Radio control

This forum is dedicated to Riding Scale Railroading with propulsion using other than steam (Hydraulics, diesel engines, gas engines, electric motors, hybrid etc.)

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Re: Radio control

Post by amadlinger » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:59 pm

Silly me...should have seen that Mr. One-inch-railroad already posted all about the DMR-203! :oops:

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Re: Radio control

Post by Harlock » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:48 am

For prior art, RMI made a few locomotives with wireless control. It's basically their standard electric control panel remoted in a box with a wireless transmitter. They probably used FM or something similar. If SRRL5 is watching he might know.

Ron Schmidt and Peter Moseley use this to shunt cars and locomotives around their small yard and make up trains with their large RMI diesel switcher modeled after SP Narrow Gauge #1 'Little Giant'. It is a huge convenience getting things out of the car barn with tight clearances and really fun to watch. they've never had any problems with the wireless but it's never more than 50 feet away from the operator, and in line of sight. On a private railroad with only them there's no problem at all. I would indeed hesitate to use that type of technology at a crowded club track.

That said the 2.4ghz radios are getting amazing, and you can watch POV flyers with quadcopters and airplanes get 7 mile range out of the best ones. The copters generally have a GPS guided failsafe that takes it home if it loses signal, and also auto-returns on low battery threshold. With digital transmission noise is a thing of the past, it's either on or off.

I'm not sure why one would want to radio control a train out of site that's larger than Gauge 1, but everyone is in this hobby for different reasons. If you want to run it POV like an HO layout and it's your own track, more power to you.

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Re: Radio control

Post by rwheller » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:00 pm

I thank everyone for their comments on this subject. Believe me when I say safety is uppermost in my mind as anyone who has worked "through" the yards I control will verify. Yes, my system has several safeties built in and it is never out of my sight. The reason for using R/C, as stated earlier, is to facilitate my working a large yard by myself. Actually, a tethered controll is even more dangerous. One could trip over the wire, or drop it all together. Unless there is a deadman, you are in trouble at that point. Some of the larger clubs have hostlers to do the switching with a switch tender to do that job. I am not that lucky. It's usually just me, and my "cronological progression" is slowing me down. As Adam said, the RFI in several clubs is a major problem. Maybe the newer systems would eliminate that but I don't have the funds to just experiment. As a result I may have to back away from the R/C use until the technology improves and/or gets less expensive. Until then I'll just move a little slower. As anyone who knows me, I love my job, so I will keep doing it as long as I can. Thanks for all the help and information. Ron H. See you down the tracks.

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Re: Radio control

Post by chiloquinruss » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:38 pm

if the radio does not have a fail-safe that will slam the throttle shut if the connection is lost, then its use should not even be considered or allowed at a track
This is the operating rule at Train Mountain and so far the only commercail rig that has passed the fail safe test are the units currently sold by Mountain Car. All others have not passed the test. Russ

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Re: Radio control

Post by cbrew » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:08 pm

the controller i am using in my little 25 box cab has a built in fail safe that is required for the purpose they were designed. i still need to test it tho
Switch 6: R/C Failsafe Timeout
In all the R/C modes, if switch 6 is set to the UP position,
then Timeout Failsafe mode is active. This will bring the
motor to a stop if the servo signal is interrupted. Once
several valid control signals are sent, the motor will restart.
This is useful to prevent to robot driving away if it
encounters interference, drives out of range, or if the transmitter is inadvertently de-activated.
Many robot competitions require this feature.
If switch 6 is set in the DOWN position, then Timeout Failsafe mode is de-activated. This means
that the SyRen will continue to drive the motor according to the last command until another
command is given. If the control link is possible unreliable – like a radio - then this can be
dangerous due to the robot not stopping. However, it is extremely convenient if you are
controlling the SyRen from a microcontroller. In this case, commanding the controller can be
done with as little as three lines of code.
Output_High(Pin connected to S1)
Delay(1000us to 2000us)
Output_Low(Pin connected to S1)
This makes it easy to use R/C mode without having to set up a repeating pulse stream. This is
most advantageous on controllers like Basic Stamps, which don’t have the ability to perform
background tasks.
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Re: Radio control

Post by WJH » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:31 pm

I do not really understand the concern people have for safety checks on wireless systems but not wired tether systems...
Just because something is wired doesn't mean it is safe.
On a wireless system, the control mechanisms are on the locomotive, the wireless systems send signals only to change the state of the control mechanisms. The fail safes your talking about need to check in case there is a loss of radio signal OR more importantly, the control signal is compromised or invalid.
Well... A tethered system using wires which the control mechanisms are on the locomotive also need the same fail safes. Will the locomotive stop if the wire cord is pulled out?
From my point of view, I don't really care if it is wired or wireless, it is the underlying systems and how they are setup that matter.

And one more point, what about the cab controls on some electrics? Does your speed control automatically stop the train if one of the wires going to a pot or other control signal breaks?

Just something to ponder...

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Re: Radio control

Post by hottshot65 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:40 pm


Beyond the line of sight issue, there's really no difference between tethered and wireless except perception. I only mention the fail safe issue as it relates to wireless because in another forum amongst a different group of folks, people were actually bragging about being able to operate what I would consider well beyond safe distances. There's video out there of someone running their fairly long train from the waycar. Now perhaps he was just demonstrating for demonstrating's sake, but certainly that's a practice that should be frowned upon in a public setting.

The fail safe argument can be taken too far into the realm of paranoia as well. For instance, from a throttle standpoint, what fail safes do steam engines have? What's going to stop my Chloe after I open the throttle then fall off? So in reality, one is pretty limited in filling the gap left in the absence of common sense...there's just no substitute.
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Re: Radio control

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:17 pm

Falling off is one thing, but I think the main difference between a tethered and non-tethered control is this:

With a tethered control, the operator will have to be on or right behind the locomotive.

With a remote control, the operator could be at the back of the train or not on the train at all. There is also a much greater risk that the connection will be lost or the signal interfered with on a remote control locomotive.

It makes a difference in an emergency exactly WHERE the operator is located. There are a lot of clubs that won't allow you to run unless you (the operator) is at or near the front of the train. This is for visibility and keeping the train under control better. In other words, you can't do what the person in the video that was mentioned was doing... sit at the back of a 10 car train and watch the whole thing rock and roll in front of you.

My advice is to err on the side of safey.

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Re: Radio control

Post by one_inch_railroad » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:41 pm

I should mention that my radio control setup will only be used on a private one inch track and not when any other trains are running. As it is still a rather contentious issue, I would never even consider putting it on a 1.5 or 1.6 engine that I planned on running at a club track. I can definitely understand peoples concerns considering how much pure hard work, money, and time people put into building and maintaing there equipment. I also agree it is a safety concern sitting back 10 cars and running your train. I work as a conductor for Canadian Pacific up in Canada so I can really appreciate the safety aspects of this hobby. As such I operate at all tracks under the provisions of CROR rule 105 (C) which would be impossible sitting 10 cars back. I am sure there is a similar rule in the GCOR.

Special instructions will indicate when this rule is not applicable on a
specific track.

(c) In addition to moving at REDUCED speed, a movement using a non-
signalled siding or using other non-main tracks so designated in
special instructions, must operate at a speed that will allow it to stop
within one-half the range of vision of a track unit or stop short of
maintenance equipment foul of the track.
Unless otherwise provided by subdivision footnote, Rule 105 (c) is
applicable on all non-main tracks.

A speed that will permit stopping within one-half the range of vision of

A speed that will permit stopping within one-half the range of vision of
equipment, also prepared to stop short of a switch not properly lined and
in no case exceeding SLOW speed.

When moving at RESTRICTED speed, be on the lookout for broken rails.
When a broken rail is detected, the movement must be stopped
immediately and must not resume until permission is received from the
RTC or signalman.


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Re: Radio control

Post by WJH » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:40 pm

Now, if I had a private track at home, 1.5" or Gauge 1, I would put a wireless video camera on the front, and run it via radio control. Why not? I once did this with a r/c car and had tons of fun.

Now another story about fail safes, my father wanted to change the brake fluid on my 2007 Prius. I told him to research it first... He didn't, he thought it would be like any other car... My fault for not stopping him... He went to bleed the left rear wheel. The pressure sensor detected a loss of brake pressure, and the computer shut off the solenoid to that wheel so the brakes would continue to operate on the other three wheels. Well, I didn't have the scan tool... Had to call the tow truck...
With newer cars, you must follow the procedures in the correct order, and you must have the proper tools.
Why even mention any of this? I don't know.. I guess the closest thing to this hobby would be Air Brakes modeled after the real thing. As others said, we can all go over board in the name of safety resulting in overly complex systems which start to become more trouble than they are worth.

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