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Radio Control
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 Posted: Wed May 16th, 2007 03:53 pm
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Trebor
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I started writing this a few weeks ago…
 



Battery Operated/Remote Control Trains



When I built my On30 Center Line layout I quickly discovered that those cute 0-4-0 locomotives just don’t want to run through turnouts. That was the first time I looked into battery operated locos. It’s very simple to hook a loco up to a battery but you need some way to control it. Remote control.
 
I hunted around on the internet and found lots of people talking about battery operated/ remote control but finding any decent information on how to do it was difficult.


There’s a Yahoo group called the Texas Outlaws. They had a couple of people using RC and a lot of references to it but not enough details. I even ran into them at a couple of trains shows and talked to them. Still couldn’t figure it out.

 
The info I could gather went something like this: “Get a receiver and some crystals, get an ESC unit, get some batteries and hook it all up. Oh, yeah, get a transmitter too.”
 
Hmmm!?
 

RC cars have been around for a long time and they aren’t that different than a train. They go forward and backwards, they can go fast or slow and they can turn left or right. A train only needs two of the three so it shouldn’t be that hard. I went to some RC hobby shops and the people working (mostly kids) just scratched their heads and said “that should work” but they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) come up with any solutions for me.

 
I knew one option would be to buy a complete RC car and pull out the parts. I could probably do that now but I didn’t know enough to try it a month ago.

 
Back to the Texas Outlaws. One of their members, Woody, seamed to be the ring leader of the effort and know the most about it. I checked back on the Yahoo site recently and saw a post from Woody about a new receiver/ESC unit that simplified the process. Woody works at a hobby shop in Dallas so I gave him a call one morning. The next thing I knew, I was at the shop. The next thing I knew, I had a train running.

 
OK – DISCLAIMER. I will tell you exactly what I bought and what I did. It works for me. It should work for you. But if it blows up for you, it’s not my fault.

 
First I bought a Receiver/ESC (electronic speed control) from Team LOSI, about 30 bucks. The product number is LOSB0803.

  
Then I bought a Futaba 2DR digital proportional 2-stick transmitter, about 50 bucks.

 

 

 

The Futaba came with some servos and a receiver. You don’t use those. It also included a set of crystals. I took the crystal out of the included receiver and put it in the LOSI receiver.

 
I used a regular 9-volt battery. This battery powers both the train and the receiver.

 
The specs for receiver say the maximum voltage is 8.4 volts. What’s .6 volts among friends? (See disclaimer above)

 
You hook the black and red wires from the receiver to the battery and the orange and blue go to the engine.

 
IT WORKS. It didn’t take more than 30 minutes to put it all together. 

 
I just dropped everything in a gondola.

  

 The battery and receiver will easily fit into one of my small On30 boxcars.

 
The motor makes a high pitched noise when it is running really slow but it goes away with increased speed. It runs a little jerky but as I run it more often, I get better at operating it.

 
I actually bought a second receiver so I can use the other joystick and operate two separate engines from one receiver.

 
That’s all for now.           Questions please.

Bob

Last edited on Wed May 16th, 2007 04:29 pm by Trebor



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 Posted: Wed May 16th, 2007 03:57 pm
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HO DOCTOR
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Hey there, Dave & W. C.:
    This sounds very interesting. Keep me posted on the developments, too.
If it's HO, I want it!! (Kinda....If the Home Management approves):bow::bow::bow:

I have one of those little RC cars that fit into the palm of your hand. These were popular a while back. I think from Radio Shack. If this will do, I am very good at tearing things apart. It's the putting them back together,and working, that's giving me fits.

Last edited on Wed May 16th, 2007 04:05 pm by HO DOCTOR



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 Posted: Wed May 16th, 2007 04:26 pm
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W C Greene
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Another source for small r/c boards is KYOSHO MINI-Z RACER cars, these boards are a bit smaller than the LOSI boards but cost more and are hard to find. Most of my stuff has the KYOSHO boards and I have never had any problems with them using either 9 volts or 11 volt Lithiums, same for the LOSI boards. Good luck, I know that once you run without wires, you will wonder why everybody isn't!

               W C Greene-wireless in Dallas



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 Posted: Wed May 16th, 2007 04:35 pm
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Dave D
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Ok I guess the first question I have is...whats a crystal?

and Why did you have to replace it?

That looks a little larger than I had hoped...But I may be able to get around it....if I try it.

Is it noisy because of the motor in the little switcher?

I have that one and it sounds like a wreck to begin with.

Does it run smooth at low speed?

I was thinking of going the RC car route and ripping it apart and using the motor and all as I would be building the loco from the ground up anyway.

I would think I could get a decent setup for 80 bucks.

What are your opinions on that?



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 Posted: Wed May 16th, 2007 04:35 pm
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W C Greene
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Here's another quick post-the little bitty r/c cars don't have the PROPORTIONAL speed control....yet! If any of you know what a Cletrac tractor was, a very nice model of one can be made with a 10 dollar tiny r/c tank available at most big electronics stores. Don't overlook the tiny cars, however, I have used these little boards to power and control various operations (like my rotary car dumper) which don't need speed control. Imagination is all any of this takes and my hat is off to Bob for his great piece on r/c which I just read. Great work Bob!!!!

                the Outlaw troublemaker 



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 Posted: Thu May 17th, 2007 06:48 am
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Trebor
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Dave, the crystals are little plug-ins that match the frequency of the transmitter and receiver.



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 Posted: Thu May 17th, 2007 08:54 am
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Tileguy
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This brings up some Veeeeeeeery Interesting Possibilities.............Keep us updated Bob............experiments are soooo very cool!!    :thumb:



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 Posted: Thu May 17th, 2007 10:59 am
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W C Greene
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One thing to remember (or be aware of) when thinking about switching a loco to r/c is that the loco should be a good runner to begin with. R/c won't cure a balky and noisy loco, the engine must be broken in properly and be worthy of the conversion. You really can't make a silk purse from the sow's ear in this case.

Have fun....W C Greene



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 Posted: Thu May 17th, 2007 12:48 pm
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Trebor
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The noise come from the ESC. It controls the speed by switching on and off rapidly. At low speeds, it makes some noise.



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 Posted: Thu May 17th, 2007 01:38 pm
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W C Greene
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Hey Bob-here's something you might try for the hum noise-solder a couple of tiny capacitors across the motor brushes. This quited the noise in one of my locos. You might try some sound effects to hide the noise, but sometimes I would rather listen to the board hum than chuff chuff stuff. How about this-put on headphones and listen to some cool jazz or classical music, that's my kind of noise! And yes, there are capacitors available for this at the hobby shop made by Trinity Products but I don't remember the part number, they are in the r/c car department. I am glad there is interest in this area, if a train manufacturer would jump on board life would sure be easier.

Better living with batteries- ye old troublemaker

BTW-I got a glimpse at some really, REALLY tiny rechargable Lithium Ion batteries that would surely fit in most any HO and possibly some N locos. Now if we could discover a smaller board that does what we want (and a not too expensive price). I also heard that CREST (Aristo Craft) is cutting its' DC ENGINEER board and transmitter. This costs more than the car stuff deoes, but it can be run with batteries and the boards are a little smaller. For some strange reason, Crest never mentions in their brocures that this thing can be run from batteries, their plan is to keep track wiring & turn up the speed-a sort of dcc-ish plan. I believe that if they promoted using their system with batteries, maybe they would see increased sales! Oh well, what do I know about such things!

 



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