Switching railroad cars

Control Chief Corporation
SX500 UHF Transceiver
Industrial rail switching
Industry / Vertical:
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Founded in 1971 and based in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., Control Chief Corporation offers wireless control solutions, products and services for rail, construction, mining, agriculture and amusement industries.


In the locomotive industry ‘Shunting’ or ‘Switching’ as it is more commonly known in the U.S. is the task of assembling and disassembling trains. This is carried out by a small, purpose-built, train designed for moving railcars short-distances rather than hauling carriages cross-country. Customarily, this process of connecting carriages would involve a person piloting the switcher train with a colleague positioned at the side of the track directing the driver.

However, the two man tandem for coupling carriages is a flawed and dangerous operation; miscommunication and injury to workers is a common threat. To increase the personal safety of rail workers and deliver more accurate train operation, Control Chief wanted to create a wireless remote control solution. This set-up would allow rail workers to sit outside the cab and remotely drive the switcher train from the safety of the track side.


With a reputation for delivering reliable and durable wireless products Control Chief approached Wood & Douglas to deliver a suitable radio solution to match the correct power levels for its product line.

Wood & Douglas’ SX series of radio transceivers offered the short to medium range but highly robust wireless communication required. These modules deliver high sensitivity and low current consumption making them low-risk and resilient.

The rugged SX transceiver is also designed to perform in harsh industrial environments and deal with interference from surround power lines and other industrial power applications. With the receiver attached to the switcher train it has to withstand heavy vibration and shunting and still deliver reliable wireless communication. The radios are also very flexible when installing into existing circuitry: the SX module can be directly inserted into hardware using pins while it is housed in a screened enclosure to contain electrical emissions.

The SX radios were installed into Control Chief’s Train Chief II receiver and Train Chief II OCU (Operator Control Transmitter) as well as the Lightweight OCU-BTIND products. The operator control transmitter talks to a receiver attached to the switcher offering complete control of the train, including throttle and independent brake control, directional change, headlight control, emergency stop and remote man down alarm. This remote operation delivers a clear line of sight for the user when coupling trains while also increasing efficiency and more importantly safety.

  • Critical short range wireless transmission between the remote control unit and the train cab.
  • Modules are flexible enough to install easily into existing hardware

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