ESU’s ECoS 50200 is the 2nd generation of their all in one digital command station with the major addition being the higher resolution colour touch screen. The ECoS combines many features that for many other systems need to be bought as additional modules. The obvious advantage is that you don’t have to worry about additional costs, but the biggest disadvantage is that if 1 component fails, the entire machine has to sent back for repair.
At it’s core, the ECoS is a relatively low power computer sporting a 32-bit ARM 720T processor, a 16-bit real time co-processor, 32MB of RAM, and it runs a version of Linux. It also contains a 7 inch TFT touch screen with a resolution of 800×480 pixels. It also comes with an adjustable power supply rated at 5 Amps, and can be set from 15 Volt to 21 Volt. Apart from the touch screen for layout control, it also has 2 motorised throttles, 2 analog joysticks, 18 function buttons as well as a stop and a go button. Operating the touch screen can be done either directly, or using the included stylus.
The most obvious feature of the ECoS is of course the large full colour touch screen. Compared to today’s touch screens on tablets and mobile phones it might not be anything special, but for a model railroad controlling device it’s plenty good enough. Not only does it show a lot of information, including simple track diagrams, but it also allows for direct control and very easy programming, especially combined with one of the ESU decoders. The screen does require a little calibration (which is often done at the store you buy it from) and there’s a few settings that need to be adjusted to your personal taste, but on the whole it’s pretty much ready to go.
The ECoS supports multiple protocols, although it doesn’t support all features of all those protocols. For example, while it can run and program Selectrix trains, it doesn’t have the Sx bus, so using Selectrix occupancy detectors and turnout controllers isn’t possible.
The ECoS supports DCC (14, 27 and 128 speeds steps, long addresses, and all the other common stuff), Märklín Motorola old and new, Selectrix and M4, which is for all intents and purposes Märklín’s Mfx system. The protocols can all be active at the same time, although there have been some issues with light flickering with certain combinations of protocols. Each protocol can be toggled on and off separately though, so it’s not really much of a problem. For protocols allowing it, the ECoS will also do programming on main (PoM), which makes fine tuning a loco or consist considerably easier. It also supports RailCom and RailComPlus and has an s88 bus for occupancy detection.
Turnouts & routes
Occupancy detection & track diagram