Author Topic: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed  (Read 3778 times)

TwinStar

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Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« on: September 05, 2018, 12:02:36 PM »
With Bruce Petrarca retiring from the DCC Column of MRH Joe Fugate put out the call for a replacement or for ideas on the future of the column itself. I was surprisingly shocked that a number of guys didn't like it being limited to DCC only and are wanting a more open "Command & Control" column that encompasses DCC, DCC+, RailPro, BlueRail, Arduino, etc.

Joe has agreed and as such put out the following:

It looks like we're going with an all-things-electrical recurring monthly series to replace the previous DCC column.

We will be collecting some regular contributors to this series, as well as contacting vendors to have them write up some how-tos for their products. The scope thus becomes anything to do with the electrical side of the hobby -- in every issue.

This broadens things quite a bit. It means we can cover layout wiring and layout lighting, electrical-based animation, DCC (of course), battery power, non-DCC control (RailPro anyone?), detection and signaling, LCC, computer control/animation (Arduino and Raspberry-Pi), and whatever else might use electricity on your layout.

Joe Fugate​
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine


As you can see, he is specifically looking for a RailPro contributor. This is an opportunity for someone here to help put RailPro front and center in a widely read publication. I know we have a few here that are very capable of doing something like this.

Any takers?

Here is the discussion:

http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/magazine/mrh2018-07/publishers-musings#comment-354282
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
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Alan

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2018, 12:12:09 PM »
Sounds like a perfect job for a RPUG tag team duo. Tim write the techie article, Kevin make videos to illustrate it.
Alan

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When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

William Brillinger

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2018, 01:15:48 PM »
Quote
Tim write the techie article, Kevin make videos to illustrate it.

I second that motion!!

And note: MRH pays quite well too.
- Bill Brillinger, RPUG Admin

Modeling the BNML in HO Scale, owner of Precision Design Co., and RailPro Dealer.


KPack

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2018, 10:48:02 PM »
I'm down for that.  It'd give me a great excuse to upgrade some camera gear.  I'm not much of a writer, plus Tim or Alan knows more of the technical aspects of Railpro.

I'm assuming that staring with Railpro basics would be wise, then there could be some articles on more advanced things (Keep Alive, Alan's signaling and other electrical wizardry, accessory modules, DCC-mode, lighting editor, etc).

TwinStar

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2018, 12:02:10 AM »
I'm down for that.  It'd give me a great excuse to upgrade some camera gear.  I'm not much of a writer, plus Tim or Alan knows more of the technical aspects of Railpro.

I'm assuming that staring with Railpro basics would be wise, then there could be some articles on more advanced things (Keep Alive, Alan's signaling and other electrical wizardry, accessory modules, DCC-mode, lighting editor, etc).

I've done some writing in the past. I'd be happy to contribute in whatever way possible even if it's just proof reading.
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
trmhs.org

G8B4Life

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2018, 12:20:09 AM »
That post of Joe's in MRH forums is almost 2 months old now...

I'd be happy to contribute to the cause but I don't know if I'm an article writer either; user guides and manuals perhaps (and I'm no whiz there) but articles are a different beast. I guess it'd all come down to what articles Joe would be looking for as well, plus I'm not entirely sure I'd like my ugly mug and bio in the magazine. Photo's and videos certainly would be a problem for me, my seven or so year old phone camera probably won't cut it quality-wise.

Perhaps the best course of action is to firstly see what Joe is looking for in an RP article or series of articles and then we can go from there. He'd have to be ok with collaborative efforts too.

- Tim

TwinStar

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2018, 01:05:31 AM »
That post of Joe's in MRH forums is almost 2 months old now...



It takes me awhile to get caught up. My 'online train life' comes in spurts when actual life allows. But two months is pretty good. I 'discovered' the new show Everybody Loves Raymond when it was in it's 9th season!
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
trmhs.org

KPack

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2018, 10:46:36 PM »
Alright, so we've talked about the general idea of writing articles, but unless we actually plan and get serious about it, it will never happen.

First we need to decide exactly what we want to write first.  I believe the general consensus is that we should do a general article going over the basics of Railpro.  The question is, what exactly should be included in the "basics"?  Thoughts?

And, once that is established, we need to determine who will write the article.  I'm happy to contribute photos, videos, screen captures, etc.  I'd also be happy to collaborate with someone on the writing of the article.  However, I don't think right now is a great time for me to take on the article solely.  I just don't physically have enough time in the day to do what needs to be done and still have enough time left over to devote to something like writing.

Volunteers?  Jacob, you mentioned you were willing.  What if we split the writing and worked on it together?

-Kevin

TwinStar

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2018, 11:01:53 PM »
Alright, so we've talked about the general idea of writing articles, but unless we actually plan and get serious about it, it will never happen.

First we need to decide exactly what we want to write first.  I believe the general consensus is that we should do a general article going over the basics of Railpro.  The question is, what exactly should be included in the "basics"?  Thoughts?

And, once that is established, we need to determine who will write the article.  I'm happy to contribute photos, videos, screen captures, etc.  I'd also be happy to collaborate with someone on the writing of the article.  However, I don't think right now is a great time for me to take on the article solely.  I just don't physically have enough time in the day to do what needs to be done and still have enough time left over to devote to something like writing.

Volunteers?  Jacob, you mentioned you were willing.  What if we split the writing and worked on it together?

-Kevin

Kevin:

Count me in. I agree that an article covering the basics would be a good start. What is RailPro? How does RailPro work? And why should I consider RailPro? Just to throw out a few ideas. I'm trying to think back to my 'I've had enough DCC crap' days and what I was looking for and what appealed to me about RP.

I'll also add that I have zero ego on something like this and have no problem being told 'that sucks' and looking at things from a different perspective or going a different route. I will expect input to be frank and for my fellow RP'ers to not mince their words.

If a 'basics' article is where we want to being then let's solicit some basic/beginner topics and get an outline going.
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
trmhs.org

Alan

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2018, 08:29:41 AM »
I would suggest you frame the article in a "just the facts, maam" style so as not to rile up the DCC crowd. Take great care in not making it feel like us versus them. It doesn't take much to start the negative comments flowing on MRH or any forum. Even though in essence it is a sales pitch don't make it sound like a sales pitch. Remove superlatives from your vocabulary.

Brevity may also work to your advantage. Just take a look at the DCC article in this month's issue. Holy smokes. All that just to play with trains, you've got to be kidding me. If you can write such that a casual reader will get the fact RP performs all the same functions as those described in the DCC article except with no user involvement required then you will have done RP a great service.

RP being a proprietary system with a sole manufacturer and the exclusion of N scale will likely be the most popular objections. Don't hide from them. An effective presentation style is to admit and address the objections early in the article. This approach tends to convey honesty which then carries through the remainder of the article. Much the same way forum members relate to people who admit their mistakes in layout building threads.

If I may add further comment, good presentations often have a common underlying theme throughout their entirety, something to tie the whole article together. Since it is people reading the article and people are emotional it is wise to use a theme that elicits an emotional connection. Ask yourselves "Why did I buy RP?" Drill the answer down to a single descriptive word. That word then becomes the unifying theme of the article. For me personally it was simplicity. Not that I can't understand complexity but rather why should I when the hardware will do it for me. If simplicity is the theme the article would quietly weave simplicity into the phrasing. For example, compare these paragraphs...

"Locomotive advanced settings can be accessed via the wrench icon found on the locomotive screen. This will display a page showing minimum start speed and momentum settings. Select the minimum start speed and adjust the setting up or down by turning the throttle knob. Repeat the process with the momentum setting and then press exit to return to the locomotive screen. The locomotive will now respond to throttle changes based on the settings you selected."

"A locomotive's minimum start speed and momentum can be easily changed with a simple tap of your finger and twist of the adjustment knob."
Alan

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When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

KPack

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2018, 11:00:12 AM »
Great advice Alan, and similar to what I was thinking.  Simple is best, and I'd like to avoid antagonizing DCC users. 

As far as potential topics to cover in the first article:
-What is Railpro (how it came about, length of time Ring Engineering has been in business, etc).  Mention here the main objection as Alan stated. 
-Basics of Railpro operating system (Direct Radio).  Be careful not to come across as condescending.
-How to install Railpro (simple plug and play, full hardwire).  Photo examples of each.
-How to use Railpro (simple examples showing locomotive acquisition, locomotive settings, function mapping, MU capability, etc).  This section I would couple with video shorts or a single video showing it all.  MU videos especially, including DPU operations.

Next articles could include the following:
-Railpro Assistant Software and how to use
-Custom sound creation and loading
-Custom lighting effect creation
-Accessory modules and accessory program creation
-Keep Alive and Railpro/Battery and Railpro

Additional thoughts?

-Kevin

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2018, 11:15:47 AM »
As I was writing this, Kevin was also typing, so there is some redundancy here.


Kevin and Jacob, Iím sure you will both make a great RP presentation. Here are some topics you may want to cover:


What is RP and who is Ring Engineering?
What are its components, and how much does it cost to get started?
Where can you buy RP equipment?
How does it connect to the layout?
How does it connect to the locomotives?
Which features can it control?
What free software is required to download files?
How do you get the files onto the HC and into the locomotive?
Will the software work with a pc and is there any additional hardware required?
How do you set up the lights and sounds?
Can you operate switches, accessories and lights around the layout?. What hardware and software is required to do that?
Can you mix RP and DCC equipment and run them together?


Those are some ideas. You guys can probably think of more.


If you need editing, I am willing to pitch in.



Al

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2018, 11:29:57 AM »
Take great care in not making it feel like us versus them.

There's another one of them on MRH forums right now. Sigh! Same against arguments again (propriety, size etc) from the DCC crowd. I don't know if they just don't get it or they don't want to get it  :(

Kevin (an Al) , that's a good list. I'll keep thinking of potential topics but I think you've pretty well got the main ones covered. DCC operation of the modules will probably need to be an article in it's own right, it'll probably be lengthy.

Once we have a final ideas list we should get onto Joe and ask him what he want's to see and present to him the ideas list before writing anything. As Joe say's, not much point writing anything before pitching him the idea. I imagine he'll modify the list to what he wants to see covered at which time.

- Tim

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2018, 12:52:05 PM »

There's another one of them on MRH forums right now. Sigh! Same against arguments again (propriety, size etc) from the DCC crowd. I don't know if they just don't get it or they don't want to get it  :(


It is human nature to defend personal decisions, in this case DCC purchase. To admit a better choice could have been made is to admit one is a poor decision maker. People rarely do that.

The DCC protocol is not bad, it is just dated. In fact, it revolutionized the hobby. For that is deserves much credit. As I see it the root deficiency that doomed it to eventual obsolescence is the dependence on communication through the rails. Just the raw physics of two long parallel rails places an upper limit on transmission frequency i.e. data speed. At some point it becomes an antenna. Add to this the necessity of signal packet redundancy because of rolling dirty wheels in the signal path and you have an additional restriction on data capacity. Much like the dial up modem, the DCC protocol is eventually doomed not because it doesn't work but because user expectations rise beyond what the physics will allow. RP is the cable modem of model railroading. Someday a manufacturer will introduce the equivalent of fiber and RP will be outclassed too.
     
If there is fault to be found it is with the DCC equipment manufacturers for not focusing on the user experience side of the equation. There is no technical reason why they couldn't. They simply chose not to. Had the DCC suppliers focused on the user experience there would be many fewer potential RP customers. Jacob being a prime example.
Alan

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When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

TwinStar

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Re: Model Railroad Hobbyist RailPro Contributor Needed
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2018, 07:58:20 PM »


The DCC protocol is not bad, it is just dated. In fact, it revolutionized the hobby. For that is deserves much credit.

I think the same thing about the Kadee coupler. It was a phenomenal leap forward from the XCF but it has been supplanted by the Sergent coupler. However, it is so entrenched in the hobby that I don't know if it'll ever be replaced. The Sergent is cheaper, easier to operate, and is a scale replica yet guys are still reluctant to make the move. One can hope that with Frank Sergent putting the patent public that manufactures will begin offering such.
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
trmhs.org