Updates to Dead Rail Primer, Site Additions and Changes, News, and … PMS?

cropped-LOGOHEAD.jpgDead Rail Primer
A lot has happened in the world of Dead Rail (or Power On Board, as some prefer to call it) in the last couple of years, and that means that it’s time to update the Dead Rail Primer. I’m doing it a little at a time, but expect to have most of the changes I’m going to make done within the next 10 days or so. When it’s done, it will be available for download through the store, free of charge.

New To The Site
Let’s face it. The FAQ system is ugly, it takes a long time to update, and it’s not very interactive. So, today I’ve rolled out an interesting looking discussion system. It combines the functionality of a traditional FAQ with that of a discussion forum. You’ll find it on the Discussion tab on the main site menu. In the coming days, I’ll start moving the existing FAQ entries over. In the mean time, you can use it to start asking questions about dead rail, or anything else related to model railroading. Feel free to share your experiences.

crestCrest Electronics News
While at the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Augusta last week, I learned that Crest Electronics has gone out of business. This is bad news for the dead rail community because they were the only system other than Deltang (or the Deltang-based RCS) that operated in the 2.4GHz band. Revolution was a very advanced control system, with sophisticated control options.

BlueRailBlueRail Trains
The crew at BlueRail Trains are beginning to roll out details of their dealer program, and it looks as if The On30 Guy TM will become one of their dealers. While I will continue to concentrate on DelTang, I felt that it was important to be able to offer an alternative for those who are interested in a more advanced system with sound capabilities. BlueRail takes an innovative approach to both control and sound, using a smartphone for control and sound generation. This allows for easy upgrades of both control and sound applications. I do see one drawback, and that is the lack of a dedicated “knob-in-a-box” throttle, but I’ve been talking with the BlueRail designers and also with Kevin at Berrett Hill Trains, manufacturer of TouchToggles, abouta how to overcome this obstacle.

On Track Charging
One thing that I’ve been asked for over and over again is a way to charge on the rails. So far, my argument has been that if you have power on the rails for charging, it isn’t really dead rail after all. Well, alright. I’m working on it. I’ve come up with a spec for the new product, and have sent that over to Berrett Hill. In a nutshell, The On30Guy TM Power Management System (see what I did there?) will address a few feature requests on a very small circuit board. It, along with the companion power cell, will be about the same size as the current Turnigy 260mAh battery pack, and will allow for simple, on track charging, compatibility with the NMRA 8-pin DCC plug, and optional TouchToggle-based power control.

See, I’ve been listening.

I’ve only just completed the product spec, so the design phase for PMS has just begun. Please bear with me — it’s going to take some time to get right. Once complete, it will work with both DelTang and BlueRail receivers (!), and may also turn out to be usable with select receivers from Tam Valley, CVP, and MRC as well (when coupled with larger batteries), and do it at a fraction of the cost of the competition — without cutting corners.

As you know, I’ve written an improved instruction sheet for the Tx21 throttle kit, and it’s been very well received. At the same time, I’ve been reviewing the results of the throttle survey I conducted last year. Based on those results, I’m making the throttle that you have asked for. It will feature the functionality that most of you asked for: a basic full-range speed control and direction switch, headlight control, and a long-life rechargeable power system. The kit (yes, it will be a kit) will be easy to assemble, and come with a great instruction manual. And, it will look and feel great, too!

Again, be patient. This is going to take some time.

That’s All, Folks!
I think that’s enough news for now. I don’t know about you, but I can’t take much more excitement. So, for now …