    • May 10, 2018 12:39 PM EDT
      • Marysville, Kansas
         
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      Amazing one simple question can lead to a giant foot stomping fit.

       

      We should be able to discuss our personal OPINIONS and EXPERIENCES with a product without the childish "I'm right because I said so" nonsense that this post has developed into.

    • May 10, 2018 2:10 PM EDT
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      I'm hesitant to lock this thread, it is a good discussion.  Perhaps cooler heads will prevail. 

       

       

      ____________________________________

      Bob, your Site Host and Benevolent Dictator.

    • May 10, 2018 2:38 PM EDT

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      They will if the sniping that was present on MLS is not allowed here.

       

      I've got a lot of experience and no dog in this fight, but somehow there's always someone here to stick the knife in a bit about my opinions not being factual, about how microprocessors and firmware bugs work, how it works for them, and how they have never seen that problem (shades of Aristo and slipping drivers)

       

      I'm here to help, not pimp other products or continue the Kool Aid mentality, where anything negative is "hurting" industry. I welcome new products like any other guy, but when they come out half baked, and a person new to the hobby asks for advice, we should not give him a can of worms, but something reliable and proven.

       

      Up to you Bob, I had intended to test and verify versions of all my TCS decoders this weekend, and if they are the ones that are supposedly fixed, return them. I have the WowSound and a number of Z scale decoders, all exhibiting the same erratic behavior, besides the loss of sound unique to the WowSound.

       

      That will be factual data, as I think we will find the results are not quite as presented by TCS. But whatever I present will be facts, not opinions as Kevin's little "dig" stated.

       

      Greg

       

       

      This post was edited by Greg Greg Elmassian at May 10, 2018 2:41 PM EDT
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    • May 10, 2018 2:39 PM EDT
      • Maryville, Tennessee
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Thanks Dennis.

      So to make sure I understand, your JMRI/DecoderPro setup is connected to what hardware? The Lenz, or a DCC++ command station? (that was my question what is "between" decoder pro and the tracks.

       

      I'll try the full sheet read this weekend and report back. Will be doing it with a Windows 10 computer, Decoder Pro and the NCE USB interface to a PowerCab system, just to state my setup.

       

      We had some readback issues with the first QSI decoders, until we realized that with verbal confirmation on, the decoder would not respond to the next read until it stopped talking!

       

      Greg

       

      Greg: to answer your questions:

      1. JMRI V 4.10 Production

      2. JMRI V 4.11.3 Test

      3. JMRI V 4.11.5 Test

      4. Lenz Set 100 V3.6 with LI-USB or

      5. DCC++ using slightly modified code to read CV's from N-Scale Digitrax decoders and also G-Scale decoders.

       

      I use both the Lenz and DCC++ to read the CV's into DecoderPro, depend which one is hooked up at that moment. Both do a great job with virtually no errors. Put the WOW501 on the programming track and the motor acts like a mis-tuned model T ford. Worst on the DCC++ command station. Put a G8, WOW121 or ESU and you get the normal little bump of the motor for the acknowledgement.  Other than that the WOW501 does respond to operating commands just fine and runs very smoothly, sound is outstanding.

      TCS has it now and hope to see there response.

      ____________________________________

      Dennis in East Tennessee

       

    • May 10, 2018 2:44 PM EDT

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      Thanks Dennis, so when programming, instead of the short pulse to the motor, it sort of runs continuously?

       

      I'll work mine over this weekend... due to my (temporary) configuration at the time, I was doing WowSound programming on the main / audio menu.

       

      Now I have both programming tracks (pure NMRA service mode) available, the NCE and the Zimo.

       

      Will report back if this thread is not locked.

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Greg Elmassian at May 10, 2018 2:45 PM EDT
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    • May 10, 2018 9:10 PM EDT
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      Dennis Cherry said:
      Greg Elmassian said:

      Thanks Dennis.

      So to make sure I understand, your JMRI/DecoderPro setup is connected to what hardware? The Lenz, or a DCC++ command station? (that was my question what is "between" decoder pro and the tracks.

       

      I'll try the full sheet read this weekend and report back. Will be doing it with a Windows 10 computer, Decoder Pro and the NCE USB interface to a PowerCab system, just to state my setup.

       

      We had some readback issues with the first QSI decoders, until we realized that with verbal confirmation on, the decoder would not respond to the next read until it stopped talking!

       

      Greg

       

      Greg: to answer your questions:

      1. JMRI V 4.10 Production

      2. JMRI V 4.11.3 Test

      3. JMRI V 4.11.5 Test

      4. Lenz Set 100 V3.6 with LI-USB or

      5. DCC++ using slightly modified code to read CV's from N-Scale Digitrax decoders and also G-Scale decoders.

       

      I use both the Lenz and DCC++ to read the CV's into DecoderPro, depend which one is hooked up at that moment. Both do a great job with virtually no errors. Put the WOW501 on the programming track and the motor acts like a mis-tuned model T ford. Worst on the DCC++ command station. Put a G8, WOW121 or ESU and you get the normal little bump of the motor for the acknowledgement.  Other than that the WOW501 does respond to operating commands just fine and runs very smoothly, sound is outstanding.

      TCS has it now and hope to see there response.

      Dennis

      What did the GURUs on the JMRI forum have to say about these decoders and the problems you are having?

      Tom

       

    • May 11, 2018 4:23 AM EDT

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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Guys, I have far more experience with software, firmware, and microprocessors and hardware than both of you combined...

      Lay off the patronizing talk about bugs, etc. I work with microprocessors, firmware, and hardware for a living. Oh I also have degrees in this from a university. Stop the lectures and platitudes.

      I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Doesn't that count for anything?    

       

      Greg Elmassian said:

       

      The simple point here was that of all the decoders I would recommend to Daniel, the WowSound and the SoundTraxx are at the bottom of my list because of their track records, past and current.

       

      Can we please just agree that we have different experiences with these boards? I like 'em and you don't. They work for me, they don't for you. I'm gonna recommend 'em, you won't. In a world of many shades of grey, this is starkly black and white, pretty straightforward. If you want to say I'm "drinking the Kool-Aid" because I'm promoting a product I use and like, then please make mine cherry, and just a little bit of ice if you would. You just need to keep the drink cool, not take up otherwise valuable space. I mean--seriously--ever get a drink from Sonic? What's up with their ice? What good is getting a 44-ounce drink if 40 ounces of it is ice? Give me a shot glass instead. It holds more. If I wanted a slushy, I'd go to 7-11. 

       


      (And--yes--I'm purposefully pushing this to the point of absurdity. I seriously don't know what more there is to say, so I may as well just jump the shark and call it good. If you'll excuse me, I have trains to run. Ta ta.  ;) )

       

      Later,

       

      K

       

       

       

      ____________________________________
    • May 11, 2018 9:20 AM EDT
      • Maryville, Tennessee
         
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      Tom Stephens said:
      Dennis Cherry said:
      Greg Elmassian said:

      Thanks Dennis.

      So to make sure I understand, your JMRI/DecoderPro setup is connected to what hardware? The Lenz, or a DCC++ command station? (that was my question what is "between" decoder pro and the tracks.

       

      I'll try the full sheet read this weekend and report back. Will be doing it with a Windows 10 computer, Decoder Pro and the NCE USB interface to a PowerCab system, just to state my setup.

       

      We had some readback issues with the first QSI decoders, until we realized that with verbal confirmation on, the decoder would not respond to the next read until it stopped talking!

       

      Greg

       

      Greg: to answer your questions:

      1. JMRI V 4.10 Production

      2. JMRI V 4.11.3 Test

      3. JMRI V 4.11.5 Test

      4. Lenz Set 100 V3.6 with LI-USB or

      5. DCC++ using slightly modified code to read CV's from N-Scale Digitrax decoders and also G-Scale decoders.

       

      I use both the Lenz and DCC++ to read the CV's into DecoderPro, depend which one is hooked up at that moment. Both do a great job with virtually no errors. Put the WOW501 on the programming track and the motor acts like a mis-tuned model T ford. Worst on the DCC++ command station. Put a G8, WOW121 or ESU and you get the normal little bump of the motor for the acknowledgement.  Other than that the WOW501 does respond to operating commands just fine and runs very smoothly, sound is outstanding.

      TCS has it now and hope to see there response.

      Dennis

      What did the GURUs on the JMRI forum have to say about these decoders and the problems you are having?

      Tom

       

      Nothing, it appears that it might be a faulty decoder.  Wait and see.

      ____________________________________

      Dennis in East Tennessee

       

    • May 20, 2018 8:11 AM EDT
      • Maryville, Tennessee
         
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      Just received an email yesterday from TCS on my WOW501 decoder.

      It seems the firmware was corrupted according to the email.

      Your specific decoder seems to have been experiencing some sort of software glitch. After testing other decoders, I determined this to be a problem with your decoder only. I updated the decoder firmware and now it seems to be working fine. Tested GOOD on JMRI 4.11.3

      Now have to wait for it in the mail and check it out myself.

       

      ____________________________________

      Dennis in East Tennessee

       

    • May 20, 2018 4:35 PM EDT

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      Dennis, I finally went to get the versions of the software on my decoders.

       

      My z scale decoders indicate version 49

       

      The WowSound will not read back all CV's, including the NMRA mandated CV 7, which is the version. It does read back CV 8 at 153, correctly. (It's disappointing that the decoder is not NMRA compliant)

      So, the version must be read from the audio, which indicates Mar 16, 2017, soundset 4 s/w version 4

       

      So, would you be so kind as to post what your audio reported as a version before you sent it in? And what it reports now?

       

      I will send this unit (which was graciously provided by Mike Kidman for evaluation) back to TCS, most likely, along with my Z scale decoders if they say there is an update.

       

      ALL: Let's keep this factual, and if need be, we will start another thread. I'm pretty sick of the politics right now.

       

      Thanks, Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Greg Elmassian at May 20, 2018 4:36 PM EDT
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    • May 21, 2018 1:43 PM EDT

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      Greg, I doubt you'll hear any difference in software version read back by the TCS decoder. My 501 diesel board was built April 5, 2017 (three weeks after yours), and my 101 diesel board was built September 11, 2017. The response from TCS which Stan posted on the previous page indicates revisions were made in May of 2017 to correct reported bugs, so I would presume that to mean that both yours and my 501 boards have the same or similar pre-May-revision software loaded onto it. My 101 board, being built in September, would presumably have this revised software loaded onto it. Both of my diesel boards read back the same thing yours does--sound set 4, version 4. Whatever software revision TCS made in May doesn't appear to be reflected in read back. 

       

      That doesn't surprise me. I know there have been revisions to the v.4 steam boards, but these revisions are not reflected on the Audio Assist read back. TCS upgraded the Audio Assist menu at the beginning of 2017 to include an option for manual calibration of the BEMF load sensitivity for the chuff response. The revised Audio Assist flow chart labels this revision 4.1.  I've got one v.4 board that pre-dates this revision (January 2017), and the rest (Feb - Dec 17) have this revision. All of the boards regardless of build date read back the same thing--sound set 4, software version 4 under Audio Assist. There is no indication on reading the decoder information that there is any difference between them. The packaging the boards came in also indicates solely "version 4." The only way to tell there is a difference is to compare the Audio Assist flow charts. 

       

      Ultimately, what your board currently reads back is moot towards the goal of repairing your defective board. You know whatever software is on your board (regardless of what it says it is) currently isn't working for you, and you know the manufacturer has since revised the software to address known bugs. Maybe the new software will fix your issues, maybe it won't. Maybe it's hardware related, maybe it's a quirky incompatibility between the decoder and the specific loco in which it's installed. Replacing the software is a good first step in getting you a working board. If others have had success with these boards, it stands to reason you should be able to as well. There's got to be a cause somewhere.

       

      Later,

       

      K

       

       

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