Is there any future possibility of direct control of MTH via bluetooth, or does the nature of center rail communication hamper this?

I understand currently there is wifi.  This merely seems to adds another component to the TIU allowing an electronic device take the place of the DCS remote as opposed to direct control via the device.

 

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

Original Post

A friend has been running his LionChief Plus diesel on our club’s modular layout concurrently with other locos on the same layout that were using both DCS and/or TMCC with no apparent issues for anything on the layout, so I don’t think BlueTooth would have any problems with center rail communication. BlueTooth only uses the rails for receiving power, it’s  communication is direct from the controller to the device, much like it is with radio control.

Bill in FtL

Understood. What I'm asking is. Could there a future possibility of taking my smartphone and pulling up an MTH locomotive and running it via bluetooth without any other components?

Since DCS takes commands through the center rail as opposed to "radio signals". I'm inclined to think it may not be possible.

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

I'm just guessing here as it's not available right now. If a MTH (or other brand of engine) had Bluetooth inside, the pairing would allow it to do what you're asking. The engine would be taken over by the pairing I believe.

 He actually answered your question. You just have to swap brand names to get your answer.

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

Since Lionel has successfully designed a board that includes a TMCC/Legacy receiver, Bluetooth receiver, LC/LC+ receiver and conventional capabilities, I'm sure combining PS3/DCC/Bluetooth would be possible.  Just a question of whether MTH would want to go to the time and expense of adding it.  It would have the possibility of letting the Lionel universal remote and app control PS3 locos, which may or may not be something they are keen on.  Would potentially provide a universal inexpensive solution to controlling newly equipped PS3 and Atlas, Lionel, 3rd Rail locos without a Legacy/TMCC base or TIU, which is why you are asking the question, I assume?   Would save consumers about $600 street price.

No technical issue adding it to the locomotive, though the existing PS/3 boards would likely need a change to allow it to interface to the control inputs.

Talking to Andy at the Big E yesterday, while I didn’t ask directly, and it was only mentioned in passing.  I get the feeling MTH wants nothing to do with Bluetooth.  They have there Wi-Fi system and the app and are happy with it.

I appreciate the tech info regarding the possibility guys.  An electronics "dummy" like my self sees DCS always needing to be hardwired in order to work.

 Thanks for the info regarding MTH's opinion on the matter Gary.

Bummer. Surely Mth sells more locomotives than TIU's and WIFI units. Bluetooth would likely increase  their locomotive sales substantially.

I understand the competition between the brands, but the benefits seem to outway the risk. It works for Atlas, Bachmann and Athearn.  I guess I just spun this into a "universal control thread". It seems we're on the brink, and with bluetooth ahead of the game. Of course, I prefer to use a handheld anyway.

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

RickO posted:

Since DCS takes commands through the center rail as opposed to "radio signals". I'm inclined to think it may not be possible.

Its not so much that it takes command from the center rail, but how DCC and DCS transmits the signal.  DCC (and I believe DCS) utilize a repeating command queue, where the last command to a loco is repeated to ensure the loco received the command.  ( In case the loco was traveling over a switch or other part of the track where rail signal was broken up and not able to be interpreted.)  If you attempted to use bluetooth within the presence of a DCC signal, bluetooth would essentially be ignored because the DCC (and likely DCS) signal would continuously override any bluetooth command received. 

So you couldnt utilize bluetooth while those others systems were present.  If they werent present, then  bluetooth could be made to work, but now you're talking about adding a bluetooth receiver to every loco, where only a subset of users would use it, as DCC and DCS already have both wireless and wifi capabilities. 

 

MJCAT posted:

, as DCC and DCS already have both wireless and wifi capabilities. 

 

Well it isn't really wireless, as the commands are still going out from the TIU and to the track. The wifi unit simply allows your phone , Ipad ,etc, to communicate with the locomotive via the TIU the same way the remote would.

Direct communication to the locomotive from the electronic device is a "bigger step".  I see from those above its also possible, just not on MTH's radar anytime soon.

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

Landsteiner posted:

...Just a question of whether MTH would want to go to the time and expense of adding it.  It would have the possibility of letting the Lionel universal remote and app control PS3 locos, which may or may not be something they are keen on.

superwarp1 posted:

Talking to Andy at the Big E yesterday, while I didn’t ask directly, and it was only mentioned in passing.  I get the feeling MTH wants nothing to do with Bluetooth.  They have there Wi-Fi system and the app and are happy with it.

I think the answer is based upon the combination of both above replies (cost/benefits & access).  When asked many years ago why DCS didn't offer more TMCC aux1 command choices to the DCS remote, the MTH reply was that they wanted to provide DCS command control to customers w/ TMCC, but MTH also wanted to ensure that the full range of DCS command control could be better realized with the purchase of a MTH PS2 (now PS3) locomotive. 

On a somewhat related tangent to the BlueTooth topic and its potential; it would seem logical that the low cost and small size of BT components w/ the related multi-use and accessibility would make BT a serious consideration for future product development that we never saw come to fruition w/ the tech features used in MTH's Coor's Light train set to control the action cars.  I'd like to see MTH add BT control to their action boxcars, caboose, and tank cars instead of needing an accessory track section or a near impossible to find ERR board add-on.

You can have a steam train ...If you'd just lay down your tracks.

This is an area where HO has a real advantage over O, because the digital control system used in HO is NOT proprietary to the loco manufacturer and is not necessarily built into it mechanically, thanks to the use of an NMRA “plug & play” connector used in many locos from different manufacturers. Of course, there are no optical tachometers either, to further complicate things and add to cost (and HO seems to get by pretty well without them). If you don’t like the system in your loco, you can change it!

Bill in FtL

 

IMO (which others are free to agree or not), Bluetooth is a less than ideal choice for robust command control due to its relatively short range and one-to-one design.

While I have zero experience using Bluetooth to operate trains, I have lot of first-hand experience using Bluetooth keyboards, mice, trackpads, iPhones, iPads, headphones, Android devices, medical devices, and hearing aids. It's a great technology when used as intended.

It have little doubt that it works well for smaller layouts, however, I have my doubts that it has the range for anything that's much larger.

Barry

 

DCS Ambassador & author of The DCS Companion series of books

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 

I have to agree with Barry on this. Currently the technology is low power Bluetooth which has very little range. I don't know if Bluetooth is controlled by the FCC but I have devices that I need to be within 10 ft. to get a signal. It would work with small sets that are operated sitting right next to it, but a room size set I'm afraid it would not work reliably. Perhaps this is what MTH is looking at. 

I use Bluetooth on my layout every day and never have a problem with it.  Furthest reach is 26 ft. and has never dropped the signal once.  It's not a crazy huge layout but certainly not tiny.  I have to be in the 99%, right?  And we're in the first generation here.  It's only going to get better.  I have DCS and I like it but it seems like eventually MTH will have to climb on board the Bluetooth bandwagon.  It's too cheap and they'll just look like they're intentionally throttling their own stuff at some point.  In a couple decades, it looks like MTH went from pushing the envelope in O to just circling the wagons.  The student has become the master! 

MikeH

My only experience with BlueTooth has been the use of my two Bachmann EZ-App HO locos, and I have seen no issues with range even when my modules were set up in a large auditorium type room in a local library that also contained my club’s O 3-Rail modular layout and also their G scale modular layout. My HO modules were set up along one wall, and I had no problem controlling my locos from anywhere in the room. I did have trouble seeing the locos from the far corners, but the BT still had control. If you can’t see your trains clearly, you can’t really control them. Because O scale is twice as large as HO, it would be easier to see, but how far away from your train do you really want to be? I did notice that dirty tracks caused me some problems, but dirty track can be an issue whatever control system you are using (except with battery power). Once the tracks were cleaned those problems went away. Range was definitely not a problem with my Bachmann EZ-App BT locos (EZ-App boards were developed by BlueRail Trains for Bachmann).

Bill in FtL

I get widely varying results with the Lionel BT stuff.  Part of the issue I'm sure is the environment, if there is a lot of RF activity in the area, you'll have less range.  However, 25-30 feet is as far as I've ever seen the Lionel BT work at.

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