How to start your installation


StaRFIshrail has been designed as a system for multiple RFID points on a model layout.
If you just want one or two RFID points, then this is probably not the system for you.
However, you should look at the overall costs to get a complete system in place - often parts of a system may appear cheap, but when the overall cost is taken into account, they become more expensive.
Also, StaRFIshrail is a system which does not need any tweaking or adjustment - follow the installation rules, and it will work.  All components have been tested before despatch.


The Hub is the central board in the system and you will need one of these, which will service up to 32 RFID points. You can add more hubs to a larger system, each servicing up to 32 RFID points. Up to 16 hubs can be connected together via CBUS® , and all the data received can then be sent to your computer control system (JMRI, RocRail etc) via a single Ethernet port. For systems with more than one hub, the hubs can either be connected together, or more than one Ethernet port to your computer control can be used.

The Hub is a board 100mm by 85mm, and has the following connections:

1] 8 I2C and power ports, using RJ45 (Ethernet 8 way) connectors

2] Ethernet Port, set to 100M ethernet, with unique MAC number

3] CBus connector (3 way, 3.5mm)

4] USB connector (Micro USB B)

5] 10-20V power input socket, using 2.1x5.5mm connector

Power Supply

You will need a power supply for the hub and the attached readers.  Any common dc supply, with an output voltage of between 10 and 20V, and a current rating of 2A can be used.  The dc input socket is 2.1x5.5mm (2.1mm inner diameter, 5.5 mm outer diameter).  The hub supplies power to all the readers via the RJ45 connectors, so no additional power wiring is required.  The power input is reverse polarity protected.  Suitable power supplies are available from StaRFIshrail, but you may prefer to purchase one locally.

Readers and Aerials

You will need at least one reader attached to the hub.  The readers come in either single, dual or quad boards, and connect to the hub via RJ45 Ethernet cables.  The quad boards are the most cost effective, having 4 RFID readers on the a board, and these should be used in areas such as stations and fiddle yards, where RFID points can be quite close together.  Dual readers are probably best for main lines.  Single readers are best for single lines, or out of the way places.
The readers come in various options with different aerial lengths, and different aerial sizes.  The small aerial should be used for Z, N and HO/OO gauges, and have a read distance of 30mm with the StaRFIshrail tag.  The large aerial has a read distance of 42mm, and should be used for O guage, and HO/OO where the baseboard is thicker than 12mm.  For Z gauge, use the smaller aerial with the 3mm tag - although this will only give a read distance of 15mm, the tag is ideal for mounting on Z gauge rolling stock.
Be sure to select the correct reader in the store.  The small aerials have lead lengths of 13cm, 23cm or 43cm, whilst the large aerials have lead lengths of 9cm or 33cm.

Single, Dual and Quad Readers

Single Reader (N-gauge track)

This reader has just one RFID point, with two RJ45 sockets for daisy-chaining, and a 2 pole, 2 position switch for setting the address.

Dual Reader (N-gauge track)

This reader has 2 RFID points, with 2 RJ45 sockets for daisy-chaining, and a one pole, 2 way switch for setting the address.

Quad Reader (N-gauge track)

This reader has 4 RFID points, just one RJ45 connector, and no address switching.


You will need connections between the Hub and the readers.  These are standard Ethernet "patch" cables, either Cat3, Cat5 or Cat5e - it really doesn't matter which you use, so go for the cheapest.  These are available from a number of sources.
You need to plan the length of cables you need - and then work out the costs.  Do not assume that Amazon and Ebay are the cheapest, as prices vary widely for exactly the same product.  Planning is essential so you get the cables you require.  I like to use colour coded cables, as this makes wiring easier.
If you are connecting either to a computer system, or between hubs with CBus, then you will need twisted pair cable, but the matching plug-in connector for CBus is included with the Hub.
To connect the Ethernet to the computer system, you will need an Ethernet patch cable - and maybe a small Ethernet router.


You will need an number of tags for affixing to your rolling stock. At the very least, you will need one tag for an engine, and one tag for the last truck/carriage in a train.  The StaRFIshrail tags (shown left, with N-gauge track for comparison) are approximately 6mm by 9mm, and will give a read distance of up to 30mm - though you are best not to use them too close to the limit.  There are commercial tags available from Murata in 3mm square (approx 15mm read distance) or 8mm square (approx 30mm read distance) as well.

StaRFIshrail Store

All items can be purchased from the StaRFIshrail store - follow the link at the top of this page, or on the Home page.Please make sure you plan your purchases carefully - especially the reader and aerial length/type combination.
In general, your order will be despatched within 5 days - if it is going to be longer, then we will email you.
For UK customers, orders will be despatched via Royal Mail Special Delivery - this is a next day, signed for service, with insurance.  For small orders of spare aerials or tags, first class post will suffice - please choose the correct service on checkout.
For international customers, we use tracked and signed for mail delivery - which should take less than 10 working days. Please read carefully the International Orders paragraph below.
We cannot offer courier delivery (UPS, Fedex etc), as the cost is prohibitive for a small business sending out a few parcels.

International Orders

StaRFIshrail is a new venture, designed and run by a hobbyist for other hobbyists, based in the UK.
All prices in the store are in British Pounds,and PayPal will convert this to your currency when charging your card.
British VAT (sales tax of 20%) will not be charged at the checkout, so the headline prices you will pay will be 16.6% smaller - but you may be charged sales tax and customs clearance charges when your goods enter your country, and these are your responsibility. However, model railway equipment does not have duty attached to it.
For EU countries, VAT will be charged on the value of the goods, and an additional clearance charge may be added by your delivery service.
The boards, aerials and tags are quite light, but power supplies and cables are heavier - you must decide whether you want to order power supplies and cables from the StaRFIshrail store and have additional carriage charges, or get these items locally.  However, if you are ordering a complete system, it is recommended that you get the power supply from StaRFIshrail.
At present, delivery by courier is not available - all items will be sent in the regular parcel mail.Because of the way the website builder works, each country has to be added separately for shipping.
At present, the countries available for shipping are:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA.
If your country is not on this list, please email me prior to using the StaRFIshrail store, and I will add your country.  Usually allow 24 hours for this, but I will email you when I have added the country.


If you have any questions, or want you plans reviewed, or advice on what you need to implement a StaRFIshrail system, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at info@starfishrail.co.uk.  We want you to have the best possible experience with StaRFIshrail products, as they have been specifically designed for model railway use, and it is better to sort out any questions before you make a purchase, so that when you do get the products, they work straight out-of-the-box in the way that you expect.

Sources of Power Supplies and Cables

This is a list of suppliers by country, for power supplies and wiring, which may reduce the cost of shipping for the user, rather than buying from the StaRFIshrail shop.  However, power supplies and cables are competitively priced in the StaRFIshrail store, and you will get a complete system delivered to you.
Please email me with local suppliers by country (website address only), and I will add them to the list.

Prices vary widely between suppliers for exactly the same item with the same specification.  Amazon and eBay are not necessarily the cheapest!.

UK Ethernet cables - Cat5e Patch cable

CPC  www.cpc.co.uk  - A wide range of cables, go for the Cat5e, but not all lengths available in all colours
Rapid Electronics  www.rapidonline.com - Less range than CPC, but possibly a bit cheaper
Videk Electronics www.videk.co.uk - A full range of lengths and colours in the "Booted Cat5e UDP patch cables" category, but be careful of shipping costs.

UK Power Supplies - use 12-18V dc, with a 2.1mm/5.5mm barrel, 24Watt or greater

CPC www.cpc.co.uk - A wide range
Rapid Electronics www.rapidonline.co.uk - a smaller range than cpc, but enough to choose from