A couple of years ago I wrote a letter to AMRM asking why it was that real radio control had not taken off in model railways.
Power and digital command control (DCC) still rely on the track to transmit the energy and digital signal information to move locomotives. To me, the reliance on the track is a real weakness. Why wouldn't it make sense to run locomotives powered by rechargeable batteries and operated by wireless control systems (yes, I know that there is wireless control in DCC but the power and digital signal still relies on the track to convey this information).
We all know that to get a reliable model railway we need to have excellent trackwork. There is an emphasis on wiring the track effectively to transmit power (both DC and DC) and digital signals (DCC) for maximum operational performance. But getting the electrics right and ensuring the track is clean and well wired is often very challenging; and certainly time consuming.
A series of articles in AMRM followed explaining the operation of a Sydney suburban passenger set using battery and radio control. The premise was excellent but I did have some misgivings on the amount of work involved. I understand that Bergs Hobbies might be providing kits for this type of radio control as used in the articles.
The layout design special interest group (a NMRA group based in the US) ran an article about using radio control for model railways a few years back (Layout Design Journal, Issue 37, pages 42-45). I need to track down a copy.
As someone who is almost ready to jump onto the DCC bandwagon, I am wondering how likely and how soon it will be before battery and radio control becomes the standard operating system for model railways. Being able to disassociate control from the track would be a huge boon for the hobby. Such control is already available in model planes and model cars, albeit of a somewhat larger size to HO/OO scale model railways.
And I know how fast technology is moving in model railways. The marketing manager of Hornby in the UK was recently reported (in Railway Modeller, I think) saying that in a couple of years now it may be possible for model locos to emit real prototype engine smells!
Is DCC going to be just an intermediary step between between analogue control and remote controlled battery powered locomotives? I desperately need to know before spending a lot of money going down the DCC path!