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DCC days numbered - Long live bluetooth?

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Noel
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Hmmm????

 

Will watch developments with interest over the next few years. I must say the current DCC programming interface seems from the dark ages (e.g. CVs, etc, like putting a number in a CV to change volume instead of clicking a 'volume' menu and sliding + or -).

 

http://www.bluerailtrains.com

 

Early days yet and it may not get traction, but from a technology perspective it would be a leap into a more consumer 'appliance' friendly interface, rather than the awkward and very dated 80s technology DCC is. Personally I still don't like touch screen only controls for throttle control on cabs. Wonder if decoders will gradually get a bluetooth interface so over a decade folks can migrate with the choice of control via DCC or Bluetooth (i.e. dual interface). If it got traction I guess there would still be a market for physical cabs (i.e. wireless via bluetooth).

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Hi Noel,

Basically you are just suggesting that the interface with the decoders needs to be improved from the current system which uses CVs and labels ( or lack thereof) which means little to the end-user, to a system which is more user-friendly.

If you were to transition to a Bluetooth interface would you not just be changing the mechanism from a physical pulsed current through the rails to a radio telephony signal direct to the decoder?

I can certainly see how that would be more convenient but unless you also wanted to move to battery driven locomotives you would still need something to power them, so effectively you would be moving back to 'DC' or some sort of alternating current but with no pulsed DCC signals within it. All rails and branches etc. live for current pick up. Would this be substantially better then the present DCC systems with programming on the main? I can see however that it would allow you to use common smart phones and tablets etc. rubbing having to invest in additional cabs. Personally I think Bluetooth can be a pretty fiddly technology also although version 3.0 is certainly better and faster. I am not saying I am against this technology I just think that an improved user interface for DCC would also help right now.

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Will commit total heresy here, I suspect. DCC certainly has its uses, but am finding that operating Arigna Town [very much analogue] a refreshing change. No dialling up loco addresses or worrying about chips shorting out on brass locos. Just set the direction and turn the speed dial. OK, no sound effects, but having recently seen a diesel loco depot where all the stock was in 'tick over' mode, the resultant white noise soon has me walking away. Felt sorry for the layouts nearby, who had to put up with the racket all day.

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Will commit total heresy here, I suspect. DCC certainly has its uses, but am finding that operating Arigna Town [very much analogue] a refreshing change. No dialling up loco addresses or worrying about chips shorting out on brass locos. Just set the direction and turn the speed dial. OK, no sound effects, but having recently seen a diesel loco depot where all the stock was in 'tick over' mode, the resultant white noise soon has me walking away. Felt sorry for the layouts nearby, who had to put up with the racket all day.

 

Sound can be good, but the biggest problem with sound in locos is the quality of sound.

I like sound, but only for short periods as it gets tiring.

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Sound can be good, but the biggest problem with sound in locos is the quality of sound.

I like sound, but only for short periods as it gets tiring.

 

I agree, and running it on more than one loco at a time sounds cluttered and a bit confusing.

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The problem with sound is that most modellers have the volume set too bloody loud! I read an American article on DCC sound that suggests modellers use the "5 foot rule", meaning you shouldn't hear the sound of a loco from more than 5 feet away.

 

+1

 

I've lost count of how many tinny, shrill-sounding 071 models I've heard. Lowering the volume puts less strain on the speakers, resulting in an improved tone and therefore making the model sound more realistic.

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The problem with sound is that most modellers have the volume set too bloody loud! I read an American article on DCC sound that suggests modellers use the "5 foot rule", meaning you shouldn't hear the sound of a loco from more than 5 feet away.

 

Spot on. I've turned the volume on ours right down to 30% of the default out of the box levels. The LokSound in particular was annoyingly loud.

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Hi Noel,

Basically you are just suggesting that the interface with the decoders needs to be improved from the current system which uses CVs and labels ( or lack thereof) which means little to the end-user, to a system which is more user-friendly.

If you were to transition to a Bluetooth interface would you not just be changing the mechanism from a physical pulsed current through the rails to a radio telephony signal direct to the decoder?

I can certainly see how that would be more convenient but unless you also wanted to move to battery driven locomotives you would still need something to power them, so effectively you would be moving back to 'DC' or some sort of alternating current but with no pulsed DCC signals within it. All rails and branches etc. live for current pick up. Would this be substantially better then the present DCC systems with programming on the main? I can see however that it would allow you to use common smart phones and tablets etc. rubbing having to invest in additional cabs. Personally I think Bluetooth can be a pretty fiddly technology also although version 3.0 is certainly better and faster. I am not saying I am against this technology I just think that an improved user interface for DCC would also help right now.

 

Hi Kevin

 

I don't know how they plan to release products. Ideally if they produce 21, 9, 8 and 6 pin Bluetooth decoders of the same size as current DCC decoders, they could be swapped or used instead of DCC decoders and could therefore operated on existing DCC layouts and with DCC ready locos. This would allow overlap of deployment over the first decade without modellers forced into a big spend change over.

 

I assume the power supply from the decoder to the loco motor would be the same as DCC, but the messaging protocol and configuration of bluetooth decoders would be quite different and very user friendly (i.e. there would be no concept of low level techie stuff like CVs, test tracks, programming, etc, all to be buried behind human friendly interfaces smartphone app style).

 

However if this ever gets traction, I suspect there will still be a market for wireless cabs with physical controls, not just touch screen devices. Tablets and smartphones great for additional cabs and setup, but for train driving most need the tactile feel for blind one handed control.

 

Noel

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The problem with sound is that most modellers have the volume set too bloody loud! I read an American article on DCC sound that suggests modellers use the "5 foot rule", meaning you shouldn't hear the sound of a loco from more than 5 feet away.

 

I think you hit the nail on the head. If you were to think of think of prototypical running would you really hear the loco more than 400ft away except the maybe the horn or on high rpm output when on a grade etc?

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I found messing around with CVs and sound to be something of a passing fad. Apart from changing an address I seldom change a CV and got rid of all my sound equipped locos about 5 years ago.

 

The new Bachmann Bluetooth system appears to be aimed at people "who wants something simple" to get started, rather than something that expandable into a more complex model railway system.

 

The one advantage of DCC over proprietary systems is that the system was developed by modellers and has become an internationally recognised standard for digital control sytems.

 

This allows modellers to mix and match the best of different manufacturers products as a model railway becomes more complex, rather than being stuck with a particular manufacturers control system, decoders and accessories.

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Hi John. I would hope the Bachmann bluetooth technology, if it really works, might become a new NMRA standard rather than a proprietary offering. Key would be plug-in compatible swap-ability of DCC decoders for Bluetooth decoders. If it remains a proprietary spec then its dead in the water. Noel

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NMRA going beyond DCC?

 

 

http://www.nmra.org/news/proposed-standard-layout-command-control-lcc-published-comment

 

"The Board of Directors has agreed to adopt standards for Layout Command Control (LCC), formerly known as NMRANet. LCC is an operating system protocol which will work hand-in-hand with DCC, handling all "non-motive power"-related functions on a model railroad layout, such as signaling. In essence, LCC is DCC for the rest of your layout. LCC was developed over the past several years by the OpenLCB Group, a large group of volunteers with expertise in electronics, networking, programming and model railroading, similar to the group that developed the Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI). The final draft of the LCC protocols and specification documents have been published for comment on http://www.nmra.org. Look for an article describing all the benefits of LCC in an upcoming issue of NMRA Magazine."

 

 

Time Period:

 

 

Sunday, March 1, 2015 to Tuesday, September 1, 2015

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I think you hit the nail on the head. If you were to think of think of prototypical running would you really hear the loco more than 400ft away except the maybe the horn or on high rpm output when on a grade etc?

 

 

Somewhat off topic, but I was down by the Royal Canal a few years back and thought I could hear a low rumble above the noise of the wind. After 2 minutes, I decided I had been imagining things. After 4, I knew I hadn't. After 5, an 071 appeared with a liner and clattered on past. Fantastic memory, that 071 sound, just on the edge of hearing. :tumbsup:

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