I just received a new Lionel Cupola Cam caboose - ordered in January, it took almost a year to get here, but I was excited to see it work on my layout (saw it demonstrated at York and was impressed with picture fidelity and rock solid video). So, I installed the app on my iPad (only a year old); hooked up the caboose, and linked the system to my network. So much for excitement, the disappointment was palpable. Here is a laundry list of "features":
- The instructions are sparse to say the least - if they at least had an on-line help function, it would be OK. As it is, there are many things that seem to happen that are undefined (I suddenly see "service request" in the window where the device connection status is displayed but no explanation to be found re the significance of that message). No discussion of the system architecture - what is the block diagram of transmission from the caboose that ultimately gets to the iPad. Does it go to my network router and then get retransmitted to the iPad or is it establishing its own network?
- Aspect ratio of images is distorted (significantly higher and narrower than real). Image quality is abysmal - no way this is 1080 resolution (for those who have seen the analog video cam that used to be displayed at York, this image is worse than the analog system, and yes, I do have strong network signal in my train room where I was set up). Also, the image routinely freezes - I was in the train room with my iPad and the train running - hard to understand what is causing the problem (although, if I understood the architecture, I could hazard a guess).
- In the "troubleshooting" section of the manual (they really didn't put much effort into this), they mention that trying to obtain the highest resolution images (i.e., 1080) could reduce the data rate (and presumably the link quality). They suggest that reducing to 720 could ameliorate the problem. The only issue is "how do I change the image quality"; nothing in the system options and of course, nothing in the instructions.
- PTZ (pan/tilt; no zoom) does not work. By the way, in the options, there is a PTZ adjustment from fast to slow. First of all, no "PTZ" is mentioned in the instructions (I hate it when acronyms go undefined); they do allude to the pan/tilt functions - too bad they don't work.
- The system allows taking snapshots and recording videos, but it is a mystery where they go. I expected to see them in my iPad photos, but no joy. I searched for a while but decided it wasn't worth my time.
As you may have gathered, this is a huge disappointment. I was hoping to have operator's vantage point video from my railroad; unfortunately, this system is basically useless. It could be that I got a bad unit; alternatively, there are things that I could do to make it work better, so I am open to suggestion. Any users out there with Cupola Cams that can weigh-in on my observations and help me get back on track (or get rid of it). Thanks!!!