Installing a train camera is an exciting way to bring a new perspective to your layout. You’ve seen the trains running throughout your scenery and landscape from a bird’s eye view and probably (hopefully) from eye level also, but it’s always from the outside of the train, as if you’re a rail fan looking on.
Imagine the fun of watching your scenery and mountains roll by while you’re sitting in the cab of your own locomotive, or maybe watching everything go by from the rear of the train. It’s especially fun to watch other trains either coming toward you on a second track or moving along with you. You can really get a first-person sense of what it would be like to actually be the engineer on your own train!
If you’re a dispatcher in a model railroad operating session and you need to see what’s going on in the yard without having to leave your control panel, you can send your train cam to the area to check it out!
Amazingly, you can do all of this now with a small wireless color video camera attached to your train.
The TC-9P is powered by a rechargeable Nicad battery, which begins charging any time the rail voltage is above 4.5v. It works on AC, DC and DCC powered track, and can be installed on any scale train - even Z scale.
It works by wirelessly transmitting a high quality color video signal to a wireless receiver within a 30-meter range. The transmitter itself measures 0.6 x 0.6 x 0.47 inch, contains a 270,000 pixel ¼” CMOS Image Sensor and transmits a 2.4GHz microwave signal.
The wireless receiver can be connected to any TV or VCR with an RC video input.
The picture has good resolution and color and wide angle focus with enough detail that you can see turnout points, signals and crossings easily and can even work in tunnels with very little light!
The Train Camera System contains everything you need to get started including the transmitter with microwave antenna, controller, rechargeable battery, wireless receiver, AC adapter, and video cable.
You could install the transmitter on the front of your locomotive or on top if you have enough clearance on your layout for it. If you wish, you could cut out one end of a passenger car or boxcar and install the camera inside so that it’s not readily seen from the outside. You could also install it on a flatcar and angle it to the inside of your layout so your can watch the scenery go by as the train rolls through the landscape.
The train camera is not readily available everywhere, but you can often find it at train shows. It previously was available online at DCC Train - http://www.dcctrain.com/shop/item.asp?itemid=1793.
Another great, even revolutionary, option is to use the CCV (Choo Choo Vision) tiny WiFi micro camera from Model Railroading Video Solutions that you can actually install within the cab of your HO (or larger) scale locomotive. It can run on DCC track power or from an onboard battery and has the ability to stream live video from your layout to your web browser or mobile device or to potentially anywhere in the world with no more than 1-second delay! You can turn the camera on or off by simply waving a magnetic wand over it. It can also be installed within a building or a boxcar, or even as a flatcar load. You could have several of these mounted in different engines or in different parts of your layout and potentially run operating sessions remotely. These micro-cams are readily available at the following links:
In summary, using a train-cam is another great way to enhance your layout, to ensure your scenes are viewed at eye level for the best perspective, to see what it would be like to be an engineer on your own train, and mostly to have fun!
Updated on July 11, 2021.
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