New to battery power/radio control - choice of brand?

rentren

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Good morning from the smokey Kootenays/BC. It's not the heritage steam engines ...

Doing a search and then some reading I come up with (in alphabetical order) BlueRailTrains/deadrailInstalls, CVP AirWire900, and RCS of New England amongst the top search results.

My electronics knowledge is small, soldering I do some (30W iron) but full of fear to fry electronics :-], and all my rolling stock is LGB (dated, fit for tight curves). While there are about 300ft of track, and about a dozen switches (and LGB controls), the extension of the layout fits within a 25ft circle (wrt BlueRailTrain who tho' currently suffer from parts shortages).

And now I'm open to suggestions, comparisons, pointing out importance of features. I want to go BP & RC because of the simple function of track - it's the track, not the power feed (a Y, a turn loop, some sidings, some blocks, ...lotsa wire, toggles, and room for trouble).

RCS comes with a local advantage as it were, an acquaintance a good hour's drive away and offering help (10 years experience with Revolution Train Engineer, suitable boards; Aristo IIRC)

TNX and if you can let it rain here ...TNX again. -- Ren(ard) / rentren

PS ...dunno why I 'fly' the Swiss flag, nothing against the former home, but I'm in da colonies with maple flag for a long time, the smokey West Kootenays to be more precise, not the Alps with floods and mud flows. Choices, eh?!
 
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Greg Elmassian

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you are probably using an anonymizer or vpn, but you can go to your settings and get your flag back.

You need to think about the features you want, and sound. I vote for a system that allows you to use an all in one DCC decoder, so you can enjoy a wide variety of options in sounds, lighting effects, etc.

You also need to think of your budget, many people forget how more expensive battery power can be, make sure you decide on chargers (that is plural) batteries, run time, etc.

So, budget and how good sound do you want. We will assume you are giving up any possibility of smoke.

Greg
 

rentren

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TNX Greg!
(Flag, ...no VPN only when I want to watch arte.tv ;~)
Check to all you points. When I read a post from 2015 and a link therein options get fleshed out. Doesn't mean I'm closer to MY choice, tho Revolution Engineer must've been the top then and that is what a acquaintance also in the West Kootenays has. - Do you think of a particular brand or brand combo?
Budget. - Raises the dicey point of both, some BP & RC but parts of the layout still with track power to run non-converted locos. And never err and set RC-conversion on powered track ...
 

Greg Elmassian

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The Revolution comes in various flavors, the original one, with the receiver and sound all in one board, a lot of product for a good price.

The DCC version of the Revolution lets you use ANY DCC decoder with the receiver and opens the door to a wide range of sound systems.

It has a pretty good user interface, nice sunlight readable LCD screen, and a good track record.

BlueRail is pretty new, and just recently make a model that also lets you use any DCC decoder for motor and sound control. Many people like it, and can save money by using your cell phone.

Personally, I like a high contrast sunlight readable display, and even my $1,200 cell phone is not what I call sunlight readable, and I also like real buttons on my remotes.

Greg
 

The Shed

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PS ...dunno why I 'fly' the Swiss flag, nothing against the former home, but I'm in da colonies with maple flag for a long time, the smokey West Kootenays to be more precise, not the Alps with floods and mud flows. Choices, eh?!
Go to Your Account.........Locate Country flag select and click on it........
Your Account.png

Scroll down the Countries to Canada, click select.................job done..............
Country Flag Select.PNG
 

rentren

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A Revolution, as mentioned, is used by my acquaintance (a.o. 50 addresses, 99 steps) which makes me lean toward some such. Readability and buttons also valid points with me. BlueRail is kinda interesting for the iPhone use, but currently they can't ship any boards (the Covid hurdles wrt parts).
Sound will be an issue.
I'd like engine sounds which fit narrow gauge models (LGB) like Zillertalbahn and RhB, the Grisons' state railway (and with which baby retren travelled home from the maternity ward many decades ago).
Budget and sequencing conversions ...I think my first one is after all the RhB Ge 2/4 old LGB 2045 with very few coaches fitting wrt period. The all power packs get disconnected, convdentional track feed is dead and the Retian electro-veteran is on 'the stage'. At this point sems a viable compromise. Going BP & RC on half a dozen locos ...add the $$ and make 'em CAN$$$.
 

rentren

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Intersting what you at The Shed get to see!
When I go to my account I get a different screen. Under 'Account details' there are only these which exclude an entry 'ountry flag select':
Account details
Password and security
Privacy
Preferences
Signature
Account upgrades
Connected accounts
Following
Ignoring
Log out

Might machinery and browser choice make a difference? Here on a Mac mini with Big Sur 11.5.1 running Safari and/or Brave Browser.
 

Moonraker

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At MyLocoSound, we have a selection of eleven radio controls with which we test our soundcards. These include the ones you have mentioned. I don't really want to go into a blow by blow comparison but I do have a couple of important points to make.

First, if you are going to have kids operate your railway then forget Revolution. It has so many buttons on the handset that they keep pressing the wrong ones and going into programming modes, etc. It's just not suitable for kids.

Next, if you just like sitting in a chair watching your trains go round and round with occasional changes of speed or loco then using your phone with BlueRail or others is fine. However, if you want to run multiple trains in a realistic way with station stops, switching/shunting, passing loops, etc. then a phone based system is a bad idea. Being non-tactile, you have to keep looking at your phone and not at your trains. I like to operate my railway in a realistic way so I prefer a handset with a knob and sound trigger buttons so that I can enjoy operation, including Kadee coupling/uncoupling, without ever having to look at the handset.

Regards
Peter Lucas
MyLocoSound
 

rentren

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At MyLocoSound, we have a selection of eleven radio controls with which we test our soundcards. These include the ones you have mentioned. I don't really want to go into a blow by blow comparison but I do have a couple of important points to make.

First, if you are going to have kids operate your railway then forget Revolution. It has so many buttons on the handset that they keep pressing the wrong ones and going into programming modes, etc. It's just not suitable for kids.

Next, if you just like sitting in a chair watching your trains go round and round with occasional changes of speed or loco then using your phone with BlueRail or others is fine. However, if you want to run multiple trains in a realistic way with station stops, switching/shunting, passing loops, etc. then a phone based system is a bad idea. Being non-tactile, you have to keep looking at your phone and not at your trains. I like to operate my railway in a realistic way so I prefer a handset with a knob and sound trigger buttons so that I can enjoy operation, including Kadee coupling/uncoupling, without ever having to look at the handset.

Regards
Peter Lucas
MyLocoSound
TNX, Peter!

Of particular interest are sounds of continental narrow gauge steam, Zillertalbahn e.g., and also running there the 2095 series diesels, then the RhB Ge 2/4. I had tested another used one of these RhB oldies with a Massoth card in it. (00 years?) Running noise was not convincing, but air compressor and the whistle (including echo, I grinned broadly) were to my mind pretty prototypical.

The one kid here has some 500 days to go before he is 10x 8 years old.

Very good point about having to look at the phone! This option dropped.

My 'main line' leaves from a highest level below deck leads along the house wall to a former fire wood storage with two levels, hence a back and forth 3 times (see layout sketch).

So, yes, I aim for somewhat realistic operations (the uncoupling at this time a wish-list item). As the acquaintance mentioned before is experience with Revolution Train Engineer there is a bit of a tendency toward that remote. There are other options, maybe that CVP Airwire900. Looking at the helpful blog Peckforton Light Railway I do see still more possibilities. However, I am not an experienced electronics assembler. I need pretty well a fully assembled receiver with a fair offering of features and - no small job for me - and then I need to prepare the loco, drop in that receiver, reassemble, and hopefull enjoy a successful test run. No doubt, I will be glad to call on a helper ...

I listend to quite of few of your sound samples. Steam would seem most fitting, diesel maybe as well. Arises the question whether there might ever be an option to 'flow' my own sounds onto a card?

In order to match the layout sketch with the overview photo you'd have to turn it 90 degrees clockwise. Under the deck there's the main station 'Ramosch'. In reality never got one as the line beyond Schuls/Scuol in the Engadine, Grisons Canton, was never completed to Landeck in North Tyrol due to the outbreak of WW1. Obviously my Landeck Graubünden Bahn profits from the notorious 'rubber scale' for which tho' some criticize LGB.

Three Curves V14.jpg LGB 2095; 'Staziun Ramosch'.jpeg RR layout extension.jpeg
 
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Greg Elmassian

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I've had 5 year olds run my NCE throttles and learn in minutes. I cannot agree that kids cannot handle buttons! I've been running DCC, which everyone seems to think is the most complex. I've more issues with people that are not kids.

The selection of locos is simple, once you establish cabs. Of course you can dumb your system down to an on off switch. I find older people, my age and older have the most problems, kids can run apps on cell phones better than their parents.

Greg
 

Paul M

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I've had 5 year olds run my NCE throttles and learn in minutes. I cannot agree that kids cannot handle buttons! I've been running DCC, which everyone seems to think is the most complex. I've more issues with people that are not kids.

The selection of locos is simple, once you establish cabs. Of course you can dumb your system down to an on off switch. I find older people, my age and older have the most problems, kids can run apps on cell phones better than their parents.

Greg
You're right Greg, it's always handy to have a 5 year old locked away somewhere to programme your phone and satellite box
 

dunnyrail

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Good morning from the smokey Kootenays/BC. It's not the heritage steam engines ...

Doing a search and then some reading I come up with (in alphabetical order) BlueRailTrains/deadrailInstalls, CVP AirWire900, and RCS of New England amongst the top search results.

My electronics knowledge is small, soldering I do some (30W iron) but full of fear to fry electronics :-], and all my rolling stock is LGB (dated, fit for tight curves). While there are about 300ft of track, and about a dozen switches (and LGB controls), the extension of the layout fits within a 25ft circle (wrt BlueRailTrain who tho' currently suffer from parts shortages).

And now I'm open to suggestions, comparisons, pointing out importance of features. I want to go BP & RC because of the simple function of track - it's the track, not the power feed (a Y, a turn loop, some sidings, some blocks, ...lotsa wire, toggles, and room for trouble).

RCS comes with a local advantage as it were, an acquaintance a good hour's drive away and offering help (10 years experience with Revolution Train Engineer, suitable boards; Aristo IIRC)

TNX and if you can let it rain here ...TNX again. -- Ren(ard) / rentren

PS ...dunno why I 'fly' the Swiss flag, nothing against the former home, but I'm in da colonies with maple flag for a long time, the smokey West Kootenays to be more precise, not the Alps with floods and mud flows. Choices, eh?!
There is another option for battery dcc Fosworks in UK. I reviewed it here:-


there is also much information within the battery thread if installation and revisions to this and the Revolotion or Train Engineer Battery DCC system.

As for recommendations, well I personally prefer Fosworks but have Revolution and Deltang as well but for me the issues with Revolution are shorter battery life at the Tx end and Deltang I find the programming to be a bit tricky though ge_rik on here has it nailed. But there are other systems and much depends on cost with your personal budget.
 

Moonraker

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I've had 5 year olds run my NCE throttles and learn in minutes. I cannot agree that kids cannot handle buttons! I've been running DCC, which everyone seems to think is the most complex. I've more issues with people that are not kids.

The selection of locos is simple, once you establish cabs. Of course you can dumb your system down to an on off switch. I find older people, my age and older have the most problems, kids can run apps on cell phones better than their parents.

Greg
Greg,

I didn't say that kids can't handle buttons. It is just the Revolution handset which is the problem for kids. In particular they keep pressing the <<T and T>> buttons thinking they make the train go but they actually switch to a different train. Other button handsets are fine. I just have a personal preference for a centre off knob.

Regards'
Peter Lucas
MyLocoSound
 

Greg Elmassian

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I will agree that is indeed a flaw in their UI, and I indeed have forgotten this. Sorry Peter, I definitely agree with you in this specific case on the Revolution.

I use NCE throttles normally on "open days" and NCE lets you lock functionality down by throttle/cab number. This way you can let someone have a full function controller, but not let them enter commands. On the NCE, by cab, you can control: (there's more to this list)
  • programming on the main
  • assign a loco
  • using the program track
  • setting up command station parameters
  • programming accessories (stationary decoders like turnouts)
  • programming consists
But there is a TON of options out there, I'm just mostly espousing starting with a system that gives you the most options in features.

Also, it appears that most of the OP's locos are European, so the Zimo and ESU sound databases (and Massoth) will probably serve him best.

Greg
 

PhilP

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Also, it appears that most of the OP's locos are European, so the Zimo and ESU sound databases (and Massoth) will probably serve him best.
As the OP is in the States..
Unless he *really* can't live without something very specific, in the features / sounds a Massoth decoder would give him, then I would scratch Massoth from the list..

PhilP
 

Greg Elmassian

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I happen to like Zimo, in that I believe they are adding new decoders and features quicker than most.

The sounds list is extensive and by country, which makes it easy. I have not done the same in-depth research for ESU and Massoth, but we have great Zimo support here in the US.

listing of sound database:

 

rentren

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There is another option for battery dcc Fosworks in UK. I reviewed it here:-


there is also much information within the battery thread if installation and revisions to this and the Revolotion or Train Engineer Battery DCC system.

As for recommendations, well I personally prefer Fosworks but have Revolution and Deltang as well but for me the issues with Revolution are shorter battery life at the Tx end and Deltang I find the programming to be a bit tricky though ge_rik on here has it nailed. But there are other systems and much depends on cost with your personal budget.
TNX, dunnyrail, I'll dive into this. Interesting to hear about owning different systems. I would like to get started on the 'right one' ...but then who knows what I will think a little ways down the road.
 

rentren

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As the OP is in the States..
Unless he *really* can't live without something very specific, in the features / sounds a Massoth decoder would give him, then I would scratch Massoth from the list..

PhilP
Well, N.America, Canada to be precise, but models are so far exclusively European, for the most Austrian and Swiss (Grisons) narrow gauge. Zimo does look attractive to me. Massoth for RhB Ge 2/4 has good sound save perhaps the running sound of the loco (funny grind, not the way I recall it). But I swapped the loco with card against a plain analog one. Had no good controller and it did not run as smoothly as I wanted (14 steps for speed doesn't do it for me).
 

rentren

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And one more thing!
I realize that refitting up to 10 motors, some dual-drive engines, a motorized coal car, that would be a lot of work and cost a pretty penny alright (first guestimate around CAN$2500 with transmitter, recivers; tax incl.). It would have to be all or none, I mean to avoid mixed operation with track feed and battery power.

So, I think to proceed very differently and also fitting my N.Am location.

K&S_rail_bed.jpg P1240372.jpeg

Above K&S in Kaslo and the snowy railbed 'chez nous' of the former Kaslo & Slocan Railway, a 3ft narrow gauge line constructed to haul ores from mines up the Kaslo River Valley and in the Slocan (Sandon, Cody). The line was later converted to normal gauge and newly routed from the summit lakes (today BC Hwy 31A) down to New Denver and on to Nakusp. It began to fall into disrepair after extensive damage in a bad flood, 1952, I believe.

In Kaslo the railbed is preserved in parts, e.g. on our very property. It's kind of an obligation, isn't it? Altho' it may sound a bit much in the way of another project, I think it better to have eventually a separate G scale line away from the house out in the yard. There it would have to be the K&S of old, running two Moguls (maybe at some point even engine 3, a 2-8-0, ex Kansas City & Des Moines), two passenger cars and a combine plus a bunch of ore cars as they circulated between Kaslo, Sandon and up to Cody. Then I can start things Battery Power and Radio Control from the very outset. Maybe Piko and possibly their (simple) BP & RC.

There's aa image of engine 2 in the marvelous volume by Robert D. Turner and David S. Wilkie (1994), The Skyline Limited - The Kaslo and Slocan Railway, Narrow Gauge Railroading and Sternwheelrs in the Kootenays. (No, I didn't ask for permission, and yes, the book is long out of print. Goes for a hundred bucks, if you can find it.)

IMG_1195.jpeg

So, for the next little while from beneath the deck to the former firewood storage, back and forth a couple times, will continue to circulate the European LGB models, analog and happily (dealing with one Y and one turn loop, some sidings/by passes and very few blocks), ...happily especially when I finish the last bit still under construction.

So far, from beneat the deck to 15ft beyond the upper station at the firewood stack, track proved no problem. There are several feeds and of course every now and then some cleaning is needed but no pain as yet.

It was very useful to me being able to air this topic and thanks for the many elucidations!

Enlarge RR layout; former firewood storage.jpeg RR layout extension.jpeg
 
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rentren

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...well, yeah, not really an out in the garden RR, an along the house and under cover fancy. But then there's that somewhat distant K & S Ry project :cool:
 
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