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Programming Bluetooth Engines into the Base3

One of the key features of the Base3 is the ability to operate Lionel Bluetooth engines using a Cab2, Cab-1L, or the Cab3 App. Compatible Bluetooth engines include LionChief, LionChief Plus, FlyerChief, and even Bluetooth-equipped HO! Bluetooth-equipped engines that also have a TMCC radio, including Legacy and LionChief Plus 2.0, will be controlled by the Base3 using their TMCC radios and not Bluetooth.

 

Bluetooth engines are programmed in as TMCC IDs, and are remembered by the Base3 until that channel is cleared or another engine overrides it. Base3’s version 1.0 Bluetooth firmware is capable of operating up to 8 engines at one time. These are reserved as TMCC IDs 10 through 17.

 

Setting up a Bluetooth engine with the Base3 is similar to programming a Legacy or TMCC engine. Since Bluetooth engines do not have a RUN/PGM switch on them, that switch is on the front of the Base3.

 

To Program a Bluetooth Engine into the Base3:

Make sure the Base3 is powered on and you have a connected Cab controller.

  1. Place the Bluetooth engine on the track, and power it up. The engine should start chirping (or headlight flashing), indicating it is ready to be paired with.
  2. On the front of the Base3, flip the Bluetooth RUN/PGM switch to PGM.
  3. On the Cab controller, press ENG and the TMCC ID you wish to use (10 through 17). Then press SET. The Bluetooth engine should stop chirping, indicating connection with the Base3.
  4. Slide the Bluetooth RUN/PGM switch back to RUN.
  5. If using a Cab2 or the Cab3 App, make sure the engine CONTROL type is set to TMCC or LionChief. Bluetooth engines will not respond to commands if the type is set to Legacy.

You can now operate your Bluetooth engine with your cab controller. Basic commands will operate the engine, such as the throttle, bell, whistle, and basic CrewTalk. You can even toggle the smoke units on and off if the engines are so equipped.

 

Bluetooth Engine Information

When you program a Bluetooth engine into the Cab2 or the Cab3 App, the engine’s road name and road number will automatically populate. The two-way Bluetooth communication between the engine and the Base3 means the Base3 can read which engine it is operating, and sends that info to the cab controller.

 

Programmed Bluetooth Engines

When you first power up your layout, the Base3 will look for any Bluetooth engines that are programmed into its database on TMCC IDs 10 through 17. If it finds any, it will connect to them automatically without you having to manually address them. This is done to prevent the engines from constantly making the chirping sound that indicates the engine is ready to be paired to.

 

Any Bluetooth engine that has not already been programmed into the Base3 will make the chirping sound.

 

IMPORTANT: WHEN THE BASE3 IS POWERED UP, ANY BLUETOOTH ENGINE THAT HAS BEEN PROGRAMMED INTO THE BASE3 WILL BE UNAVAILABLE TO OTHER BLUETOOTH CONTROLLERS SUCH AS THE UNIVERSAL REMOTE OR THE BLUETOOTH TAB OF THE CAB3 APP. TO USE THOSE CONTROLLERS, YOU MUST EITHER REMOVE THE BLUETOOTH ENGINE FROM THE BASE3 OR POWER DOWN THE BASE3.

 

Clearing a Bluetooth Engine from the Base3 Database

If you want to remove a saved Bluetooth engine from the Base3 database:

 

  1. Slide the Base3 Bluetooth RUN/PGM switch to PGM.
  2. Using the cab controller of choice, press ENG, the TMCC ID you wish to clear (10 through 17). Then hit SET.
  3. Slide the Bluetooth RUN/PGM switch back to RUN.
  4. Any Bluetooth engine saved to that TMCC ID is now removed.

 

A Bluetooth engine will also be removed from the Base3 database anytime a new engine is programmed into that TMCC ID number. This includes a different Bluetooth engine, a RF engine, or a Legacy/TMCC engine.

 

How to tell if an engine is Bluetooth

There are two ways to tell if a Lionel engine that is not equipped with TMCC is Bluetooth-compatible:

  1. When the locomotive powers-up, it will play a “chirping” sound. Earlier RF LionChief engines play a more defined “beeping” sound.
  2. Look under the engine or tender for the Bluetooth logo. If there is no logo present, the engine may be RF. The sample Hogwarts engine shown below shows the blue BLE icon.
LionChiefLocoBLEbug