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":

  1.   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?
  2.   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).
  3. 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.
  4.   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.
  5.   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!!!

Original Post

Pre-ordered the Union Pacific model with the flag livery at the best price from Charles Ro, figuring it would look good behind my UP "Building America" locomotives.  Sounds like the fact I only care about the external appearance and not whether the camera works (or cabooses were still in service under the livery) was a stroke of good fortune.   

What, me worry?

MichRR714 posted:

The plastic window in front of the camera distorts the image.  You need to open the caboose and remove the plastic window to get a quality image.

Lionel will have to do this to correct the issue here. Why don't they issue a recall? I am NOT taking apart the caboose and void the warranty.

Ted Bertiger, President

Ocean County Society of Model Railroaders Lakewood, N.J.

www.ocsmr.com

 

Picked up my Lionel Lines version Saturday. Sorry, can't help with the ipad. My observations were using my 4 year old Android LG phone with a small 4.5 inch screen. I easily downloaded the wifi camera app. The picture was clear with the exception of the caboose roof which is out of focus. I can't say it was full HD or not. I did pop the window out just to see what others were talking about. I did not see a difference, I reinstalled the window. I was thinking since this was just released, Lionel may have changed the windows. The first camera cabooses came out early 2019. I never experienced the picture freezing, layout has 2 levels and is about 50' long. I was surprised it was even good with low light in the tunnels. Hooked direct to phone or home network did not seem to make a difference except on the network I was able to view while I was upstairs.  My problems came with the laptop. Hoping to see it on the big (17") screen. The included disk worked fine but when it came to Step 18 in the manual, selecting the browser plug in, it says it loaded, it sees the camera IP but I never get a picture. The only time I was able to view on my laptop was selecting "browser that supports JavaScript". The picture was horrible, very choppy and very frequently frozen. I did try both on Windows 10 and my old Windows 7 laptops with the same result. I did not take video or snapshots while on the phone, I need to get a bigger memory card. 

Well, we were discussing these 2-3 days ago and the thread was closed.

Sorry to hear about the OP's issues but am sort of glad this got posted.

My decision is now much easier. Will take a big p-a-s-s on ordering one of these from the newly released batch. As mentioned above, I am not taking this apart to "maybe" have it work correctly.

TCA, LCCA

johnstrains posted:

Well, we were discussing these 2-3 days ago and the thread was closed.

Sorry to hear about the OP's issues but am sort of glad this got posted.

My decision is now much easier. Will take a big p-a-s-s on ordering one of these from the newly released batch. As mentioned above, I am not taking this apart to "maybe" have it work correctly.

As will this thread....just another opportunity to go on and on and on about a problem that has been covered in several other threads...including a fix and some suggestions.  Use our search with the key words....

Alan Arnold
CEO/Publisher
O Gauge Railroading magazine
adman@ogaugerr.com
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Post
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