My Märklin – digital rail layout

HO UK model rail

Future plans and aspirations

Computer Control

As of August 2020  I have achieved a computer controlled layout with under track sensors feeding back to 2 s88’s and to the CS3+ via its ethernet based connectors. There are now 32 sensors using the mid rail. I am assuming that the s88’s are optically isolated thus allowing the mid rail to work. 

The computer control using a digital system needs at its core a control language which will manage all the points, lights, sound and signals that make up Märklins digital environment. This critically important element is in its infancy on the CS3 and currently, in my opinion it is cumbersome and is lacking!

The use of events to control the rail layout is hindered when it has to be carried out on the cs3. The hardware does its job running the physical layout, however it fails to provide an environment in which the events are programmed. The cs3 screen resolution fails to provide a real estate in which all the relevant dependant windows of information can be placed view and reviewed and edited. I would suggest that Märklin or someone get together and develop an external PC/Mac based environment in which the events can be manipulated. Considering the time they have spent developing the hardware Märklin don’t appear to have invested in the software driving rail automation, or in making it accessible to the end user – us – the customer/enthusiast.



At the outset, I’ve wanted to manage the operation of the rail layout from a computer, programmed to direct the movement of locomotives, points, signals and lighting from a central position. Thus an automated rail layout.

I envisage the satisfying vision of three locomotives independently following separate routes and stopping to a set schedule, and without collision. That would be nice!

Whilst the Mobile Station controller is a fine piece of kit, it won’t talk directly to a PC without some other electronic equipment and knowledge which I lack in confidence.

As of 2015, I am a long way off from achieving a computer controlled model rail layout, as I will need an new Märklin central station or an Ecos ESU to talk to the locomotives and PC. Either of them is an expensive and sophisticated piece of technology and both come with varying levels of technical and practical support for the english speaking hobbyist.

The problem lies with Märklin

Märklin documents are translated into a poor form of English which fails to describe technical processes in simple language. Difficult but not impossible. I believe Märklin web documents fall behind in their translations into English, and for me  the end user, this is a deterrent. Despite the fact that I am a German speaker, the tech speak in German sometimes fails my comprehension and in their  translated English it is not much better. In contrast when I look at the pdf documents on the ECOS ESU website they appear to be to a higher standard and whats more important have been crafted and translated into a much friendlier form of English.

Simply Google Translating a document from Märklin fails to  generate useful information. M

Thankfully there are user forums on the net and these are ultimately invaluable to the hobbyist in any are of study. I just find it very worrying that Märklin makes so little use of these forums to promote its products, and to provide free online support to its users.



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