RailPro Direct Radio



RailPro for Model Railroading is interesting in its requirements for radio communication.  RailPro radio communication needs to have dependable real-time control so your speed changes and button pushes are responded to almost instantly and it needs to transfer data well (for sounds, pictures programs, etc)!  Further it needs powerful networking to allow hundreds of handheld controllers (throttles), locomotives, accessories, etc. on one layout to communicate together.  With RailPro, locomotives need to be able to communicate their pulling power directly to other locomotives in the consist to do our real time true load sharing.   Further, RailPro needed to be capable of simultaneously and seamlessly transfering control of locomotives and consists from any one controller to any other and much more!  Before we built RailPro, we looked into all the commonly available radio standards and found none of them to be great fit for running model trains.  We looked at WiFi, Bluetooth, and others.  When our research was over, it was clear to us that no common existing radios were going to be what we wanted for RailPro.  This is why we created 'Direct Radio + NET' communications for RailPro instead of using off the shelf solutions like WiFi or Bluetooth! 

Below is why we found 'Direct Radio + NET' to be far superior to other wireless solutions for communications.

'Direct Radio + NET' vs. 'WiFi'

- We have seen WiFi communications stall before so for us WiFi was not going to be a good choice for RailPro.  Imagine trying to blow a pattern with the horn or more importantly trying to stop your train if WiFi stalls!  The communications need to respond nearly instantly and always needs to be dependable (Real-Time).  Direct Radio + NET was designed from scratch to be a real-time control system and not have stalling problems.  We have sold RailPro for years, and as of this writing, basically no one has ever complained about RailPro not being responsive and working well even on huge layouts.

- WiFi uses too much power.
Any WiFi solution we looked at used far more power than we wanted.  We put Radio Transceivers in locomotives so it is important that they are small and use low power.  Also, our handheld controllers and locomotives may be battery powered, so low power is important for longer battery life. Our HC-2 handheld controller can run over 12 hours on a single charge!  Direct Radio + NET electronics do not create much heat and that allows us to put radios in smaller packages!

- WiFi setup can be complicated.
Direct Radio + NET setup is so simple just press 'Find Product' button when you buy a new product (locomotive accessory etc.) and simply select a repeater if you need one or more in your layout....SIMPLE!  Compare that to WiFi with WEP keys, subnet masks, channel selection and so on. 

- WiFi software libraries to us are bloatware.
Direct Radio + NET was written from scratch by Ring Engineering and only has the code needed to run model trains!  Therefore the code is small and fast.  If you use bloatware in your product, it can cause you to use a more powerful processor with more memory which can drive costs up and create more heat.  Direct Radio + NET keeps the cost of our radio products at a minimum and less heat allows us to put radios in smaller packages!

It was obvious to us that WiFi would not be a good solution for RailPro.

'Direct Radio + NET' vs. 'Bluetooth'

- Bluetooth was not designed for powerful networking.
With RailPro, we needed powerful networking capabilities. We needed a radio system that supported handheld to handheld communication (two-way), handheld to locomotive communication (two-way), locomotive to locomotive (two-way) communications.  Further, RailPro needed to handle hundreds of throttles, locomotives, accessories, etc. on one layout.  Below are just a few examples of how networking is required by RailPro:
1) RailPro needed to allow one user to make up a consist of several locomotives and put it in motion.  Then if another user selected any locomotive in the consist, the user would take control of the entire consist at current speed.  Further, the user that lost control needed to be notified that control was taken away. 
2) If one user presses stop all, then every handheld needed to coordinate with each other to stop all the locomotives.  
3) Locomotives need to be able to communicate their pulling power directly to other locomotives in the consist to do our real time true load sharing. 
These are just a few examples of how RailPro's 'Direct Radio + NET' uses its very advanced networking.


- Bluetooth software libraries to us are bloatware.
Direct Radio + NET was written from scratch by Ring Engineering and only has the code needed to run model trains.  Therefore the code is small and fast.  If you use bloatware in your product, it can cause you to use a more powerful processor with more memory which can drive costs up and create more heat.  Direct Radio + NET keeps cost of our radio products at a minimum and less heat allows us to put radios in smaller packages!

It was obvious to us that Bluetooth would not be a good solution for RailPro.

Copyright 2019 Ring Engineering, Inc.