ZTC Controls


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ZTC was founded by Robin Palmer in the 1990's and was one of the first systems to emerge after the development of the NMRA compliance code. When Robin decided it was time to move on after offering ZTC to Sherwood Models/PLS Layouts it was acquired by David Nicholson - we did not take up the offer as we are not digital electronic engineers and believed that ZTC needed to move forward, something we could not achieve. We remained as retailers/installers during the ownership of the Nicholson family but on their decision to cease their association with ZTC we decided it was time for us to stop retailing as much of the system was in need of upgrade and was being overtaken by global manufacturers. However we have many years experience with ZTC supply, installation and trouble shooting (we believe more than anyone else!) so if you require some assistance with installation issues please do not hesitate to contact us. 

If you have purchased ZTC apparatus and are struggling with your installation we offer a specialist ZTC installation service using your  ZTC components. We also supply many NMRA approved DCC components that will work with your ZTC system and are more efficient and more reliable. 

Some words of advice for ZTC users or potential users: 

  1. We would suggest the use of a DCC circuit breaker between the ZTC controller and the layout to help prevent problems caused by protracted short circuits or failures on the layout. Breakers should also be fitted between booster units and the track block.

  2. Do not use the ZTC310 converter interface and ZTC360 capacitor discharge unit as recommended to allow the operation of Tortoise or similar stall type turnout motors on the ZTC304 accessory decoder even if using a separate booster unit for turnouts. It is likely that you will have stability issues particularly when powering up. Choose a specialist stall motor enabled decoder e.g. NCE Switch 8/2 or Team Digital SMD84. We have layouts operating over 60 Tortoise motors off one ZTC550 booster unit without any problem using Team Digital SMD8/4 switch machine drivers (accessory decoder). The NCE Swith 8/2 is probably the most economic and efficient switch machine driver for Tortoise motors.

  3. If you have a return loop, turntable or crossing that needs to reverse polarity do not use a ZTC550 booster unit. Use a DCC auto reverse module as this is much more economic and more stable.

  4. If you are experiencing instabilities with ZTC locomotive decoders initially check their age of manufacture. Very early decoders are prone to 'running away', these usually have a black heat shrink covering to the decoder. The more recent white sleeved decoders are more reliable but greater stability can be obtained from manufacturers such as TCS. 

  5. The ZTC302 DCC turnout motor is only suitable for direct mounting to Peco turnouts. It is not suitable for mounting below the base board on an adaptor plate without using the supply on a high voltage which is usually not advised and may cause damage to some locomotive decoders. The motor has insufficient power to work reliably under the base board without direct mounting. It is therefore necessary to cut out the baseboard to accommodate the motor.

Despite ZTC now being a little out dated we still prefer to use the ZTC511 for programming locomotive decoders. It has a very simple CV programming interface and has advantages over some systems when programming. The ZTC511 when using the program track output reads CV's very easily and allows a locomotive to run on the program track once programming mode has been exited.

If you are new to DCC and are looking to purchase a DCC control system and may need help from Professional Layout Services in system installation or the construction of your layout please contact us before purchasing for advice.


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