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Hi All,

I have decided to try the Ring Engineering RailPro system.  I was able to get the hand controller (HC2b) and RailPro control and sound board LM-3S-G for a nice price.  The system is schedule to be delivered next week.

I was also able to get a Weaver SD40 from a forum member at a VERY nice price to use as an upgrade model.

Here it is with the original QSI board still installed.

I took out all of the electronics to prepare for the upgrade.  I also replaced the original lights with LEDs.  Here are some pics of that process.

Original grain of wheat bulbs.

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LED replacements with 1k ohm resistor

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The model had black handrails but the original Chessie #7619 had orange handrails.  So they got a first coat of paint tonight.

IMG_20210630_181445017

B&O 7619

That's all for now.  I will post updates to this thread as I make some more progress.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Since I have converted to the dark side, this one will be battery powered like my last engine upgrades too.  I am definitely hooked.  My operating sessions are fun and trouble free.

Have Fun!

Ron

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Last edited by Ron045
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Nice work so far, Ron.  I've run on an HO layout with track-powered RailPro and liked the system.  Most interesting was the way that multiple units speed match to each other automatically!

I've found that in lots of my LED headlight conversions, the lights are too bright with a 1K ohm resistor.  For dual tower LEDs like you are using, my personal preference is a 3.3K ohm resistor.  For what it's worth...

@Don Sweet posted:

Hi Ron, I have been using and installing RailPro for the past three years in O and G scale engines. It is the coolest system on the market. If you have any questions please contact me at donsweet@rcsofne.com.

Enjoy, Don

Any recommendations on speakers Don?

I'm trying to ID a speaker that meets the RP specs and will still fit.

RailPro LM-3S-G requirements of 13 Watts into a 4 ohm load or 7.4 Watts into an 8 ohm load.
The speaker area is in the fuel tank.  The width of the fuel tank (inside) is 45mm by 100mm in length.
There is a 33mm round hole (With an extra cut out for speaker wire) in the frame to accomodate the height of the speaker.  While there is an old board there now, my RP retrofit really gives me any height I need to the top of the shell.  So that is not an issue.
Thanks
Ron
@necrails posted:

Great topic.  Was not aware of railpro products.  What components did you purchase for this conversion?

I purchased 3 items, but I think in reality after reading the manual, I only needed 2.   I'm not sure I needed the Computer Interface, but we'll see.  I am expecting these items Tuesday from Timber River Railway and Sales who had the best price by far.   But the owner does not do online sales.  You have to call or email and inform him what you want and he will reply with a quote.  It's not Amazon and won't happen overnight.  But the price was well worth the wait.  This picture is not to scale.

Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 3.48.39 PM

A Big Shout out to Bob Buck over at G Scale Installations

I drove over to Bob's shop in York.  Bob helped me with my other battery projects and today was no different.  I know Don Sweet recommended him from several threads here on OGR.  Don, he knew exactly what speakers you were talking about and hooked me up with those and recommended other accessories too.

So today we fitted the loco with a battery, a speaker and switch and charging accessories.   I will be upgrading an  GP38 after this project which is why you see two of everything.

IMG_20210702_153020145

I'm also going to do review for Bob on these Coin Type Exciters that you see.  If these are attached inside the shell of the loco, the shell is supposed to become the speaker.  That sounds exciting and I can't wait to see how they work.

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Bob let me get some hands on experience with a G Scale diesel he just upgraded with Railpro.  The controller felt great and the dial control for movement was really smooth and could control extra slow speeds.  It was really impressive.

The LM-3S-G provides everything... Control, Lights and Sound.  Specific engine sound sets are downloadable from Ring.  That is why I thought I needed the computer Interface.  But I saw last night you can hardwire the controller to the computer too.  AND... You can also browse a library of other users custom sounds or make your own custom sound files to add as a single play or a loop.  Like track squeal for instance.

I'll try to get the loco switch and charge port installed this weekend so I can focus on just dropping in the LM-3S-G when it arrives Tuesday.

Having Fun!

Ron

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Last edited by Ron045

I made some progress yesterday installing the charge port and the switch.  Bob Buck at GScaleinstalations recommended using these Futaba RC wires for charging.  Being an RC guy, I have plenty of these lying around.  I made a little cutout in the fuel tank and the charge port fit nicely.  It should be concealed well.  Especially  after I paint it blue.

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Next was the switch.  Bob also sold me this nice push button switch.  In my last battery projects I was using toggle switches.  These button switches are easy and conceal very well.  Once might even think it really is part of the engine.  I was going to try and put in the the end of the fuel tank, but these Weaver tanks are two pieces and the shoulder and screw were in the way.  So I decided to find an area of the frame that would work best and not interfere with the trucks or the shell.  This was the spot.

IMG_20210705_075408372

You'll see in the test fit below they conceal fairly well.  I did not screw it together because I still have to install the speaker.  That is why you see a gap on the left side.  I should have easy access from the track without having to lift up the engine or remove it from the layout for charging.

IMG_20210705_075532190

Now for a funny story.  I decided to use epoxy to glue in these components.  I have a "Glue Box".  It's a cardboard box which holds all of my various types of glues.  It's a mess with no organization.  Glues I use the most like CA are on the top, glues I use the least migrate to the bottom.

So I'm rooting through this box looking for two tubes of epoxy.  Ah, there they are, Black cap and White cap.  Off to work I go mixing, stirring and applying glue.  I even read the back of the one tube... 8-10 minute dry time.  Perfect.

15 minutes later... Still wet, 30 minutes, 1 hour, still wet.  all afternoon and last evening... still wet.  Completely frustrated I grabbed the glue to read again.  Now I noticed my mistake.  I grabbed a tube of Epoxy and a Tube of JB weld.

Last evening I used the proper 2 tubes of epoxy, and this morning all is well.

Bonus... Praise where Praise is due.  The USPS delivered my RailPro 3 days early and I received it Saturday.  I immediately started playing with it.  I wired up a mock and fired it up.  Wow that little TB 1925 speaker puts out some sound.  I also quickly realized that the Computer Interface USB device greatly helps the install process of sounds vice using the handheld controller.  I could do everything on the computer.  Well worth the $30 cost.

More to Come...

Ron

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Last edited by Ron045

Here are some pics of my install...

I wanted to mount the battery on the frame and the board up on the roof, but I could not get the shell on right.  I had to end up putting both in the shell side by side.  It's a tight fit with minimum clearance for the air to get through.

Here I removed two of the eight screw posts to accommodate the battery and board.

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1st Try... Did not fit well

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2nd Try... Better fit, but less room for air flow cooling if needed.  I butter run 'em medium to slow and see.IMG_20210708_140042770

I used an RC (Futaba style connector for the motors and JST plugs for power and speaker.  I just reversed the plug ends so I could not make a connection mistake.

IMG_20210707_104622848IMG_20210707_104639195

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Well the RailPro part is done.  I think I will enjoy it like this for a while and try to learn the system some more.  I was able to change the sounds and horn.  I added some stock sounds and will play with customization.

When the cold weather arrives I might get into detailing this engine a little more.

I did see RP monitors voltage and temperature on the handheld controller.  The engine never got warm and even after an hour of running, the battery was still well over 15v.

Don't the orange handrails look so much better?

Screenshot_20210708-221701IMG_20210514_234409455

Thanks to those who provided advice and comments.

Have Fun.

Ron

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Last edited by Ron045

I don't mean to be critical, but your last video seems to show an unusually fast start for the engine under RailPro.  I guess I expected a crawling start (like an engine under load) with a gradual increase to speed.  Is this the best start RailPro can do, or is this just a function of the RailPro / Weaver drive system combination?  Or, were you just in a hurry to get the train running to keep video length down?

Chuck

@PRR1950 posted:

I don't mean to be critical, but your last video seems to show an unusually fast start for the engine under RailPro.  I guess I expected a crawling start (like an engine under load) with a gradual increase to speed.  Is this the best start RailPro can do, or is this just a function of the RailPro / Weaver drive system combination?  Or, were you just in a hurry to get the train running to keep video length down?

Chuck

Hi Chuck,

I believe I had several factors at play, mostly being my inexperience with the throttle.

1.  I was at the beginning of an incline.

2.  I had setting at 65% load.  So as I rotate the dial nothing moves until I reach 18%.  The engine revs but does not move.

3. As I reach 18% and continue going up the loaded throttle starts to ramp up and catch up to my percentage.

4. So with my inexperience,  holding a cell phone in one hand and trying to manipulate the throttle and hold the controller with the other hand and then me being impatient and not taking into account the grade, it did start off a little fast.

My other video above at the 1:08 mark has a better start.  It's probably something I just need to work on getting the "feel".  The speed steps are adjustable too.  I imagine I could mess with those as well.

Thanks for asking and watching.

Ron

Hi Ron, in time you will be a pro on the hand controller. The loading feature is awesome. Just set it then turn up the throttle a little and wait as the engine will slowly build up speed and the sounds are more realistic. In G scale we set it at 20%. This provides very smooth realistic starts and slow downs.

I never need to tweak the speed tables if you get the proper start speed and acceleration rate. Try the low speed enhance  enable and disabled. The china drives might need the enhanced speed.  The tower drives were always smooth.  Bob Buck can provide more insight to weaver drives.

Don

I've been playing around this afternoon with various things that factor into a nice slow start.

First my engine.  While it is new to me the engine is over 20 years old.  I greased it but I did not put oil on the gears.  So I did that today.  I also noticed that the traction tires were more like slick plastic than soft rubber.  So I changed those out to.  Sorry 2 rail guys... If I have the grooves, I'm gonna use them.

I also took some cars off the train and it went from 27 to 17,  It is my intention to double head eventually, so I can run long trains.  But I figured for this test 17 was good.

Lastly, I just played around with starting on my level section vs starting on a grade.  It makes a difference what percentage of throttle you use to get rolling nice and slow.

For instance on level track with 65% load the engine will start nice and slow at 27%.   In the middle of my grade from a dead start I must start at 34%.  And I have to go right to 34%.  If I go to 27% and see the engine won't run, I can't raise it to 34%.  I have to go higher and then I get a lurching start.  I assume it had something to do with a smooth application of the throttle from zero.

Here is the level start.

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Interesting, and nice improvement in slow-speed starting.  However, seems way too complicated for my older brain.  For example, does the start percentage have to be higher if the engine is on a 2.5% up grade?  Even higher on a 3.3% up grade?  And then what happens if the engine is starting on a downgrade?  Will the starting percentages have to be lower?

Probably just not my cup of tea, but I'm glad it works for you.

Chuck

@Casey_Jones posted:

Nice work Ron!  Well done Sir

Yes, the orange handrails look better.  

Question; how does this system compare to the BlueRail installs you've done?  ie, ease of installation, functionality, sound quality, functions? overall impressions?   What you do this again or would you go back to BlueRail?

I don't have enough time under my belt with RailPro to make that decision yet.  I do still very much like BlueRail and I'm not ready to toss it aside.  If I could have found an IOS MFI bluetooth game controller that had a rotating dial, I'm not sure I would have ever looked at RailPro.  All these gaming controllers have buttons and sticks, no dials.

Installation:  I'd say it was a tie if you consider that with BlueRail, you are also adding a Sound Decoder for lights and  speakers.  You still have 2 wires for power, 2 wires for Motors, 2 wires for speakers and various wires depending on how many lights you have.

Functionality:  Still too close to call.   I just don't have enough usage yet.   I do like the tactile dial throttle offered by RailPro.  After that, using the RailPro Handheld or a Cell Phone for BlueRail is the same.  A touch screen. 

Sound:  I think this is one of those areas that anyone could make a case for the system they like best and they would all be correct.  With BlueRail you can use any Sound Decoder brand you want.  There are a bunch of them from very generic to very sophisticated.  The RailPro sounds are from their web site.  They seem to have a lot of Diesel choices as well as horns and bells.  Steam choices are limited, but they are saying, more are coming.  The thing that does sound neat is you can create and add your own sounds with RailPro.  They even have a users forum where they share sound files which are just wav files.  One fella recorded train wheels going over a crack and looped it.  So it's like the Clicky Clack function in MTH DCS... very very cool and realistic sounding unlike the MTH clicky clack.  More to come in this area.  I hope to play with this a little.

Quality:  Can't really address that fairly.  I have four BlueRail trains.  I had one board issue with an early version of software with a known bug.  They updated it and paid for shipping.  I had one Soundcard issue and Soundtraxx sent me a new one no questions asked.  I have not had a problem since.  Knock wood, no problems with RailPro.  I have received timely emails from Ring Engineering when I had a question about speakers and both RCSofNE (Don Sweet) and GScaleInstallations (Bob Buck) have been very helpful.

Price wise, I guess you have to decide how many of these upgrades will you be doing and how many handheld controllers or iphones do you want, in order to make a fair comparison.  Assuming you have an iphone or ipad, buying 1 BlueRail board and 1 SoundCard is going to be less expensive than buying a RailPro Handhold Controller and RailPro board.  But for upgrade, 2, 3, 4, etc, one RailPro board is less expensive than one BlueRail board and one SoundCard.  So you have to evaluate what it is you want and what functions/sounds you want.

Would I do it again?  Well yes, I purchased two RailPro boards, so I have another engine to upgrade.  It's a MTH PS1 Chessie GP38 that I stripped.  This engine will be consisted with the SD40.  Based on size, I'm estimating this 2nd install will be a little easier, although there are more lights, so we'll see.  I can also fit a bigger speaker in the MTH fuel tank.  But again, I'm not ready to toss out the other system.  I can and have run both depending on how I feel and which engine I feel like running.  No different than people who run both Legacy and DCS.  And if I have company, I'll have plenty to share.

I'll tell you one thing I am 100% +++ sold on and that is battery power.  I will NEVER (Bold, Underline Italic) own for myself an engine that will run on track power.  It will most certainly be converted to battery.  However since my Son, Daughter and Brother-In-Law have not yet seen the light, my layout will always have track power, DCS and Legacy.

Thanks for asking and I hope this helps.  Sorry if it was long winded.

Have Fun!

Ron

Everyone,

I had an MTH PS-2 steam engine and a 3rd Rail RDC professionally converted to battery with RailPro in late 2020.  As many of you know, MTH PS-2 engines do not have DCC and the 3rd Rail RDC was conventional.  I was going to have to buy a decoder whether or not I went with RailPro or another system to do a battery conversion.  The decoder is a significant cost of any conversion.  

The initial RailPro cost was more expensive because I had to buy the controller and charger, etc.  I was not confident that I could convert the engines to battery myself so I paid to have it done.  I plan to do subsequent conversions myself using these two engines as a wiring model.  I haven't had a chance to do a conversion yet.  

The RailPro controller is one of the most expensive parts of the system but only one is needed.  It has full features for programming engines.  Hopefully, RailPro will develop a less expensive basic controller sometime in the future.  

I am very happy with the RailPro system.  It is very easy to use.  I have used several other battery systems but not Blue Rail.  RailPro is easier than the other battery systems that I have used.  

I agree with Ron that battery is the only way to go.  It makes running so much easier.  Wiring a layout is just painful and expensive.  Having to have both Legacy and DCS in O gauge makes O gauge more costly and painful.  I run Legacy and DCS on my layout but wish that I had only one system.  

I think that everyone in the larger gauges should try battery and I hope that manufacturers will start making battery powered trains.  NH Joe

Over the past few years, I have installed and tested nine different wireless control systems. Required time and effort to remove the original factory electronics and replace with an after-market system is about the same with every system.  A great deal of planning and care is essential to achieve a properly working result. Costs for these available systems varies widely. Every system I tested worked well within its unique set of features and design parameters. As an aside, all of the tested systems were compatible with battery power and worked equally well in this mode. The interest level in these new systems and operating modes is increasing, but there needs to be more available info on proper installation techniques and procedures.

So I had a little fun with the computer and the Handheld HC2 device yesterday.  You can load pictures of your engine into the RailPro board for display on your remote.  This will replace their generic engine picture.

First, take a picture.

1 RP Chessie 7619

You don't have to do this part, but I wanted a clean background, so I cleaned it up in MS Paint.

2 RP Chessie 7619

Then the file must be transferred to the engine where the remote will read and display when the Engine when recognized.  Here is the comparison of the default graphic and the custom graphic.

4 RP Chessie 7619

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@Ron045

Thank you Ron!  



No Sir your replay was not long-winded at all, it was very informative, thank you

Some thoughts

  • I agree battery is the way to go, they both work well with battery
  • As far as sounds go, it seems they are close enough to say it's a personal preference
  • ease of installation is a tie
  • Quality, nothing to differentiate them
  • Cost, depending on how may you need to convert can tilt it in one direction or the other
  • Handheld could be a personal preference ie the knob on RailPro vs BlueRail
  • I can use a BlueRail board to control other items on my layout, it looks like I can I do that with a RailPro board, but I believe I need to use their free download software, which I believe is only a Windows app, so if you are on a Mac, you are out of luck

So it seems it will come down to:

  • Compare Functions/Features: Which one does/doesn't what (would be great to see a side by side comparison)
  • Interface ease of use ie how easy is it to do what I want to do

My personal thoughts/questions

BlueRail is Bluetooth, RailPro is a proprietary "Direct Radio + Net",  any pros/cons? I can see the comparison listed on the RailPro site, but not sure how objective it is

The RailPro Controller is also proprietary, For me, I kinda like the idea of using the iPad large screen to navigate through the menus.  

Also, according to the last BlueRail Newsletter email, we should be seeing a major announcement of a new product VERRY Soon.   Depending on what it s it could be a game-changer



Ron, thank you again for taking the time to share this information with the rest of us, I look forward to your progress reports as you play with the RailPro system more and more.

Last edited by Casey_Jones

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