Bluetooth control questions

SPsteam Mar 19, 2021

  1. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    I'm looking at using a BlueRail board to run one of my DC cabs, has anyone had experience with this type of control? Not sure if a 2amp board will do the trick or if I need to go with a 5 amp board. I'll wire it per their tutorial on their site. My other cab wil be a control master tetherd throttle that has been my mainstay for the last 10 years.
     
  2. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    What scale are you using?

    This being the N Scale forum, only the 2 amp version has a chance of fitting inside an N scale locomotive; but thankfully, 2 amps is more than enough to power an N scale locomotive.
     
  3. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    From what I have read, it is installed like a DCC decoder and your phone would be the throttle. This is similar to JMRI Wi-Throttle on DCC. Your DC block system may need to be modified to provide full voltage all the time. Unlike DC, where your train is controlled by the voltage specified by the throttle position, I suspect BlueRail works on a constant voltage like DCC and digitally controls trains speed from a constant input power.

    If you don't have a throttle attached to your block, will it get power? Your other power district is of course ran off the controller you mentioned, but what about the block with no throttle connected (the one the BlueRail locomotive is on)?
     
  4. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    This will be used on my N scale layout. In the tutorial, the board is connected to the DC block board via the motor wires and the power supply to the board. The board remains stationary and the you use your phone as a remote throttle. Basically, the board will receive 16-18v constantly (from a laptop power converter or wall wart) and act as the transformer in the DC power source.
    Conventional_02.jpg
     
  5. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    So basically it's just a bluetooth transformer that will replace the standard DC transformers and allow remote control of each block they are attached to. Sounds just like a modern spin on the old DC throttle with walk around capability. Now you need a compatible bluetooth block control device!
     
  6. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    I was looking at using one board to control one side of a set of blocks and use DPDT switches to route power to each block as necessary.
     
  7. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    That pretty much sounds like a standard DC block control scheme to me. DPDT or a rotary switch usually gets the job done.
     
  8. warnerj01

    warnerj01 TrainBoard Member

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    I don't have time to write a longer post, but I used the original BlueRail board to run a modular club layout at a train show. I'll write a longer post soon.
     
  9. warnerj01

    warnerj01 TrainBoard Member

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    Here is more info from when I tested the BlueRail board in 20016.

    Our Modular layout had 3 DC tracks. Each DC track was controlled by an Aristocraft Wireless throttle. Since the throttles were no longer sold or repaired, I started to look for replacement wireless throttles. Since we only setup our trains at shows, we would just let the trains run around the layout and loosely monitor them. Eventually our club decided to switch to T-TRAK and DCC. This ended my search.
    Layout.jpg

    BlueRail board Wiring

    For testing purposes, I used a Tech2 power pack to supply power. The throttle was set to max power.

    I wired the Motor output to the track. Just like the diagram. Each Track had 3 feeders, one about every 10 feet.

    20161001_155742.jpg 20161001_155806.jpg


    Thoughts from my testing

    1. My TOP feature -- Unlike DCC decoders, the BR board has short circuit protection built-in to the board on the motor output. This protects the board from a short caused by a derailed loco or car. The protection trips at 4a.

    2. It is easy to run a train. You can even use a Bluetooth game controller to run a train from your device.

    3. It is easy to program the board from the app.

    a. We could easily adjust the board’s Top Speed. I liked to run my Athearn locos using the “Switcher” setting.​

    4. The board easily handles a train with 3 locos. We only ran a train with 3 locos, we did not try to find the max number of locos we could run.

    5. If the board lost communication with the App, the train automatically stopped. No runaway locos.

    a. Since we just let the trains run and only monitor them, we ran into issues keeping the trains running. The phone would go to sleep and the train would stop. At the time, the app didn’t prevent the phone from going to sleep. This was a minor annoyance. This has since been fixed.​

    6. I feel the board is best suited for home layouts with some sort of operations.

    7. I initially was concerned about the size of the harness wire, but the size didn’t cause any issues.
     
    mtntrainman likes this.
  10. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

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    If you plan to run more than 3-4 locos at once, I’d go with the 5 amp. Otherwise you’d be uncomfortably close to the rated amperage.
     
  11. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    Looks like it will work well. I am going to assume that there will be a board needed per track.
     
  12. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    Warnerj01, thank you for the detailed write up, it answered a lot of my questions. I'll probably keep to 3 locomotives max at a time. Since my layout is a singletrack, I should be fine with the 2amp board I think.

    I was concerned with the size of the wiring harness, but you've reduced my concern level.

    What is the max voltage input if anyone knows since I plan on using a wall wart or laptop power supply?
     
  13. warnerj01

    warnerj01 TrainBoard Member

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