Skip to main content

Replies sorted oldest to newest

There is a wi-fi module which is part of Lionel's Layout Control System ("LCS") from which you can operate switches via an iPad. However, the wi-fi module requires a Legacy Cab-2 or a Cab1L command base in order to do that, so you're basically back to square one.

There is also a Bluetooth app, but AFAIK, it only operates engine functions, i.e., speed, direction, horn, whistle, voice, sound, couplers, etc. and does not operate switches.

If you're looking to operate the Fastrack switches wirelessly via a tablet, your might try and purchase a used Cab1L base (with or w/o the remote - your option) and an LCS wi-fi module. OTOH, if you were to get a full Legacy command set, you can program in a "route" where switching functions are already pre-programmed into the system, so no manual switching via the remote or tablet is required. In addition, you can always add the wi-fi module to the Legacy system to operate via an iPad.

Last edited by Richie C.

The simplest way to do this is simply buy a Cab-1L. Best bang for your buck, in that case that’s all you need the the fastrack switches are command ready they pick up the signal the base puts out.

As for the WiFi module you theoretically could use it without the base but then with no base to send out the TMCC signal you will also need a ASC2 witch will require you to rewire the switches.

frankly this is just how the product line is designed start with the simple stuff then as you go deeper into it use the full command set up to control trains tracks switches and accessories

No worries I understand can can be confusing and overwhelming. What you’ve come across is my one gripe with the LionChief line. You still have to use their remote/ Bluetooth or the universal remote. In your case no cab-1, Cab-1L, or Cab-2 will run a plain LionChief locomotive. The newer LC + 2.0 locomotives close this gap with TMCC already installed also giving you that option. If you do have TMCC or legacy locomotives then #2 and #7 are the keys for crew talk and tower com respectively.

I would only get a Cab-1 (grey remote) if you get it for a steal. I’d highly recommend a Cab-1L set (blue remote). Either way you MUST have a base. If you come across a old cab-1 set be sure it has a base and not a original PowerMaster (PM-1) that will not help you in your situation.

@Salvagni posted:

What is the least expensive way to use the lionel fastrack remote switches wirelessly?  I typically just run one or two lionchief trains at a time and i am not sure about the command system if that is too advanced.

By wirelessly, must the switch control be "integrated" into the same train-control user-interface?

IF a single user-interface (train and switches) is NOT an absolute requirement, I'd think the least expensive method is to use a DIY multi-channel remote control relay module which comes with a garage-door opener like fob.

4ch relay module

Obviously, in above example, the two user interfaces means two physical remote controls which is an understandable disadvantage.

A related two user interface method would be a WiFi version of the above.

4ch wifi relay

In this case there is no handheld remote fob.  Instead you install an application on your tablet.  But again it would be two user interfaces.  At least in this case the two interfaces reside on the same device (tablet).  A slight variant is Amazon has a WiFi relay module like this that listens to Alexa if you use that.  So still two user interfaces - tablet for train control, speaking to Alexa for switch control.


Images (2)
  • 4ch relay module
  • 4ch wifi relay

There are i's to dot and t's to cross, but the idea is as follows:

o36 controller figure 5 controller cable

I do not have your specific O-36 turnouts, but in hijacking the figure from the instruction manual I presume you have a situation as shown in the upper part of above diagram.  You have 2 turnouts.  You have 2 manual lever controllers.  Each lever controller is essentially 2 electrical "momentary" switches with spring return to center OFF.   Throw the lever one way and the turnout goes to Straight/Thru.  Throw the lever the other way and the turnout goes to Diverge/Out.  So you essentially have 4 total momentary action electrical switches.

The wireless relay modules mimics the behavior of the 4 momentary switches.  There are 4 relays on the module.  When you press button A on the fob, relay A on the relay module closes for as long as the A button is held down.  This in effect is like throwing a lever on the manual controller in one direction.  When you press button B on the fob, relay B closes for as long as the B button is held down.  This is like throwing the lever on the manual controller in the other direction.  Hence that's why I suggest a 4-channel relay module to handle your two turnouts.

Note that the relay module needs a source of DC power...typically 12V DC.  Depending on what you are using for track voltage or accessory voltage there are inexpensive modules to convert that voltage to 12V DC.  By inexpensive I mean a few dollars...less than $5 in any case.

And as an aside, I showed a 4 channel relay module by way of example.  That would "exactly" accommodate 2 turnouts.  But maybe you see your son's railroad "empire" expanding and you want to control additional turnouts or maybe turn an accessory on and off at will.  There are all manners, combinations, permutations or what have you of relay modules with 1,2,4,8, etc. relay modules and corresponding fob hand-held remote controls.

Also, the Amazon prices I showed are not the best you can do if you are a frugal shopper.  I am a frugal shopper!  Those where essentially what popped up first.  So when you say "least expensive" if you have DIY DNA you can get it done for not much coin!  I realize there's a lot to be said for a single user-interface all under the Lionel umbrella.  I get it.  But I don't think it's the least expensive.


Images (1)
  • o36 controller figure 5 controller cable
@Richie C. posted:

Stan - just following up - with 12 vdc input for the relay, does the fact that FT switches require 5-18 AC volts to operate, enter into the equation ?

Or is the 18 ACV from the track sufficient to operate the switch while the relay just "relays" to the switch what to do ?

Riche, my understanding is that what a momentary relay does for a FasTrack switch's operation, electrically speaking, is to make a momentary current limited "short" between the black wire common (outer rail) and either the red or green wire, the same thing the supplied Remote Control momentary toggle does and similar to what activates the anti-derailing feature.

The FT switch would still need ~18VAC to operate as usual.  The Relay 12VDC would need to be supplied/derived  separately from the power feeding the Switch.

The way a basic relay works is, within it  there's a electromagnetically operated solenoid that when activated, makes a switched electrical control.  This switching circuit is electrically isolated and independent from the power source used to activate the coil in the relay.

@stan2004, is this correct?

Last edited by SteveH
@Richie C. posted:

Stan - just following up - with 12 vdc input for the relay, does the fact that FT switches require 5-18 AC volts to operate, enter into the equation ?

Or is the 18 ACV from the track sufficient to operate the switch while the relay just "relays" to the switch what to do ?

The electronics in the 4-channel wireless relay module requires DC voltage to operate...for example to power its radio receiver, the digital electronics to decode the wireless commands, and ultimately to trigger a DC-powered relay to emulate the momentary electrical contact closure in the existing manual controller.

To your point, you "still" need whatever voltage is required to operate the FT switches themselves.

If you have 18V AC on the track, you can derive 12V DC from that using an inexpensive AC-to-DC converter module (around $5).  Examples can be provided if you choose this tack.

@SteveH posted:


@stan2004, is this correct?

Spot on.

Add Reply

The Track Planning and Layout Design Forum is sponsored by

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.