Aristo-Craft / Crest Electronics / Precision RC

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Train Engineer Systems history & evolution

The name "Crest" on Aristo-Craft electronics has been "there" for some time. It is believed that it was technically a separate company since the big LGB fiasco when Aristo-Craft nearly went under for copying LGB track.

For years, Aristo-Craft had been selling the "Train Engineer" line of products, variously marked as Aristo-Craft and/or Crest. I noticed at some point, about when Aristo-Craft finally went electronic for part numbers, that the electronics parts were prefixed with CRE as opposed to the train component prefix ART.

Still, the products were only sold by Aristo-Craft.

In 2013, Aristo-Craft closed it's doors. Crest Electronics then continued in a new location, with Navin and apparently Lewis Polk. Scott Polk was not involved, and actually started his own company later, but that is another story.

At first the Crest Electronics address was Navin's house, but eventually moved. Invoices read: LMP Inc., 32 Nobel St, Room 230, Neewark [sic] NJ 07114, phone is listed as 973-462-7955

Crest Electronics closed it's doors and Revolution customers were left in the lurch, but rumors soon surfaced that the company products would become available with a new owner.

In late 2016 it was announced that Precision RC is now the owner and producer of the Revolution. Thankfully, Navin is still involved and Mr. J. Kim, who was the designer of most (if not all, I'm not sure) Crest electronics as the partners. Address the same but room 212 on Nobel Street.

The web site went online in January and product was on the shelved of the dealers as promised early January.

 "Train Engineer" overview

Aristo-Craft has built several variations of these products over the years. A while back, Aristo was in tough economic times, and almost went under. They got new investors, but they were shaken, and from that time, Crest Electronics has been what appears to be a separate company so that it is financially independent.

(In 2013, they even got a new web site and address, albeit the home address of one of the employees)

Most of the systems are simple control systems with support for an accessory decoder that can control lights, relays, switch motors, etc.

Most are also called "Train Engineer", so you need to be specific when you talk about a "Train Engineer".

The Revolution, the latest, does indeed have more features, although many of the more sophisticated features are sort of wonky.

Also helpful to understand, Aristo has put a "socket" in their locos for the last years. It's two rows of pins, but only one row is really used. Systems using this socket are usually called "onboard", and larger systems that connect to the rails are called "trackside", but many people put the "trackside" system inside a box car, thus on board, and one of the "onboard" systems does not use the socket!

The moral is to be very specific about a "Train Engineer" (TE) system when talking about this to someone else.

27 MHz Systems

These were the earliest systems, and there were various incarnations of transmitters (throttle, cab) and receivers. There are both onboard systems, and "trackside" systems.

The onboard systems did NOT use the socket, and were intended to be placed in a locomotive. You then ran constant power to the rails to power the system, although battery power would work also. The onboard system had an output capability of 2-1/2 amps. These are very hard to find nowadays and were not very successful.

The trackside systems were much larger and intended to run an entire layout attached to the rails, so all locos on the layout would be controlled from this unit. Thus, the locomotives were unmodified. If the trackside unit was removed from it's case, it could be squeezed into a boxcar, and this was done often, since the onboard unit had a limited power output. There were 2 major variations, the original one with a metal case at 4 amps and the later ones with a plastic case at 10 amps.

The throttles also came in various capabilities over the years. There were 5 different models. The first ones were made in Korea, and had 2 channels. There were 2 variations on the 2 channel ones, one with programmable jumpers, one without.

Then there came the 10 channel, 10 frequency transmitters, in 3 different versions.

Click here for the page just on 27 MHz Train Engineer systems


75 MHz systems

This was an ill-fated product. Basically it did not have the intended better performance, and, supposedly one critical part became unavailable. The real reason was the limited power capability, and the terrible range of the system. One important note is that the receiver now plugged into the Aristo socket, a great step ahead.

There are indeed people who successfully use the system, playing with the receiver antenna and keeping the load down will work.

There was also an HO version, with limited current, and limited voltage.

Aristo eventually stopped production and went back to the 27 MHz systems only.

Click here for the page just on 75 MHz Train Engineer systems

2.4 Ghz "Revolution" Train Engineer

In 2xxx (need exact date), Aristo came out with the "Revolution" or Revo as most people call it. It was a big step forwards, with a much more sophisticated transmitter, 2.4 ghz "Zigbee" bidirectional communication, and both an onboard (using the socket) and "trackside" (although not packaged in a case) unit. The power capabilities of each have been advertised with various numbers, but the onboard unit seems to be 5 amps or so, and the trackside over 10, probably meeting the spec of 15 amps.

The transmitter has an LCD screen and many more functions. Clearly in functionality they are trying to compete with DCC, you can see all the comparisions to DCC even on the packaging, but they are about 25% of the way there. The system does have more capability in matching speeds and a rudimentary consisting control. The early versions could only handle 50 locos, but in 2013 the next batch is promised to have 100. It was a huge step forward for Aristo, and for what it does, is very inepensive.

Since the introduction, the original versions have been replaced with units with sound. The original version is no longer sold. The sound is OK, but strange things like you cannot just honk or whistle, but play a sequence usually like a crossing sequence.

There is a long promised USB interface to upgrade firmware and supposedly load different sounds, but only the hardware has appeared, none of the software, so it's still a moving target.

In 2017, the new owner of the Crest line, Precision RC came online, and new products have become available.

Click here for the main Revolution Train Engineer page

There is also a recently introduced Revolution for HO


Click the links below to go "deeper" into details on all the Aristo / Crest / Precision RC products

  2.4 GHz Revolution Train Engineer     27 MHz Train Engineer   75 MHz Train Engineer   Aristo-Craft Autoreverser 
  Misc. Aristo Electronics    
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