Blue rail in S

Francine posted:

Thanks, if a Flyerchief goes bad, this looks like the way to go.  I wonder if it works with a conventional DCC controler?


BlueRail is strictly BlueTooth, it has no DCC circuitry. It will operate on a DCC layout, but it only uses the always-on DCC track voltage, it is oblivious to DCC control signals. 

If the FlyerChief goes out, it will either be the circuitry in the FC controller, or the circuitry in the loco. If the problem is in the the controller, replace it with another controller, or use the LionChief Universal Controller. If the problem is in the loco, either get new boards from Lionel, or start looking into DCC or BlueTooth.

Bill in FtL


I currently have 2 O scale engines (Weaver RS3 and Williams E7) and a G scale 4-6-0 with BlueRail boards installed.

The sounds are generic, but the E7 and 4-6-0 also have Bluetooth speakers installed and sound much better than the sound as it comes out of my Ipad.  Also, all 3 of mine are battery powered (9.6v, 2000Mah NiMh) and perform fine.  I even have a BadCatz bluetooth game controller I can use once I connect to the engines using my Ipad, if I don't want to hold the Ipad for too long (it can get heavy!).

The new boards (hopefully out this summer) will have some enhanced features, but Dave Rees hasn't said what they are yet.


Having A Blast Running BPRC

I've posted some of this before.  Dead-rail, battery-power, and/or Blue Rail could be the future.  Two of the biggest determining factors for uS are battery-life and current capacity, especially in terms of having enough to handle with our beloved smoke units.  But without those, there's already a lot to work with.

Who needs power of any kind to the tracks?  Not to run trains, only to charge the battery and even then most systems can do so with AC, DC, or DCC current to the tracks.  Charge while running or standalone.  With auto-limiters so you can't overcharge. 

Our very own NASG Webmaster, Peter Vanvliet, is very knowledgeable about this and from whom I have learned the most when it comes to this burgeoning model train operating technology and approach.  Below is some of the information and links that he has provided me.  

I recommend to start by reading Peter's article about Battery Power on his web site: 

As well as peruse his web site in general: 

Yahoo has a S-CAB discussion group:

There is a "Dead Rail Society" web site:
(associated with Tam Valley Depot)

These are the YouTube videos that Peter is aware of: (O-scale) (Sn3) (Sn3, part 1) (Sn3, part 2)

And Peter's own videos:
Note: in his videos a converted AM FA-2 runs along on a tabletop. Power to tracks?  Who needs tracks?

The one thing you can count on never changing is change.  It's always going to be there.  



S happens

David, Did your Pete Vanvliet work for the Navy, if so I know him!!!  I worked for FTSCLANT, NAVSEACENLANT, MARMC.  If he's the same one tell him I said hello.

Even in O scale finding a spot to stick a battery can be difficult, but folks in HO are doing it so....

There's a load of information on the Freerails forum too


Having A Blast Running BPRC

Greekchief posted:

How are the sounds I wonder? 

Sound is my question too. I'd like to try a Bluerail or other blue tooth controlled board installation, but I am a big fan of sound when it comes to our hobby, and I need to find out more about the options.  With the possible death of retail TMCC boards, I am likely to try a PS3 installation next in part because of the great sound options from MTH. But if I find that any of the bluetooth board manufacturers have great sound specific to the loco, I'd try it out.

I have posted on several occasions that I have converted several OGauge locos to BlueRail bluetooth control using battery power, AC track power and DC track power. Details can be found on the BlueRail website. All three power modes work great.  Two of these conversions include on-board sound. I removed a bluetooth amplifier board from a small bluetooth speaker and installed it in the loco along with a speaker. The BlueRail app will connect with both the BlueRail control board and the bluetooth amplifier board and relay all of its sounds (steam & diesel) to the loco speaker. This setup provides a really great operating combo. I have just received some new higher power bluetooth amplifier boards and will be trying them out to get more sound volume.

Here's a crappy video of my Williams E7 with the Bluerail board and a 2" bluetooth speaker installed

Maybe it'll give you some idea of the sounds, not sure what the new Bluerail board will do.

The 2" speaker was p/o a bluetooth Gems (company name) speaker I bought at Target for $5. I gutted it and used the speaker, the circuit board and a 5v regulator connected to the Bluerail circuitry.


Having A Blast Running BPRC

Chuck K posted:
Greekchief posted:

How are the sounds I wonder? 

Sound is my question too. I'd like to try a Bluerail or other blue tooth controlled board installation, but I am a big fan of sound when it comes to our hobby, and I need to find out more about the options.  With the possible death of retail TMCC boards, I am likely to try a PS3 installation next in part because of the great sound options from MTH. But if I find that any of the bluetooth board manufacturers have great sound specific to the loco, I'd try it out.

The OP links get you to this video:

That makes it similar to the AF Sound Boxcars in theory however the sounds are accessed via Bluetooth connections. It seems kinda clunky at best. I think the sounds are generic and come with the APP.


Bob D. - I'm not sure if its the same Peter V, but you can contact him with his email address off the NASG web site under Appointed Positions --  Let us know if he is.  

Chuck K. -- the S-Cab system (another branded or proprietary battery-power system like BlueRail) that Peter chose to use and describes in greatest detail utilizes standard DCC decoders which have plenty of sounds and sound quality.  However, it does not use BlueTooth, and the S-Cab remote has limited CV access compared to a regular DCC controller, but that can be a good thing.  You might want to check it out.  Peter describes several different battery power products/solutions in the market on his web site with links to them.  And if you contact him,  I'm sure you'll find he's a great guy and very helpful.  I did.  I haven't gone battery-power, yet, but use and install DCC.  Sounds are amazing and the degree to which you can program them, especially with DecoderPro software off the internet, far exceeds anything possible with PS3 and/or Legacy/TMCC.  


S happens

Sounds good David. I will contact Peter.  I happen to know him as he lives only about 10 miles away from me here in the Houston area.  I have talked briefly with him before about battery power, and I have been with him when he has run his S Cab locos on our club layout.


Dave made me aware of this thread. Thanks, Dave! First, I never had the honor of serving in the military, so Bob Delbridge, that's not me.

Yes, Chuck has seen my American Models FA2 running on the Houston S Gaugers club layout. It will pull a 20-car train for the full train show (6-8 hours) before the battery is empty. I am (currently) not interested in sound, so none of my installations include sound. However, as Dave mentioned, S-CAB can support sound.

Basically, the differences between the systems are that S-CAB requires you to purchase a dedicated physical hand-held throttle (my personal preference), whereas the BlueRail Trains system relies on you owning a smartphone or tablet. S-CAB uses radio-frequency for the method of communication, while BlueRail Trains uses Bluetooth technology. Both require some sort of receiver to be installed in the locomotive. Power for the locomotive and onboard electronics can be taken from the rails or from an optional battery onboard. Your choice.

CVP Products makes a physical throttle for the G-scale market but it uses the exact same transmitter/receiver combo that S-CAB uses, so you can purchase the CVP T5000 throttle, if you prefer (they also make receivers that fit in HO-scale or larger engines). The way I see it is that the S-CAB throttle is the "basic" version for day-to-day running, while the CVP one is for the "advanced programming" version. I do plan on purchasing the CVP throttle, but so far I have been perfectly happy with the S-CAB throttle by itself for the past 5+ years.

What sold me on the S-CAB system 5 years ago was the use of the onboard battery, and the convenience of from-the-track charging (no swapping batteries like the G-gaugers have to do, and no ugly dangling exterior plug). Place the engine on a section of track that has 6 volts or more (DC, DCC, AC) on it, and the battery will fully charge in about 8 hours (I let mine sit overnight, because the S-CAB system has overcharge shutdown protection in it).

I have no personal experience with the BlueRail Trains system, but with S-CAB I know that Neil Stanton sells the Soundtraxx Tsunami sound decoders. So, if you have heard one of those sound decoders, you get the same with the S-CAB system. Neil has the older and newer Soundtraxx decoders available, and he also has higher-amp DCC decoders, too (which may be of interest to those of you wanting to use smoke units, I don't know). Basically, the way S-CAB works is, its receiver is hard-wired to a DCC decoder of your choice. For a current list of which ones are available, browse Neil's page at

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Disclaimer: I am just a happy customer of the S-CAB system; I do not get compensated.

 - Peter.

Other than the simple Bluetooth speaker option for BlueRail boards, which I grant are generic granted, has their been anyone who has incorporated any sound card with the BlueRail board?  I would seem straightforward enough to do and hope it's incorporated in the next gen board... along with more current capability.

I have carefully studied both the CVP 2.4MHZ system and the S-Cab 914MHZ system and concluded that both are well designed. CVP and S-Cab use t wo different approaches to battery power and both have merit. The information available on their websites is the most technically comprehensive and sophisticated of any sites on this subject.  ( So is Peter V's)  I would strongly suggest that anyone seriously interested in this subject take the time to review all of this really useful information as well as the BlueRail site which will describe the bluetooth version so you have a complete picture. For the record, I have an MSEE, five patents and close to 50 published articles on model railroading.


Great info everyone. Much appreciated.  S-Cab is more my style because of what the combo with Soundtraxx provides in sound, but I'm not ready to add another handheld remote to my layout.  So I will wait around and see if anyone comes out with a best of both of these options (IMO), i.e. power of a DCC decoder sound plus app control via bluetooth or wifi. For now looks like PS3 is the best fit to my preferences for any future electronics installations in locos since I can run everything on my layout with one app.

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