Garden Railways and the Internet of Things (IOT)



21 Mar 2019
Dublin, CA
Thank you LocoFi for joining in on the discussion. I look forward to seeing any move that you make into Garden Railway systems with interest.
You're welcome. Garden railway control is certainly on our radar.
... plus remote control of live steam.
Now, that's a possibility (and we have thought of that too). How about a branchline of the garden railway run through your kitchen where the IoT coffeemaker tells you that coffee is ready and the train proceeds to pick it up? Everyone knows about IFTTT automation. It's real. Another possibility is sharing control of your layout remotely over the internet via onboard cam and letting your friends run your trains from across the world. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

Just a little note about standards. DCC is a standard, essentially a protocol so that all DCC compliant devices can talk to each other. It was invented as a means to provide power and control signals through tracks. A custom protocol for talking between custom devices requires laying down custom infrastructure that comes with its associated costs. Today we have WiFi that lets us separate the power from control, leaving us to power the loco electronics in multitude of ways (DC, DCC, battery, AC) while still controllable (over WiFi). Further, WiFi is an established standard protocol. All devices that are WiFi compliant follow those standards and rules to talk to each other. The best example is the powerful computer in everyone's pocket these days aka smartphone that is WiFi compliant. Now using something ubiquitous, robust, reliable, worldwide accepted and most likely in everyone's house or club layouts makes for an ideal candidate to develop systems with. The systems can now be software based leaving room for customization possibilities on the fly (without waiting for release of new hardware and all the associated rework installing that). The WiFi along with this room for possibilities without having to invest in custom systems and using existing infrastructure certainly brings the cost down as well.

We're here to answer any question or clarifications regarding LocoFi™. So, please ask away.


G Scale trains, Lawn Bowls.
14 Jun 2011
Bomaderry, New South Wales, Australia
A new system on the block, how interesting.

An analogy might be DCC = Win XP standard while this new technology might = Win 10 standard?

I still run XP by the way and will be using DCC track power for my HO trains but at present I run a battery system for my G trains (no flame war which is best track power or battery please, just stating my current system of power supply).

Being a soon to be retired person I would like to keep my brain active by exploring new technology, amongst other thing activities, if I can master it (usually with help of course, not afraid of constructive criticism). I do have a electronic technical background so that helps.

I can understand the argument that; "I spent Squillions on my system why should I change to this new Fandangle system?" Short answer Don't Change!!!!!

If your current system is working for you do not do anything and just take no notice of this new thing and move along, if you are just starting out or looking to move from one system to another then consider it with an open mind. Horses for courses.

I came into G scale from DC powered HO operating in the tropics of Northern Australia (similar to a California/ Florida climate for our US friends) and decided to go Battery after considering all the mucking around of keeping the track clean and controlling the oxidization that I went through (in my opinion best move I made) but that was my choice.

I will keep an eye on the progress of this because it may have potential for me, but then again it may not.

I will not dismiss it because it does not fit inside the box I am used to (I'm a bit of an out of the box person).

Please note the above is my personal opinion and should not be construed as a dig at anyone who wishes to take offence.

If you do take offence please consider taking the gates as well >:) >:)
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

8 Mar 2014
San Diego
Being in the industry, I do wish you could not use so many terms for different things.


Wi-FI does not have a protocol for controlling things, just communicating Ethernet packets really.

Also DCC, while strictly defined as over the rails, can and is being used over the air, so the separation of power from control happened years ago (How old is AirWire???? well it was introduced in 1999, TWENTY years ago)

So maybe things can be clarified a bit... you propose to use Wi-Fi as a TRANSPORT PROTOCOL as opposed to wires (rails), Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc. That is cool, I think that is the best wireless choice now given cost (it might not be good in a congested area, but I submit our data speed requirements are not much)

The bigger thing you are proposing is a new COMMAND PROTOCOL, as opposed to DCC. Clearly DCC command structure is antique, especially looking at all the proprietary extensions to it. But really for what we do, it has evolved for loco control, and sound configuration. (It still sucks for control in my opinion, a fully ack'd protocol and 2 way communication is now easily possible)

Lastly, another aspect not broken out, I will call a NETWORK PROTOCOL.... for the Iot one aspect that is different is rather than have a centralized control and structure, you can have things like a coffee maker "advertising" that it has finished brewing... then maybe other things will announce this over a speaker in the room where the target user is sitting, announce to a home shopping "bot" that some more coffee has been used, to monitor when to buy more coffee, etc.

For automation of trains, this structure makes thing easier to extend and integrate... and for people who need automation, your Iot ideas, as far as I can fathom, are on "track" (pun intended)

But in my case, I don't want automation, I want to drive the train, and centralized control enforced by the architecture of DCC allows me to have the "system" aspects I want, to have an all stop, hand over consists to other users, restrict certain kinds of operations, have a central database. So in my case, the "Iot" for trains leaves me cold, there's no benefit until it becomes as ubiquitous as DCC components are. Changing the interface and buying new hardware that has almost no functionality as compared to a Zimo DCC system (command station and decoders) is not attractive.

Again, were I focused on automation of my layout, and top end features of lighting, motor control, synchronized sound were NOT important, it would get me on the "bandwagon".

Keep doing what you are interested in, but please do not sell this as a replacement in functionality for these well developed DCC features that are off the shelf, it's just not there.

But the future is probably not continuing to flail the DCC protocol, agreed.

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