What’s in the Shops: Simple wireless model railway controller

blueRailways has brought conventional analogue control up to date with a smart but simple-to-use wireless control system. Nigel Burkin takes a good look at the system and its benefits.

It is easy to forget that there have been major developments in traditional analogue (DC) control in recent years with advances in the design and functionality of controllers to include wireless handsets and advanced levels of control. Finesse has come to traditional analogue control and blueRailways has been a leader in this field with some innovative product development.

Models as small as the Hornby ‘Peckett’ and the Bachmann ‘Wickham’ trolley performed well with the blueRailways’ control system. The Model 522 receiver may be programmed in the same manner as the Model 601 using the app to change CVs such as start voltage and maximum speed.

So why is there a continued interest in traditional analogue control? It is fair to say that analogue control remains a valid choice and a logical one for many modellers, partly for reasons of cost and partly for simplicity in setting up a layout. I have come to recognise that traditional analogue control remains a good choice for those making a start in the hobby too.

Being able to run trains straight from the box without having to first install decoders is something that the newcomer to the hobby is likely to embrace and the blueRailways’ system brings contemporary control to the layout with the use of mobile devices, apps and a wireless handset with traditional tactile controls.

blueRailways realised that the demand for quality analogue control systems had not died out and DCC has not swept the board in the manner that many have expected. It has also recognised the growing interest in using smartphones and portable devices as controllers, making the operating experience more enjoyable for analogue layouts.

In reality, the blueRailways’ system has brought one of the hitherto exclusive-to-DCC controller interfaces to traditional analogue control and it has done it well. Furthermore, the power output used by blueRailways’ devices is Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) instead of a variable-voltage output, which is an ideal way of controlling the power to motors in model locomotives. It will do a great deal to bring out the best in your older models with less sophisticated motors.

Wireless control

Wireless control using traditional model railway electronics of powering the rails of a layout (both analogue control and DCC use this basic concept) comes in two forms: radio control using transmitters and receivers (sometimes using exposed dongles) together with infrared. The former is generally preferred by most modellers because it does not require ‘line of sight’ and generally has a greater range than infrared-control systems. The key benefit of wireless control is not being ‘tethered’ to the layout and it is this key benefit that prompted blueRailways to explore the use of mobile devices to work as wireless controllers on analogue layouts.

For the full article, see September’s edition of Modelling – available now!

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