[Q] How do Railroad Concepts products compare to other train controllers?
[A] Many years ago Garden Railroad Magazine did a series of articles comparing the StationMaster with other controllers. These articles used currently obsolete and outdated units however it's a snapshot of how we compared back then. This is some interesting reading however not current. Please use the current hookup diagrams and manuals for wiring and information. These articles do not show all the features and capabilities of the modules; but is a ball park comparison of what is available. Our hookup manuals and diagrams are drawn in a way that anyone can wire them. We show where the wires go and not schematic diagrams.
Article 1 - Reversing. Note that all sensors shown are RR Concepts sensors.
Article 2 - Station Stop
Article 3 - Reversing Loops
Article 4 - Alternating Trains
Article 5 - Two trains on one loop
[Q] What scale trains can be controlled?
[A] Anything from Z to G that operates on DC. AC trains can only be
controlled by the YardMaster.
AC trains (Lionel 3 rail) can only be controlled with a YardMaster.
Bottom line: The YardMaster works on AC or DC, while the StationMaster
only works on DC.
[Q] How big is it?
[A] All modules are the same size, about 3 1/2 inches X 2 1/2 inches X 1/2 inch.
[Q] How is this different from DCC or "Command Control"?
[A] The StationMaster can operate standard out-of-the-box DC trains versus DCC which requires special decoder electronics to be installed in
every engine. DCC trains can also be controlled when set to "linear" mode. Many DCC controllers will automatically switch into linear mode when the DCC signal is not present. This will work perfectly.
[Q] Can I stop at more than one station with a single StationMaster or YardMaster?
[A] Yes, a realistic smooth station stops will occur at every
location where a sensor is placed on the track. In addition, multiple laps
can be programmed so that it can run a few times around before stopping, or stop at "every other station" as the train makes its way around the loop when programmed for "lap counting".
[Q] Can I see them running? How do I get one?
[A] There are StationMaster and YardMaster systems currently running in many public sites and many garden railroads throughout the world, including the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, many commercial stores, dentist offices, and a few hospitals. Some photos of an older generation YardMaster installation in a museum (with the cases removed) are here and here.
StationMasters are also running in the AMERICAN AIRLINES CR SMITH MUSEUM, the Children's Museum of Sonoma County, Roaring Camp & Big Trees RR gift shop, the High Desert Museum in central Oregon,
the Children's Hospital of St. Louis, Mo., Video from Escape Craft Brewery, Redlands.
We currently sell direct to give you the lowest possible cost. Ordering
information is available on the order page.
[Q] What are the power requirements?
[A] The StationMaster-5 requires a DC power input from between 8 and 18 volts. The StationMaster-6 can accommodate up to 24 volts. Typically a standard model train transformer is used with the throttle set for the desired speed of the train. An alternate power source is to use a fixed DC power supply (A 12 volt power source usually puts out 13.8 which is a good top speed for most trains). Since the StationMaster can set the top speed of the train, then using these transformers will produce a more predictable acceleration/deceleration result every time since the voltage will remain the same day after day. The RR Concepts test track uses a 12 AMP Pyramid PS-14KX power supply, and Meanwell also makes great power supplies which are very inexpensive. Any fixed DC power source will work. This one works great for one or two trains.
[A] The YardMaster can work with many different voltage sources, AC or DC. Typically the "Accessories" output of a transformer can be used for power or any wall-wart with 12 volts could be used.
If controlling turnouts (track switches) then an AC or DC power source of between 12 and 20 volts is required. The same track power used for a StationMaster will work perfectly too.
[Q] How do I get more information?
[A] Send E-mail and ask anything!
[Q] Can it operate outdoors?
[A] Yes, if protected from the elements. Do not bury it in the
ground, as these places usually fill with water. Rubbermaid or similar storage containers work very well to keep things dry when it's wet outside. All units are equipped with quick-connect terminals so it's very easy to un-plug everything and take them inside too, leaving all the wires in place.
[Q] If I have questions, what kind of technical help is available?
[A] The fastest is to use email. Sometimes a phone call will work too.