Category Archives: Articles

Controlling Kadee® Servo Controllers with a BlueRail board

Category : Articles , Videos




This video demonstrates how to control a Kadee® Servo Controller with a BlueRail board to operate a large scale Kadee coupler with battery power. The BlueRail board can control up to 4 Kadee® Servo Controllers. Kadee® Servo Controllers can control Kadee® RC Remote Couplers (factory programmed), turnouts, crossing gates, semaphores, windmills, water wheels, gondolas, trams, roundabouts, cranes, & drawbridges. Below is a diagram depicting how to make the connection. Click image to download PDF.

Controlling Kadee® Servo Controllers with a BlueRail board
http://bluerailtrains.com/docs/Kadee_Servo_Control_with_BlueRail_Board.pdf


BlueRail board installation guide

Category : Articles

The BlueRail trains board is very easy to install. The board accepts a standard 9-pin JST wiring harness, which contains 9 wires color coded to the NMRA standard:

RED Track Power +
BLACK Track Power –
ORANGE Motor +
GREY Motor –
BLUE Common 12v +
WHITE Headlight –
YELLOW RearHeadlight –
GREEN Light3 –
PURPLE Light4 –

If your locomotive is DCC-Ready (and has an 8-pin socket on it), simply plug the 8-pin side of the wiring harness into your train. Orient the 8-pin connector so the RED wire is near the number 8 (or triangle) marked on the circuit board. If you have the 8-pin connector in the wrong orientation, the train will run in the wrong direction.

This board anticipates low voltage LED lights (20 mA) on your locomotive and does not require resistors.

If your locomotive is not DCC-Ready, snip off the 8-pin connector on the harness and connect the colored wires as indicated in the table above and the diagram below. If you are utilizing a battery, it may be connected as indicated in the diagram.



Batteries may alternately be connected to the Red/Black wires on the 9 pin harness (if you are sure you will not be using track power as well). THIS ARTICLE shows alternate ways you can wire up a battery.

If you are wiring a Bachmann Thomas train, the motor leads are usually Yellow and Brown. If you are wiring a Bachmann locomotime, HERE IS A TABLE with the letter codes commonly stamped on the circuit boards.

For more information on the board, please refer to the Our First Board article and the UserGuide, as well as the Articles and Videos links above.


Does your Smart Device support Bluetooth 4?

Category : Articles

This product uses Bluetooth Low Energy. Your smart device must support Bluetooth 4.0 (or newer).

Apple Logo

List of iOS devices that support Bluetooth 4

iPhone iPad iPod
iPhone 4s
iPhone 5
iPhone 5c
iPhone 5s
iPhone 6
iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6s
iPhone 6s Plus
iPhone 7
iPhone 7 Plus
or newer
iPad, 3rd generation
iPad, 4th generation
iPad (2017)
iPad mini
iPad mini 2
iPad mini 3
iPad mini 4
iPad Air
iPad Air 2
iPad Pro
or newer
iPod Touch (5th generation)
iPod Touch (6th generation)
or newer

Android ogo
Android devices must have Android version 4.3 or newer to support Bluetooth Low Energy.

It is important that your Android is updated to the latest Android software to operate BlueRail.

The general method for updating your Android software is:

Settings >> General (scroll down) >> About Device >> Software Update

Most devices provide a back-up method (which is recommended prior to performing updates).

CLICK HERE for more information about updating your specific device.

The vast majority of Android devices that meet the minimum requirements and can download the free BlueRail app will support all aspects. However, due to the huge number of different Android models (>5000 models) and manufacturing standards, issues may be encountered on some devices.

Android 6 (Marshmallow) is compatible with BlueRail. However, due to changes in Bluetooth permissions with Android 6, the app may not be able to detect the BlueRail trains properly. To resolve this issue, go to Settings in the OS–> Location and turn on location services. Your BlueRail trains will now be detected properly in the app. This may require a wi-fi or cellular connection on certain devices.

If your Android is updated to the latest version available (Android 4.3 or newer) and you are still having an issue connecting to trains, please read this article on Bluetooth Connection Issues.


BlueRail for O scalers

Category : Articles

O Scale BlueRailBlueRail smartphone control for trains is a perfect fit for O scale. The BlueRail board is perfectly sized to fit most O scale locomotives, and with 2 amps of current they are a perfect match for many locos. If your O loco has DC can motors (isolated) and uses 2 AMPS or less then your loco is a good candidate for a BlueRail board.

The BlueRail board runs on DC or DCC power (from the track or battery). If you require AC track power, an AC-DC converter can easily be built from parts as described in this article.

The board controls motor and up to 4 LED lights from over 100 ft. Considering there is no system to buy (other than owning a smartphone or tablet) and that it can be run on any powered track (or non-powered) a BlueRail board is one of the most affordable train control solutions available. Discounts are available on volume orders (2,5,10). BlueRail is extremely popular for use with onboard battery.

The BlueRail board is very easy to install using a standard 9-pin JST with standard NMRA colored wires (sold separately). Here is a wiring diagram.


BlueRailBoard1BUY BLUERAIL BOARD NOW


Sounds (which play inside the smart device) can also be played through a mini bluetooth speaker on the loco, making for very affordable onboard sound (as described in this article).

BlueRail's first Bluetooth board (2012) powering an O gauge Lionel.

BlueRail’s first Bluetooth board (2012) powering an O gauge Lionel.

Perhaps the biggest appeal in using BlueRail is a the well developed software control app (free in iOS and Android). This system is compatible with Bachmann E-Z App® and enjoys the benefit of thousands of users and hundreds of hours of software development, setting it apart from all other available wireless train control systems. The app updates as new features are added. Wireless firmware updates easily and safely update the board in the loco as needed.

If you are an O scale hobbyist, you should consider BlueRail as your train control system. Please purchase boards directly from our online store. If you are a club interested in group rates or have any questions please email us .


O Scale BlueRail Check List

checkmarkDoes loco contain DC can motor?

checkmarkIs motor isolated from the frame?

checkmarkDoes loco draw 2 amps or less?

checkmarkAre you good with DC, DCC or battery power?
(if AC required, consider adding an AC-DC converter)

checkmarkDoes loco contain LED lights?
(if not, consider switching bulbs to LEDs)

checkmarkDoes your smart device (phone/table) support Bluetooth 4?
(Please read this Article)


Most frequently asked O Scale question:

Q: “Will it work with my American Flyer/Lionel?”

A: There are many variations of American Flyer/Lionel locos. If it passes the 5 check points above, you should be good.


Is the BlueRail board right for you?

Category : Articles

Here is a handy checklist to go through to make sure the BlueRail board is sufficent for your loco.


checkmarkSIZE (will it fit)?
The BlueRail board is 58.6mm x 28mm. Use this printable PDF to print out a copy of the board and verify it will fit:

checkmarkCURRENT DRAW
If your loco has 2 AMPs or less maximum current draw it is probably a good candidate for this board (1.2 AMPs continuous). Related references:
* Large Scale Decision Chart
* Overload Protection diagram
* Article about using board in larger gauges
* Article about measuring max current draw

checkmarkMOTOR ISOLATED
If you are not sure if your motor is electrically isolated from the chassis, please refer to this article

checkmarkLED LIGHTING
The BlueRail board supports LED lights. If your loco has full voltage incandescent lights, consider switching them to LED. When wiring LED lights be aware that the polarity of the wire leads must be correct.

checkmarkDC, DCC OR BATTERY POWER
The BlueRail board will not work with AC power. If you wish to use the board on an AC powered track, consider adding an AC-DC converter as described in this article.

checkmark9 PIN JST HARNESS
The BlueRail board requires a standard 9-pin JST harness. If you do not have one, we have them available in our online store.

checkmarkSMART DEVICE MUST SUPPORT BLUETOOTH 4
Does your smart device (phone/table) support Bluetooth 4? (Please read this Article)

Here is a Datasheet on the BlueRail board with diagrams how to wire it up.

Here is an article on Optional ways to wire a battery to a BlueRail board


S Scale is the Perfect Scale for BlueRail

Category : Articles

SScaleBlueRailYou may have heard that “S” is the perfect scale – it is also the perfect scale for BlueRail. The BlueRail board is perfectly sized to fit most S scale locomotives, and with 2 amps of current they are a perfect match. If your S loco has DC can motors (isolated) then your loco is a good candidate for a BlueRail board.

The BlueRail board runs on DC or DCC power (from the track or battery). If you require AC track power, an AC-DC converter can easily be built from parts as described in this article.

The board controls motor and up to 4 LED lights from over 100 ft.  Considering there is no system to buy (other than owning a smartphone or tablet) a BlueRail board is one of the most affordable train control solutions available. Discounts are available on volume orders (2,5,10). BlueRail is extremely popular for use with onboard battery.

The BlueRail board is very easy to install using a standard 9-pin JST with standard NMRA colored wires (sold separately). Here is a wiring diagram.

Sounds (which play inside the smart device) can also be played through a mini bluetooth speaker on the loco, making for very affordable onboard sound (as described in this article).

Perhaps the biggest appeal in using BlueRail is a the well developed software control app (free in iOS and Android). This system is compatible with Bachmann E-Z App® and enjoys the benefit of thousands of users and hundreds of hours of software development, setting it apart from all other available wireless train control systems.

If you are an S scale hobbyist, you should consider BlueRail as your train control system. Please purchase boards directly from our online store. If you are a club interested in group rates or have any questions please email us .


S Scale BlueRail Check List

checkmarkDoes loco contain DC can motor?

checkmarkIs motor isolated from the frame?

checkmarkDoes loco draw 2 amps or less?

checkmarkAre you good with DC, DCC or battery power?
(if AC required, consider adding an AC-DC converter)

checkmarkDoes loco contain LED lights?
(if not, consider switching bulbs to LEDs)

checkmarkDoes your smart device (phone/table) support Bluetooth 4?
(Please read this Article)


It’s true that S Scale is the perfect scale for BlueRail.

Most frequently asked S Scale question:

Q: “Will it work with my American Flyer?”

A: There are many variations of American Flyer locos. If it passes the 5 check points above, you should be good.


Running BlueRail on 3-Rail AC Track Power

Category : Articles

Article by Bob Walker

Most 3 rail O gauge conventional power layouts use a variable AC voltage to power the engines. In order to use the BlueRail bluetooth control boards, the AC track voltage must be converted to DC.

An AC to DC converter can be simply constructed to perform the conversion. A bridge rectifier followed by a filter capacitor will convert the AC to DC. Since the AC track voltage inputted to the bridge rectifier can vary, a 12VDC voltage regulator should follow the bridge rectifier in order to maintain the DC voltage within safe limits for the BlueRail board. You can also use a 15 volt regulator (in place of the 12 volt regulator) for more voltage (if desired).

The 12VDC regulator should be the TO-220 package and should be mounted on a suitable heatsink as it will get warm. The AC to DC converter module is not very large and should fit in most engines. When using the converter/bluetooth approach, the AC voltage delivered to the converter can be anywhere between 10VAC and 18VAC and the BlueRail board will operate.

ACDC_Converter_BobWalker

GP30INTERNAL_ArrowsCloseUp AC-DC Converter

PARTS LIST

Voltage Regulators (12v or 15v):
     12v
     NTE966
     http://www.alliedelec.com/nte-electronics-inc-nte966/70215309/

     15v
     NTE968
     http://www.alliedelec.com/nte-electronics-inc-nte968/70215853/

Bridge Rectifier:

     NTE167
     http://www.alliedelec.com/nte-electronics-inc-nte167/70215797/

Capacitor:
     1000uF 35v
     https://www.amazon.com/1000uf-Capacitor-105c-Radial-Leads/dp/B004C4TV8W



Lower Prices and Volume Discounts for BlueRail boards

Category : Articles

To celebrate our release of consisting and speed-matching, BlueRail has lowered our pricing to make it easier to buy that second board. We have added a customer loyalty program to our online store which deducts $5 off all orders from existing customers. Details on customer loyalty program.

We have also reduced our prices and added volume discounts to offer more savings:

1 TrackPower board: $70@
2-4 TrackPower boards: $65@
5-9 TrackPower boards: $60@
10+ TrackPower boards: $55@
BatteryPower boards (pre soldered battery leads) add $10
DeadRail Kit: $157@

MRR club members contact us for group discounts. Retailer pricing available.


How to use BlueRail’s Customer Loyalty Program

Category : Articles

BlueRail has added a feature to the BlueRail store that offers discounts for existing customers. The present discount takes $5 off the total amount for any order placed. To take advantage of this discount, you must sign-in to the BlueRail online store (shop.bluerailtrains.com) before checking out. If you are an existing customer, but do not have a password to sign in, here is what you do:

From shop.bluerailtrains.com choose “sign in” from the upper right corner.

Do not create an account. Instead, click the “Forgot your password?” link next to the sign-in button.

Enter the email address you used when you placed your original order, and hit “continue”.

You will receive an email that allows you to continue with the sign-in process. Once you are signed in, your “Customer Loyalty” discount will be subtracted from your total order.


Why do Developers release iOS versions before Android?

Category : Articles

If you are an Android user, you may have noticed that developers commonly release on iOS before Android. Why is this? There are actually a number of reasons worth understanding.

iOS has less devices to develop for
In iOS you basically have 2 devices to develop for (iPhone and iPad). Although there are slightly taller and shorter screens to consider on various models, testing is very straight forward. On the other hand, there are 5000-6000 different Android devices to develop for and take into consideration.

iOS enforces Operating System software updates
Apple works really hard to pester users into getting the latest version of iOS. Although users may not like this, it makes life much easier for developers, because the majority of iOS users are running on the latest software update for their device, meaning less bugs (bluetooth connectivity). The 5000-6000 Android devices out there are running hundreds of different versions of Android (ranging from version 4.3.1 to version 7.1.1). Most Android device manufacturers write their own Android software, which makes it even trickier. It is very important when using an Android with app-driven hardware (like BlueRail) that you have the latest software your device supports.

Knowing this, it is generally prudent to develop for iOS first. This way you are developing on a more consistent platform, and can focus on getting the functionality of your software where it needs to be (which is often an iterative process through updates). Once you release on Android you need to be prepared to spend time addressing device-specific issues that only appear in a limited amount of Androids out there. Developers rely heavily on Android’s built-in “Crash Report” system that allows users to fill out a crash report if they experience a problem. The developer receives a crash report specifying the details of the crash, as well as device details (phone model, version of Android etc). Fortunately new builds with fixes can go live in the Google-Play very quickly (often less than 1 hour). So updates to Android apps is much faster than Apple products.

BlueRail recognizes many model railroaders are Android users and always strives to support the Android community.