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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Good morning Jetguy and Happy Thanksgiving!!
Thank you soo much!! You are right!! I did miss the answer!! I really appreciate your help!! Forgive me, I’m brand new to this and have no experience or idea what I’m doing. Let me see if I got some of this. The track is just the track be it MTH realtrax or Lionel fasttrack. What I need is something to power and control it.
I’m mainly interested in using the MTH engine. I got the Lionel RTR set 2 years ago and haven’t even taken the plastic off of it. My father-in-law got sick and my wife and moved in and took care of him until he passed this past April. I have been looking at wanting to get into this (model railroad) for about 15+ years (I’m 53, 54 in March). So the Z500 and Z1000 is the power source and will control the engine conventionally?
Again, thank you so much for your time and help!! And my apologies for being so ignorant! I’d just like to get this running for my wife and grandson before Christmas. 😁
 

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I’m mainly interested in using the MTH engine. So the Z500 and Z1000 is the power source and will control the engine conventionally?
Yes, I recommend an MTH transformer to be compatible with an MTH engine for best results. I tend to say skip the Z750- because some can put out up to 21V and that is too much IMO especially when mixed with Lionel equipment that again, manuals state 18V max. The Z500 and Z1000 are both 18V and thus compatible for mixed environments with Lionel equipment. Again, just to be clear with names, Z500 or Z1000 can refer just to the power brick transformer itself as an item, or along with the Z500 or Z controller box sold as a set. Keep in mind, these were made over time so originally there were Z500, Z750, and Z controllers labeled and sold with matching transformers. More recently, MTH just made Z controller as the universal version that came with all bricks (Z500, Z750, Z1000).

You could get a Z controller set with a Z1000 brick and that gives you conventional AC with control.
Conventional is universal in that as you expand in this hobby, most engines have conventional control even when they are more advanced. In other words, conventional is kind of the universal control method. It has limitations, you cannot access all features in every engine (example, in Lionel engines you cannot fire the electrocouplers) with just conventional bell and whistle commands.

I have to be honest, there is a slight tossup between what limited features you can access with the 50-1033 DCS Remote Commander set VS just running conventional with bell and whistle sequences. Again, a partial context of these pros and cons is a comparison of conventional control bell and whistle sequence activated features VS having a dedicated button on a remote.
Pros:
Individual labeled buttons for common commands like startup, shutdown, PFA (Passenger or Freight Announcement sequence), also button combinations to adjust volume, fire electrocouplers.​
Relatively cheap in the bigger scheme of things.​
Very simple to use.​
Single biggest feature again is the PFA button
Since this is command control with full voltage on the track and speed controlled by the remote digitally, then the train should run constant speed even with minor voltage dips along the track.​
No need for remembering specific button sequences to perform specific actions.​

Cons:
It's infrared so remote must be pointed at the receiver.​
Must have engine reset to factory default in order for it to listen to this control system.​
Limited functionality- not much more features than what is available than conventional control with bell and whistle sequences.​
The 50-1035 DCS Explorer WIFI is more expensive and has slightly more features. Again, in honesty, how much more does it cost for the few additional features you get, while still not being full blown DCS as with a TIU could be a healthy debate.
 

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It's right in the manual.
Page 4
View attachment 571559
I'm as upset as you are and believe fully there should not be a reason it doesn't work. The problem is, I have seen first hand it not work with a PS2 5V engine. Now is that all of them, only the one I tried, something wrong with the one I tried? All I know is that others pointed me right at the manual that states it and my experience said to not bother and try since both my experience and the instructions say there is an incompatible reason.
Well, in spite of what you read, at least the ones I've tried work fine on the DCS Remote Commander. I had a DCS-RC board on the bench creating my DCS-RC Watchdog boards, so I gave a couple of 5V locomotives a random try. I tested the MTH Premier Y3 and the MTH Premier Propane Turbine, both have five volt boards. They worked perfectly after I first did a full factory reset with the full DCS System. I've run other 5V board equipped locomotives as well in the past with no issues. However, since this topic came up, I though I'd do a little verification.

This topic came up a few times on OGR as I recall. One such post was from
Barry Broskowitz here. I have no reason to doubt his statement as I've proven it to myself many times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Yes, I recommend an MTH transformer to be compatible with an MTH engine for best results. I tend to say skip the Z750- because some can put out up to 21V and that is too much IMO especially when mixed with Lionel equipment that again, manuals state 18V max. The Z500 and Z1000 are both 18V and thus compatible for mixed environments with Lionel equipment. Again, just to be clear with names, Z500 or Z1000 can refer just to the power brick transformer itself as an item, or along with the Z500 or Z controller box sold as a set. Keep in mind, these were made over time so originally there were Z500, Z750, and Z controllers labeled and sold with matching transformers. More recently, MTH just made Z controller as the universal version that came with all bricks (Z500, Z750, Z1000).

You could get a Z controller set with a Z1000 brick and that gives you conventional AC with control.
Conventional is universal in that as you expand in this hobby, most engines have conventional control even when they are more advanced. In other words, conventional is kind of the universal control method. It has limitations, you cannot access all features in every engine (example, in Lionel engines you cannot fire the electrocouplers) with just conventional bell and whistle commands.

I have to be honest, there is a slight tossup between what limited features you can access with the 50-1033 DCS Remote Commander set VS just running conventional with bell and whistle sequences. Again, a partial context of these pros and cons is a comparison of conventional control bell and whistle sequence activated features VS having a dedicated button on a remote.
Pros:
Individual labeled buttons for common commands like startup, shutdown, PFA (Passenger or Freight Announcement sequence), also button combinations to adjust volume, fire electrocouplers.​
Relatively cheap in the bigger scheme of things.​
Very simple to use.​
Single biggest feature again is the PFA button
Since this is command control with full voltage on the track and speed controlled by the remote digitally, then the train should run constant speed even with minor voltage dips along the track.​
No need for remembering specific button sequences to perform specific actions.​

Cons:
It's infrared so remote must be pointed at the receiver.​
Must have engine reset to factory default in order for it to listen to this control system.​
Limited functionality- not much more features than what is available than conventional control with bell and whistle sequences.​
The 50-1035 DCS Explorer WIFI is more expensive and has slightly more features. Again, in honesty, how much more does it cost for the few additional features you get, while still not being full blown DCS as with a TIU could be a healthy debate.
Once again, thank you sooo much!!! I found a z1000 set online for 75 dollars and am still trying to decide on the 50-1033 or 35. Is it difficult to connect this to fastrack or would it be easier to buy some realtrax? Again, thank you for all your help!!
 

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Once again, thank you sooo much!!! I found a z1000 set online for 75 dollars and am still trying to decide on the 50-1033 or 35. Is it difficult to connect this to fastrack or would it be easier to buy some realtrax? Again, thank you for all your help!!
I would not tell anyone to buy realtrax. It's not that it's the worst system in the world, it has it's good points. But it's kind of a dead end IMO. One complaint is that over time, the plastic locking tabs become brittle and can snap off thus no locking mechanism holding the track together. If this was a video cassette, Realtrax is beta and Fastrack is VHS. Again, track is track. There are so many brands of track out there, some of it obscure.

Fastrack has lots of support (meaning it's still being manufactured and sold widely), lots of specialized track pieces and accessories, and plenty of track plans out there. I would not jump ship just quite yet. You have a simple problem, there are simple solutions.

#1 you could cut off the cord of the existing Lionchief supply since you probably won't use it if you get a Z1000.
You just strip the wires, connect them to the terminal posts of the Zcontroller and off you go plugging the end into the fastrack terminal track.
#2 You could buy that common adapter terminal set to connect wires to the terminal track. These are often used with security cameras. Just search for
"5.5mm OD x 2.1mm ID terminal adapter"
Product Sleeve Camera accessory Font Automotive tire


#3 you could either buy the wires precrimped with the .110 terminals or buy a fastrack terminal section with wires.
#4 You could solder your own wires to the tabs of any piece of fastrack.
 

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I would agree that a used or new MTH transformer might be best, although the future of MTH is cloudy at the moment. Power supplies tend to be largely trouble free. I would also agree that buying MTH Realtrax is not the best route. Most folks find it less robust than Fastrack and it's not clear that the "new" MTH will be making more of it, much less improving it. If you have both and want to add more, go with the Fastrack, although it can be kind of pricey.
 

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Having an O-gauge layout with MTH RealTrax, I have to agree with others that suggest NOT going with it.

I get along with it just fine because I am very mechanically & electrically inclined (notice I said "electrically", and NOT "electronically" - there is a difference :p). Admittedly, it has a fair amount of nuances that can be quite frustrating for both beginners and seasoned model railroaders alike.

It is less expensive than Fastrack, so if you can overcome its occasional problems and know (or learn how) to deal with its shortcomings, you could save some money by using it.

Otherwise, Lionel Fastrack will be less exasperating overall. ;)(y)
 

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The problem with RealTrax is it's uncertain future. There's no real indication that the "new" MTH is going to continue the track. If you're starting out, there's no reason to start out with a track family with an uncertain future.
 
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