O Scale Dead-Rail

Greetings! This is the O Scale Dead-Rail Site, created for those who are interested in modeling in O scale and utilizing battery power and radio control (BPRC) for locomotives.

If you’re into O-scale model railroading, enjoy modifying or updating locomotives, or are interested in “dead-rail” technologies, you might find some of our posts intriguing. To find relevant blog pages, please use the search function on the right. Additionally, we have several recommended pages listed on the side for your convenience.

Please use the search function to the right to find my relevant blog pages.

In addition to my blog pages, please see the pages listed on the side.

I am selling my ProMiniAir transmitter and ProMiniAir receiver, which are compatible with Dead-Rail products from CVP Airwire(TM), Tam Valley Depot, Stanton Cab (S-Cab), and several others. These items range from $39.99 to $49.99. If interested, please get in touch with me here with a comment, or you can search on eBay using “ProMiniAir” to find my offerings.

Summary of ProMiniAir Transmitters and Receivers for Dead-Rail

The new ProMini Air receiver with a small DRV8871 amplifier
A demonstration of the compatibility of the new, smaller ProMini Air receiver (on the right) with an Airwire(TM) T5000 transmitter (on the left). A LokSound 4 L decoder receives DCC from the ProMini Air.
  • System: ProMini Air (PMA) Transmitters and Receivers
    • Transmit and receive in the 902-928MHz North American ISM band or the 869MHz European ISM band. These are frequently-used bands used for Dead Rail.
    • Nineteen channels are available: Airwire(TM) 0-16, Stanton Cab (S-Cab) on Channel 17, and European operation on Channel 18.
    • If no signal is found on its default channel, the PMA receiver auto-scans all 19 channels
    • Acts as a DCC device with a unique address: change settings using “OPS” (PoM) mode on the throttle
    • We paid the manufacturer for both FCC and EC certification of the RF module (Ebyte E07-900M10S) used for both the PMA transmitter and receiver
    • Has connections for an LCD that provides information about what the PMA is transmitting or receiving
  • Requirements:
    • RECEIVER
      • DCC decoder: Any DCC decoder should work. We test with the following:
        1. TCS (WOW501)
        2. LokSound (4 L, 5 L, 5 XL)
        3. Zimo (MX696 and MX699)
        4. MTH PS-3.0 (in DCC mode)
      • Battery: We test with 14.7V, but 11.1V should work. Maximum: 20V, but lower voltages reduce RF noise.
      • Compatible transmitters:
        1. ProMini Air transmitter connected to the track output of any DCC throttle or to a WiFi-equipped EX-CommandStation we can provide (search “ProMiniAir” on eBay) for a fully stand-alone transmitter.
        2. Tam Valley Depot DRS1 transmitter connected to a DCC throttle
        3. CVP Airwire(TM) handheld throttles: T1200, T2300, T5000, T6000
        4. Stanton Cab (S-Cab) handheld throttle
        5. Gwire handheld throttle
    • TRANSMITTER
      • Any DCC throttle or use our NEW stand-alone ProMini Air transmitter/WiFi-equipped EX-CommandStation – nothing else is needed to transmit! Just put it down in a convenient/central location, plug-in power or use a battery, and use your smartphone throttle app (multiple smartphones are OK) to connect to all of your dead-rail locomotives! Search “ProMiniAir” on eBay. Our thanks to the DCC-EX.com team.
      • Compatible receivers:
        1. ProMini Air receiver
        2. Tam Valley Depot DRS1 receivers
        3. CVP Airwire(TM) receivers: G-3, G-4, CONVRTR 15/25/60
        4. Stanton Cab (S-Cab) receivers
        5. Gwire receivers
        6. NCE D13DRJ wireless decoder
  • Why Choose
    • Compatible with multiple other dead-rail transmitters and receivers:
      1. Tam Valley Depot
      2. CVP Airwire(TM)
      3. Stanton Cab (S-Cab)
      4. Gwire
    • Inexpensive
      • PMA Rx: $39.99: price includes a fully-wired amplifier. Search “ProMiniAir” on eBay.
      • PMA Tx: $39.99: price includes the small board that converts track DCC from a standard DCC throttle to power, and 5V DCC signal for the PMA transmitter, and an LCD that provides helpful information. If you don’t have a DCC throttle, we can provide a small WiFi-equipped EX-CommandStation for a complete stand-alone transmitter solution using up any WiThrottle-compatible smartphone app (up to 5 users) for $10 extra. Search “ProMiniAir” on eBay.
    • Less susceptible to supply chain disruptions by using commodity components
    • Modular:
      • Use best-in-class amplifiers, not some add-on on the receiver board that decreases receiver mounting flexibility. We provide one of the following amplifiers:
        • Cytron MD13S: a powerful amplifier (13A) for G-scale and large O-scale locomotives
        • DRV8871: a small (1.0″ x 0.8″) amplifier (3.6A) for smaller, lower-power locomotives
      • Small receiver size (1.1″ x 0.83″) will fit in some smaller-scale locomotives and locate separately from the amplifier
      • U.FL connector on the receiver offers numerous antenna options (internal antennas don’t cut it in many applications such as metal-shell locomotives):
      • Whip antenna (provided): simple and practical or more “classical” compact RP-SMA antennas U.FL extender: re-locate the whip antenna or to RP-SMA antennas: U.FL patch antennas: mount to non-metallic surfaces(compact enough for internal mounts in non-metallic shells!)
    • Provides centralized or localized handheld dead-rail control: other solutions only offer localized handheld transmitter control: a severe limitation.
    • Uses an FCC/EC-approved transmitter/receiver: The range performance of the ProMini Air significantly exceeds the Tam Valley Depot DRS1 transmitters: open-air performance up to approximately 250 ft with default power settings.
    • North American or European operation
    • DCC-based: preserves your investment in DCC decoders (connects to PMA receiver) and throttles (connects to PMA transmitter). Let’s face it, DCC decoders are standardized and produce beautiful sounds, flexible light effects, superb motor control, etc. Other proprietary locomotive control solutions “vendor-lock” you into a single solution that may leave you stranded if the vendor goes out of business.
  • About that name: We based the “ProMini” part of the name on Sparkfun’s “Pro Mini” MCU we use as part of our modular design philosophy.
  • Documentation: We hope the ProMini Air is simple to use. Should you need it, we provide a detailed user manual.
  • Where to Purchase: Contact me here with a comment or search on eBay with the search string “ProMiniAir” to find my various offerings.

Two critical points:

  1. Most other Dead-Rail solutions provide localized control using handheld throttles or smartphones. This approach does not scale well for larger or complex layouts better managed by centralized control. “Classical” DCC throttles or the very low-cost WiFi-equipped EX-CommandStation we can provide solve these problems well. The ProMini Air transmitter connects to these well-designed throttles to control numerous dead-rail locomotives by simply replacing track DCC with wireless DCC.
  2. Numerous Dead-Rail systems are not interoperable with other vendors’ products. We strive to provide as much interoperability as possible with other vendors in the 869MHz (for Europe) and 915MHz (for North America) ISM bands. It’s an “island of compatibility” in Dead-Rail, and the rest is a “tower of Babel” vendor lock.

As of July 2022, Tam Valley Depot no longer sells its DRS1 series dead-rail products. Our ProMini Air receiver and transmitter are complete and fully-compatible replacements for Tam Valley Depot’s DRS1 transmitters and receivers. Your Tam Valley transmitters and receivers will work with the ProMini Air products. The ProMini Air transmitters and receivers are compatible with CVP Airwire(TM) and Stanton Cab (S-Cab) dead-rail products.

Thanks for dropping by!

56 thoughts on “O Scale Dead-Rail”

  1. Found your site through your facebook page. I’m blown away by your capabilities and communication talent.
    I’m in north Idaho (remote) and your site opens up a world to me. I am starting a new layout and am using Atlas 3-rail track. Am into the bench work stage, have thought about going 2 rail, but not sure how to go about selling/converting my 3-rail stuff. Have used DCS/TMCC and found them problematic to maintain signal integrity.
    I think dead rail is the future and your are there already. Have been watching Blue Rail etc technologies but not confidant enough to jump in. You have inspired me to go forward. Your spirit gives me confidence should I need some guidance.
    I have thought about charging from the third rail in “parking” places on the layout. Ever do this?
    Again, thanks for your donation to the hobby!
    Larryt

    1. Thanks for dropping by and for your comments! I’m happy that you are taking the next steps in dead-rail. Powered trackage just makes my heart quail, and I want to overcome the 2-rail/3-rail “divide” in O scale with dead-rail.

      I have not tried charging at a “parking place.” You would need to be very careful not to short out onboard electronics after working so hard to eliminate locomotive/tender electrical connections to the track.

      Here’s a possible approach. I usually use a single-pole, 3-position switch whose center pole connects to Battery +. Battery – is always ground for me. “Position 1” of the switch connects Battery + to all of the onboard electronics to supply power. Position 2 disconnects Battery + from everything to help keep it from draining away charge while off. Positon 3 connects Battery + to the center pole of a charging plug. The outer side of the charging plug is grounded. Perhaps you could electrically connect this position on the switch to whichever rail is positive power, making sure that the “battery ground” is electrically-connected to whichever track is ground.

      Here’s the catch. The power you supply to the rails for charging should be the same as comes from a specialized LiPo battery charger. The chargers are not expensive, but voltage and amperage levels during charging is specialized. To my way of thinking, you should electrically isolate the parking place track with a LiPo charger connected to it.

      I cannot emphasize enough; please ensure that applying power to the tracks will not inadvertently damage your onboard electronics or cause a short!

      Battery charging is a downside to dead-rail. Folks at the Facebook dead-rail group discuss this topic, among many others. Who knows, maybe you will come up with an elegant solution!

      1. This is fantastic!
        I have been involved with 1:29 scale (G Scale) for the better part of the last 20 years. I have been considering making a transition to 1:48 (2-rail) due to more product availability and prototypical offerings. Don’t get me wrong – I love modeling in 1:29, but it has became a bit labor-intensive to try to model prototypically.

        Anyway – questions:
        I am a huge fan of the Ring Engineering team and their Rail Pro system. Do you or does anyone have any experience or opinions on the optimal set up for modern diesel locomotives using the Rail Pro system combined with (?) battery configuration? Can this be accomplished without using a “non-powered” additional loco or boxcar to house these components? Plus sound?

        Cheers! Jeff
        sjgust89@gmail.com

        1. Jeff, sorry for the delayed reply. Although I have looked over Ring Engineering products, I have no personal experience with them. I’m not sure they support DCC for large-scale locomotives, and in general, I shy away from proprietary, non-DCC-compliant Dead-Rail solutions – but that’s just me. I suggest you join the Dead-Rail Society Facebook group to gain others’ perspective on Dead-Rail solutions.

          Working in O scale, I have always been able to put the Dead-Rail components in the locomotive and tender (I work with Steam). I have found that sound (and smoke!) are best solved using DCC decoders coupled with Dead-Rail.

  2. My name is Jeff Gust. I am a prototype modeler and have been in the hobby for over 40 years. I currently selling off my current inventory to begin collecting and modeling in 1:48 2-rail. Two things: I am planning to build the layout outdoors and I am going all onboard power (Dead Rail). Is there a Dead Rail club I can subscribe to? I would like to be able to share ideas with other like-minded individuals.
    nwshortlines@gmail.com

    1. Hi Jeff,
      I recommend you join the Dead-Rail Group on Facebook (here). This group is active and diverse. Also, there is the O Gauge Battery Trains Facebook group here. They are British/European in emphasis, but there are lots of O Gauge outdoor layouts! Also, this group tends to be quite knowledgeable and technically capable. I hope this gives you a start. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Recently found your website!!!

    I’ve been running deadrail (or BPRC, Battery-Powered, Remote-Control) for 7+ years now. I have approximately 2 dozen 3-rail O-scale engines (MTH, Lionel, Atlas, Williams/Samhongsa brass) converted to Deltang receivers/transmitters and using 9.6v, 12v 2000Mah NiMh or 11.1v 2200Mah LiPo battery Tenergy battery packs. I get over 2.5 hours of run time on a charge.

    All of my engines and rolling stock are 3-rail, but I run on code 148 2-rail track (Atlas, Micro-Engineering, and Signature Switch).

    I can honestly say that in 7 years I have had zero failures of the electronics. Also zero derailments that were not “operator error”.

    After using the MTH DCS system and Lionel TMCC system, then converting to BPRC, I’ll never go back.

    I don’t have sound currently, but I really don’t miss it. The trains make enough sounds (noise) themselves that most onboard sounds are lost or muffled by the sounds of the train running around the layout anyway.

    No wiring on my 13×30 layout, no worrying about reverse loops, short or open circuitry, or dirty track causing loss of signal. Just good clean running of my locomotives.

    Smallest/tightest engines I have are a MTH RailKing Imperial USRA 0-6-0 and a NW2, largest is a Williams/Samhongsa brass 4-8-4 N&W class J #611.

    I get most of my batteries from the Tenergy store on Amazon and RC gear from RCS Australia or Micron Radio Control in the UK. Tony Walsham at RCS Australia makes/made a real nice unit that has an on/off switch, a charging jack, and necessary fuses all on a single circuit board, called a BIK-U3. Simplifies wiring greatly.

    I’ll be stopping by regularly to see what’s going on!

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m with you on never “going back” to track-based power and control. Just for grins, I recently converted an older 2-Rail MTH Z-6 to combined DCC track-power/BPRC. Using track power was nothing but pain, and using BPRC was a joy!

      I’ve had good experiences with Tenergy batteries, using their long, thin configurations where space is challenging, especially with tender-mounted MTH PS-3 boards (in DCC mode) since I need to mount the battery and receiver/amplifier in the crowded tender.

      A big part of this hobby is the variety of what folks enjoy. I like sound and smoke – the sound of an actual Allegheny recording and smoking away produced by my Zimo decoder works for me.

      To get a feel for the diversity of BPRC, I suggest joining either or both Facebook groups https://www.facebook.com/groups/deadrailsociety and https://www.facebook.com/groups/batterytrains. The latter has a distinctly “Commonwealth” feel with lots of outdoor/garden layouts.

      Thanks again.

  4. Hello
    I’d like to convert my O scale MTH and LionChief locomotives to dead rail. I already have dead rail G scale with Airwire control.
    Please let me know how you can help with the conversions.
    Thanks

    1. Hello George,
      Welcome to my site!

      Several of my posts deal with the conversion of MTH steam locomotives. Generally, my strategy for converting MTH is:
      – Install PS-3.0 boards if the locomotive has previous-generation PS boards. My posts provide information on getting PS-3.0 boards from Ray Manley. PS-3.0 boards have DCC capability as set by a DCS/DCC jumper.
      – Disconnect the locomotive/tender leads to the track inputs on the PS-3.0 board. My posts show examples of this.
      – Install the battery, charging plug, power switch, antenna, and dead-rail receiver/amp.
      – Connect the DCC track output of the dead-rail receiver/amp to the PS-3.0’s track inputs.

      If there is interest, I will describe my conversion of a Lionel H-7 to deadrail. My strategy is to remove all Lionel electronics and install a standard DCC decoder in the locomotive and the dead-rail components (battery, charging plug, power switch, antenna, and dead-rail receiver/amp) in the tender. I like Lionel because they are designed to be serviced, so they are easy to take apart for conversion.

      I hope that starts to answer your question…

  5. Hi Darrell, I have had 1/29 deadrail going right back to when Locolinc was the new kid on the block. I traded up to AirWire 10/15 years back. I still use it now.
    What I would like to do is to use the AirWire Tx to run British 1/43 O scale. Is this possible? If so what do I need to get started. Btw, I live in England.
    Thank you.
    Rod

    1. Hi Rod, Thanks for visiting! I absolutely have some solutions for you (see next paragraph). I don’t know how sticky you are about transmission legality, but Airwire is NOT approved for Tx in the GB/EU since Airwire only transmits in the North American 902-928MHz ISM band, and its Anaren transceiver is approved to do so. But I very much doubt the Authorities will knock on your door if you use Airwire Tx!

      Solutions: You can use a fully Airwire-compatible ProMini Air receiver (PMA Rx) with a 3.6A or 13A amplifier: US$40+shipping. The PMA Rx will auto-scan to find valid transmissions, including the GB/EU-approved channel at 869.85MHz. The PMA Rx will absolutely work with Airwire transmitters. My homepage shows how you can use either the provided whip antenna, a “patch antenna” (I can provide one for about US$2.00), or a “pigtail” connector with a small, high-quality antenna. Connect battery power to the PMA Rx’s amplifier (which powers the PMA Rx itself), and connect the amplifier’s DCC output to your onboard DCC decoder, and away you go! The PMA Rx itself is small (1.1″ x 0.75″), and the small DRV8871 amplifier is (1.0″ x 0.8″). The larger Cytron MD13S 13A amplifier is 61mm x 33mm and requires no heatsink. This separation of the receiver from the amplifier gives you mounting flexibility, best-in-class amplifiers, and replacement modularity since these amplifiers are widely-available.

      Also, I have a completely stand-alone ProMini Air transmitter integrated with a WiFi-equipped EX-CommandStation ($50US+shipping). You can then use your WiThrottle-compatible smartphone app that connects to the PMA Tx’s WiFi and re-transmit to dead-rail receivers from me (ProMini Air receiver), Airwire, or Tam Valley Depot. The ProMini Air transmitter is FCC/EC approved. The PMA Tx is simply plopped down; power is applied from either wall or battery, and you connect to its WiFi with your smartphone throttle app. For my GB/EU customers, I set the default transmit frequency to the GB/EU-approved “Channel 18” (869.85MHz).

      Again, thanks for reaching out, and I look forward to hearing from you.

  6. Sounds just what I’m looking for Darrell, although I shall have to re read the technical side with one of my electronic savvy friends. 😊
    I am aware of the issues regarding AirWire over here. I live quite rural so I’m fairly isolated from what could be problematic.
    I’ll be in touch soon. BTW, how do you accept payment? I don’t do PayPal.
    Regards
    Rod.

    1. I’m here to answer any questions you have.

      I think the RF issues are pretty small, given the modest power (10mW max) for the transceivers we use.

      We can work out some payment method, such as Zelle or ACH (Automated Clearing House. Google ACH if you are not familiar with it – I was not, but it looks pretty simple)…

      I hope to hear from you soon!

  7. Hi Darrell,
    I have been using Railpro for BPRC. With your system would I need 1 transmitter (use with my MRC 10A command station)?. I have a couple locos with MTh PS3 boards and Lionel switchers with small motors (ran with ho sound decoders) . which of your receivers would you recommend, and the rating of the decoder should match the receiver? My goal is to run with smart phones and later hopefully upgrade to protothrottle.
    Thank you,
    Fred

    1. Hi Fred,
      Thanks for visiting and for your interest. Yes, the ProMini Air (PMA) transmitter would connect to your MRC10A (via a DCC converter that I provide as part of the cost). The transmitter will then transmit to all PMA receivers (or receivers from Airwire, Tam Valley Depot, or Stanton Cab). However, if you get the PMA transmitter integrated with a WiFi-equipped EX-CommandStation, you have a low-cost ($50 total) way to control multiple locomotives with a smartphone throttle app WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL DEVICES. Otherwise, you will need to equip your MRC10A with a WiFi add-on, such as the Prodigy WiFi module that will set you back about $139!

      If your long-range goal is Protothrottle, consider Martin Sant’s Xbee receivers at http://blueridgeengineering.net/protothrottle/. They are NOT compatible with PMA receivers.

      Again, thanks for your interest.

      1. Hi Darrell
        Thank you for the information and the links. I am sticking with your system using smart phones. How do I order and pay? I would like to purchase the DCC-ex TX and 1-13 amp rx and one small rx.
        Thank you, Fred

        1. Hi Fred,
          Please contact me at darrelllamm0@gmail.com, where you can provide me with a mailing address, and I’ll give you the “how to pay details.” The total would be PMA Tx/WiFI+EX-CommandState ($50) and two PMA Rx ($40/ea) for a total of $130. Appreciate your interest.

  8. Hi Darrell:
    I reached out via the OGR forum just now. My system runs trains off of 18.5VAC overhead catenary, and the outside rails are the return, just like the real thing. Motors run very nicely (pan/wire interaction is solid), but DCS seems to get overwhelmed with more than three motors at once. More importantly, I have 2 Atlas O AEM7s that need some kind of command system that fits. Bluerail is a good solution that Ron045 on the OGR Forum used, but those board don’t appear to be available. Plus, to get rolling with basic lighting effects is over $300, which is not an investment I am willing to make.
    I read over your method briefly (more tonight), and while the cost seems much less, it seems a bit more complicated to get all the parts and get them talking. I wanted to email you about my system and how yours system might work in these motors. Thank you!
    –Nate

    1. Hi Nate,
      The ProMiniAir receiver requires a DCC decoder that controls your motor, lighting, and sound (if you want it). DCC decoders do not need to be expensive. Radio control, however, usually uses battery power to prevent power interruptions, although a healthy rectifier w/ capacitors would probably work. Powering the radio-control receiver is an issue you need to address regardless of your chosen solution.

      So let’s total up the cost without battery or power converter since you would need to solve this problem for ANY radio-controlled solution.

      Possible solution #1:
      1. Transmitter: If you use my stand-alone ProMini-Air transmitter, that allows you to use a smartphone app such as WiThrottle. The cost is $49.99.
      2. Receiver: The integrated ProMiniAir transmitter/amp will deliver up to 13A to a decoder – more than you need. Please check that the amplifier will fit your application. It’s separate from the receiver, giving you some mounting flexibility. The cost is $39.99
      3. DCC decoder: Which brand is religion. A SOUNDTRAXX #886005 TSU-4000 4 AMP TSUNAMI2 DECODER – ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVES will set you back $164. A Massoth 8153101 eMOTION XXL II Locomotive Decoder will cost $100.
      So, you are talking about $189.98 to $253.98, with a recurring cost for an additional locomotive of $139.99 to $203.99.

      Possible solution #2:
      1. Receiver: You can use an Airwire G-4 to control your motor and lights without any additional components. The cost is $160.
      2. Transmitter: You can pay $170 or so for an Airwire T6000 or $49.99 for my stand-alone ProMiniAir transmitter (using a smartphone app). The ProMiniAir transmitter is compatible with Airwire receiver products.
      With this combination, you are talking about $219.99 to $330. But your recurring cost for an additional locomotive is only $160 for the G-4.

      I hope this helps you start your trade-offs. Of course, you may find another way of looking at things!

  9. Hi Darrell:

    Thank you for getting back to me. Here is the desired control method, and why Bluerail seems the best alternative right now. I do not wish to convert to 100% deadrail. There is ~18VAC at the trolley wire, and the return on the outer rails, as with real catenary systems. That is what I want to use to power the electronics, not an onboard power source. The problem I have is that the control signal goes over the wire as well (MTH DCS), which I’d love to get away from. Plus, there are the two Atlas AEM7s that cannot use MTH PS3. Bluerail gets around all these issues, as the control is over the air, and the catenary only powers the onboard systems. Ron performed a Bluerail install on his Atlas AEM7, and it worked very nicely. The end issue there is Bluerail availability.

    Now your system is attractive because you use ~900mhz radio, which I would prefer over Bluetooth or WLAN. The question then becomes, can you power the radio equipment by AC? Not directly of course; you’d need a bridge and regulator somewhere, and then things get tricky, (primarily with the limited space in any AEM7 models).

    If you have an idea that might work using catenary voltage with your system, I’d love to hear it. I do not mean to take up your time, as I am not looking to be fully deadrail, but I do appreciate your responses and innovation.

    1. Nate,

      Thanks for your continued interest and response. Don’t worry about “taking up time.” I’m semi-retired, and I’m here to help.

      I make a special-purpose AC-to-DC converter that can power the ProMiniAir receiver/amp using AC power input. I use a large “keep-alive” capacitor originally used for a decoder so that this converter will power the ProMiniAir receiver/amp during power gaps. I charge $5 for this.

      You then hook the input of this converter to your AC power and the DC output to the power plug on the ProMini Air receiver. This adds to the total footprint, but you can locate it separately.

      The ProMiniAir receiver is tiny: 1.1″x0.76″. The AC-to-DC converter is also small: 1.2″x0.94″. The powerful (13A) Cytron amp is 2.4″ x 1.3″. You can separately locate these components, giving you much installation freedom. Also, if the 82mm whip antenna is inconvenient for your installation, I provide a small adhesive patch antenna for $1.00. You can get an idea of the options from my homepage.

      I am selling the ProMiniAir receiver with a more miniature amplifier, the DRV8871, which is 1.0″x0.8″ that produces 3.6A, but I’m unsure if it will power your loco.

      I hope to hear from you soon.

  10. One of the big problems with other Dead Rail systems is they are starting down the rabbit hole of a proprietary system. I really like your solution. Much like I liked the Tam Valley solution until they gave up on Dead Rail.

    Could you contact me with purchasing information?

    Thanks,
    George

    1. Hi George, welcome to the site!

      Compatibility and affordability drove my ProMiniAir design and offerings. I dislike proprietary designs, so we provide the software and easyEda hardware designs on GitHub.

      You have two routes for purchasing:
      1. Contact me by email: darrelllamm0@gmail.com. We can then determine what you want and arrange payment via PayPal or Zelle with my email as the account #.
      2. Go to eBay and search for “ProMiniAir” to see my several listings for the ProMiniAir receivers and transmitters. The descriptions there may be helpful, too.

      Again, thanks for your interest in our site and products.

  11. Hello. Can you sell me 5 DRV8871 recievers. (Smaller, lower amperage). Also, do you know where one can buy tiny magnetic Reed switches? R. Johnny Guild in Idaho. Thanks. 208 880-2302

  12. Wes Cooper was kind enough to send me your way via a facebook post I made. I would like to purchase 2 receivers. one with small amplifier and 1 with large amplifer. I will try them out and figure out my future needs from there. I think it’s great that you make a product to fill in with my tam valley / airwire needs. Send me via email how to order and pay please.
    thanks
    Mike

  13. Just getting into DCC over RF with my outdoor ‘G’ scale track. Using the Airwire system and was looking for ways to use the WiThrottle (previously used on my wired DCC track). Found your website and have ordered the ProMini Air transmitter/WiFi-equipped EX-CommandStation. Already loving my battery-operated DCC trains (4 of them so far) and will be looking seriously at your DCC receiver (in place of the airware CONVERTER series) . Keep up the great work !!!

    1. Hi Chuck,
      Thanks for dropping by! As you probably know, I’m also active on the Facebook Dead Rail Group that you are a member of. I extensively test my ProMiniAir(TM) Transmitters with Airwire900(TM) CONVRTR and G-4. The ProMiniAir Receiver is highly customizable in selection of an amplifier, but in general, the Cytron MD13S I offer as a default is a powerful monster, providing 13A continuously (and 30A briefly) without cooling. It’s a great choice for G scale. The ProMiniAir Receiver’s tethered design gives you a lot of mounting freedom and it costs about 1/3 as much as an Airwire CONVRTR60. Please stay in touch. I’d love to answer any questions or bounce around ideas.

  14. Thanks much. The Airwire CONVRTR60 is indeed pricey – I have 4 of them at this point. Will be checking out the PMA Receiver for my next locomotive. I had an extensive N scale DCC layout in the house with a bunch of python code to run the layout (could run 7 trains ‘automated’). Decided to go outdoors and get into ‘G’ scale about 5 years ago – had a bunch of digitrax DCC stuff (command station + repeaters0 and it was a pain in the neck keeping those outdoor rails clean. I feel like I just discovered fire with the DCC over RF setup – wish I had known the dead rail benefits about 5 years ago when I had invested in all that Digitrax stuff. I also have 2 live-steam locomotives (roundhouse) and now can run them on the same track since the track is now dead rail. I am also looking into a few electronic couplers (hood and loop style) – any suggestions would be most helpful.

    1. Hi Chuck,
      Glad you discovered “fire” (Dead Rail)!

      You can hook up a “standard” ProMiniAir Transmitter (ProMiniAir Tx/CNV) to your Digitrax’s Track output for Dead Rail transmission. This saves your expensive investment in a DCC command station.

      1. Follow-up:

        The live steam sounds like a ton of fun!

        I think there are DCC-based couplers available for G scale. For the servo coupler, see https://www.kadee.com/11220-kadee-rc-g-scale-remote-coupler-actuated-body-mount-coupler-with-gearbox and Kadee’s servo controller solution https://www.kadee.com/shop-by-category/couplers/remote-couplers/11130-kadee-rc-servo-controller-dcc-airwire-etc for a start. The Kadee servo solution is massive overkill. If you look at https://oscaledeadrail.com/an-inexpensive-servo-controller-with-dead-rail-control/, you will find a very inexpensive Dead Rail servo controller. You can tap off the Dead Rail’s DCC amp output (from either the CONVRTR or the ProMiniAir Receiver) with the servo controller I describe. I will post a very simple solution using a $5.00 component I developed for the standard ProMiniAir transmitter to extract 5V DC power and a 5V DCC signal from any high power DCC output such as from a Dead Rail Receiver. I will point out that some decoders also provide servo outputs that can activate the Kadee coupler!

  15. I am now using the PMA Tx w/ the DCC+EX command station and it is working great. I have two simple technical question, when I use the WiThrottle attached to the DCCEX wifi – is it possible to reprogram the F1-F28 labels on the WiThrottle like I can when I am attached through a JMRI server ? I also use a CVP AirWire Transmitter (Model 6000) and it doesn’t function when the PMA Tx is turned on. I assume this is probably because of transmitted power differences between the two units – is there any way to overcome this issue. The transmitters (CVP and the PMA Tx) are relatively close to each other at this point in time.

    1. Hi Chuck,
      Thanks for your purchase and questions.

      I looked around a bit, but I could not see a way to change the labeling from the app itself. I don’t know if it would help, but you can attach a computer running JMRI to the standalone ProMiniAir Transmitter via the USB port, but that might not be part of your concept of operation.

      Regarding the “competition” between the PMA Tx and the T6000: you should not try to transmit on the SAME CHANNEL. The transmissions will interfere with each other. The channel # is displayed on both the PMA Tx and the T6000. It’s easy to select another channel for your T6000. It’s also doable on the PMA Tx (see the link in the upper right corner of the home page). You CAN use both Transmitters simultaneously using the auto-scan feature of the ProMiniAir Receivers:
      – Turn OFF all Transmitters and Receivers
      – Turn ON the PMA Tx
      – Then turn ON PMA Receivers (or Airwire Receivers) you want to lock onto the transmitting PMA Tx and verify communication for instance by activating the horn, bell, etc.
      – Turn OFF the PMA Tx. The PMA Receivers will still be locked onto the same channel, patiently waiting. Once locked on, the PMA Receives will not scan with signal loss. The Airwire Receivers do not auto-scan, they will listen on their default channel unless they don’t get a signal within a minute, in which case the Airwire Receiver will switch to Channel 0. Once Airwire Receivers lock on. They will also wait for the signal to return on the same channel.
      – Turn ON the T6000 ON A DIFFERENT CHANNEL
      – Now turn on all additional PMA Receivers. They will auto-scan on startup and lock onto the T6000’s channel.
      – Now turn the PMA Tx back on. The original PMA Receivers will now pick up transmissions on the PMA Tx’s channel.

      I hope this helps. If not, ask more questions. I’m here to help.

  16. I have been looking closely at the DCC-EX command station software and I know the current PMA WiFi configuration is an Access Point, I am considering the benefit of changing this configuration to being a part of my existing wireless network. It looks like I would need to build (via the Arduino IDE) a new instance of DCC-EX command station on the processor. I am certain there is a downside to this endevour but I wanted to get your thoughts on the matter. In addition, do you have a step-by-step instructions on loading the PMA ESPWROOM-32 processor with a new software build (sketch)? I used to do quite a bit of Arduino programming (built a mechanically driven filter wheel for astrophotography) so I am familiar with the Aduino IDE environment.

    1. Hi Chuck,

      I have a repo of the modified EX-CommandStation software here. You can modify the config.h file to suit your interests, and you can create a myAutomation.h based on the myAutomation.example.h file to include rosters.

      If you are familiar with the Arduino IDE, then you can do the following for recompiling and reloading the EX-CommandStation firmware (this is an overly-brief explanation that will make sense to those familiar with the Arduino IDE):
      1. Add the ESP32 board manager from Expressif
      2. Select the EPS32 Boards
      3. Select the “Node32s” board
      4. Connect the PC to the USB plug on the standalone PMA Transmitter
      5. Select the correct USB port. You may need to install the correct serial port driver for the ESP32 board.
      5. Select the CommandStation-EX.ino file. The rest of the modified repo will also be loaded.
      6. Compile and load by selecting the “->” button.

      There is a lot of churning during the compile, but it definitely works (tried on both Mac and PC)! Kudos to the DCC-EX.com team. By the way, I donate 10% of the sale of every Standalone PMA Transmitter to the DCC-EX.com team.

      This capability goes to heart of the ProMiniAir design, which is
      1. Open source and hardware design transparency: In addition to the open-source repository above, I make the the software and hardware design available here.
      2. Modularity: replace one part, not the entire assembly.
      3. Commodity or near-commodity components to reduce cost and supply-chain risk.

      I hope this explanation works for you! If not keep asking questions.

      1. Darrell,

        Thanks for the link to your version of the Ex-CommandStation software – very helpful. I like your technical approach to this particular market – using open-source software and commodity hardware. I will probably have a few technical questions when I jump back into the arduino IDE stuff – glad to see that there is so much flexibility. I just added another locomotive (25 ton diesel w/ a Tsunami 4400 decoder and your PMA air receiver) – works like a champ. I really like how I can use my CVP 6000 hand controller or JMRI on a laptop and then use WiThrottle on my ipad or iphone – it is a great system and operates quite well. Sometimes there are ‘join’ issues with the WiFi but that requires just a bit of patience.

        1. Chuck,

          I’m gratified that the ProMiniAir “system” is working out for you. I, too, have to “fiddle” sometimes to get the WiFi connection to behave. Sometimes, I remove power and then plug back in to reset.
          Please don’t hesitate to contact me with further questions/comments/ etc. I’m here to respond and help!

  17. Hi Darrell,

    I want to install dead rail into 2 Atlas O scale MP15DC locomotives which will be coupled together.

    I want one to be powered with a Loksound 5L decoder and large Tang Band speaker.

    Second loco will have the same decoder and speaker but will be a dummy full of batteries.

    Can you please advise on equipment that I will need?

    Regards Daryl Blake

    1. Hi Daryl,
      Thanks for dropping by.

      First, check out my web page to see how I mounted the ProMiniAir Receiver inside the locomotive’s shell. The tethered design will help you locate the receiver and amplifier in separate places that have space. For O Scale, I recommend the large Cytron amplifier that will give you plenty of power. See this eBay listing. The cost is low: $39.99+S&H.

      If you don’t already have a transmitter, I humbly suggest you get a good Android or iOS throttle app and purchase my “stand-alone” ProMiniAir Transmitter at this eBay listing. The cost is also low $49.99+S&H. See this page for information on this transmitter.

      Let’s talk about conversion strategy. If I understand your use of a second “dummy” locomotive, there is no need for a second decoder. Just route battery power from the dummy to the “live” locomotive, connect this power to the ProMiniAir’s Amplifier and route the decoder’s speaker output from the decoder in the live back to the dummy’s speaker. I also suggest you look at this page for a strategy that puts the ProMiniAir Receiver/Amp in the dummy car along with the battery and routes the Amplifier’s DCC output from the dummy to the live’s decoder. This strategy allows you to use any trailing dummy as your power and receiver to receive wireless DCC commands and convert them to high-power DCC sent to the live’s DCC decoder via a two-wire connection. Any decoder output, such as speaker output and light control, can be routed from the live back to the dummy in a small, low-power connector.

      Of course, I might not quite understand your situation and desires, so please keep the lines of communication open…

      1. Hi Darrell

        Thanks for the reply.

        I presently have a NCE Procab with 1 T bar throttle and 1 Protothrottle which I connect using an ISE bridge.

        I would like to continue using this system so I guess I’m needing a suitable transmitter.

        Regards Daryl Blake

  18. Hi Darrell

    Thanks for the reply.

    I have an NCE Procab along with 1 T bar throttle and a Protothrottle which I connect to using an ISE bridge.

    I’d like to continue to use the NCE Procab and the Protothrottle with dead rail if possible.

    Regards Daryl

    1. Hi Daryl,
      I offer exactly what you need: a version of the ProMiniAir Transmitter that connects to the DCC Track R/L output of your Procab for wireless transmission of the DCC to a ProMiniAir Receiver (or other compatible receiver such as Airwire, Tam Valley Depot DRS1, S-Cab, and Gwire). See this eBay listing. Nothing else is needed to transmit. Also, if you ever want to use your Protothrottle without interfacing with the Procab, see my posting here for details on how to do this.

      I hope my answer helps.
      Best, Darrell

  19. Hi Darrell

    I now have a transmitter, receiver and battery so I’m ready to wire things together, but I’d like your advice first.

    Do you have an email address to contact you direct?

    Regards Daryl

    1. Hi Daryl,

      Good to hear from you. I messaged you on eBay with contact information. I hope to hear from you.

      Best,
      Darrell

  20. Hi Darrell. I enjoyed your article in run 334 of OGR. I am O gauge 3 rail operator of 20 years. The layout has 375 feet of track. I have often thought that with modern battery packs and techknowlegy., it should be possible to carry a battery on board the locomotive or tender that WOULD CARRY THE LOCOMOTIVE OVER THE CRUCIAL ONE OR TWO INCHES ON A SWITCH OR DEAD SPOT and keep the loco powered.
    I am happy with DCS for controlling. Could your systems provide this sort of battery back-up? Or am I not understanding. After all, the layout is already wired.
    Thank you, Robert

    1. Hi Robert,
      Thanks for “dropping by.”

      Usually, folks use large “keep alive” capacitors with series with a small resistor/diode pair in parallel to provide DC power over the rough spots. I know PS-3 boards have hefty, integrated keep-alive capacitors that keep the locomotive going for several seconds. I am unsure about older PS-2.0 or PS-1.0 boards.

      The purpose of the batteries for Dead Rail is to supply power directly to the radio receiver and amplifier that, in turn, powers and controls the onboard decoder, not as a direct power supply to the decoder.

      In summary, I suggest you look at keep-alive capacitors rather than batteries. The capacitors will be considerably smaller than any battery for supplying sufficient voltage and current.

      I hope my reply helps.

      1. It does help, and thanks for the reply. In passing over switches, especially when mimicking yard endeavors, I like to proceed at slow speeds, and this can cause a stall.

        Since I am looking for keep-alive capacitors, would you be able to steer me to a supplier for those, and instructions on where they integrate with PS 2 or PS3 boards? That is, to what I attach them electrically to?
        Thank you.
        Robert

        1. Hi Robert,

          I researched keep-alive capacitors for MTH PS-2/3 but did not find anything clear-cut, and I have no personal experience. I suggest that you contact Ray Manley at http://www.rayman4449.com/ to see if he can help you with upgrading any MTH controllers you have. You also might be able to find some help at https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/. Sorry, I can’t help more.

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