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  • Topic: Airwire or RailPro

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    • January 8, 2020 12:38 PM EST
      • Georgetown, Texas
         
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      Airwire or RailPro

      I have a small collection of Aristocraft locos (3 steam and 4 diesels).  I am wanting to convert them to battery / remote control. I have been looking at Airwire and RailPro. I would like to know peoples thoughts on these or other platforms of R/C control.. 

      The following parameters are under consideration

      Automation in not an issue.

      Don't want cost to be priority over function.

      Ease of installation

      Compatibility with Aristocraft locos (steam and diesel)

      Reliability

      Responsiveness to controller

      Thank you for your time and consideration of my issue.

      ____________________________________

      Tim Boswell

      G Scale Railroading

      Georgetown, Texas

    • January 8, 2020 12:51 PM EST
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Other;

      first the controllers have buttons, some need a dial and go elsewhere, but I've never heard a bad thing about these;

      https://www.gscalegraphics.net/store/c1/Featured_Products.html#/

       

      His wife has the Graphic side of the site....

      ____________________________________

      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • January 8, 2020 2:17 PM EST
      • Marysville, Kansas
         
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      I use Airwire on my locomotives.   It was pretty simple to hook up and isn't to hard at all to run, easily controls my loco's sound system.   I've also had very good luck with Airwire's customer service.   I have no experience with RailPro so I can't give you a comparison. 

       

      I would highly recommend you try and find local people who use RC and ask them to run their trains to get some idea of how each system is to operate.

      This post was edited by Chris Kieffer at January 8, 2020 3:43 PM EST
    • January 8, 2020 2:44 PM EST
      • Kittery, ME
         
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      RailPro has a lot of nice features and benefits.  The reason I won't go near it is that the receiver only has 6 outputs for lights, etc.  With AirWire, you can use DCC function decoders to do whatever you like.  RailPro also won't let you sync chuff sounds with a pulsed smoke unit or trigger with an kind of axle sensor.  There is an input line on it, but it's not clear what it's for.  Perhaps in the future, this will allow external triggering.

    • January 8, 2020 2:55 PM EST
      • Litchfield, NH
         
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      Tim,

      I am curious have you managed to get your hands on or try both systems?  I myself have been installing RailPro and battery power into all of my engines which is coming up on 14 now.  I like railpro as to me it is a less expensive system with a lot of features.  Mind you the remote is a lit costlier but you only have to buy one and then its only buying a single decoder for each engine you install into and the decoders are less than $200.  Where as airwire you need decoder and then you need to go buy a sound decoder as well and that can run you over $300.  As for ease of installation you should no in G scale since there is no standard everyone adopted that is just plug a play you do usually need to cut and solder wires at times.  I believe aire wire does have drop in boards which do ease some of the installation but again that adds to cost.  I prefer the visual touch screen of the RailPro controller myself as I can see a picture and easily select loco's and I find no issue with responsiveness.  Only issue you can have is when you put in a metal steam engine where you range can drop a lot.  Engine will still continue on even when you loose signal and will reacquire once back in range but that is one thing I have seen.  Either system is going to be compatible with the engines.  If you have any other questions or want to know anything else just reply. 

    • January 8, 2020 6:36 PM EST
      • Port Orchard, Washington
         
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      If cost isn't a problem...

      I would say use a Protothrottle with Martin Sant's DCC Widget...

       

      But that's the $500 Protothrottle cost plus Martin's widget plus a DCC decoder. But you won't get a more realistic way to control your trains.

    • January 8, 2020 9:36 PM EST
      • Columbia, Maryland
         
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      I have Airwire, but I have also have used Railpro. I think Railpro is a much better system if you have the money. The speed control is very smooth, the touchscreen display is very straightforward and easy to use, (no DCC functions to worry about), and the sound selection and sound quality is very good. 

       

      Another nice thing about Railpro is that anyone can add sound files to their sound file library. That means there are almost unlimited possibilities for sound files of any loco or self-propelled railcar that you may want.  If there isn't, you can always upload your own file to their library. 

      This post was edited by Joe Loll at January 9, 2020 9:20 AM EST
    • January 9, 2020 6:37 PM EST

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      Welcome to LSC Timothy!

    • January 9, 2020 9:27 PM EST
      • Charlottesville, Virginia
         
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      One thing, not sure if this is a consideration, but Airwire is very 'hackable' for lack of a better term.  It is DCC over the air on the 915Mhz ISM band, so for the most part, it's kinda 'open source' if you are so inclined.

    • August 1, 2020 1:14 PM EDT
      • Milpitas, California
         
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      I have four USAT GP-9's, one F-3A/B set, one NW2, and two moguls. Out of those engines, I have two GP-9's converted to Airwire with Drop-in boards and Phoenix P-8's and 14.4v battery packs.

       

      Airwire ain't cheap at all to convert to battery power w/sound even after the initial cost of the T-5000 transmitter. I've been reading the G-scale Facebook pages lately, and quite a few railroaders already have RailPro or are converting over from Airwire and Revo. Never thought I'd ever say this, but I'm starting to think that RailPro is the better choice of systems and I'm thinking seriously about converting over. Primary consideration is the cost. Secondary is functionality and ease of use while still maintaining throttle control with a knob. Third is the ability to synchronize loco consist speeds with ease. Fourth is the ability to run both track and battery power. Railpro has the decoder and sound built into one module as opposed to the Airwire needing a G3/G4x Drop-in decoder and a Phoenix sound card and a battery pack. And if Railpro runs both on track and battery power, the battery can wait until you're up and running with track power (and still have sound). And I understand that it's DCC compatible now, so that's good. The support from Ring Engineering seems pretty good too as they're coming out with new sound files, especially steam-powered ones, as we speak. There's quite a bit of pros and not too many cons to this thing, so I'm looking at it closely for consideration.

    • August 1, 2020 1:57 PM EDT
      • WOODHAVEN, Michigan
         
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      Not familiar with Airwire but VERY pleased with my Railpro.

    • August 2, 2020 5:06 AM EDT
      • Fort Worth, Texas
         
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      I was about to go with 2 AirWire systems for my steam engines, main reason for AirWire is it is located within 50 miles of where I live and the reviews have been so far good that I have read on these forums. True, two AirWire equipped engines are going to cost me around $800, that's two systems, one battery charger and one throttle. I may now look in to Railpro and give it some thought, thanks for the input on it.

       

      trainman 

    • August 2, 2020 11:15 AM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      This is a good and timely discussion. I am currently weighing my options for a future control system. My current system (RailBoss Enhanced w/2-stick) is long discontinued and I have not been able to locate any used units for new locomotive conversions.

       

      I have a question on RailPro and sound.  I currently have Phoenix sound in several locos and trail cars. IF I were to convert my R/C system to RailPro, would the RailPro receiver support my Phoenix sound boards that currently have up to 6 triggers on some locos?  If the answer is yes, I assume I can disable the built-in sound, correct?

      ____________________________________

      www.cvsry.com www.cvsry.com

    • August 2, 2020 12:14 PM EDT
      • Ormond Beach, Fl. 32174
         
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      Jon just wondering why you are not considering G scale graphics Railboss 4 being as you had the early version, I recently put 1 in my Mason Bogie and am very pleased with it

    • August 2, 2020 1:03 PM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Bill Barnwell said:

      Jon just wondering why you are not considering G scale graphics Railboss 4 being as you had the early version, I recently put 1 in my Mason Bogie and am very pleased with it

      I'm not a fan of buttons for speed control.  It's a nice system, but not for me. I want either a stick or a knob for throttle.

       

      So far my research into Ring Engineering is not impressing me.

       

      Their website, like their software is odd and hard to navigate. I was finally able to locate some information and it appears that support of external sound cards is non-existent. Light outputs require the user to calculate the correct resistor value for LEDS. This is fine if you are installing new LEDs, but figuring this out for an existing LED of unknown origin is a trails and error exercise at best. Why noy just have a current source output that will drive LEDs directly? It's old, simple technology.

       

      Trying to preview some of the sound files via their website was frustrating. I got one to play once, but could not repeat it or get any others to play. This could be a Firefox compatibility issue.  I downloaded the PC software thinking I could preview some of the picture and sound files, but no the software is only a transfer tool. No way to preview photos or files.  I was also frustrated in the fact that the software only supports drive C:\. My photos and sound files are located on other drives, so I could not select them.  The fact that only Bitmap (BMP) photos are supported is frustrating as well. Sure, I can convert a .JPG to .BMP, but I feel the software should allow me to browse ANY standard photo format and convert it on-the fly.

       

      A couple of other weird things about the software - it's not registered with Microsoft, so you need to A) run install as Administrator (dangerous) and B) ignore warnings from Windows and anti-virus software. It's not hard to get your install routines registered, why wouldn't they?  In general, the software is odd. It does not comply with windows standards, or use any windows functions, like File Browsing.

       

      I'm going to think long and hard before investing over $500 to equip my first loco.  The system does offer some very cool features, but it looks like overkill for me.

       

      EDIT to add:  I figured out the problem with the sound samples. It's not my browser, it's their website. About 50% of the steam files are MIA - give a 404 error if accessed directly.  They really need to spend some time and money on that website.

      This post was edited by Jon Radder at August 2, 2020 1:13 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

      www.cvsry.com www.cvsry.com

    • August 2, 2020 1:24 PM EDT
      • Penacook, New Hampshire
         
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      Hi Jon & Michael

       

      Jon, Yes you can use your Phoenix with the 6 triggers. If you keep the Phoenix and not use the RailPro steam sound, just connect the trigger wires from the Phoenix to  the RailPro outputs. Keep the chuff trigger connected to the Phoenix. The 6 RailPro outputs can be used for lights and sound effects.  

      On the RailPro the sound is off until you press the icon of the steam engine to turn on the sound. The bell and whistle are always active if you pres the icons. As Eric mentioned, with this version of steam sound there is no external chuff trigger. There is a purple wire called input for this purpose. It is a firmware update coming soon.

       

       

      Michael, for consisting diesels or steam engines it takes 10 sec to set up. RailPro makes it automatic due to there unique current draw method. DCC still uses a 1980 version of speed/voltage matching.  The module runs on constant track power or battery or switchable.  You can even monitor the track or battery voltage.

       

      Don

       

       

       

    • August 2, 2020 1:59 PM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      Jon Radder said:
      Bill Barnwell said:

      Jon just wondering why you are not considering G scale graphics Railboss 4 being as you had the early version, I recently put 1 in my Mason Bogie and am very pleased with it

      I'm not a fan of buttons for speed control.  It's a nice system, but not for me. I want either a stick or a knob for throttle.

       

      So far my research into Ring Engineering is not impressing me.

       

      Their website, like their software is odd and hard to navigate. I was finally able to locate some information and it appears that support of external sound cards is non-existent. Light outputs require the user to calculate the correct resistor value for LEDS. This is fine if you are installing new LEDs, but figuring this out for an existing LED of unknown origin is a trails and error exercise at best. Why noy just have a current source output that will drive LEDs directly? It's old, simple technology.

       

      Trying to preview some of the sound files via their website was frustrating. I got one to play once, but could not repeat it or get any others to play. This could be a Firefox compatibility issue.  I downloaded the PC software thinking I could preview some of the picture and sound files, but no the software is only a transfer tool. No way to preview photos or files.  I was also frustrated in the fact that the software only supports drive C:\. My photos and sound files are located on other drives, so I could not select them.  The fact that only Bitmap (BMP) photos are supported is frustrating as well. Sure, I can convert a .JPG to .BMP, but I feel the software should allow me to browse ANY standard photo format and convert it on-the fly.

       

      A couple of other weird things about the software - it's not registered with Microsoft, so you need to A) run install as Administrator (dangerous) and B) ignore warnings from Windows and anti-virus software. It's not hard to get your install routines registered, why wouldn't they?  In general, the software is odd. It does not comply with windows standards, or use any windows functions, like File Browsing.

       

      I'm going to think long and hard before investing over $500 to equip my first loco.  The system does offer some very cool features, but it looks like overkill for me.

       

      EDIT to add:  I figured out the problem with the sound samples. It's not my browser, it's their website. About 50% of the steam files are MIA - give a 404 error if accessed directly.  They really need to spend some time and money on that website.

      Jon,

      I can certainly sympathize with your issues.   I am not certain at all the everything to control large scale seems proprietary in some manner.   For instance, while I DO like the Revolution throttle, I need to ask myself what if they went out of business and I needed a new throttle.   What could I get to work with my existing stuff?   I seem to be finding this true no matter WHO I buy a transmitter, or receiver from - there always seems to be a BIG IF!

      ____________________________________

      Bruce

      http://jbrr.com/

       

    • August 2, 2020 2:10 PM EDT
      • Milpitas, California
         
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      Thanks, Don.

       

      Jon, I have no problem whatsoever navigating the Ring Engineering site. Piece o' cake. What do you need to know? There's a handheld controller and a locomotive module (Direct Radio RF transceiver with sound). If you want track power there's a power supply or you install a 14.4V or 18V battery pack for battery power. A few other small accessories, but essentially all you need is the controller and loco module and you're up and running! I also downloaded a few sound files (EMD 567-16 ULT, Leslie RS5T-ULT, and Nathan P5 ULT) with no problems at all. I use Windows 10 and Google Chrome. One guy on the Railpro message board uses Firefox and has had no problems downloading sound files. 

       

      I was on the Railpro message/info board for quite a while last night gathering information. Not a lot of Large Scalers, but I think the concept is the same for all scales. Check out the Youtube instruction videos by 'Kpack'. You had a question about LED's. Search here and you should find an answer amongst the experts:

       

      https://rpug.pdc.ca/index.php?PHPSESSID=n71a3a71aijtauvhvj0ql6o3v2&

       

      This post was edited by Michael Kirrene at August 2, 2020 2:32 PM EDT
    • August 2, 2020 3:05 PM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Michael -  I was looking for the owner's manuals. After a fair bit of searching, I did find them.  They still didn't have the answer that Don gave above. There are absolutely no specs as to the load capabilities or voltage of the triggers. I can only guess from the diagram that they are ground sinks. Does not say if bulbs are supported and or what current the triggers can handle.  I know how to calculate the proper resistor for an LED. It requires knowing the specs of the LED.  I don't know of a loco manufacturer that will give you the technical specs, or manufacturer's part number, of an LED built into thier product.

       

      I just find it odd that a system that retails for several hundred dollars higher than, say Revo, is not better documented, nor has a website that isn't partially broken (sound samples missing).

       

      And Don - Thanks for chiming in.  I'm still not ruling it out, but I'm not sold yet   I'm in no hurry to change. I still have enough hardware to do one more loco using my current system. Problem is that I have 4 or more locos that I would like to bring on-line some day!

       

      This post was edited by Jon Radder at August 2, 2020 3:08 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

      www.cvsry.com www.cvsry.com

    • August 2, 2020 3:19 PM EDT
      • Penacook, New Hampshire
         
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      Jon, years ago you posted to me and prefaced it you are getting crotchety in your old age. But we still love ya!

       

      Three years ago I had to read the RailPro assistant manual to get started. It is very well written with step by step instructions and call outs for Tips. As of today I have installed over 600 engines with RailPro. I can offer you short cuts to enjoy using the entire system.

      As an installer there could be always an easier way to do things. But it becomes routine.

      The coolest RailPro Product is the Simulator. For $32 you can do anything the hand controller does on your PC. That is how I load sounds, photos, updates and set up engines. Then I load all the setting in the hand controller by pressing the find button. It takes about 1 minute. 

       

      Jon once you are comfortable with the software you can change the sounds based on what you desire. Not a programmed selection. I had a customer show me how to create a Trolley sound effect and load them into the RailPro. We are here to help each other.

      Don

      This post was edited by Don Sweet at August 2, 2020 5:24 PM EDT
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