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I am considering purchasing a RailPro R/C system to control some of my O gauge locomotives when I convert them to battery power.  

I would appreciate any comments that forum members may have about this system.  I am especially interested in comments about using the system in diecast and brass O gauge engines.  Do the metal bodies block the signal from the RailPro decoder?  RailPro decoders do not have an external antenna.  RailPro's website says that their decoders have been used successfully in brass HO locomotive.  

I am also interested in general comments from G and HO users about the system.  I understand that this system is widely used in the Eastern US in these gauges.  I don't know anyone in CA who uses the system.  

Thanks for any feedback that you can give me.   NH Joe

 

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This looks good to me.  In my opinion, unless you're going to control your whole empire with a computer, etc., R/C direct to the loco is the way to go, and RailPro even has a dongle that allows a PC to control the loco!  Given today's technology there's no reason to have a "command base," etc.  Metal loco bodies are a sticking point.  That might be the only reason I can think of to propagate the signal up through the rails.

I've been thinking about direct R/C for a while (I looked at Airwire though, not RailPro.)  Airwire's decoders are designed for battery powered operation.  I'm not ready to make the leap to battery power, so I would be installing a rectifier / voltage regulator circuit between the track pickups and the decoder.  I've been sternly warned that they are very picky about variations in input voltage, so anyone considering this approach needs to allow room for a helper circuit like this in their loco or tender.

I wonder how difficult it would be to make resin castings of every coal tender body in my fleet to address the issue of signal reception?  I never liked die-cast tenders.  Now I really don't like them!  Following this thread.

Last edited by Ted S

Hi Guys, as an installer of RailPro products it is great system.  The current model will run on track or battery power. It has a built in rectifier. Is rated for a full 6 amps continuous and you get a 13 watt audio amp. Radio range in brass/diecast locos is 40' and plastic body is 90'. There are repeaters available if needed.

RailPro is a integrated 2.4Ghz radio control on board system w/sound for our trains.  No extra boards or WIFI adapters needed. Each loco gets a module the size of a granola bar. That's it.

Don

@Richie C. posted:

"That's it."

I'm interested. What about sounds - bell, horn, whistle - and integration with command control functions and systems like Legacy and DCS ?

Is that part of the system, yet ?

Thanks

 

According to the RailPro website, they offer everything that the standard DCC has.  Most RailPro installations are HO with track power.  They have only recently come out with a G/O gauge board.  Check out RailPro's website.   NH Joe

RailPro has a full compliment of engine settings under the tools button for each loco.  Each loco is tweaked and those setting are saved. No CV's to deal with. Then dial in a "load" setting for your train, 0 to 100%.  This algorithm takes momentum to the next level as it  simulates pulling a load by adjusting speed and sounds together.  There is a delay as the engine starts to pull, prime movers rev up and the engine breaks away with the train. Nice rolling starts and stops can be done.

Hi Casey, the RailPro does not need to use back emf or cruise control. It uses bi-directional communication based on your loco current draw. Using the "Set Load" function from the touch screen, dial in a loading percentage from 0-100%.  This is totally different than any other system. The effect is more constant speeds and better sounds. However, because it simulates a real train it will slow down a little on big enough grades then the speed will return on level track. I would refer you to O scale operators for their experiences. I operate G scale running outdoors.

Don

 

@Casey Jones hopefully Don will give you a definite answer.  But most of these newer wireless systems are designed for low-current DC "can" motors.  All postwar Lionel locos have universal series-wound motors.  Although universal motors will run on DC, current draw is pretty high (up to 2.5 amps per motor.)  It might also be necessary to separate the motor ground from the chassis ground.  In a metal-bodied steam loco designed for use on 3-rail track, that could be very difficult. 

The only command control solution I know of that's specifically designed for postwar Lionel, is the Electric Rail Road (ERR) AC Commander.

Last edited by Ted S

Gunrunner John you probably already realize this.  But the 1.2 amp total limit is for accessory outputs such as smoke, lights, etc.  The line immediately above it shows motor current up to 8 amps.  So if it doesn't require an isolated ground, it could work with Postwar.  What kind of speed control you would get with those old motors running on DC is anyone's guess.

Hi Guys, nice to see all this interest. My experience with O gauge is mostly 2 rail. I have converted newer Lionel 3 rail to RailPro with can motors. I do not go with open frame or any AC motors. You guys can quickly educate me on what you need for 3 rail.

The continuous current rating is 6 amps. The lighting outputs are rated at 1.2 amps . When you go above , like a smoke unit the RailPro displays an error. I do not suggest to any 3 railers this will replace Lionel or MTH control systems with all the same features. 

In the 2 rail models all is good. With Lionel 3 rail and MTH we would remove their electronics and replace with the RailPro board. Why would you do that? Because you want on-board radio control with great  sound, battery power, independent operations and no track cleaning.

Don

I have an O gauge layout and an G gauge layout outside. Legacy control for the O gauge and Airwire and battery control for the garden railroad and I have no desire to use battery power on my O gauge layout . Two main reasons first is lights and accessories would still need a transformer and the cost of adding a battery and a motor control board per each G gauge loco is about 250.00 dollars. The main reason I use battery power outside is the effect of weather on the track. Not an issue inside. The 250.00 cost is if I install the battery and board add more cost if you have to pay to have them installed. Also the cruise control doesn’t work on the Airwire board as well as Lionels cruise in my humble opinion 

@Don Sweet posted:
The continuous current rating is 6 amps. The lighting outputs are rated at 1.2 amps . When you go above , like a smoke unit the RailPro displays an error. I do not suggest to any 3 railers this will replace Lionel or MTH control systems with all the same features.

Wouldn't be a bad idea to put that in the specifications, it's a pretty important parameter!

I haven't tried Rail-Pro, but I've considered it. The drawback for me is that you are committing to a system. Its not the sort of train control system you can dip your feet into.  I'm a 3-railer. I got the new BlueRailDCC and I like it. The first loco I chose to put it in is less than 2 amps, so I bought the $95 board. You can use the board in what they call "Basic Mode" which runs the motor and lights (without a decoder - no sound). After I enjoyed that for a while (and decided I was happy) I bought a SoundTraxx decoder and connected that to the BRDCC.  The loco runs really slick with the SoundTraxx decoder - lots of options. The app lets you edit all the options and trigger all the functions. The SoundTraxx decoder supports back-EMF (which helps manage the inclines on my layout). The BRDCC in "Basic Mode" did not have that.  The very latest Tam Valley firmware on the BRDCC supports AC power "out of the box", so I ran it on AC track power for a while. I finally broke down and bought a LiPo battery, and now I'm really spoiled. Stopped cleaning my track altogether.

So basically, I liked the way I could spend a little money, "try it out" and then move up when I was comfortable. Rail Pro is tempting, but it has that $400 starter barrier (starter kit plus 1 decoder) which I haven't been able to commit to.  The BlueRailDCC decoders (2-amp) cost $15 more than the RailPro decoders. The Rail-Pro starter kit is $320.  You can get an iPhone 6splus for $50 on ebay (to control the BRDCC).   I'm glad options like these are becoming available for O gaugers.

Excellent endorsement of blueraildcc. That being said, I have some questions/concerns:

@3RaylFan posted:

The drawback for me is that you are committing to a system (railpro). Its not the sort of train control system you can dip your feet into.

But isn't blueraildcc a proprietary control system as well? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

  I'm a 3-railer. I got the new BlueRailDCC and I like it. The first loco I chose to put it in is less than 2 amps, so I bought the $95 board. 

A similar spec railpro board would cost less than $50 without sound and under $100 with fully customizable sound.

 

So basically, I liked the way I could spend a little money, "try it out" and then move up when I was comfortable. Rail Pro is tempting, but it has that $400 starter barrier (starter kit plus 1 decoder) which I haven't been able to commit to.

While it is true that the railpro starter kit is $400, to achieve the same results could be had like this:

1. $30-40 railpro computer interface that allows you to do everything the railpro controller can do for 10% of the cost.

2. $50-100 railpro decoder.

3. Wireless computer to phone interface/casting device to mirror the computer screen onto a phone. Easy wireless control.

  The BlueRailDCC decoders (2-amp) cost $15 more than the RailPro decoders. The Rail-Pro starter kit is $320.  You can get an iPhone 6splus for $50 on ebay (to control the BRDCC).   I'm glad options like these are becoming available for O gaugers.

The main benefit of newer railpro decoders is that they can run on DCC tracks. And since DCC is not going to be completely scrapped anytime soon, there will be forward compatibility. Even if railpro vanished from the face of the earth right now, one would not be high and dry without a way to operate your railpro trains. Will blueraildcc do that?

"The main benefit of newer railpro decoders is that they can run on DCC tracks. And since DCC is not going to be completely scrapped anytime soon, there will be forward compatibility. Even if railpro vanished from the face of the earth right now, one would not be high and dry without a way to operate your railpro trains. Will blueraildcc do that?"

I think it was a wise move for RailPro and BlueRail to both embrace DCC. The BlueRailDCC board is like a little DCC command station you put inside your loco (so the commands to the decoder can come straight from your smart device). If you disconnect the BlueRail board, your decoder can get signals as DCC through-the-rails (just as it always did).  BlueRail developed Bachmann's E-Z App line, which is a long standing line that I think gives staying power to the product.

 

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