Remote controlled locomotives?

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K4NNW

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I heard a few transmissions while scanning the AAR channels yesterday and today that I didn't remember hearing before. One of the partial transmissions I heard was "...2128 on the move, reverse. Out." This was heard near Roanoke, VA on 160.305MHz.
Am I correct in believing that this was a remotely controlled locomotive in the yard?
If not, what WAS it?
 

W8RMH

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Probably an on-board crew member reporting the trains activity.
 

burner50

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I heard a few transmissions while scanning the AAR channels yesterday and today that I didn't remember hearing before. One of the partial transmissions I heard was "...2128 on the move, reverse. Out." This was heard near Roanoke, VA on 160.305MHz.
Am I correct in believing that this was a remotely controlled locomotive in the yard?
If not, what WAS it?
Yes. Some of the older systems announce their status over the air. Newer systems have a small display on the "box".

Why would there be an on-board crew member on a remote controlled locomotive?
Point protection. :roll:


There are MANY times that a crew member would be on the point of a remote controlled move. Mechanical / electronic failure, PSP Override, being outside of a remote control zone, etc.


In the bowl in Ft. Worth, There is usually 4+ jobs working at the same time, plus hostlers, and outbound trains. There is no remote zone, so the employee in control of the move when pulling out is on the head end working the remote box.
 
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K4NNW

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Yes. Some of the older systems announce their status over the air. Newer systems have a small display on the "box".
That makes sense.
Also, the reason I didn't suspect it to be a crew member was that the voice was the same as the one used around here by the defect detectors.
 

burner50

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That makes sense.
Also, the reason I didn't suspect it to be a crew member was that the voice was the same as the one used around here by the defect detectors.
Yeah... I think some places are still using the Cannac boxes, but most others have moved to Cattron or GE systems.


Having the engine shouting over the radio is a safety problem because they don't listen for a man down call. Often times, a locomotive will be talking over another's emergency call. Different remote jobs had to be on separate radio channels which was a nightmare.


But they were fun to torture yardmasters with.

This is what a modern OCU looks like



The knob on the left controls the independent brake and the knob on the right is the throttle.

The metal switches from left to right are:
-Multipurpose acknowledge / alerter button
-Automatic Brakes
-Horn / Bell
-Status Switch (Switches display of various information like BP Pressure, Traction Motor Current, Speed, Locomotive ID, Etc). Older systems would read off the status on the radio.
-Reverser
-Multipurpose acknowledge / alerter button


The black piece in the middle is the 220Mhz antenna.

On the front, there is a Power button, Pitch button, and a Headlight button.
 
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TelcomJunkie

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burner50 covered the jist of it. If you hear a locomotive talking consistently, it's a Canac system. The Cattron and GE systems are generally only configured to talk at the time an operator connects their OCU to it. The Canac is a one-way system, the OCU transmits to the locomotive and the locomotive is strictly a receiver which is why it constantly talks over the air, that's the only way for an operator to get a status update. The GE and Cattron systems are two-way and the operator gets his updates directly on his OCU. Each of the three systems is capable of running over a repeater system letting the operator be pretty far from the locomotive if point protection isn't needed.

If you're listening to an NS yard, it's most likely a Canac system. UP is a mix of Cattron and GE, I think UP has pretty much ditched the remainder of their Canac gear now. BNSF is running all three, though mostly Canac and GE. Only three BNSF yards are currently running Cattron.

The vast number of GE systems are running on 900Mhz ISM, with some newer ones (including the UP Houston complex) are running on 220Mhz. Canac systems are normally 450Mhz, though they make a 220Mhz option. Cattron systems are generally 220Mhz, though a 450Mhz option is available.

You'll see more and more remote control operations in yards, the carriers are in a dash to dump the engineer in any yard possible.
 

burner50

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I think they're figuring out that financially, remotes are a losing battle.

But some roads are too proud to say they've made a mistake so they'll keep throwing good money after bad.
 

ai8o

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I heard a few transmissions while scanning the AAR channels yesterday and today that I didn't remember hearing before. One of the partial transmissions I heard was "...2128 on the move, reverse. Out." This was heard near Roanoke, VA on 160.305MHz.
Am I correct in believing that this was a remotely controlled locomotive in the yard?
If not, what WAS it?
You heard the audio feedback from a remote controller for a locomotive .

It is a computerized voice audio so that the person controlling the loco ,and any car knocker working with him, can easily verify a command was received, is being executed,and if there is a problem can understand what the loco is doing.
The commands are sent TO the loco by the person on the ground using a hand held controller.
The loco controller responds to the control box by telemetry and voice on a standard 160 MHz voice channel.
Imagine an RC car or XBox controller on steroids! that also talks back to you!

I live near the NS Linwood Yard. At times there are several different remote controlled logos working in the yard.
Remote loco voice feedback is set to a frequency that is not used at that yard.
Each remote loco is placed on a different frequency so that the ground controller person will not get confused by voice signals coming from other locos.
 

burner50

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You heard the audio feedback from a remote controller for a locomotive .

It is a computerized voice audio so that the person controlling the loco ,and any car knocker working with him, can easily verify a command was received, is being executed,and if there is a problem can understand what the loco is doing.
The commands are sent TO the loco by the person on the ground using a hand held controller.
The loco controller responds to the control box by telemetry and voice on a standard 160 MHz voice channel.
Imagine an RC car or XBox controller on steroids! that also talks back to you!

I live near the NS Linwood Yard. At times there are several different remote controlled logos working in the yard.
Remote loco voice feedback is set to a frequency that is not used at that yard.
Each remote loco is placed on a different frequency so that the ground controller person will not get confused by voice signals coming from other locos.

Not entirely wrong.

But close.
 

TelcomJunkie

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I think they're figuring out that financially, remotes are a losing battle.

But some roads are too proud to say they've made a mistake so they'll keep throwing good money after bad.
They are and they aren't. In yards with just one or two shifts, yes the return is a ways off. In the big yards? The return on investment is pretty quick. Do they move as many cars as fast? Certainly debatable. The question becomes if the customer willing to accept the new en route times or not. If the customer is OK (forced or willingly), the railroads laugh all the way to the bank.
 

burner50

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They are and they aren't. In yards with just one or two shifts, yes the return is a ways off. In the big yards? The return on investment is pretty quick. Do they move as many cars as fast? Certainly debatable. The question becomes if the customer willing to accept the new en route times or not. If the customer is OK (forced or willingly), the railroads laugh all the way to the bank.

The more remote jobs, the more equipment they need.

Ours are always in need of repairs, and the genders that the state bought us are always at the rail power shop. Add in the boxes, repeaters, equipment upgrades on engines, and their expected lifespan? Not to mention the extra accidents and delays in production, it would have been cheaper to keep the engineer on the job.
 
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