Walk-around controller

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by GYurick, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. GYurick

    GYurick New Member

    I need to build or buy a control system that will allow me to move from place to place around my layout by plugging and unplugging a telephone type or multi-pin type plug from a hand-held box with speed and direction controls. About 4 locations would be needed and the train must continue doing exactly what it is doing when I unplug and move to another location.

    I have found such a system at Dallee Electronics but it is extremely expensive. I have also looked at MRC’s more reasonably priced Tech 4-350. It comes with a walkaround controller connected by a coiled telephone type cord that allows you to wonder about 15 feet from the power supply. Has anyone had experience with the Tech 4-350? Would it be possible to install several stations (female telephone-type outlets) around the layout (all connected to the power supply) so that I could plug into one after another as I follow the train?

    Certainly other guys have done this sort of thing without taking out a second mortgage. How can it be done? What should I consider? What do I have to buy? How much should I be prepared to spend? Thanks.
  2. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

  3. GYurick

    GYurick New Member

    Thanks so much, Rory. That is an impressive site. The diagrams will require considerable study. I'm not sure that I am skilled enough to build it.
  4. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

  5. GYurick

    GYurick New Member

    Thanks, Shamus.
  6. GYurick

    GYurick New Member

    :)
    I appreciate all your help, guys, but I finally made up my mind. I went to ye olde hobby shop and bought MRC's Train Master 20. Walther's lists it at $200, I got it for $140. It will do everything I need and more. Can't wait to hook it up. I'll report back when I do. Thanks so much, again.
    George
  7. Billybob Reuben

    Billybob Reuben New Member

    The best system to come down the pike by far is the "Train Engineer" by Aristocraft. It is compatible with DCC but unlike DCC it does not require the addition of a receiver in each locomotive being controlled. "Train Engineer" features a wireless, hand-held walk-around throttle that works with any power pack and any locomotive and all without modifications of any kind. The throttle transmits a signal to a receiver that is merely inserted between your power pack and the track. The receiver controls the output voltage of the power pack which, in turn, changes the voltage delivered to the rails. Because of a unique, built-in discrete code system, one throttle can control up to 100 receivers so, theoretically, up to 100 trains could be run from the same throttle although, obviously, multiple throttles (one for each train being run at the same time) would be the better choice. The latest version of "Train Engineer" was recently introduced at $140 list but I just got one for my layout at something less than that. If you have the time to shop around, try the big hobby shops first...you might be happy you did. It works with any gauge from large scale garden layouts to z scale and as far as I can tell is absolutely foolproof.

    Billybob
  8. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    billybob, How does this system enable one train to respond to the power pack and not others?

    Gary
  9. Billybob Reuben

    Billybob Reuben New Member

    Hi Gary....In answer to your question, it changes the power to the track or, more precisely, to the blocks of track that are connected to the power pack at the time. So whatever train is on that track or blocks will be controlled. Trains on other blocks can be controlled by another throttle in the same way, or, if you wish, you can program one throttle to control both trains. Unfortunately, this latter procedure is just a little more complicated than running one train at a time and to some of the non-technically minded modelers would be more confusing. I just bought one complete system, (one throttle and one receiver) hooked up the four wires (two from the power pack and two to the track) and in less than five minutes I was operating my first train from the hand held, wireless throttle. Wow! For the first time in my life I felt totally free to walk around the layout and actually observe my trains in action rather than being saddled to the power pack and merely watching the ops from afar, afraid of what might happen if I had a de-railment at the other end of the room and was unable to stop the train in time. It changed my whole perspective regarding the pleasures of model railroading.

    Billybob
  10. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Thanks Billybob, It sounds like what you've got is a system that still requires switches for block control, the only difference between it and dc being radio control of the throttle. Am I missing something here? Although DCC has all kinds of bells and whistles, to me they are extra features Idon't use. The big advantage of DCC in my mind is elimanation of blocks(at least for train control, blocks are still handy for signalling or troubleshooting). So with the Aristocraft system can you run the layout as one block and only have one loco respond to the throttle?

    Gary
  11. Billybob Reuben

    Billybob Reuben New Member

    Yes, and that's the whole point of it. But the big advantage of the AristroCraft system over DCC is that it does not require the installation of a module in each locomotive you have which for somone with more than a dozen or more locos becomes prohibitively expensive, if nothing else. Another point here is that with the AristoCraft system which, by the way, is called RCC or "Radio Command Control" it works more like a real railroad in that it depends on blocks and block control in order to avoid conflicts and smooth traffic flow. These basic safety factors are missing with DCC. Also, DCC requires a lot of study to learn how to use it properly. I've heard it was a real chore to master and that few modelers ever achieve a complete sense of security in using it. I always thought that model railroading was supposed to be fun. As I mentioned the other day, I had my RCC up and fully operational in five minutes and I can tell you it is a joy to use!

    Billybob

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