Why Lion Chief 2.0?

I can't help but compare these discussions with the initial reaction to color TV in the 50's. The early sets were bulky, expensive and ran quite warm. There was a lot of reluctance to shift to this new medium especially with the retailers. The engineers had done a splendid job in adding the color TV signal to the B/W signal without increasing the bandwidth. There was also some reluctance to shift from the  analog TV signal to digital a few years ago, but we know how that turned out. New technology has a way of winning out eventually no matter how we feel about it.

Hitting this thread late but here's some thoughts:  

On the original subject, Is the naming confusing?  I suppose it could be for those not familiar with the product lines and features they offer.  To me the most confusing, and in my opinion idiotic, naming Lionel ever used was "Legacy" which in every other product ever made means last generation or outdated technology.  Ex. legacy support for floppy disk drives on modern computers.   The naming scheme with Lion Chief seems fairly straight forward to me.  Lion chief is an entry level product that uses constant track power and can only be controlled from it's included remote*.  LC+ added the option of transformer control effectively replacing conventional engines in the product line as well as adding some features only found in few conventional engines such as speed control and remote control of couplers.  LC+2.0 seems straight forward as well from what little information there is.  It does everything LC+ does in addition to being able to be controlled by TMCC/Legacy systems.  

Over all, Lion Chief branding has replaced any previous branding for conventional products and by adding support for TMCC it will open these products up to the full command operators that would have been previously opposed to needing another remote.  

*LC/+ can also be controlled from a universal remote, and all newer models can also be controlled from an app on smart phones over Bluetooth.

ed h posted:

Even more confusing in that the original LionChief and LionChief Plus were not Bluetooth.

Not really.  Bluetooth is nice and easy to use, making a phone app really easy to implement, however I suspect that no one ever thought of that when making the first LC engines.  Instead, I suspect, that the switch to Bluetooth was made at some point in the engineering process when someone realized that the cost of a 2.4 GHZ transceiver and a separate microprocessor was actually more than using a BLE module. ( Prices for these modules have become insanely cheap over the last few years, where as 10 years ago a similar product might cost well over 50 dollars, they are now about $2.)  Additionally, Bluetooth has a licensing fee.  You have to pay to use the tech and the logo.  Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the choice of using Bluetooth, as it is an amazing point to point protocol, but garbage if you want to have many devices talking to each other, such as in a full layout control system.  Lionel will have to step away from Bluetooth if they want to use modern technology in whatever Legacy 2.0 will be.  

carsntrains posted:
Jeff T posted:
Landsteiner posted:

This system is more reliable than Legacy and TMCC in certain ways, a lot less expensive and uses parts that are not going obsolete because they are 10-20 years old.

First, I'm NO expert, but those seem like some big assumptions to me.

You dont have to clean the track all the time.    Its only there to pass electricity with LC control or blue tooth! 

My question is.   Do the LC 2.0 engines run on DC?   If not they arent LC at all.   Should be called legacy light.

Jim

This is just speculation as I've not seen anything one way or the other, however I don't see any technological reason that they could not run on AC or DC.  The AC is needed for the TMCC signal, but it is not difficult for modern electronics to detect if AC or DC is supplied and detect of the track signal is present or not.  As far as I'm aware the reason TMCC products can be damaged by DC power is that they use Triacs for power control, which "require" ac to work correctly.  (Fellow electronic nerds know what I mean here, keeping it simple for normal folks)

I'm Happy with LC+2.0 for the name.  it's LC+ with more features added.  Until product ships I don't think anyone will know just how much of an improvement it is, but I'm hopeful that it will compete with original TMCC equipment as there is no technological reason for it not to.  

H1000 posted:
Hiawatha98 posted:

The question is why didn't Lionel introduce LC+2 from the very beginning instead of Lionchief.

DITTO.

All of the technology involved has been available cheaply for years. It's not like they had to wait for Bluetooth 4 to be released before the product could move forward. Bluetooth standards from 15 years ago can easily achieve the same goals being implemented in current LC products.

As addressed before, while the tech has existed for about 2 decades now, the innovation of the jellybean BLE module for $2 is fairly recent.  That same tech was much, much more expensive just a couple years ago  The next best option, and one I would have preferred, Xbee, costs 10 times as much, and even a year ago cost 35 times more.  The same holds for BLE, where earlier iterations of Bluetooth product cost $70 per transceiver.  

Stone Rhino posted:

Again, this boils down to the universal remote being truly "universal". A BT to TMCC signaling would be dynamite. Like how we had a cable that lets us use TMCC and Legacy base at the same time. Throw into this the PowerMaster unit? Run conventional trains without modification. Brilliant!

carsntrains posted:
Stone Rhino posted:

I'm a bit new to this stuff.  But what is a reverse and coupler lockout?

Jim,

Lock-out's are like flipping the E-Unit/Reverser switch on a post-war. This keeps the engine in the direction you desire every time you cycle the power. On CAB1/TMCC, this is not possible when in command mode (conventional only). On CAB2/Legacy, this has been explored but not committed (Only in conventional mode does the direction lock work).

LC and LC+ kid friendly? Sure is! But having these light-weight plastic trains that travel 10MPH on a surface? In reverse? Hmmm, this is looking like an accident waiting to happen. Even at a paltry 6V DC, these units will power down the track. I had to install mechanical stops into the LC Thomas set remotes to cap their top speed and restrict reverse speeds. I've seen kids go white knuckle to try and turn them to full speed and reverse.

The LC app lets you cap speed (which is not kid-resistant), but not direction or prohibit coupler use.

Changing track voltage won't effect the LC/+ engine's top speed until/unless it is low enough that there simply isn't enough power for the motors to pull the train.  EX, a LC+ engine may reach full speed at 8 VAC without a problem if it's pulling nothing, but put 10+ cars behind it and it will not reach near that speed.  In the Plus engines, the electronics will work their hardest to make each speed step the same speed no matter the voltage, until they run out of power.  

 

Allin posted:

They just add a module to TMCC for the optional remote and Bluetooth would be my assumption from what I have read, given TMCC already supported add on boards.

 My guess would actually be the other way around.  It would be a whole lot cheaper to just add a R2LC to the LC/+ Bluetooth guts.  The 'brain' in LC electronics is inside the Bluetooth module.  

On the other replies about sound, with the cost of multi channel mp3 decoders falling rapidly, it would not surprise me to see an all new board that uses this tech.  Give the increased prices, though, I also wouldn't be surprised to see the old tech.  have to wait and see.  

 

tncentrr posted:

Maybe one of our Youtube Masters will make a thorough and complete video exploring this new control system and how it will be used with other control systems. Perhaps Mr. Siegel or Mr. McComus would do this as a service to the hobby in general?

I'm sure someone will do so, but really what more is there to say that isn't already covered in the countless videos already out there on how to use TMCC or how to use LC/+?

 

Final thoughts for now:  I suppose the raised price tag will push these engines out of my price range as they are now getting pretty close to lower end Legacy stuff.  It won't really bother me if they continue to offer LC+1.0 at more reasonable prices, or if LC(not Plus) 2.0 comes out at reasonable prices with cruise control and couplers.  (not gonna hold my breath on that.)  

The fact that these engines don't come with remotes doesn't bother me, since ( I expect) most people in this market will already have a TMCC/Legacy system, a universal remote, or if it is their first engine likely a smart phone.  I don't think not having a remote will be a deal breaker for many folks... It still seems like cheeping out on the part of Big L.  

Over all I like LC2 from what I see, just think they are pricing out folks like myself that would happily spend $300-400 on a brand new engine, but might go back to buying used TMCC engines for $200 when the next best option is $500+

JGL

$ This is John Galt speaking.  $

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” 

 

 

Useful discussions. Setting aside the questions of features, operating protocols, product cost and what's included in the box, the fundamental technical advantage of LC is the direct controller to loco signal path. This true whether its 900mHz, 2.4gHz or bluetooth.

JohnGaltLine posted:

As addressed before, while the tech has existed for about 2 decades now, the innovation of the jellybean BLE module for $2 is fairly recent.  That same tech was much, much more expensive just a couple years ago  The next best option, and one I would have preferred, Xbee, costs 10 times as much, and even a year ago cost 35 times more.  The same holds for BLE, where earlier iterations of Bluetooth product cost $70 per transceiver.  

In 2006 I bought a USB Bluetooth (2.1 version I believe) adapter for $9 on that popular online auction site. I used that same adapter to interface my laptop wirelessly to a Serial DB9 Bluetooth device (about $20 cost in 2006) to plug into a CAB1 base and run tmcc via Bluetooth in 2006. In 2004 I bought a very expensive RTK GPS receiver, the difference in price between the Bluetooth model and non-bluetooth model was $18 retail. Bluetooth wasn't expensive then, or now.

Lionel didn't need to wait for BLE technology. The primary purpose for BLE devices is energy conservation for devices that don't have easily serviceable batteries like TPMS sensors for vehicles.  I don't get why BLE is so important for LC to function. Track power is endless supply for the module and three AA batteries will run a standard 2.1 module for 100's hours.

All of the technology being used has existed cheaply for years, Lionel just hasn't put all together until now.

H1000

H1000 posted:
JohnGaltLine posted:

As addressed before, while the tech has existed for about 2 decades now, the innovation of the jellybean BLE module for $2 is fairly recent.  That same tech was much, much more expensive just a couple years ago  The next best option, and one I would have preferred, Xbee, costs 10 times as much, and even a year ago cost 35 times more.  The same holds for BLE, where earlier iterations of Bluetooth product cost $70 per transceiver.  

In 2006 I bought a USB Bluetooth (2.1 version I believe) adapter for $9 on that popular online auction site. I used that same adapter to interface my laptop wirelessly to a Serial DB9 Bluetooth device (about $20 cost in 2006) to plug into a CAB1 base and run tmcc via Bluetooth in 2006. In 2004 I bought a very expensive RTK GPS receiver, the difference in price between the Bluetooth model and non-bluetooth model was $18 retail. Bluetooth wasn't expensive then, or now.

Lionel didn't need to wait for BLE technology. The primary purpose for BLE devices is energy conservation for devices that don't have easily serviceable batteries like TPMS sensors for vehicles.  I don't get why BLE is so important for LC to function. Track power is endless supply for the module and three AA batteries will run a standard 2.1 module for 100's hours.

All of the technology being used has existed cheaply for years, Lionel just hasn't put all together until now.

There is more to a ble module than just the Bluetooth radio.  It is the combination of the radio transceiver with a powerful microprocessor that makes up these modules.  In the usb dongles the compute power is handled by your computer.  The first such modules appear to have been made around 2012, but it wasn't until 2016 that the mass produced styles with enough compute power hit the market at inexpensive prices.  

Over all the radio tech in LC/+ has followed along with what is readily available on the cheap.  In the early versions the nrf24l01+ was the best option for a 99 cent transceiver, but it required a separate processor.  The ble module combines both and includes a much more powerful processor.  

Additionally, any large business is going to have some lead-in time.  If some groundbreaking new tech hit the streets today, it will take a year or two before it is widely used.  It takes time to get designs together, and to secure supply chains. I'm not saying I wouldn't have liked to see 2.4GHz used sooner, or that it couldn't be done, but the pricing wasn't there to make it work out.  

You say bluetooth wasn't expensive then and at the same time say that at you paid about 10 times as much for the radios, and they still needed additional microprocessors or to be plugged into a computer to work.  It might not be much on $2000 locomotives, but even that difference is pretty big on a 99 dollar complete train set.  

$ This is John Galt speaking.  $

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” 

 

 

John,

I see where you are coming from, My use of Bluetooth was more of making a wired connection, wireless, my laptop was doing the heavy work of encoding the TMCC commands to be delivered.

However, Bluetooth 2.1 does have processing abilities that do occur at the hardware level, while not nearly as much as what version 4.0 and 5.0 offer. The $20 DB9 serial module I purchased in 2006 also had the ability to communicate with another identical unit without the assistance of a PC or any other hardware, it had to pair, sync, and encrypt that transmissions. Also, much of the audio decoding and encoding for wireless headsets of that era was performed by the module and not with an external processor. The data throughput for Bluetooth 2.0 maxed out at around 3 Mbps which would be more than enough to handle the light communication occurring for LC.

The whole idea really becomes moot though because incorporating Bluetooth back in 2006 really has no practical application. Decent smart phones were finally introduced in that year and still many of which did not have Bluetooth.  App development was expensive at the time and probable not cost feasible.  The idea really doesn't become practical until around 2010-2011 era where app development is cheaper, smart phones and tablets are readily available in the hands of consumers, and other hobby markets like drones are using similar technology.  I'm pretty sure Lionel hired out the app development of the LC app and I know that MTH did also.

What it really boils down to is even if the technology was cheap and readily available back then, the user interface (smart phone & app) needed to catch up before it could be considered. And the primary purpose for Bluetooth integration wasn't to build a universal remote or better wireless communication but rather to have a free app available on smart phones where your only two choices for local wireless communication is Bluetooth or WiFi. 

My only disappointment with Lionel's implementation is that they decided to use Class 3 Bluetooth equipment with a range of 3 meters. While most do get better range than that, some of us do not. My experience has been reliable up to 20 feet, after that it gets spotty. However, by now adding TMCC/Legacy this has made the new LC+ 2.0 line more robust.

H1000

H1000 posted:

My only disappointment with Lionel's implementation is that they decided to use Class 3 Bluetooth equipment with a range of 3 meters. While most do get better range than that, some of us do not. My experience has been reliable up to 20 feet, after that it gets spotty. However, by now adding TMCC/Legacy this has made the new LC+ 2.0 line more robust.

Did they use class 3? I Can't see that being very likely and would be very disappointed if it's a class3 transceiver.  I don't have a Bluetooth model to pull apart, but I suspect it's class 2.  I also suspect that any range issues you have may be with the device you use to control with.  Many less expensive smart phones only have class 3 Bluetooth or cheap class 2 that barely meets the spec, so while the train can talk to the phone, the phone signal cant make it all the way back to the train.  Most flagship or moderate smartphones have class 2 that drastically exceeds the 10 meter spec.  For what it's worth, class 3 is 1 meter(~3.3ft), class 2 is 10 meter(~33ft), and class 1 is 100 meter (~330 ft). You may also want to see if there is some power saving feature turned on on your device that could be limiting the transmit power.  

$ This is John Galt speaking.  $

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” 

 

 

John,

Lionel's filing with the FCC for the Universal remote indicates that the universal remote has a maximum power output of 1 mW. That makes it a class 3 device. You may get more range than that but it's not guaranteed. Most smart phones and tablets have Class 2 power output.

Beings that the Universal remote is a class three device, it would make sense that the locomotives are also class three devices.

If you are interested, here is a link to Lionel's FCC filing for the Universal remote (Functional description of the universal remote). Below is an excerpt from that document which indicates the 1mw power rating:

I've heard conflicting stories about the range of Class 3 which is everything from 3 feet, 10 feet, and less than 10 meters.

H1000

Bare with me please, I'm a new guy.

While most of the last 2 pages are admittedly beyond my comprehension (at this point) My question is... how do I get from my dad's old (but very cool) steamers, to where the new "cool stuff" is?  

In no particular order, I'm reading about  Power House, Power Master, TMCC, Legacy, Command Base w/remote, Cab1& Cab2, the little "shack" next to the track so I don't burn up my engines in the event of a spark, and all the requisite cables...  I watched Mark, the "Lionel guy" from 5 years ago on You Tube explaining eight different black boxes on the table in front of him, plus a bridge or two, and I can't even tell if I need 7.5 Amps or 20!  

(I do have an iPhone and a iPad however, and am familiar with bluetooth.) 

I saw a very helpful red and green chart explaining a possible pathway to get from my stuff to the latest and greatest, but do I have to buy all the "black boxes" in between? I'm guessing there are many who find themselves in my position.

I had a fun Christmas season with Dad's (pre and post war) O gauge trains, a 1073, a 1033, and two boxes of track. I built a modest layout with reversing loops and two sidings w/blocks for starters. I am hoping to expand and update with something new for next year and recently purchased a CW80.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

H1000 posted:

John,

Lionel's filing with the FCC for the Universal remote indicates that the universal remote has a maximum power output of 1 mW. That makes it a class 3 device. You may get more range than that but it's not guaranteed. Most smart phones and tablets have Class 2 power output.

Beings that the Universal remote is a class three device, it would make sense that the locomotives are also class three devices.

If you are interested, here is a link to Lionel's FCC filing for the Universal remote (Functional description of the universal remote). Below is an excerpt from that document which indicates the 1mw power rating:

I've heard conflicting stories about the range of Class 3 which is everything from 3 feet, 10 feet, and less than 10 meters.

I feel like I need to write a letter to Lionel.  I looked up the module listed and yep, it's class 3.  This is very disappointing as the nrf24l01+ based transceivers used before the Bluetooth models met and exceeded the class 2 spec.  there is absolutely zero excuse for a class 3 ble module in any product that needs to have a functional range over 1 meter especially when the previous generation of product was easily good for 20 meters.  Going to have to do some testing when I get home since I've never bothered being more than about 15 feet from an LC engine with a universal remote.  if that same module is used inside the engines it is ludicrous.  

 Gonna eat crow and it doesn't taste that great...

Upon looking over the data sheet for the actual part used in the remote, KW4521A, and going bact to cross reference, BLE(Bluetooth 4.0) does not seem to actually use the same class designations as older Bluetooth.  From what I can find, a 1mW ble module should be good for at least 10 meters.  there are only 2 classes I've found the ble.4 and .5 with the 5 having a 100 meter range at 10 mW.  I'll test range when I get home, but I'm suspecting that even the 1mW version of BLE meets class 2 specs for range under the previous standard.  

$ This is John Galt speaking.  $

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” 

 

 

H1000 posted:

John,

I found that strange too, maybe they found a way to boost the gain with a better internal antennas?

See the edit to my last post.

$ This is John Galt speaking.  $

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” 

 

 

JohnGaltLine posted:
H1000 posted:

John,

I found that strange too, maybe they found a way to boost the gain with a better internal antennas?

See the edit to my last post.

That makes more sense. I found it hard that I was getting 20 feet of range with a device that's rated for 3?

With scenery and tunnels 20 feet is generally my max reliable range. I bet I'd get 30 feet or more in and open space with line of sight.

H1000

The firestorm of discussion over LC2.0 must be very pleasing to Lionel as it will most likely help sales long term. Some of the postings were as long as term papers my students turned in when I was teaching. I am intrigued by the confusion over the operating range of bluetooth.

I love the concept of LC2.0. I only got back into the hobby because of the LC technology. TMCC/Legacy was too complex and expensive for me to set up, and conventional just doesn't have the features IU want.

Sure there have been some growing pains, but I'm excited to see they are iterating on LC. 

Now they just need to add some nice Conrail locomotives!

I'm a PA Conrail man, including before (PRR, PC, etc), and after (NS, CSX).

I'm with you, Gary. I think this is an outstanding product line for those of us who run traditional size trains. I am very excited about the New York Central FT AA set.

Joe B.

 

President Emeritus of the Olde Newburgh Model Railroad Club, now retired and living the dream in Florida.

What I don't understand is why there isn't more outrage about LC+2 not including a remote. For example, the LC+ FT AA sets retailed for $499.99 and came with its own remote. The LC+2 FT AA Sets cost $549.99 and do not include a remote. How much more expensive could the new circuit boards possibly be?

John

Hiawatha98 posted:

What I don't understand is why there isn't more outrage about LC+2 not including a remote.

I'm not happy about the price increase but since I already have the Universal Remote and I'm familiar with the app, I don't really care about no remote.  And that's probably what Lionel is thinking.

MikeH (formerly "beachhead2")

Hiawatha98 posted:

What I don't understand is why there isn't more outrage about LC+2 not including a remote.

Because it's basically a TMCC locomotive, and Lionel has never sold a stand alone TMCC locomotive with a remote (I said TMCC, not Legacy.  I know Lionel sold the Big Boy with a Legacy remote.).  It's a command locomotive that can also be controlled with the LC remote.  I'm glad they don't come with a remote, it'd just sit in the box unused as I already have two Cab-1s and two Cab-2s.

sinclair posted:
Hiawatha98 posted:

What I don't understand is why there isn't more outrage about LC+2 not including a remote.

Because it's basically a TMCC locomotive, and Lionel has never sold a stand alone TMCC locomotive with a remote (I said TMCC, not Legacy.  I know Lionel sold the Big Boy with a Legacy remote.).  It's a command locomotive that can also be controlled with the LC remote.  I'm glad they don't come with a remote, it'd just sit in the box unused as I already have two Cab-1s and two Cab-2s.

The only time I know of Lionel issuing a remote with a TMCC product was some sets. I believe the NYC set had one and I'm guessing the SP that was like a sister set as it was identical other than the road name and paint scheme on the engine, the engines even had the same number.

Bill

Since I bought the universal remote, the individuals sit on the shelf. Plus I prefer the app but only have one blue tooth loco. Bottom line is I don't want any more individual remotes. Looking forward to getting LC 2.0 on my recently ordered locos from the new catalog. My layout is 18x18 and no range issues with either Bluetooth or universal remote.

 

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

JD2035RR posted:

Hopefully they keep the regular LC+ around. There is a big difference between $325-400 LC+ and $500-550+++ LC+ 2.0.  

Maybe they were just trying to make a big splash with the LC+  2.0 line in this catalog, and will have more LC+ (1.0) in the fall catalog. The lion master big boy (many clammored for this one), PE berk (likey will be big seller), FTs, and tier 4s are all nice splashes for the LC+ 2.0. 

I agree with this and is what I was hoping for. I was one of the ones saying that I would like something akin to the MTH Imperial Line (semi-scale, lots of detail) with LC+ features. Well, that's what we have with LC+2.0, although not actually having seen a LC+2.0 engine in person, I don't know about the "detail" part. But I never expected Lionel to abandon the LC+ line completely which is what it looks like, so far at least, they've done, which is kind of dumb. I mean, they carved out a really nice niche with the LC+ price-point and now it's gone. Actually, that's dumber than dumb.


In no particular order; Aviation (Pilot), Golf, Amateur Astronomy & Cycling (when it's nice out) and Trains (when it's not).

Hiawatha98 posted:

What I don't understand is why there isn't more outrage about LC+2 not including a remote. For example, the LC+ FT AA sets retailed for $499.99 and came with its own remote. The LC+2 FT AA Sets cost $549.99 and do not include a remote. How much more expensive could the new circuit boards possibly be?

John, I am not outraged about it but I would have preferred each LC+ 2.0 engine to come with a dedicated remote like LC+ does.I have the Universal Remote plus a smartphone and tablet with the LC app so I can live without it. 

I guess that Lionel is thinking that those who would buy LC+ 2.0 locomotives would be established hobbyists and either have the Universal Remote, a smart device or a TMCC or Legacy system.

Joe B.

 

President Emeritus of the Olde Newburgh Model Railroad Club, now retired and living the dream in Florida.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

I guess the question is, will LC+ 2.0 replace all the older LC and LC+ options?

According to Ryan, whom I spoke with at the Amherst/Springfield show, LC+2.0 is replacing LC+. Given the feature-rich nature of LC+2.0, I think that LC will continue to be the standard for starter sets. Ryan may have said as much, and I forgot. It may be that the introduction of the LC standalone engines, pp. 124–125 in the catalog, was intentionally done in conjunction with the price range increase from LC+ to LC+2.0.

From what Ive seen the LC+2.0 is about 50 bucks more.   I wish that they would include a remote with it but with all the new features I can understand the increase.    I hope its a good reliable batch of engines!  I cant wait to get that Southern Berkshire!    WOO HOO

Jim

Operator of the Southern Railway System.

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