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 Posted: Fri Sep 24th, 2021 11:31 am
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Brookwood
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I am desperate to put in a good word for Radio Control Battery operated 00 gauge layouts. I have recently got all the track on my layout finished and operational and now have five locos operating with more in the pipeline. And I am highly delighted with the results.

I remember discussing pros and cons a long time ago but now I have had some experience of the actual operational side I am even more enthusiastic.

Arguments against; used to be: the system is too big to fit into small locos. Well, I have two tank locos running and a Class 08 diesel shunter shunting without any additional wagons to hold the gear.

The cost: I cannot deny that there is some considerable cost involved if you have a large quantity of locos to convert but I have converted some I already owned and then bought second-hand the locos I didn’t have and wanted. I also believe that if your loco wheels are insulated then you can run your battery loco over your existing layout so you can combine the two. You could add sidings without having to worry about wiring them up and run your loco to them over your existing track. I haven’t tried that because I ripped out all my DCC stuff, so please check if that makes sense.

No sound: I had DCC and thought the sound was fun for the first five minutes but then didn’t bother I was more interested in the movement. I also found the sound was not very realistic, to me the sound of a station is all about the ambient sound of carriage doors slamming, kids shouting, seagulls and sparrows, a squeaky wheel on a porter’s trolley, people laughing, lorries going past, a motorbike, emergency sirens, road drills, a wheel tappers hammer, the crash of buffers during shunting, coal sliding down a chute, water splashing out the tender tank, and so on.

Unfortunately; when I started you could only have one battery loco operational at a time but that has all changed. I could, if I wish, have nine locos moving at the same time with one controller. That is a bit frightening but I have had four going at once and can very quickly and easily change between locos just by clicking one locos button and clicking the next and rotate the control knob.

There are other wonderful things you can do, like altering the gap (changing the response to the control knob), changing acceleration and braking, so you can have different locos operating in different ways.
I also have a 1 in 25 slope up and round a 30” curve and sending another loco to boost a heavily laden train up that slope is a doddle and great fun.

By comparison I found DCC slow to operate compared with my little RC controller. Swopping locos is so quick with radio control. And I can operate turnouts with the other hand at the same time.
Then the biggest argument, “I’ll wait until it is established before I invest my hard-earned cash”. I have no answer to that one but it does explain why when a new comer to the hobby asks which is best DC or DCC they are comparing a sixty-year-old system with a forty-year-old.

It is terribly unfortunate that Hornby got into financial difficulties shortly after going DCC in 1979 and probably delayed the advent by some years but it still took until the mid-Nineties before DCC was taken seriously by the buying public. Now the manufacturers are taking it on board and some people are advertising DCC as cutting-edge technology??????

Battery power is the new kid on the block at fifteen years old and hopefully as more people like me discover the joys, its growing up will accelerate. Then watch the revolution.
I have a vague memory of Hornby producing battery operated starter sets for children last Christmas or have I got that wrong?

Our hobby is still very vibrant at the moment but I can see it slowing down in the not too distant future unless the next round of technology comes along to rejuvenate it. Perhaps battery power is that next revolution. Once again it is left to the small entrepreneur to do all the ground work but thank heavens for them.
I hope I have disturbed a hornet’s nest but not upset anybody.

Now I’ve got that off my chest I’ll go back down my burrow and play trains.

Regards
 
Chris
 


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 Posted: Fri Sep 24th, 2021 09:40 pm
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Sol
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That has now put the cat amongst the pigeons  Chris so I guess many questions will be coming like......
where did you fit the batteries
& links to websites for obtaining such items.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 25th, 2021 08:02 am
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Brookwood
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I will make sure I keep poking my head above the parapet into the firing line. I am so pleased with my system that I want to share it with others.

Chris

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 Posted: Sat Sep 25th, 2021 08:26 am
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Petermac
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I'm currently lying down in a darkened room but, when I emerge, I'll have a whole string of questions for you - having  invested what to me, is a small fortune, in DCC sound ..................

You can easily go off people can't you .................................. :hmm



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 Posted: Sat Sep 25th, 2021 11:59 am
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GreenBR
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The first thing that comes to mind is track work within reason i asume any old track will do ??????? and i have loads of old set track i really will be following with interst
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 Posted: Sat Sep 25th, 2021 04:02 pm
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Brookwood
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I'm sorry Petermac it wasn't my intention to send anybody into a darkened room. I've still got a collection of LP's, CD's and USB sticks while technology moves past my expenditure so I sympathise with you. Even SD cards are now getting bigger in capacity and smaller in size every year.

We have loads of cordless bits of kit in the house so why not on our railway?

I look forward to your questions and if I can't answer them I know a man who can.

GreenBR who needs trackwork? Just draw a couple of lines on the floor and off you go. Only joking. Any track will do of the right gauge. Good old Hornby steel rails well rusted, covered in paint, dust and any old other muck you can think of, work well. Just remember, running off the end of the rails does not stop a battery powered loco.

I have taken some photos of the latest installation of a battery and I'll try and put them on here tomorrow, just to give an idea of what is involved.


Chris

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 Posted: Sat Sep 25th, 2021 06:56 pm
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A most interesting and worthwhile topic Chris. Not so sure that any old track will do though, as we need as perfect track as possible to get close to super cool performance.
 
I understand that sound is not on your agenda, but can on-board power enable functionality for sound, lights, etc and are you aware of this having been successfully accomplished?
 
Also, how do you find battery charge duration per loco?
 
Watching with interest.

Best,
 
Bill



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 Posted: Sun Sep 26th, 2021 10:39 am
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Brookwood
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A few photos as promised and answers to questions after.

Testing to see if it all works. The copper square is the loco swith which you stick on the inside and just resting your finger on the outside wakes up the system. the green light indicates it is charged, it is red while charging. the two curly wires go to the motor and it doesn't matter which way round you connect them, just that the control knob works the other way. If that bothers you change the wires or it can be changed in the software if you forgot to check before assmbly.

This is the charging socket and is the only part that needs fixing securely because I plug my locos in every night and unplug them in the morning. It doesn't take that long to charge them but it is a nice routine. I just used three little bits of balsa wood in this instance.

I've just thrown all the stuff in the tender. Everything plugs together except the two black wires to the motor in the loco body. The battery is the largest one of the three different sizes. The larger batteries fit in the main line tender locos and the smallest one fits in the tanks and shunter. All very logical really, tanks and shunters don't need much coal or battery power.

The finished article.

Progress so far. Two mainline passenger locos, a mainline goods loco, two suburban out and back single track tank locos and a class 08 shunter.

I charge all the locos and the controller at the same time.

And this is the unit I use. It has capacity for ten and is 60W 12amp so has plenty of oomph (technical electrical term).

I am not going to pretend that fitting batteries is easy, you do need patience and certain fiddling skill. But I managed it and I'm a doddering old plonker. If it is totally beyond you then the manufacturers do offer a fitting service.

Now to answer Bill's questions.

Track first. I neglected my layout for six years totally unattended and as it was a large flat area it got used as a storage area. When I eventually got round to using it again I made no attempt to do any cleaning (naughty me). I plugged in a loco for a quick charge, hung half a dozen coaches on the back and it happily rolled round the track without any hesitation. I have deliberately dirtied a track, within reason, and if anything the locos perform better. As long as the rail connections are good nothing else is a problem and I use very fine scale track and turnouts. I have replaced some of the plastic coach wheels but nothing on the locos.

On board coach lighting can be done by seperate batteries in the coaches so I haven't worried about that, some of those systems are brilliant, thank heavens for LED's. On the loco lights no, not yet, but I'm sure that will come with demand and batteries and lights are so small these days better brains than mine will sort out a system. The amount of DCC stuff I've just taken out of the Merchant Navy would be less than whats need for a seperate battery and lights.

I haven't had any trouble with how long the batteries last. Some of the old locos have quite a heavy current drain apparently but I'm running an old 1970's 4-6-2 with a wonky wheel set for several hours in a day while track testing which includes a 1 in 25 incline around 30" curve and not needed to recharge.

I did recharge one of the tank engines with the small battery,after some extensive track testing but I did that over lunch. The battery sizes for anyone who understands that, are 500mAh, 820mAh and 1050mAh.

The new motors are much more efficient but we really don't need 12volts to run a model railway.

I've done my best to answer your questions Bill and I hope you think up some more.

I'm not pretending to know all the answers but I've seen Protocab running trains around a track all day at exhibitions without a recharge.

I'll stop now as my brain is getting tired and demanding tea, and my enthusiasm is running away with me.

Best regards

Chris


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 Posted: Sun Sep 26th, 2021 12:16 pm
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AUSSIETRAINS
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Have a look at the web site.

https://www.protocab.com/welcome

I have downloaded some of the newsletters from 2019 and 2020 and will be spending the next hour or two reading up on this.

They have been working on this for quite a while, several years now, I wonder how it has been kept so quiet.



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 Posted: Sun Sep 26th, 2021 04:24 pm
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Brookwood
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Hi John

I suspect for a number of reasons.

One: Advertising is unbelievably expensive and small entrepreneurial companies simply have to put their money into servicing what customers they have got and investing in stock. Research and development is expensive and takes a long time. The testing alone for electronic items is very expensive and you have to get them tested before you can sell them. Then get licences for the radio control etc.

Two: Retailers can’t afford to invest in stock of such a new product. They probably waited twenty years for customers to started queuing up at their doors asking for DCC when they saw everybody else jumping on board.

Three: The manufacturers are just waiting until somebody does all the groundwork and then they’ll step in and use their power to take over the market and make all the money. Then all new RTR will be battery operated.

Four: The reluctance of the magazines to support such a new enterprise while they aren’t getting good advertising revenue and are awash with adverts for DCC products.

Five: The reluctance of the modelling public because they are frightened it might not work and want to see other people getting on board first.

Six: Range anxiety as in electric cars. How far will it go before I have all the hassle of filling it up with electricity?

Seven: Will it do all the things my existing system does? Probable not all of them no, but give it time. There are great ideas in the pipeline, like induction charging for example. Battery started off controlling with mobile phones but found that customers preferred a tactile moveable control knob, I certainly do. DCC is just bringing out mobile phone control I understand.

Eight: Resistance from electrical companies who are already heavily committed to making loads of different accessories for DCC.

I don’t want to go on anymore and sound boring.

I must also state I have absolutely no connection with any manufacturer of a battery system other than as a very satisfied customer of ‘Protocab’.

Does that partly answer your question about how it has been kept so quiet?

I hope you enjoy your investigations and please feel free to ask if you think I can help.

Regards

Chris



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 Posted: Mon Sep 27th, 2021 12:58 am
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Colin W
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This topic is fascinating to me in a couple of respects.

Firstly it's a logical progression when you can see modellers wiring in very large stay alives to act as backup for track based power systems. Why not go the whole way and put the entire power system on board to do away with all those pick-up niggles and track cleaning?  The stored energy appears to be high enough even if the device has to step up the voltage for typical existing motors. The system as described does all that and is impressive. It all seems too good to be true

Now where's the "BUT"?

To me the most obvious one lies in a range of technological issues. You only need to compare a 40 year old Airfix GMR loco and a modern Hornby Peckett to grasp how far electrical and mechanical drive systems have advanced since those days. The former's motor occupies the entire cab and bunker space AFAIR.

Now compare an Apple IIe of that era with your iPhone or for that matter a modern DCC sound chip. Computing power has advanced many folds more especially regarding size than the electro-mechanical aspects in the same time. Some of this has flowed thru with enormous benefit into our modelling world.

Naturally Manufacturers have competed in the market place by adopting these various advances in an integrated manner to great advantage. Imagine a stalwart still trying to sell a new Airfix 48xx era 1980 in their original powered form (yes I know Hornby still use the old moulding!). One aspect which it might be easy to dismiss is that in just about any modern loco I've bought there just isn't that much room particularly when you want to have sound on board. For typical recent examples see Peter's topic on the N7 or my workbench where I squeeze various small components into a Bachmann Small Prairie..

So, I cannot imagine any current company with all their investment in designs, toolings, know-how of existing technologies, existing products and market acceptance, saying to customers, DC or DCC users, that your existing power supply systems are redundant #. Pull it out from your locos, throw away your controllers and switch to our drive power system. No manufacturer has any incentive at all that I can think of to switch from what they mostly do very well and I reckon it wouldn't pass most modellers' version of  "The Pub Test".

That still does leave the enthusiast plenty of room to adopt the technology to great advantage but I suspect that the world has moved on for the majority of today's modellers who expect even a Sound DCC to be "plug and play", ideally thru the smokebox door with a pre-installed speaker on board. 

## As DCC supplies both power and control commands in a combined system, unless this could be integrated with onboard motive power it's hard to visualise how the two can operate side by side.




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 Posted: Mon Sep 27th, 2021 08:50 am
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Hello,
Just to be sure i am reading the website correctly to start from scratch with one loco running you need to spend £240. and a further £120 to convert each loco there after. Is that correct?
Regards



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 Posted: Mon Sep 27th, 2021 10:59 am
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I'd had a quick look over the weekend Stephen and I thought it looked like £200 initial setup for a single loco then £100 for each additional loco.

I could of course, have been looking at an outdated page but, against DCC sound, that doesn't look horrific although naturally, you don't get the sound..........if that lights your fire, and it does mine. :cool wink

For an outdoor layout, absolutely ideal I'd have thought but I have further questions soon for Chris when it comes to indoor use ........................ :cheers



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 Posted: Mon Sep 27th, 2021 02:39 pm
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Brookwood
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According to the title page of our forum, DC is still the most widely used system so the leap into battery might be easier for them. They may already have a sound system that doesn’t rely on DCC.

Colin you make valid points.

There is plenty of room in the locos I have converted, to take loudspeakers, chips, and wiring (see the latest one I’ve done further up the page), except for the diesel shunter.  The diesel shunter will not be moving very far so a loudspeaker with generic sounds located in the middle of the goods yard would do for that, if I do get interested. Particularly if it includes all the chain rattling, banging, squealing and shouting that goes on in a goods yard.

I’m guessing that profit is the driving force with the manufacturers of RTR so perhaps in the future they would be able to fit batteries alongside the DCC chips and loudspeakers. Then they can offer both alternatives. I understand that DСС is already talking to Radio Control so perhaps RC can talk to DCC and completely do away with the rail electrical connection.

GreenBR

You are correct in your prices and once bought the controller will operate nine locos and all at the same time if you’re brave enough. I find three moving isn’t too bad and four at a pinch on my layout.

I am sure that battery power is the way to go, it just seems so logical particularly when I look round our house and see how much cordless stuff we operate now. We even operate our whole house on a battery for 50% of the time.
Regards
 
Chris

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 Posted: Tue Sep 28th, 2021 09:16 am
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Regarding costs, I know that several 009 enthusiasts run radio controlled battery powered locos, and the cost has been in the region of £75 for a ten channel transmitter and £30 per receiver. A quick trawl of the NGRM forum comes up with quite a few threads on the subject. It's definately catching on.
Just my two-pence worth...
Shaun.

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 Posted: Tue Oct 5th, 2021 09:33 am
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GreenBR
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hello,
Can i ask what you are using as a main controler and is it connected to a pc (a pic would be nice)
Regards



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 Posted: Thu Oct 7th, 2021 03:15 pm
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Brookwood
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This is my controller in action.

It is radio control so not connected to anything.

The two trains in the background are going past each other on the centre tracks through the station.

All of my six locos are active. The steady green lights at 'A' and 'F' are the two trains that are contra rotating around my layout on their own while I am controlling the loco at 'D' which is a goods loco out of the picture, there is a green light at 'D' but it is flashing to show that is under direct control of the controller so the camera caught it while it was out.

The red lights at 'B', 'C' and 'E' are locos which are active and available to be driven at anytime.

The procedure to change locos from 'D' is press the' D' button and the light will change to a steady green (like 'A' and 'F') and the loco will carry on doing what it was doing at that speed. Then turn the speed knob back to zero and just press the button showing a red light for the loco you want and it will change to a flashing greeen, then you have complete control of that loco while the others are still doing their thing.

When you have finished driving the loco you just park it then press it's button again when the light will turn to red and it is ready for when you want it again
.
To get control of the either of the two trains on the centre tracks while they are moving you just press their button again and the light goes from steady to flashing, then turn the control know to their original speed or beyond and you then have complete control.

The numbers written on the controller, in pencil, alongside the lights are the last two numbers of the loco to help me remember which is which.

I have managed to have four locos moving at the same time on my layout. There is an emergency stop to bring everthing to a halt in the unlikely event of a crash.

The speed knob in the middle is zero at the top and there is a little click in the middle, so forwards is turn the knob to the right and backwards is to the left.

There is also a green light down the bottom to tell you, that you have power and a blue light to tell you the controller is broadcasting and receiving. The other button on the right is to put the controller into program mode where you can fo all sorts of clever things.

There is an on/off switch and I usually plug it in for recharging when I plug the locos in overnight.

The whole procedure is very simple, otherwise I couldn't work it, and is very speedy to operate. I can even control locos holding the controller in one hand and operating the point levers with the other.

I hope all that helps.

Regards

chris




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 Posted: Thu Oct 7th, 2021 03:30 pm
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Brookwood
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I have just read the November 2021 issue of BRM magazine and would you believe it Hornby have brought out battery powered trainsets for children for Christmas again. They come complete with plastic track in 00 Gauge, a remote infrared control and with sound and lights. There are plenty of accessories available like extra track and buildings.

What a brilliant way of getting some young person interested in our hobby. It has also apparently had a run around Pete Waterman's West Coast Mainline layout,

Battery power is coming.

Regards

Chris

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 Posted: Fri Oct 8th, 2021 03:20 pm
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Hi Chris,

Interesting and encouraging. I am leaning towards dead rail again (wiring dual gauge turnouts for DCC could get interesting), having dabbled with the Stanton system a few years ago. I was recently checking out the Tam Valley system, which consists of a transmitter connected to the DCC system output (or rails), and a receiver connecting to the battery and DCC decoder. That way I keep my DCC decoders and DCC system. Should be simple enough to have a switch that allows rail or battery input. North American and European transmitter wavelengths available.

Nigel



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 Posted: Fri Oct 8th, 2021 04:42 pm
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Great to see you posting again Nigel - you OK ?  



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