As a layout gets larger, setting up short-circuit protected power districts becomes more important. These Digital Command Control (DCC) boosters from Fleischmann/Roco make it easy to expand the firm’s Z21 Digital system. For this review, I tested both the full featured Z21 Booster and the simplified Z21 Light Booster.
The Light Booster has a single set of 3A track outputs. The Booster has two sets of internally connected outputs that deliver a total of 3A. Although we didn’t receive one for review, a dual booster with two independently configurable 3A track outputs (for a total of 6A) is available for an MSRP of $234.
Set up. The Booster can be connected to the Z21 command station and other Z21 Boosters via the B bus, CDE, or CAN bus. Whatever method is used, it’s important not to mix the bus types if more than one booster is used. The Light Booster has only B bus connections.
Neither the Booster nor the Light Booster include a power supply. The boosters require a switching power supply with DC output and a minimum current of 3A. Fleischmann/Roco sells switching power supplies that would work for the boosters: item no. 10851 for the single booster or item no. 10857 for the dual booster. When multiple boosters are daisy-chained together, each unit requires its own power supply.
Test track. For testing I set up two track sections, electrically isolated with insulated rail joiners. I tested the Light Booster and the fully featured Booster separately. I connected one track section to the main outputs of the Z21 command station and the other section to the track outputs of the Booster or Light Booster. I also connected the boosters to an 18V 4A power supply that matched the requirements listed in each product’s documentation.
Both the Light and fully featured versions provided reliable power when I ran a locomotive between sections. There was no stalling and no interruption of the locomotive’s sound or light effects. The circuit breaker also tripped as it’s supposed to when I deliberately triggered a short circuit.
Special functions of the boosters, such as the auto reversing feature, can be turned on or off by using the Stop button as outlined in both instruction manuals. When connected via the CAN bus, the fully featured Booster has additional features that can be adjusted using the Z21 Maintenance Tool software (See Z21.eu/en for more information) or programming on the main (POM) with a DCC throttle.
I used POM via a Z21 Multimaus throttle to set up a brake generator section of track. Following the instruction manual, I pressed the Stop button until the booster’s LED flashed green, signalling it was in configuration mode. Then I used the throttle to enter the booster’s address, 9806, and set CV111 to a value of 1. If you have a locomotive with this address, you’ll need to remove it until booster programming is complete.
After programming, the locomotive coasted to a stop in the braking track section, but I could still trigger functions like the horn and bell. Additional CVs control auto-reversing, track voltage, and other features. A list is included in the instruction manual.
These plug-and-play DCC boosters from Fleischmann/Roco make it easy to add power districts and enhanced operation to a Z21-controlled model railroad.
Modelleisenbahn München GmbH
Kronstadter Straße 4
81677 München Germany
Distributed in North America by
Heartland Hobby Wholesale
6929 Seward Ave.
Lincoln, NE 68507
• Maximum output 3A
• Short circuit detector
• Can be used as an auto reverser
• Connections via B Bus
• Additional Booster features
• Adjustable track voltage (12V to 24V)
• Connections via B bus, CAN, or CDE Bus
• DCC brake generator
• Two track outputs (total output is 3A)