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The introduction of the Bachmann Dynamis controller is causing confusion amongst the model railway fraternity, as Bachmann insist on calling it a 'wireless' system.
This is stated in their main advert on their website. Only when you go into further details does it mention 'infra red' (IR)

In a normal dictionary wireless is described as a 'radio receiving set' i.e. operated by radio waves.

If you asked any person in the street what 'wireless' meant, I am sure that they would reply that it was a radio.

Would you call a T.V. remote control a 'wireless' unit? Of course not, you would say it was an Infra Red unit.

Other DCC controllers that were previously available are in the proper terms 'wireless radio control' using radio waves that can go through walls, and do not need to be pointed at the receiver.

When Bachmann first announced a 'wireless' controller, most people were of the opinion that it was actually radio controlled. It was only later that they discovered it was IR.

To add to the confusion, I have checked four of the biggest web retailers, Hattons, Rails of Sheffield, On tracks, and Gaugemaster. None of these sites mention 'Infra Red' in their write ups of the Dynamis controller. They all say 'wireless'.

At the moment, Hornby website is advertising their new hand unit as an IR unit. Lets hope it does not mention 'wireless' on the box.

Other companies such as MRC are producing 'wireless units' operated by radio waves.

Confused,

What do you think?

AlanB
 

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'Wireless' means without wires...

Infrared is on the electromagnetic spectrum and has a wavelength longer than that of visible light, but shorter than that of microwaves which are also part of the same spectrum that WiFi and other 'radio' transmitters use.

Infrared may require line of sight to work properly, but there are some radio systems that are virtually the same. Some cheap Bluetooth-type solutions - used with model rail controllers - can't be used more than a few meters from the base station.
 

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A quick check on Chambers Online Dictionary gives the following definition for "wireless"

QUOTE wireless noun, old use 1 a radio. 2 (also wireless telegraphy or wireless telephony) the transmission of signals by means of electromagnetic waves generated by high-frequency alternating currents, therefore dispensing with the need for conducting wires between transmitter and receiver.

This image on Wikipedia shows the electromagnetic spectrum with radio waves at the low frequency end, rising through micro waves, infra red, visible light and so on.

Therefore within this dictionary definition, Bachmann and Hornby are entitled to describe the controls as "wireless".

The problem arises when the different propagation abilities of the electromagnetic spectrum are compared. We all know that an IR remote won't work in the next room, but a DECT phone almost certainly will. Therefore when selecting a "wireless" control for your railway you need to consider what kind of connection you want.

Bachmann and Hornby target the "table top" market where the layout is usually in front of the user. It is therefore unlikely that anything will come between the remote and the receiver. Keen hobbyists are more likely to be in the center of the layout which leads to the possibility of body blocking for some periods of operation. For those installations I would suggest that a radio based or "direction insensitive" wireless setup should be preferred.

At the end of the day, if you do your research (or just ask on a Forum like this) you will be faced with the question - "Why does this wireless handset cost so much more than that one?". The answer should be (hopefully) more functionality in the expensive model which probably means better directional insensitivity.

Finally, never forget the old maxim "Caveat emptor" - buyer beware.

David
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 28 Mar 2008, 06:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>'Wireless' means without wires...

Infrared is on the electromagnetic spectrum and has a wavelength longer than that of visible light, but shorter than that of microwaves which are also part of the same spectrum that WiFi and other 'radio' transmitters use.

Infrared may require line of sight to work properly, but there are some radio systems that are virtually the same. Some cheap Bluetooth-type solutions - used with model rail controllers - can't be used more than a few meters from the base station.
Bingo. What you want is radio control however the use of the word wireless allows people to think that's what they are getting when they are actually not.
 

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Hi
I believe manufactures of Infrared handsets should remove the term 'Wireless' from their products description as it automatically implies it works by using a radio signal.
The term 'Wire free' or 'Cordless' or perhaps even at a pinch 'Wire-Less' would be much more acceptable.

What will happen when MRC (Perhaps even Gaugemaster too?) release their wireless 433Mhz radio handset in Europe and the UK - already selling well apparently in the US
Ahhh a real 'Wireless' system will then be available.

Mean while, I'll try twiddling the cats whisker and see if I can tune into the Home Service on my 'Bach-onby' handheld, cord free remote....
 

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It's not Bachmanns fault other manufacturers have abused the terminology, Their description is spot on and my first question was is it radio or infra red. Many toys use infra red, (because it's cheap and reliable in line of sight), and are labelled as wireless. Your issue should be with the poor use of English used generally in packaging and instructions. If they put radio control on the packet and it was IR then they would be liable under trade description.

Wireless means without wires,

Radio control implies radio wave transmission,

IR implies infra red transmission,

Remote control implies it's on a wander lead, (early tv remotes were on a lead but the term stuck when most became wireless infra red).
 

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I would have to say that wireless to me does mean no wire connection. As I recall (show age) my first VCR was a wired remote and my second was billed as wireless as it had no wire. I do think the point here is it doesn't matter what is said on the tin, check out the features for yourself and that includes small print. I would never purchase anything without looking into in thoroughly.

:)
 

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Wireless means no wires to me too, but like everything in life there are good and bad examples. It pays to do some research first no matter what you are buying!

Rob
 

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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 27 Mar 2008, 21:28) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Bingo. What you want is radio control however the use of the word wireless allows people to think that's what they are getting when they are actually not.

Since this post began I have asked quite a number of people (not all modellers of any kind) what they perceive "wireless" & "infra red" control to be - 100% said ;

Wireless = radio as in "model aircraft & suchlike".
Infra red = cordless as in "TV & other remote controls".

IMHO "wireless" is, strictly speaking correct for infra red but not really what people may interpret - marketing forces at work ?

"Infra Red Remote" would have been more accurate with no chance of misleading anyone.
 

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QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 29 Mar 2008, 00:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>IMHO "wireless" is, strictly speaking correct for infra red but not really what people may interpret - marketing forces at work ?
More like playing on the ignorance - or rather the lack of education on technical matters that pervades our society today.
Of course, the term 'Wireless' comes from a time when radio really was the only way of doing it.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, the only way round it now is to drop the 'Wireless' term completely and be more specific about the actual technique employed in each case.
 
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