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mcintire319

New Member
Based upon the limited information that I have uncovered about WiFi train control I have more questions than answers. It looks like LocoFi cab control modules allow you to have DCC-equivalent cab control and sound with less hassle than DCC. It sounds great...but what about WiFi-Only turnout and accessory control. Is that here yet? Is it around the corner? From what I read about DCC/WiFi offerings from the DCC product and software makers it appears that they are trying to save their DCC business models by requiring that the use of WiFi must be combined with the use of their DCC offering in order to work. In hindsight it seems to me that DCC was too long in coming (and too convoluted) and that these DCC manufacturers were caught by surprise when WiFi Model Railroad LLC from California introduced LocoFi modules that are controlled by Smart Phones without any need to integrate with DCC. Please let me know if I have grossly misinterpreted what's happening out there in the model railroading world!?
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
The WiFi train control isn't too much different that what's available now in standard DCC. From what I have read the cost for a module in WiFi isn't far off from standard DCC and the WiFi modulars still need to be installed in the locomotives. The promoters of this WiFi say that use your tablet or cordless phone to operate WiFi. Well, for years DCC users of the Lenz systems could use cordless phones to operate their railroads on DCC.

I think this just another company that's would like to sell their systems to the new comers that want to leave DC.


Seeming a bit complicated to me! I'll stay a DCC user. I doubt that other existing DCC model railroaders would switch after already having a investment in DCC.

I've seen this which I believe to be a similar product in RailPro, but easier to use and it was interesting to see a consist, mid-power and pushers all in the same train.

Just my very uneducated opinion.

Greg
 
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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
One big negative for me about using a tablet or phone to control a train is lack of tactile feedback. With my PowerCab I know where things are and can can operate without constantly having to look away from the train. I know others feel the same way.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
My club uses both at the same time. DCC is NCE and I use a Pro-Cab-R (radio) and any consisting is done using their "advanced consisting" method of that. The WIFI is installed onto a laptop and uses a program designed for that. It produces a control screen on your smart phone and selections are made with the finger tip 'buttons' with a slide bar for speed. You log into it using a password. Consisting using that is basic. I find it clumsy and easily 'upset' by a misguided touch etc.. Give me my radio cab any day.
 

Bigboy57

Member
My Bluetooth experience is with EZ App and BlueRail. With these, there are some advantages as well as disadvantages. The biggest advantage of these is you don’t need dcc power to operate. A decent dc power source is all you need but they will operate on dcc power also.

Now for the disadvantages: if a loco or car derails on a turnout and you have another loco behind that turnout (even if it’s behind a switch that’s off) the gap at the derailment can be bridged and all of a sudden the other loco will start moving. This can be a little hairy.

BlueRail is designed to work in a loco with a decoder and also sound if desired. The board is relatively small but you will increase the cost by the cost of the BR card. About $100. If you just have a couple dc locos, by putting the BR card and sound decoder in and have the full dcc benifits while using dc power. If however, you have more than a couple locos, it is more cost effective to just spring for a dcc system and save the cost of the BR cards.

You can run 4 or five locos simultaneously with Bluetooth or a combination with dcc locos. I have done this where I had 3 EZ Apps and two dcc locos all running but you are very busy manipulating your phone and dcc controller and the chances increase greatly needing to use the all stop buttons.

After this long winded answer, Bluetooth has its place, especially in the entry level and dead rail markets but as you become more advanced, the current technology is based around dcc imo.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
My Bluetooth experience is with EZ App and BlueRail. With these, there are some advantages as well as disadvantages. The biggest advantage of these is you don’t need dcc power to operate. A decent dc power source is all you need but they will operate on dcc power also.

Now for the disadvantages: if a loco or car derails on a turnout and you have another loco behind that turnout (even if it’s behind a switch that’s off) the gap at the derailment can be bridged and all of a sudden the other loco will start moving. This can be a little hairy.

BlueRail is designed to work in a loco with a decoder and also sound if desired. The board is relatively small but you will increase the cost by the cost of the BR card. About $100. If you just have a couple dc locos, by putting the BR card and sound decoder in and have the full dcc benifits while using dc power. If however, you have more than a couple locos, it is more cost effective to just spring for a dcc system and save the cost of the BR cards.

You can run 4 or five locos simultaneously with Bluetooth or a combination with dcc locos. I have done this where I had 3 EZ Apps and two dcc locos all running but you are very busy manipulating your phone and dcc controller and the chances increase greatly needing to use the all stop buttons.

After this long winded answer, Bluetooth has its place, especially in the entry level and dead rail markets but as you become more advanced, the current technology is based around dcc imo.
The advantage of DCC is it is supported by all model makers, unlike any of the others. Even MTH had to install DCC into his DCS models in order to get any traction in the HO market. I compare that to when Sony with it's Beta system took on VHS. It was reputedly a better system but they would not license it to put into any other brand. VHS was universal across their competitors. Beta went obsolete, VHS prospered. Sony did not repeat the mistake with Blueray.
 

Bigboy57

Member
The advantage of DCC is it is supported by all model makers, unlike any of the others. Even MTH had to install DCC into his DCS models in order to get any traction in the HO market. I compare that to when Sony with it's Beta system took on VHS. It was reputedly a better system but they would not license it to put into any other brand. VHS was universal across their competitors. Beta went obsolete, VHS prospered. Sony did not repeat the mistake with Blueray.
Agree. I was just trying to point some of the pros and cons of the actual operation because I actually use both on my layout.
 

kleiner

Well-Known Member
Based upon the limited information that I have uncovered about WiFi train control I have more questions than answers. It looks like LocoFi cab control modules allow you to have DCC-equivalent cab control and sound with less hassle than DCC. It sounds great...but what about WiFi-Only turnout and accessory control. Is that here yet? Is it around the corner? From what I read about DCC/WiFi offerings from the DCC product and software makers it appears that they are trying to save their DCC business models by requiring that the use of WiFi must be combined with the use of their DCC offering in order to work. In hindsight it seems to me that DCC was too long in coming (and too convoluted) and that these DCC manufacturers were caught by surprise when WiFi Model Railroad LLC from California introduced LocoFi modules that are controlled by Smart Phones without any need to integrate with DCC. Please let me know if I have grossly misinterpreted what's happening out there in the model railroading world!?
Wifi based turnout and accessory control is quite straightforward if you have some programming skills. On my next N-scale layout, I will be using a network of Raspberry Pi single board computers to control turnouts and handle train detection. The Raspberry Pis will be connected via Wifi to a central controller (which could be a Mac or a PC). I recently wrote about this on a different thread.

I hate having to install huge bundles of wires under a layout and I am therefore trying to find way to absolutely minimize the amount of wiring. I don't mind even going to the extent of having a separate Raspberry Pi for each turnout.
 

dave1905

Well-Known Member
Important thing to remember, DCC is a locomotive control protocol, Wifi and Bluetooth are communication methods.

You can send a signal to control DCC via the rail, or directly to the engine or a combination (radio to command station, rail to engine). In any of those cases it's the same signal, just the path it takes is different.

The difference between "conventional" DCC and "Wifi" or "Bluetooth" is the difference between sending Morse code by telegraph or by radio.

Also, the interface that the operator uses isn't necessarily a different system, it's just a different way to enter the same command. It's like the difference between using MS Word on a smart phone or on a PC. On the smart phone you type on the screen, on the PC you type on a keyboard, but the program behind it is the same. You can use many different interfaces, knobby throttle, hammerhead throttle, smart phone, touch screen or Proto Throttle, to drive the SAME DCC. The protocol to control the engine is exactly the same in every case, what's different is how the interface/controller works and how sophisticated the signal the controller sends. A lot of the "DCC is dead" threads aren't really about DCC, they are about the interface or controller.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
This is where the BR card shines. It works with a decoder and even on a dc throttle, gives you full dcc cv settings, and sound but still uses Bluetooth to your phone.
I remember when BLI were doing their DC w/sound models and there was a control that would let you program the CV's, address/es, consisting with positions defined. Don't think we had smart phones then, but. I had 4 when the club layout was still all DC Sound was pretty unrepresentative but one thing I did like, manual notching could be simulated by just jerking the throttle knob up and the "revs" would increase without the loco jumping up in speed.
 

Bigboy57

Member
I remember when BLI were doing their DC w/sound models and there was a control that would let you program the CV's, address/es, consisting with positions defined. Don't think we had smart phones then, but. I had 4 when the club layout was still all DC Sound was pretty unrepresentative but one thing I did like, manual notching could be simulated by just jerking the throttle knob up and the "revs" would increase without the loco jumping up in speed.
I remember those. Pretty cool at the time. The BR card, however, is a dcc card that will make your dc locomotive fully functioning dcc by simply turning the throttle all the way up and using the BR card with a decoder. Again, if only wanting to use a couple locomotives, this is a good way to go but more than that, one is better off to buy dcc power and save the 100 extra per loco for the BR card. I have one BR card and a Soundtraxx steam 2 connected to my layout for track power which allows me to operate 1 dc locomotive at a time and a switch which allows me to operate my dcc locos. Using the BR card this way allowed me to purchase only one BR card and one decoder. As I am gradually installing decoders in my old locomotives, I will eventually phase out the BR card and be totally dcc, but this will take awhile with about 20 locomotives.

A lot of people get confused by the differences between EZ App and BlueRail. Although they both use Bluetooth and were created by the same company, they have distinct differences. The Ez App format does not let you adjust many cv’s and the generic sound comes through your phone. BlueRail is a fully functioning dcc card and when paired with a good sound decoder, gives you a fully functioning dcc locomotive, but you cannot mix dc locomotives with BR locomotives on your layout at the same time.
 

J.Albert

Member
toot wrote:
"The other and probably most important thing is you can't program the DCC CV's with Wifi and phone."

You can if you're using the Roco z21 app over wifi (connected to a dcc controller that has wifi available).

I can also program using JMRI (on my MacBook Pro), connected via wifi to the Roco z21 "box".

Indeed, I've never programmed CV's any other way EXCEPT "over wifi".
I don't own a traditional handheld dcc controller.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
toot wrote:
"The other and probably most important thing is you can't program the DCC CV's with Wifi and phone."

You can if you're using the Roco z21 app over wifi (connected to a dcc controller that has wifi available).

I can also program using JMRI (on my MacBook Pro), connected via wifi to the Roco z21 "box".

Indeed, I've never programmed CV's any other way EXCEPT "over wifi".
I don't own a traditional handheld dcc controller.
Interesting to hear, but it seems to me that the workarounds are more complex than just getting the control that's designed to do the job in the first place. It's bad enough that there are several of those with their own idiosyncrasies.
 




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