G Scale Model Train Forum banner
1 - 20 of 53 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,369 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently ordered some cables and stuff from HobbyKing and noticed they sell an EZC-RC WiFi receiver. This replaces your regular r/c receiver in a loco and operates from your iPhone or Android phone.



As you can tell by the size of the pins, it's about as big as a regular recvr. Only 4 channels, and no sign of the supplier's website, so it isn't clear what future this device has, but they are readily available from several sources. Range is supposed to be about 100m for a plane, 50m (150') for a car.

The app for your phone is on iTunes but not on Google Play. However, you can download the Android app package using this link (do it on your phone)
http://www.himodel.com/en/info/soft/icPlane.apk.
My Samsung 5 did the download and then asked me if I wanted to install it. It then said my phone was set to not allow installs of apps that didn't come from Google Play, but I was allowed to override that for one instance. It installed fine. Instruction sheet is at
http://www.himodel.com/en/rc_manuals_url.php?id=408
[Why this stuff is on someone else's site is worrisome. . . ] There is also a car app with a typical pistol-grip picture but i didn't think that would help.

Anyway, I plugged in a battery pack and a servo, and my phone found the WiFi network (ezc rc rcvr.) On the back of the rcvr is an 8 digit code key that you enter to connect, and it did. I then fired up the app:




This is how it looks - I was perplexed for a moment or two, then I realized the two circles with white dots are "sticks". You slide them like ordinary TX sticks. (It can be flipped into mode2 if you want, and the servo movement can be reversed.) The right hand 'throttle' stays where you put it, but the other 3 channels (L/R on the rh stick, and all directions on the lh stick) are sprung back to the center. It seemed to work fine and was operational within 10 minutes.


While it is a bit pricier than other receivers, (about $30) you don't need a transmitter. I'm not sure if it will work for a steam engine if I can't put it in forward or reverse and have it stay there - but my Spektrum stick TX had that for the first couple of years, until i took it apart and removed the springs. (No chance of doing that on my phone!) I wonder what the battery life will be if I have to keep my finger on the 'stick'.


My next loco only needs the throttle control, so i will probably try it. Maybe the next generation will be a bit more configurable, and from a reliable source so we can ask for a train version of the app !
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
451 Posts

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,424 Posts
Tony meant how well can you see the phone screen in bright sunlight.

Not well, I can tell you, but being white dots, it's probably not too bad. The lack of tactile feedback would be my concern.

Greg
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,369 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Not well, I can tell you, but being white dots, it's probably not too bad. The lack of tactile feedback would be my concern.
I use my phone a lot out in the sun, and while you need to turn away from direct sunlight and find shade, it is easily readable, so I don't expect any problems with this app.

And it does have tactile feedback - sorry, should have mentioned it. The phone vibrates as you move the 'sticks'. So if you aren't looking yu can tell that it moved!
 

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,424 Posts
I have a new DCC system, but it's color, and I miss the high contrast of my black and white LCD.

I also like dedicated buttons I can use without looking at the controller. I have more fun looking at the trains as opposed to an LCD screen.

All of that notwithstanding, it's an inexpensive alternative and the right choice for many people.

Greg
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,369 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Following the comments, and out of curiosity, I loaded the "car" app to see what it did.
Ans: nothing much. Both steering and throttle are self-centered, so the plane app works better for a live steamer.

While checking that, I tried holding my thumb on the direction 'stick' and it seemd like it would stay in position as long as my thumb stayed. The vibes as I moved the stick stop when it becomes quiescent.
 

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,424 Posts
I think this is because it is basically a point to point wifi, not a wifi network. There's no place on my property that does not have good wifi reception, BUT that would mean that the system would be working as a normal wifi network.

I suspect this system is using "wifi direct"... an answer to the following question will help: once you are "connected" to one locomotive, can you also simultaneously be connected to several other locomotives? I suspect not.

Not a put down on the system, but show the difference between a point to point link, and a network that wifi, zigbee, etc. would use.

Surprising that this is not as good as "a good old 2.4 GHz" RC, since you have the OPPORTUNITY to have the same results, same frequency, and wifi is a more robust protocol.

Again, I'm not putting this down, just making the point that point to point is often best for a controlled distance between the loco and the throttle.

Greg
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,369 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think this is because it is basically a point to point wifi, not a wifi network. There's no place on my property that does not have good wifi reception, BUT that would mean that the system would be working as a normal wifi network.
Hmmm . . . but the WiFi source is moving, which will affect the signal seen by the phone. I agree it shouldn't be any worse than an ordinary 2.4Ghz radio. I'm not sure it matters though; at worst, the loco will just stop. I have a DSM2 TX from Deltang with very short range, and it hasn't caused a problem yet (except for tiring the operator who has to move closer to the train to get it moving again!)

Henner - thanks for the comments - wish I could read the thread. EZC Technology (German distributor) is the only web presence for EZC whose .CN website is defunct.
I'm not surprised the WiFi recvr uses more current than a regular one.
 

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,424 Posts
All WiFi is designed to accommodate moving objects, just like your RC. You'd have to be moving pretty **** fast to affect it (think near speed of light).

Moving causes a much bigger problem, changes in signal strength, multipath, nulls, etc.

But no different than 2.4GHz RC radio, same frequency, in fact WiFi is a much more robust communication system.

I'd like to read the review too, I'd like to confirm the communication method.

Regards, Greg
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,537 Posts
SNIP I have a DSM2 TX from Deltang with very short range, and it hasn't caused a problem yet (except for tiring the operator who has to move closer to the train to get it moving again!)

SNIP

Hi Pete.
Deltang have a new RX with a shielded cable long enough for the end receiving part to be exposed to the atmosphere.
You might also try the TX with your hand not wrapping around the case if at all possible. I use the same TX2 module and achieve excellent range. I put that down to the TX2 module antenna being away from the human hand in a larger case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
In Germany they did extensive tests with WiFi and also this receiver. Transmission was not very reliable with lots of dead spots. A ZigBee network or just our plain old 2.4GHz RC behaved much better.
http://www.buntbahn.de/modellbau/viewtopic.php?t=11686
Also it looks as if this receiver has a high current consumption.
Regards
Hi Henner,

this is only less than 10% of the truth ..!

You need to deploy the proper WiFi technology - not the cheap crap 4,95$ technology, then results are more than excellent. As within every technolgy area - also between WiFi and WiFi there are big differences based on engineering and efforts spent.
My WiFi loco control experiences are excellent. Have a look at this :

Locomotive is WiFi controlled - in addition WiFi radio transmission is used for this Model-Railway streamed "cap ride":


WiFi is (also) excellent for Modelrailway control - proven by the existing WiFi technology in daily life and business (industry automation control)!
WiFi is the ever most deployed radio technology worldwide and some guys still state it is not usable? Ridiculous!

Just an other evidence:

WiFi is used for Smartphone Servo control:


Have you seen how smoothly it works?

255 Servo positions between left and right limit can be controlled - definitely enough for locomotive steam control as well! 7 Servos can be controlled by one Microcontroller - also in parallel.
(Sorry for correction - just have reviewed the code ... -some thousand positions ....)


By the way - this technology is as cheap as excellent - as it is sold in lots of millions. The Raspberry takes ~35$ and the PLC (MC) Servo control behind is 5 (five!) $. In total you spend less than 50 $ for 7 servos! Smartphone noct included - of cause!

ZigBee is much theory - only very few networks for very special purpose are in use - mostly for telemetry (low data transmission) - too complicated for commodity use and not mainstream compatible at all, which is IP-technology, driven by the Internet.

I know- in theory the ZigBee community states they are compatible ... but you will need a gateway for protocol translation as the ZigBee protocols are not defined in the Internet Protocol Stack ...!;) And the Internet protocol rules, sombody who will oppose?

By the way, have you ever seen ZigBee Smartphones? What do you think why Smartphones are not ZigBee enabled - ever thought on?

Regards

Karl
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
I think this is because it is basically a point to point wifi, not a wifi network. There's no place on my property that does not have good wifi reception, BUT that would mean that the system would be working as a normal wifi network.

I suspect this system is using "wifi direct"... an answer to the following question will help: once you are "connected" to one locomotive, can you also simultaneously be connected to several other locomotives? I suspect not.

Not a put down on the system, but show the difference between a point to point link, and a network that wifi, zigbee, etc. would use.

Surprising that this is not as good as "a good old 2.4 GHz" RC, since you have the OPPORTUNITY to have the same results, same frequency, and wifi is a more robust protocol.

Again, I'm not putting this down, just making the point that point to point is often best for a controlled distance between the loco and the throttle.

Greg
Greg,

I apologize - but this all is not fully correct - only small aspects were stated:

1st: You can control in WiFi AdHoc mode https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_ad_hoc_network , will mean that you have a point to point connection (link) between ONE Smartphone and ONE Loco which spans the WiFi network.

2nd: You can use the Wifi Infrastrcuture mode https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_LAN#Infrastructure - with a Router in the middle of your model railway area which spans the WiFi network for all 254 IP-nodes , then ~200 locos, ~50 Smartphones and more than some thousands switches (signals, sections - if Analog Mode, ...) can be controlled.

3rd: In Infrastrutcuture mode any Smartphone can do control any Loco (in the WiFi network) - but whenever one Smartphone is linked to one Loco, no other Smartphone can detach the link and capture this loco ...! This by the definition of the TCP-protocol (which is a connection oriented protocol https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connection-oriented_communication) deployed for loco control. A loco can only be linked if no prior link is established (loco is not linked to another user).

Different for switch control, as any Smartphone should be able to control any switch in parallel, the UDP protocol is used (connectionless protocol https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectionless_communication ).

Sorry for correction.

Regards

Karl
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
970 Posts
Karl,
your reply sounds impressive, but down-to-earth tests showed reliability problems with locos running away. This discussion has been going on for a long time now in Europe. The argument is always the same: WiFi is a proven reliable technology which should work flawlessly but does not in an outdoor setting. I will try to get some of the independent testers/users to post their experience here. You did not respond to one of the more critical disadvantages of the system: The current consumption of (measured) close to 300mA for the receiver, severely limiting operating time of the loco.
Regards
 

·
Super Modulator
Joined
·
21,424 Posts
Greg,

I apologize - but this all is not fully correct - only small aspects were stated:

1st: You can control in WiFi AdHoc mode https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_ad_hoc_network , will mean that you have a point to point connection (link) between ONE Smartphone and ONE Loco which spans the WiFi network.

2nd: You can use the Wifi Infrastrcuture mode https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_LAN#Infrastructure - with a Router in the middle of your model railway area which spans the WiFi network for all 254 IP-nodes , then ~200 locos, ~50 Smartphones and more than some thousands switches (signals, sections - if Analog Mode, ...) can be controlled.

3rd: In Infrastrutcuture mode any Smartphone can do control any Loco (in the WiFi network) - but whenever one Smartphone is linked to one Loco, no other Smartphone can detach the link and capture this loco ...! This by the definition of the TCP-protocol (which is a connection oriented protocol https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connection-oriented_communication) deployed for loco control. A loco can only be linked if no prior link is established (loco is not linked to another user).

Different for switch control, as any Smartphone should be able to control any switch in parallel, the UDP protocol is used (connectionless protocol https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectionless_communication ).

Sorry for correction.

Regards

Karl
No problem Karl, always happy to learn, but in your point 1. I'm a little confused... I understand the idea of an ad-hoc network where you can really have a mesh of participating nodes, but the off the shelf access points and routers available to consumers do not support that mesh (i.e. forwarding and dynamic configuration) now... so you can connect a client to something in ad-hoc mode, but I don't believe any of the access points or routers people have would forward and route packets.

2 and 3 of course, that is "normal" but again I was making the point about point to point communications, which is what I SUSPECT was described, and I'm waiting for the answer to my question in my original post.

Greg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
No problem Karl, always happy to learn, but in your point 1. I'm a little confused... I understand the idea of an ad-hoc network where you can really have a mesh of participating nodes, but the off the shelf access points and routers available to consumers do not support that mesh (i.e. forwarding and dynamic configuration) now... so you can connect a client to something in ad-hoc mode, but I don't believe any of the access points or routers people have would forward and route packets.

2 and 3 of course, that is "normal" but again I was making the point about point to point communications, which is what I SUSPECT was described, and I'm waiting for the answer to my question in my original post.

Greg
Hello Greg,

you're absolutely right AdHoc is sometimes used ambiguously - so I did - Adhoc definitely can more than a Point-to-Point connection, let's better name Point-to- Point connections correctly WiFi Direct https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Direct

From a technical (User) point it is the same for me - as no extra Router (being the master of the network) is in use.

Regards

Karl
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
Karl,
your reply sounds impressive, but down-to-earth tests showed reliability problems with locos running away. This discussion has been going on for a long time now in Europe. The argument is always the same: WiFi is a proven reliable technology which should work flawlessly but does not in an outdoor setting. I will try to get some of the independent testers/users to post their experience here. You did not respond to one of the more critical disadvantages of the system: The current consumption of (measured) close to 300mA for the receiver, severely limiting operating time of the loco.
Regards
Henner - the problem is most a NIH problem (Not Invented Here ...).
All critisism is echoed by people who
either have


  1. already invested x1.000 Euros / Dollars in legacy DCC technology and are scarred that they could have been mistaken in the past or
  2. have already invested in R/C technology (which is proprietary) - but much easier to understand or
  3. are not PC affine - as they have lost connection to this technology in younger years
Definitely the WiFi learning curve is much harder than soldering relais technolgy - it is a bunch of Software & Network technology you need to learn in order to understand and trouble shoot on expert level.


But if you are PC & Internet technology educated - you will sense R/C technology as legacy technology soon - even more as each R/C vendor is selling his own proprietary "standard" stuff and tries to prevent interoperabilty for own business interests.



WiFi is a really worldwide open ISO/OSI standard!



The German "Buntbahn Forum" ist the worst example (see their Preamble: "buntbahn.de Forum für maßstäblichen Selbstbau von 1:1 bis 1:32- )"

Definitely the members are leading in pursueing the "true scale" idea - but as they state themselves they are not interested in any MC technology or modern electronics. They even direct interested people to other (technical) forums and ask them for migration/leaving! Any new technology contributions are moved into the paperbasket ...!



300 mA is definitely a headache - I do agree. But by last years evidence - each new year industry is decreasing the loss power (heat), in some years it will be definitely below 100 mA - tolerable related to unlimited fuctionality. But the biggest advantage - the new products will be interoperable with the old ones - still in 30 years - that is the decision factor!



With regard to WiFi capabilities in outdoor settings - Evidence for proper functionality is given by numerous Youtube films - as my streaming Youtube demonstrates above very well!

Do you really think I am "cheating"? Or I have produced an animated cartoon? In my Cab ride I am WiFi streaming 2+ Mbits per second HD quality from each point of the railway track - without any disturbances - more than 3 minutes - did you realize this fact in my Youtube? Full loco control without any disconnect at any point. I have given evidence! And I can repeat any time!



Best Regards


Karl
 
1 - 20 of 53 Posts
Top