Roco Lokmaus II review

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Alan B, May 17, 2005.

  1. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    After two plus years of operating friends and club layouts with DCC, and almost a year of study for my own layout, I purchased a Roco Lokmaus II to digitize the East Denver Belt. I purchased the Lokmaus II on ebay from a highly rated seller. The set cost me $72 ($12 shipping and handling & $60 for the set). I regard this as a bargain, especially for what the set retails for, and even its street price.

    Limitations Two digit addressing, 99 total addresses, including turnouts, limited amount of programming, five functions. All of which I knew about going into the purchase. (These are the same basic limitations on the Atlas Commander/Lenz Compact and the vastly more expensive Digitrax Big Boy.)

    Positives It took about five minutes to hook up. One connection to the common rail and one to the selector. Connect the AC adapter to the computer and everything was ready to go. I put the included locomotive on the track and it ran immediately! This was the most trouble free set up I've ever been through. Even the modular layout that I was once a member of took longer to hook up their Digitrax Radio Super Chief and they did it four or five times a year. This was just so easy. (In fairness, I did wire the layout according to Atlas common rail system so it was intended to be very simple to change from DC to DCC.) So far I have only programmed an address, but that was easy enough. I suspect that it will take some time to adjust the start voltage on the Roco locomotive to get the kind of crawling starts that I am used to with my Atlas and P2K locomotives. A quick test with a previously programmed Atlas GP40 showed that the Lokmaus II was able to control it as well as the various Lenz Set 100s and Digitrax Zephyrs and Super Chiefs that I had used previously. A test of an Atlas GP40 that had only the factory programming showed that the Lokmaus II controlled that locomotive very well. Straight from the factory, it crept along at the first speed step.

    The Lokmaus II hand controller fits nicely in my hand and seems intuitive. Turn the knob the right and the locomotive moves forward, to the left and the locomotive moves backward. The * button turns the headlights on and off. The F1 - F4 buttons control functions one through four respectively. Programming seemed simple enough, just follow the directions, P and * to set and address. I am sure I will delve more deeply into the system in the days to come.

    Given that I model a railroad that is only six miles long and rarely even sees through freights, I am very happy with my choice. I don't have a need to control a busy section of mainline. On a busy day for the Belt, two switchers are operating simultaneously. On my model, I seldom see that level of activity. It's usually just one switch crew shuffling cars on and off sidings. So the limitations of the Lokmaus II are almost invisible. (It can certainly handle the level of traffic seen on the prototype East Denver Belt though.)

    The Included Locomotive This looks a lot like the Roco built Atlas GP40 from the 1980s. It runs quietly. Roco has installed a good silent running decoder and motor. Out of the box the locomotive ran well on DCC. (Didn't give it a try on DC.) Paint lines are crisp. The loco was painted for the CSX, not my railroad, but I suppose leased power might be needed from time to time. The level of detail was consistant with what I would expect from a factory locomotive. The paint was better than what I've come to see from Athearn's Blue Box line and about what I see from the RTR line. Knuckle couplers are factory installed. With the lights on, it is easy to see inside the cab. This is not prototypical, but I can live with it. Starting voltage from the factory was set too high, so the initial start was "jerky". I'll play with programming the start voltage and see if this can be improved.

    The Included Freight Cars Color is good. The screen printing is sharp, no bleed through. Metal wheel sets are included. Knuckle couplers are installed at the factory. All three cars are marked "Roco Made in Austria" but are definitely American prototypes. The look good to my eye. I have little need for forty foot box cars, but the gondola will come in handy.

    The Included Track The track is standard sectional track built into a rubber ballast base. It appears "American" even though it is made in Austria. There is a power section that can be used to connect to the controller. I won't be using the track, immediately. It may end up replacing the Atlas Tru-Track that I use around the Christmas tree.

    Summary I am happy with my purchase! Roco can count me as a happy customer. The MSRP on this set is way too high for the US market. But, for the street price, between $60 and $125 it's a bargain! Even compared to the Commander and other offerings from Lenz badged under Bachmann and MRC, this set is a bargain.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Thanks for the review. The "turn right-forward / turn left-backwards" feature is one I always thought should be more widespread, especially on digital throttles.

  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    I much prefer turning the control right to accelerate and left to slow down or brake. It just takes a click on the arrow to change direction. On your unit, how do you brake the loco?
  4. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    Center detent is for braking. The <STOP> key kills power to the layout.
  5. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    Lokmaus 2 Update

    I've been running the Lokmaus 2 for a couple of weeks. Time for a few observations. First, DCC is fun! The decoder programming that allows for customizing locomotive performance is very nice. I am very impressed with how well Atlas and Lenz set up the decoder for the GP40. Other than changing the address, the loco runs perfectly, creeping along at just the first touch of throttle in either direction. The Roco GP40 was not as well set up, but lubrication and some fine tuning have helped. It is now close to the Atlas locomotives in terms of slow speed performance.

    The Lokmaus 2 is very easy to program, just touch the "P" key and hold it for eight seconds. When the two points on the display are flashing, release the "P" key and the display will read "1" for CV1. Then use the arrow keys to move to the desired CV. Once there, press "F4" and then enter the value you want for the CV. Finally, press the "P" to write the value into the CV. Programming values for starting voltage, and minimum voltage is a trial and error process as you have to test each value. But, the performance gains at low speed are worth the effort. Programming light functions do not involve the trial and error as only one value gives the desired action. Get that value from the decoder manual.

    Running locomotives is simple, select the address and give a command. The nice thing is having numerous locomotives on the layout doing different things, or just parked is nice. (Just don't leave other locomotives on the layout when programming is taking place. You'll end up with all of them programmed to the same value!)

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