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    • July 22, 2018 4:58 AM EDT
    • Greg Elmassian said:

      Graeme:

      I've been revising my site to better delineate entry level systems, although personally I have a hard time trying to save $10 on a loco by re-purposing a toy car controller, when a few bucks more will buy you something much better and reliable.

       

      On DCC over the air, many people are doing this and it's pretty easy, because there is enough error correction in the basic protocol to just transmit it as is over the air, i.e. the radio is just like a modem... same data just different vehicle.

       

      2.4 GHz is one frequency, and there are special 900 MHz frequencies in many countries, but you are missing the part on how you connect one throttle to one loco... that is the ideas of reserved frequencies, frequency hopping, binding, digital addresses, etc.

       

      It can be done simplistically like AirWire, and many of the DCC over the air systems. This method needs nothing more than the radios transmit and receive the DCC signal as it "looks" on the rails.

       

      But having multiple locos for one throttle, or sharing frequencies are more complex, and this is where a standard would help.

       

      Greg

       

      Greg,

      I'm sorry but I must take issue with part of your reply.

      In reply to the statement in bold above; the controllers I use are not "toy car" but are high end robotics controllers coupled with  DSM2 Transmitters and Receivers, the same as what is offered on this site and others as being the best you can get.

      Personally I feel the sort of attitude of "if its not proprietary its not good" contributes to the snobbiness of most most commercial offerings; in other word "if its not "proprietary" or "prototypical" then it is to be dismissed as not a usable method. 

      To clarify my decision to go the way I did was prompted by a quote for a Radio Control System for a $400 loco I purchased, the quote came back at $450 so effectively doubling the price and where I live the postage precluded me from even dreaming about thinking of buying something like that as I would have to nearly mortgage my house to buy it.

      When a person does not have well paid employment, or even no income other than a small pension and does not  have a large amount of disposable income they will take the best that they can get, hence DIY.

      This is my personal opinion so we may have to agree to disagree on this.

       By the way I do have a Revolution controller setup installed in a loco (its 2nd hand) but because of being tied to one manufacturer I will ditch it when it blows up and will replace it with my DIY setup.

      As for "special 900 MHz frequencies in many countries" I am not in one of those countries In my country 900MHz is restricted so where would that leave me; out side a world standard?

    • July 22, 2018 1:10 AM EDT
    • Graeme:

      I've been revising my site to better delineate entry level systems, although personally I have a hard time trying to save $10 on a loco by re-purposing a toy car controller, when a few bucks more will buy you something much better and reliable.

       

      On DCC over the air, many people are doing this and it's pretty easy, because there is enough error correction in the basic protocol to just transmit it as is over the air, i.e. the radio is just like a modem... same data just different vehicle.

       

      2.4 GHz is one frequency, and there are special 900 MHz frequencies in many countries, but you are missing the part on how you connect one throttle to one loco... that is the ideas of reserved frequencies, frequency hopping, binding, digital addresses, etc.

       

      It can be done simplistically like AirWire, and many of the DCC over the air systems. This method needs nothing more than the radios transmit and receive the DCC signal as it "looks" on the rails.

       

      But having multiple locos for one throttle, or sharing frequencies are more complex, and this is where a standard would help.

       

      Greg

       

    • July 21, 2018 8:54 PM EDT
    • Greg Elmassian said:

      No, it's not, it was about the thread drift allowed by Bob, and I responded to the flurry of "chaff".

       

      It's too bad, a very interesting subject, and Bob is indeed on to something in how a modular wireless control system should be working, and taking advantage of the technology already out there.

       

      For anyone who cares to understand what Bob is asking about, and what I believe he is driving towards, I am revising my R/C section of my web site... over the next few days, there will be a lot more information, and I am addressing the very interesting and current issue Bob is asking about.

       

      https://elmassian.com/index.php/large-scale-train-main-page/dcc-battery-rc-electronics/battery-power-remote-control

       

      I can explain it as best as possible, and I won't have to fight anyone to put the information forwards.

       

      Greg

       

      Greg,

      Interesting collection of information.

      If I may I would be pleased if you considered adding a type of Battery, R/C that is almost never mentioned in discussions (they usually end up in a 'my system does this etc and is the best' argument) and that is DIY.

      As I have previously written on this and other fora, I have a custom made system that most likely falls into the first category in your list, it makes my loco go FWD and REV has simple directional lighting.  It also connects to proprietary sound cards..

      Reading Fred Mills' comments I could relate quite well to them, even though I am on the opposite of the planet (I'm in a majority of 1 where I am).

      A simple DIY "system" using motor controllers from the robotics arena (I think my locos and robots have something in common) I think could merit a mention in the list.

      There are a vast range of DIY systems out there, so I think it is fair that DIY rates a mention in the list.

       

      With regard to DCC via radio; my very limited knowledge of DCC is that a series of signals are passed via rails to decoders, with the decoder responding to its address.

      What are the limitations of sending the information via a series of data packets that are passed to the decoders after being received via some form of interface that would effectively simulate the rails?

      As for frequency to make it a worldwide standard I think 2.4GHz would have to be the go, as stated by Tony.  

      For instance I recall reading an article on a DIY DCC system but the frequency was 900MHz and in Aust, making was OK but using it breached the communications control regulations and that made it an issue for me.

    • July 22, 2018 1:13 AM EDT
    • what about battery operated lego trains?

    • July 21, 2018 8:25 PM EDT
    • Is it wise to allow the neighbor kid to run trains on your railroad when you are not present? I extended an open invitation to a neighbor kid to come over anytime. I ended up regretting that, and he was an irritant until he discovered something called girls.

       

      My understanding is the Lionel stuff does run on gauge one track, and several folks have posed pictured of them doing so. But yea, the Lionel track isn't like any other track out there, and so it will not connect to any of what is out these besides Lionel track.

    • July 21, 2018 7:33 PM EDT
    • Hey, Rooster.

      It doesn't say the battery R/C Thomas loco will not run on 45 mm Gauge track.

      It says that the track is not compatible with Lionel or any other G gauge track.

    • July 21, 2018 7:28 PM EDT
    • " Rooster " said:

       So I was wondering if anyone had any experience with the Lionel G scale sets (or others) that take the C-cell batteries and are around $100 or less?

      I know they have their own plastic track so he can set up his own empire at home. However the big question I have is "gauge" and "are they capable of running on my outside 332 track"

      Thoughts? / Suggestions ?

       

       

       Thanks

          Rooz

      Staying on topic after reading it twice as suggested!

    • July 21, 2018 7:22 PM EDT
    • Steve Featherkile said:

      I've run my Lionel Polar Express outside on my 45 mms gauge track.  The kid wore out before the battery did.

      Pete and Steve .......Yes, however is it readily available and under $100 like the Lionel "Ready to Play"sets currently are? They are not able to run on 45mm track as the description states? http://www.lionelstore.com/Thomas-Friends-Ready-To-Play-Set

       

       

      Thinking this might promote an "Open Letter" from Rooz to Neil Young cc/Rod Stewart when I have time.

       

       

       

       

      This post has been edited by ROOSTER: ...never follow a comma with "However" dumass.

    • July 21, 2018 7:16 PM EDT
    • If you are considering it, be advised the LGB set is not up to the brand's quality.  The loco is a stripped down model 2075.   I have the shell of one from 1976 (My first train!), and that older one had more detail parts glued / molded to it than its modern incarnation.  More critically, the on / off button jams, and the IR-activated sound system died in about 3 months.  To be fair, this is supposed to be a Christmas set, not a regular on the rails, so maybe the little thing got loved to exhaustion!  

      On the upshot, it can pull about 2-3 shorties on our relatively level railroad for hours, and it fit the (relatively) toddler proof / toddler operated niche for us.  It comes with cars that may have potential for those more skill than I in modifying models and it contains real brass track. Oh, and it also serves as my ready loco for quick demonstrations or nights I am too lazy to wire up the Triple O.

       

      Aloha,

      Eric

    • July 21, 2018 6:35 PM EDT
    • I've run my Lionel Polar Express outside on my 45 mms gauge track.  The kid wore out before the battery did.

    • July 21, 2018 9:35 PM EDT
    •     Near Christmas 1933. Al's on the left.    

       

                             

       

    • July 21, 2018 9:07 PM EDT
    • Kalmback was for many years run for and by hobbyist interests. corporate strategies have emerged In more recent times IMHO due in fact to the past success and profit making endeavors. this attracts investors on the scene who's only interest at times is to make a Profit, which is the root cause of downsizing staff , # of pages dedicated to useful articles etc.

       

      AL P.

    • July 21, 2018 9:03 PM EDT
    • Tom Bowdler said:

      ...I had collected the whole set from issue 1 in '75 but will now dispose of them and use the DVD.  Still have to keep the '15 and onward issues though....

       

      Before you do, I need to replace one issue that accidentally got trashed a few months back when it was left on the floor. I'll have to get you the issue number once my office is re-assembled after replacing the flooring in the house. (Can you say "fun times?")

       

      But back to the topic at hand...

       

      DISCLAIMER: I do not speak for Kalmbach Media or Garden Railways. I am merely a contributing editor whose job it is to stress out his editor by continually pushing deadlines until the last possible minute. 

       

      First, I was as shocked and saddened as anyone to receive the e-mail from Marc letting us know of Kalmbach's decision. I can't say I was surprised by it. It's the business. I've been involved with print and TV journalism for 25 years. These "belt-tightenings" are increasingly common. We had a round here last Winter, and will be "hubbing" certain sales and technical operations out of other locations in the coming year or two. Our local newspaper (Denver Post) has cut its staffing by two-thirds over the past two years, laying off many long-time journalists. It's the nature of the beast right now. 

       

      Fact is, ad revenues are down everywhere. Print, TV, Radio... the money isn't there the way it used to be. And we're an industry that lives and dies by ad revenues. Social Media has completely changed the way information is shared. It's a brave new world, and the traditional media outlets are still looking for ways to adapt. Remember the Trainworld ads that ran for 6 - 8 pages in MR and GR? Trainworld's still there, but they've got 1, maybe 2 pages of advertising. One or two pages is all that's needed to drive readers to the web site where they see everything else much more easily and prices can be adjusted faster. Direct e-mail marketing to existing customers drives them back to your site with the click of a mouse button. The major manufacturers aren't buying ads like they used to, either. LGB, Bachmann, USA, Piko... one page each? Used to be 3 or 4 pages spread throughout the magazine. The smaller manufacturers aren't buying large ads in magazines. Manufacturers who have new products aren't calling attention to them in their magazine ads, opting instead for word-of-mouth and Facebook shares. If the ad revenue isn't there, the money to pay folks and print the magazine isn't there. Without going into specifics, it's safe to say that GR is not the only magazine in Kalmbach's line-up feeling the pinch. It's as across the board at their offices as it is across the entire industry. Media is changing. 

       

      What does the future hold? Who knows. Shake-ups like this can revitalize a business or kill it. I've seen both. I haven't had a chance to speak with the new editor (see above reference to getting new floors in the house), so I don't know what his vision for the future of the magazine might be. I find it telling that many of you had dropped your subscriptions long before this development. That's a reflection both on the content of the magazine which needs to stay "fresh" to long-time subscribers, and to the influence of social media platforms which provide easy, immediate, and interactive access to new ideas. That's the struggle of traditional media in the digital age. When I look at digital magazines like Model Railroad Hobbyist, I see something that may be a blueprint for the future. Still even with that magazine being on line and free, I don't read it as much as I read the traditional print magazines. Interesting times, indeed.

       

      For me? I intend to continue my relationship with GR and Kalmbach. "The show must go on," as I've been taught over the years. Colleagues come and go in our professional lives all the time; it doesn't change the passion we have individually for the job we each do. I've known Marc for much of my life. His passion for the hobby will continue. I'll miss working with him on a professional basis, certainly, but no doubt his passion will continue to inspire my own. 

       

      Later,

       

      K

    • July 21, 2018 7:09 PM EDT
    • Gary Buchanan, FOG said:

      To the best of my recollection Kalmbach has always published MR, so it didn't go to hell as a result of Kalmbach taking over. They did go through some editorial changes in the 80s I think and as a result advertisers were favored over readers, The content from my point of view went downhill and like GR I found fewer and fewer articles of interest and ended my subscription in the early 90's after being a loyal reader for nearly 30 years.

       

      Gary is correct. Kalmbach began publishing MR in 1934 followed later by Trains.

       

      So one of two things is true: GR, MR and the other Kalmbach publications are a product of past and current corporate policy as set forth by a group of out of touch bean counters... Come my brothers let us storm the ramparts and hang the office monkeys with ropes made from their own  entrails!!!! .....or the editor is fully unfettered to make any decision he /she sees as fit and single-handedly bares the burden for the results. Marc is therefore the guilty bastard and should be boiled alive in Bachmann smoke fluid oil for bringing down such a wonderful publication.

       

       

        The point remains, why is GR floundering where others succeed?

    • July 21, 2018 7:02 PM EDT
    • Well, naturally I haven't read  the referenced article, but I suspect that it may be the first time the editor even heard of any way to make outdoor hard shell scenery, so perhaps he thought it was cool.  I suspect that an editor could log on to LSC and get a dozen great ideas for an article every week.  

      The problem is that if you aim to educate newcomers to the hobby, pretty soon they're educated, so they just move on.   I don't know what the answer is, but I suspect that forums like LSC is where the growth is at.    Trying to produce a magazine in this day and age has to be a giant frustration...

    • July 21, 2018 5:16 PM EDT
    • Nah, your building had / has tons of soul, Bruce!! I mean, your building didn't choose to make itself out of acrylic, you did...

       

      OK, another thing. It gripes me seriously when GR presents only one approach to a topic, yet announces it as the approach. For example, the recent "How to Make Outdoor Hard-Shell Scenery" is so full of craziness that I had to question whether ANY of GR's composite staff experience was involved. The approach printed has many inefficiencies in concrete and substructure, and will have a hard time not looking like sheets draped over saw horses. The work of Dennis Rayon, Mike Mcl., and others in this field are no secret. Much work has been done on this "outdoor hard shell" arena, with myself being one of the "researchers". Yet in a self-proclaimed "THIS is How To Do It" article, newbies were almost deliberately kept clear of those far  more efficient and visually superior techniques. 

        

      My point is this: GR has had a consistent sales pitch as if all its potential readers are utterly ignorant. Lay Your First Track! Build a Building! Wire Your Own Layout! Make Outdoor Hard Shell Mountains! Build a Rot Proof Bridge! Yet the claimed comprehensiveness implied in the titles are bereft of substance. Conversely, NGSLG's assumption seems to me the opposite: That the reader, as a knowledgeable modeler, and part of a larger community that shares its knowledge, is worthy of respect. GR's attitude is that of a circus barker, hoping for the short-term sell; NGLSG's is one of colleague and assistant, engaged in a long term dialog. 

       

      I see GR as fundamentally arrogant. But, there are good things that sneak in, like the work of Don, Nancy and Kevin. I always enjoy their articles. So I'll be subscribing this next year.

      CJ 

    • July 21, 2018 4:33 PM EDT
    • Cliff Jennings said:

      Re. souls Bruce, as I recall you used Magic Sculpt on acrylic, with maybe some plastic windows here and there. So I hate to break it to you, but...

      But that got published (April, 2009) - so it must have had soul?  

      I really don't get it.

    • July 21, 2018 4:30 PM EDT
    • Re. souls Bruce, as I recall you used Magic Sculpt on acrylic, with maybe some plastic windows here and there. So I hate to break it to you, but...

       

      [edit] I should say though that, from a manual craftsman's perspective, having all the hard-won skills and knowledge Marc does, I understand where he was coming from in that article. I'm not a craftsman, and don't have a lot of time for the hobby. So I have to rely on tools and skills I do know, and that means CAD and 3DP and (recently) laser cutting. Hopefully though, with each project, I'm getting better at the manual skills. And I sure respect those of Marc's, and all other folks who have them.

       

      And, I'm glad that GR is finally covering the "hi tech" modeling, in some fashion. In my mind, all the "techs" that we do use, can use, might use, should be covered, whether new or old or whatever. Like Bruce said.

       

       

       

    • July 21, 2018 4:06 PM EDT
    • Cliff Jennings said:
      Bruce Chandler said:

      Heck, if you're going to run a hobby magazine, you don't really need to denigrate the efforts of anybody; instead you need to embrace change and try to INCREASE readership and participation; have a bunch of articles that show how cool this new technology really is and how YOU can do it at home!  Please do not talk down stuff you don't "respect" just because it wasn't "the way" when you were learning (way back when).   

      To Bruce's point, here's what Marc said in April 2014 (sorry, it was longer ago than I remembered), after describing a "beautiful model" made by a guy using 3D printing / 2D cutting: 

      By using all of these new technologies, an extremely accurate model of a specific prototype was attained. However, in my view, something was lost, too. This model was, despite being assembled by hand (like a kit), essentially machine made... 

      I feel that models produced the old-fashion way are better... than those produced by modern technology... models built by hand have souls... [carrying] a part of their builders with them. This is the art [italics his] of modeling...

      I'd rather see a truly hand-made model... over a beautiful replica that looks like it might have come off an assembly line..."

      I wonder what he would have said when model trains started having electric motors or clockwork or pull strings installed, vs. live steam. 

      Anyway, not to beat a dead horse, but maybe a different attitude in this area would have helped. And, some changes in other philosophies like Boomer described. 

      CJ

      Wait, Cliff has no soul???    Oh, sorry, your model has no soul?   Hmm...so, my models have a soul????

      Heh.  I still consider your mine a hand-made model... I know one heck of a lot of work went into it.    You've got to change with the times - other wise stuff I build isn't really hand made becuase I happened to buy the blades I used already made and sharp - instead of using a forge to make my own?

       

    • July 21, 2018 2:22 PM EDT
    • Bruce Chandler said:

      Heck, if you're going to run a hobby magazine, you don't really need to denigrate the efforts of anybody; instead you need to embrace change and try to INCREASE readership and participation; have a bunch of articles that show how cool this new technology really is and how YOU can do it at home!  Please do not talk down stuff you don't "respect" just because it wasn't "the way" when you were learning (way back when).   

       

      To Bruce's point, here's what Marc said in April 2014 (sorry, it was longer ago than I remembered), after describing a "beautiful model" made by a guy using 3D printing / 2D cutting: 

      By using all of these new technologies, an extremely accurate model of a specific prototype was attained. However, in my view, something was lost, too. This model was, despite being assembled by hand (like a kit), essentially machine made... 

      I feel that models produced the old-fashion way are better... than those produced by modern technology... models built by hand have souls... [carrying] a part of their builders with them. This is the art [italics his] of modeling...

      I'd rather see a truly hand-made model... over a beautiful replica that looks like it might have come off an assembly line..."

       

      I wonder what he would have said when model trains started having electric motors or clockwork or pull strings installed, vs. live steam. 

       

      Anyway, not to beat a dead horse, but maybe a different attitude in this area would have helped. And, some changes in other philosophies like Boomer described. 

       

      CJ