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Railfan Gaming > Raildriver Review

Date: 08/15/07 18:55
Raildriver Review
Author: ObsessedFoamer

Raildriver, what is it? I wouldn't call it "prototypical" to a rail train's desktop controls, but it certainly gives you a much better "Feel" so to say.

Bought the raildriver about 1 and a half years ago for $149.95 For some reason now it's $169.95, 20 Dollars more!
Many many people I know expected the raildriver by PI Engineering to be "plastic junk" and when it arrived to their homes, they were quite surprised, and so was I! I was expecting the entire unit to be small, hollow, and not sturdy. Well I wrong. The Raildriver is opposite of what I guessed. It's not hollow at all, I would guess it's maybe 9 lbs. It doesn't have any hollow-ness to it at all, and the plastic walls are maybe .25 inch think which is very very thick.. An inch is much bigger than ya think. A quarter inch is about this long: ' ' That is some thick platic.. It has a nice paint job which doesn't ware off at all, the buttons are very sturdy, the levers....Well I will admit are smaller than I'd like, but are sturdy. The LCD display not only says the speed of your train, you can change it to say a multiple number of things. Brake Cylinder, Brake Pressure, Brake Pipe, Throttle notch, and speed. You can modify the controls to do what ever you want. Infact, I use one of the buttons for the horn instead of using the lever, and I set the horn lever to push forward to switch track ahead, and to pull back to switch train behind, which is like a little switch post. The Reverser handle is very sturdy, it has alot of resistance in it to make it feel more like a reverser lever. It clicks to FWD, N, REV. Now here's a question I get alot. "Does the throttle have clicked notches?" The answer to that is no. It is continuous, but you get used to it. To put it into DYN brake on the other hand you must move the lever around a piece so that the lever doesn't go into setup on accident. The Automatic brake lever doesn't have notches either, but the stickers tell you exactly where the lever is. To go into EMG brake application, you must push it slightly harder through the clicked notch so, once again, it doesn't go into EMG on accident. The indapendant brake lever is nice and smooth, like the real thing, and you can bail off by pushing it to the right. The wiper switch isn't used much but works, and the lights switch you use alot, which has nice clicked posistion.

Now comes for the buttons below the controls. From top left to right, bottom right to left, going in order..


And you have the view buttons. The D-pad and up and down arrows.

The raildriver is a must for all of you who are big into MSTS. I couldn't imagine going back to the keyboard. So if you have $170, purchase the raildriver, wait a few days, and see for yourself! Raildriver is must!

Date: 08/16/07 02:26
Re: Raildriver Review
Author: Red

I take it that the reverser has a certain "stiffness" in it for when you are adjusting the cutoff on a steam locomotive??? I know that you are primarily into modern diesel and passenger ops--as am I--but, it's nice to run quality steam.

The "Continuous Variability" of the throttle...I can see that they would do this, since a steam throttle has continuous variability.

As for the controller handle needing to be moved outward past a detent, that's just the way it works on a modern diesel with the Desktop Controls.

I'd recommend this to anybody that's serious about simming. Now...I have that investment on the "back burner," simply due to the fact that I handle diesel controls on a regular basis to make a living. Were I not a hogger, you BET that I'd have a Rail Driver already.

Date: 08/16/07 07:48
Re: Raildriver Review
Author: eashock

I can't justify paying $150 for a joystick, but agree that a RailDriver would make a lot easier when it comes to switching work on MSTS or other sims. I cut my teeth on MSTS, and have gotten frustrated at times with the lag of adjustments (try making an independent app with the keyboard while in a yard/switching view for a couple and you'll see what I mean). Now that I've been working on becoming an engineer in the real world, having that lever would make my life a bunch easier... But... I can't justify the expense at this point. ;)


P.S. Now... if they made that AAR control stand available for cheap... *grin*

Date: 08/16/07 07:49
Re: Raildriver Review
Author: bakersfielddave

i have had this hardware for about 8 months and it is indispensible to the 'serious' train simmer the switching operations are much easier to handle now and yes steam cut off is ok with careful manipulation of the reverser handle the bail off feature also works on a lot of the better payware add ons i recommend it highly if you are going to be using trainsim for more than a few hours each time you enter the sim

not for the casual user

this is for engineers both in real life to practise train handling and those who can only dream to be so

Date: 08/16/07 11:18
Re: Raildriver Review
Author: ObsessedFoamer

Right now, I am just dreaming, though in a few years, it will be living my dream.

Date: 08/16/07 12:24
Re: Raildriver Review
Author: Macster

The control stand from Rail Driver is much much better =)

Brian Bundridge

Date: 11/19/07 16:24
Re: Raildriver Review
Author: agentatascadero

Another enthusiastic vote for Raildriver. First I had just MSTS, and Train Dispatcher. For MSTS, keyboard controls were a complete turn off, and I spent all my sim time at the dispatching "desk". I had seen the Raildriver ads for some time, and gave myself a Christmas present 2 years ago. I haven't dispatched since. The RD makes ALL the difference for me. Now I have all kinds of pay/free ware add ons, and the "empire" just keeps growing. I prefer running steam, and the reverser functions just fine in that role. One does need to develop touch to make the controls work properly in the sim, but, practice, practice......and a thought for all those who feel the cost excessive/steep...how much do you have invested already, in the computer, the payware, speakers, graphic and sound cards, etc? I think, for most of us, $160 is a small amount compared to our total investment in simming. Still, I have read other threads where RD was not that well received, even from some who actually owned a RD, something I will never understand given the alternative....of keyboard controls. And no, I neither own stock, or the company. AA

Stanford White
Carmel Valley, CA

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