RailPro with Direct Radio
a typical DCC system
|Based on New Technology
||The typical DCC system is based on over 20 year old
technology where, in contrast, RailPro was built from the ground up on the
most modern technology such as color touchscreens and DirectRadio for
communications! If you are a current DCC user, or thinking about
purchasing a DCC system, the question we think you should
ask yourself is, "do you want to buy or keep buying over 20 year old technology?"
|Ease of Use
||With RailPro, there is no need to learn
addressing, multiple programming modes, multiple consisting modes, control variable programming,
speed table adjustments, hexadecimal and binary notation to set control
variable bits, etc, etc, etc. In our opinion, if you have
how-to-clinics, hundreds of pages for manuals, and numerous people for
tech support, then your product is too difficult to use and not what
customers really want!!!
|Two-Way High Speed
Communication to Locomotives
||Our DirectRadio technology allows
RailPro components to have two-way
high speed communication that is not supported by the DCC standards*.
This allows RailPro to achieve our patent pending consisting (linking
locomotives together), real time reading of current adjustments, updates
(program, picture, sound, and light effects), real time feedback, fault
reporting and more!
Linking Locomotives (Consisting)
The way RailPro links locomotives together is patent pending and
unlike any DCC system. Direct Radio allows RailPro locomotives to
communicate together almost instantly to be sure that each locomotive
pulls its portion of the load and run smoothly together. Further,
unlike DCC, you can setup different manufacturers locomotives to run
well together in under a minute. To do this with DCC you are expected to
set over 30 control variables, use a speedometer for better results, and
in the end they still don't communicate to each other or compensate for
actual train load. Many DCC users have spent hours setting up only two
locomotives to only come to the conclusion that it is not working well
and is not worth the effort.
|Speed of Selecting Locomotives
||With RailPro you can take control of
another locomotive or consist with only two touches of the screen!
Being able to quickly select another locomotive makes a big difference
when you are running the switch engine and main line locos, or
controlling the entire layout yourself.
|Adjusting settings like
sound volume or top speed, etc.
||With RailPro you adjust
a setting like sound volume by touching the screen. The screen will
display the current value automatically. Then you can just turn the knob
to adjust the value in real time! Compare this to the typical DCC
system. You need to figure out what programming mode is proper,
then look up the control variable in a manual and finally check the
range of values that can be entered. Further, you will not know what
value you are starting from, so to increase the value you will not know
what value to start with. It can take 10 times or even longer to go
through the steps to just change the sound volume!
|Instantly see settings currently set
in a locomotive
||Not supported by DCC standards* on main
At any time you can select a locomotive on a RailPro system and see all
of the current settings.
|Buttons that you can easily identify
||With RailPro's touchscreen, you can see
pictures and read text that describe each buttons functions so you do
not have to try to remember what F14 does, or what F9 does, F7 etc.
|Automatic recovery of button states
||When a DCC loco looses power (i.e. runs
over a dirty spot on the track) it looses its function button
settings!!! So if you have the front light, ditch lights, bell,
and other sounds on, then you have to manually restart them each time
the loco looses power! A RailPro loco uses Direct Radio to
reinstate all speed, direction, and current button status automatically
when the loco recovers from a power loss!!!
|All RailPro products can have their
||Most DCC components have limited or no
ability at all to update their program. All RailPro components
have updateable programs. We have already taken advantage of this
capability by adding new features to our existing locomotive modules.
For example, we added directional lighting and auto ditch lights "after" we
shipped the LM-1's and our customers were able to update their equipment
without returning them.
|Rail Sonic HD Sound System(TM)
||Only Ring Engineering has Rail Sonic HD
Sound System(TM)! Our Rail
Sonic HD Sound System(TM) allows our products to
make realistic sounds. Ring Engineering's
Rail Sonic HD Sound System(TM) is everything from the
digital equipment used for recordings, to
how we master, store, and reproduce sounds.
|User Definable Buttons
||On the RailPro handheld screen you can
setup the buttons anyway that you want. You can add, remove, or
move buttons to the locations that you would like. This is done by
simply reading the screen and touching the pictures. Compare this
to the typical DCC system with a bunch of function buttons labeled F1,
F2, etc. Some locomotive modules allow you to re-map buttons, this
is accomplished by setting an array of bits in control variables. That
is far from what we call user friendly.
||In RailPro, there is no need to learn or
try to keep track of addressing. You simply press the "Find Product"
button when you buy a new product and a picture of the new product will
show up on the screen! Then you touch it to take control.
You can give each product a name that you will understand.
Large Layout Control
||Because of RailPro's use of high speed
DirectRadio, its communication speed is magnitudes greater than DCC.
Therefore, you will get better response with many simultaneous users
compared to a DCC system.
||In RailPro you can set a unique password
in each component to completely customize the level of security that you
want. You can prevent another user from controlling or changing
your locomotives, turnouts, etc. With the typical DCC system there is no
security. Just dial up the address and start making changes.
All wireless systems should have built in security to prevent
unintentional or unauthorized users.
In our opinion, this reason alone should be enough for every club to use RailPro.
We are confident that
running DCC makes it necessary for you to clean your track more often
than with RailPro.**
||With DCC systems, there are multiple
programming modes that need be learned. Some features can be done
this way but not that way. With RailPro there is only one simple
way to make adjustments.
||In RailPro, all adjustments can be made on
your layout. No programming track is required.
|Accidental mass programming errors
||With DCC systems, it is easy to
accidentally program every locomotive on the layout! This is not
possible with RailPro.
||You can add and remove sounds from our
locomotive modules to customize them to your prototype. Many DCC
offerings do not allow this very valuable feature.
|Locomotive Speed Control
||With RailPro you can send speed commands
in 0.1% increments! That is 1,000 speed steps compared to DCC
maximum 128 speed steps. More importantly is that DCC's support of
multiple speed step modes can be problematic. It is easy to set a DCC
system or module into the incorrect speed step mode and then the loco
will not respond. Even worse there is no indication that there is a
problem! This is not possible with RailPro.
|Much Simpler Wiring
||With RailPro the only wiring you need to
do is the power wiring. For a smaller layout all you need to do is
connect two wires from the power supply to the track and plug it into
the wall. With the typical DCC, even a wireless DCC system, you still
need to wire a network.
|Warning and Fault Reporting
||Because of RailPro's DirectRadio
(two-way high speed) communication, locomotives and other products can
report warnings and faults in real time and in easily understood
English. For example, our Locomotive modules can report output
short or motor overload messages. By touching the warning or fault
on the screen, a more descriptive explanation of the warning or fault is
||Unlike typical DCC decoders, RailPro's
light effects are downloadable. So, as we release new light effects,
they can be added to your locomotive modules. There is almost no
light effect that cannot be added. Also, you can put multiple
light effects on a single output.
|Built in Help
||RailPro has a help button on most pages.
If you press the help button, it will display information on what
each button on that page does. It is like have a manual built
right in to the handheld to be sure you understand exactly what features
|Real-Time data from Locomotives
||Because of RailPro's DirectRadio
(two-way high-speed) communication, you can see data in real time as you
drive your locomotive around the track. One useful piece of information
available from the locomotive module is the voltage that it is sensing.
When you drive around the layout if you see a low voltage indication,
that may be a sign that the wiring should be improved to that section of
|Regulated Power Supply
||Our PWR-56 is "regulated," not the
simpler "unregulated" type like many DCC systems use. In fact, our Power
Supply has three times less voltage drop than one from a leading DCC
manufacture at full load. That means you get more power when you need it.
|Track Signal Corruption Problems
||With RailPro, there is no signal on the
track and therefore it is impossible to have corrupted communications on
the track like with a DCC system.
|Price Compared to typical wireless
||Now the truly amazing part!
RailPro costs substantially less than a typical wireless DCC system! In many
cases our locomotive modules cost less when compared to ones that have
similar sound quality or have updateable sounds. And of course the others
do not have all of the RailPro features like DirectRadio. This is
important because equipping locomotives is likely where a large portion
of your money may be spent.
||Our new LM-2 modules are almost 40%
smaller than our original LM-1 module. Our new LM-2 modules are
now small enough to even fit in small switch engines.
|Ability to use handheld controller on
||You can use RailPro's handheld
controller on any DCC system***. With other typical DCC manufactures, you
can only use their handheld controllers with their system.
|Availability of Ready to Run
||There are several manufactures that make
locomotives with DCC installed. Currently with RailPro, you need to
purchase DCC ready locomotives (ones with only the DCC plug) and plug in our
modules to get all of the above advantages. In many cases, you can buy a
locomotive without DCC and add a RailPro loco module for less money than buying a
locomotive with DCC and sound built in. There are several hobby shops that can install RailPro locomotive
modules for you if you do not want to do your own installations.
We are looking forward to working with locomotive suppliers in making
RailPro ready locomotives available.
||RailPro products are
completely designed with the future in mind. You can easily add new
products that can work together because of Direct Radio. The handheld
controller can have new screens added to control new products by
downloading a new program from the internet. Most DCC controllers cannot
be updated like RailPro. What new products
have you seen from the major DCC suppliers in the last 5 years?
How about the last 10 years?
* There are some NMRA recommended practices that
have a data response built in, but to our knowledge it has no support from any US
manufacturer. Also, the data rate is very slow and even if it was widely
implemented, it does not support direct communication like our RailPro
DirectRadio and would not be anywhere near the data rate needed to achieve what
we do with DirectRadio and consisting locomotives. Additionally, the
recommended practice specifies that the power to the track must be stopped so
the locomotive can send a small bit of data back to the booster. For the
reasons mentioned below** we are confident that when the power is reapplied
current will rush into the locomotive wheels and cause serious build of
black residue on the track forcing you to clean your track more often.
When we were developing our End of Train Device products, we accumulated a lot
of testing hours running on analog and DCC power sources because it was
important to know that our products would work well with both power sources.
What we discovered was that we had to clean the DCC track far more often to keep
it running. We cleaned the DCC test track multiple times more often than the
analog track. The theory we can up with as to why the DCC track needed cleaned
more often is because on a DCC system track power is a high frequency square
wave that causes the current to pulses into the locomotive module (through the
wheels) at higher peaks than with an analog system. We know that if we put no
current through the wheels, then no arcing between the wheel and the track would
happen. We also know that if we put hundreds of amps through the wheels, then
the wheel to track contact point would arc and leave black burnt carbon deposits
on the track. Therefore we are confident that higher currents cause more arcing
and deposit more black carbon residue. The reason why DCC current pulses at
higher peak currents than analog is because the DCC signal constantly changes
polarity. All locomotives modules have front end capacitance (parasitic or
intentional - most likely both). Because the DCC signal is square wave in shape,
the signal has very fast rising and falling voltages. When a fast rising or
falling voltage is applied to a capacitor, the capacitor looks like a short
circuit. This temporary short circuit is one cause of higher peak currents
through the locomotive wheels on a DCC system. A second cause of higher peak
currents through the locomotive wheels on a DCC system comes from the fact that
there is a time that the DCC voltage goes to zero. If a DCC signal changes
polarity, than it must go to zero volts before it can change polarity. When the
DCC signal is at zero volts, the motor, lights, and sounds of the DCC locomotive
module are still using power. This power is supplied by an on-board capacitor (a
capacitor stores electrical energy). During the time the voltage is at zero, the
on-board capacitor discharges and when the DCC voltage returns, the capacitor
charges quickly causing higher peak currents through the locomotive wheels on a
DCC system. And since RailPro uses fixed DC, (no high frequency switching on the
track) it does not have higher peak currents through the locomotive wheels like
a DCC system does. In fact, it is expected that RailPro runs even cleaner than
analog! Even though analog does not go to zero volts, many analog supplies
increases and decreases voltage at 120 cycles per second (rectified 60 Hz from a
wall outlet) where in comparison RailPro's DC power is steady. We ran a small
RailPro test track for about a year and never needed to clean it! We finally
cleaned the track just to see if the RailPro system was going to run any
differently, and it did not. We are confident that we would have needed to clean
the track several times if it were powered by DCC because previously the same
test track was powered by DCC and needed cleaned often.
The DCC system voltage must
be less than 18 volts peak and only consist of the signal specified in NMRA standards. Only RailPro equipped
locomotives can be controlled with the RailPro handheld controller.
Copyright © 2015 Ring Engineering, Inc.