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Railpower Model Train Controller

This ultra-high performance model train controller features infrared remote control. We believe it's the best build-it-yourself train controller ever published!

By John Clarke

Features

  • Pulse power for extra smooth low speed operation
  • Back-EMF detection for speed regulation
  • Infrared remote control
  • Front panel speed control
  • Speed setting displayed as bargraph and percentage value
  • Actual speed bargraph display
  • Adjustable simulated inertia with on/off control
  • Adjustable braking (stop) inertia
  • Forward and reverse lockout
  • Indication of stop, direction, inertia and lockout
  • Overload protection with visual and audible indication
  • Once upon a time model trains were every kid’s dream hobby – but nowadays they are much more likely to be the province of their dads and grand-dads.

    To a true model railway enthusiast, realism of rolling stock, track layout, scenery and train operation is paramount – and it’s not hard to spend up to a thousand dollars or more on a good loco. (Some model railway "widows" insist it’s the spender that’s loco!)

    Click for larger image
    Given the amazing control that the Railpower IV gives the model train enthusiast, there is certainly not much to it, thanks to the power of the PIC16F88-I/P. It is built on two PC boards (one for the display) and mounts in a 260 x 85 x 180mm ABS case. It offers both local and infrared control.

    Many model railway enthusiasts have permanent setups occupying vast areas of their homes – inside and out! We’ve heard of model railway enthusiasts who have bought a new house simply on the basis that it lends itself to their hobby. Bedrooms? Bathrooms? Kitchen? Who cares, as long as there is room for his "trains"!

    One thing that every enthusiast understands is that the old-fashioned rheostat-type controller is simply not up to the task – to achieve that realism we mentioned earlier, they must have a high-performance train controller, one that can vary the speed, direction and be able to simulate the inertia of a full-size train. And one with switchmode (pulse power) operation for really good low speed control.

    Finally, infrared remote control (so you can direct operations from anywhere on your layout) is practically essential – and not just on larger layouts.

    Railpower Mk IV

    Our latest Railpower train controller (actually the fourth one we’ve published in our 20+ years) is simply outstanding. The completely new design, based on a PIC microcontroller, provides all those wanted features and more.

    Those who have had a chance to try it out reckon it’s right up there with the best commercial controllers costing hundreds of dollars more.

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