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Bill Fornshell
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This was sent to me at Trackside Modeler. I have sent for a subscription to the magazine and will post more information as I have it.

============================================

Hi Bill,
I have just read an article by Neil Stanton in the August edition of the Australian equivalent of MRR, (Australian model railway magazine), and in it is the start of a 4 series piece on a conversion from a bulky motorized  model of a "Tulloch" car into a model that has a... wait for it...... "a battery powered radio controlled dcc decoder" in it,  for its power and control.
the interesting thing is that the battery is a small single cell polymer lithium ion battery (3.7 v), but here is the kicker.... he is also going to install a step-up converter so as to boost it to 12 volts for decoder and bogie motor operation. ( the original bogies are replaced with motorized ones of course )
The battery looks the size of a decoder but maybe a bit slimmer.
The power management circuit board is about the size of a dc board ie long and thin.

The radio receiver and antenna are 11/2 inches long and as flat as a circuit board.

And he will convert the DCC decoder to work with the power from the battery and a connection for DCC input from the radio receiver.
He has a piece of powered rail which he can leave the train on to recharge the battery!!!

And all this fits below eye/window level of a normal looking rail coach. (The radio receiver and DCC decoder were fitted to the ceiling of the coach)

Here are the objectives he sets out to achieve:
-replace existing motor with under-floor powered bogie
-equip with battery power and radio communication
-Use NMRA DCC communications protocol
-Add KD couplers, operating headlights, interior lights and inter-car cables (whatever that is)


So in the next 4 issues he is going to explain how he:
1 replaced the motor
2 installed the battery and battery charger
3 installed the radio and radio receiver...and..
4 converted the DCC decoder to work with battery power and radio communications.

If you can understand what I'm trying to say, they could be interesting articles for you to read.


http://www.australianmodelrailways.com

Jack 

===============================================

We talked about this during Chat this Sunday night. What we think we know,
A "Tulloch Car" is a type of traction unit. See picture in link:

http://www.pjv101.net/cd/pages/c407m.htm

I (we) will have to wait till (I or someone) gets a copy of part one and see where this is going. It sounds very interesting so far.

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:Hmm:I dont think anyone has done both RC and DCC, this is a new one. I'm really curious about the battery. That Tulloch car looks like a shortened Budd RDC.

Nice find! :thumb:

W C Greene
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I don't know anything about what this fellow is doing but I do know that a single cell 3.7 volt li-poly (not Li-Ion) battery as small as he says it is has barely enough power to run the model for more than 15-20 minutes. Add sound to that, maybe 5 minutes. Add some sort of "power converter" for raising the voltage, then he may be lucky to get a couple of minutes run time. The fact that he will use a wired and dedicated piece of track to recharge the battery makes any layout built the same as any other wired layout. For this to "work", the wheels on the power unit will have to be really, REALLY clean to be able to recharge and as I have been told from r/c guys with far more battery charging experience than I have, tiny wheels on skinny rails are not a suitable way to handle current in a charging situation. I do wish him luck in this venture, maybe he will "suprise" me with a youtube video of the thing running for a couple of hours. The "wired" part is what I am not enamored with but that's only my hang-up. I have several of the small batteries he talks about and while they are sure tiny, they have an output of maybe 50MAH, one or two maybe a bit more but not enough to run a train for any real length of time. The batteries I use have a capacity of 850 to 1500 MAH, even the little guy in my Model T has 350 MAH. Is any of this stuff on the "net" anywhere? I would sure like to see what it's all about.

Herb made me write all this, he is the fellow behind the curtrain who operates the Great Wizzard of OZ.           Woodie

Bill Fornshell
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Hi,

I ordered a subscription to the magazine on 21 August over the internet. They say they ship all over-sea's magazines by Air Mail so I might get the current copy in a week or so.

I hope it doesn't turn out to be a wire-less (RC ??) DCC controller of some sort and something less that what we think of as Radio Control.

Don or someone in Australia might have some luck getting in touch with him and see if he would start a thread here about what he is doing.

Until then I wait for my copy of the magazine.

Time goes by fast when I am asleep so maybe I should take a long nap.

Rod Hutchinson
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Hi all,

I have a copy of the article in front of me.  Is there anything you may like to know I'll see if it is in the article.  In the meantime an NMRA colleague, Bob Backway, has been experimenting with wireless controll of DCC.  He has an article on the internet.

http://www.geocities.com/OzDCC/DWiDCC/DWiDCC.htm

In regard to the battery power, the author makes the following observation. 

"The battery is charged from the DCC track power, and operation is improved by using battery backup power to eliminate problems caused by intermittent contact between wheel and rail."

 

Bill Fornshell
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Hi Rod,

Thanks for the information.

It seems he may be talking about a way to improve his DCC and not running his trains by Radio Control like we are. He seems to be using the battery power to get his DCC trains across dead spots in his track. True Radio Control does that for you and a lot more.

It will still be interesting to see what all he has come up with.

Thanks for the link to that article.

skyking20
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So for all the hoopla its still just DCC with all of the wiring, work and other issues. Right? All you are adding is another layer of complexity without gaining any thing meaningful especially if the earilier post that says tiny wheels and rails doe not make a great recharger are true.

Lance

W C Greene
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Many times, the term "radio control" means a wireless handheld throttle and has nothing to do with real radio control using onboard batteries.  The mainstream model rr press uses "radio control" to make readers and future buyers think that what they are getting is "cutting edge" and high technology. Most model railroaders have never been exposed to r/c unless it is one of their kid's toys from Wal Mart which uses batteries and no wires. Guess what-that kid's toy is more technically advanced than dad's dcc brouhaha. Model railroaders tend to only look at what's available at the local train store where r/c is not spoken. The "r/c" idea sounds like a stop-gap dcc plan to enable the loco to run over dirty track or open circuits without stalling but it still relys on track power. I would like to think that what is being discussed is real r/c, but until I have seen the results, I will have to reserve my opinion. (Right!)

So, what else is new?               Woodie


PS-the wheels & rails for a charging circuit is TRUE. This cannot carry enough steady current to recharge a decent battery and with higher output batteries, it could cause the wheels to become "welded" to the rails.

Last edited on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 10:47 pm by W C Greene

Sullivan
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Actually, it all sounds similar to what the DCC boys already have available. I think it's called back EMF er sum'pn. I know there are Lenz decoders that can do this quite well, and have for several years. The guys on the Maine Sn2 Modular group had'm about 4 years ago.

Of course, I know someone out there will say I'm wrong. Suits me!

Gotta go work on my loco...or go loco.

Burra
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G'day everyone,
 I have just registered after reading this thread. Hello everyone :-)
 I work for Berg's Hobbies, the producer of the Tulloch models Neil Stanton has been working with. I have met Neil and seen his RC models.
 To start with, in this instance, a 'Tulloch' is a standard gauge single deck suburban electric train from the Sydney metropolitan system. They usually operated as 4, 6 or 8 car trains. Here is a photo of some of our models:
http://i418.photobucket.com/albums/pp269/Burra2a/random/IMG_6622.jpg
 The models are HO scale. Neil's conversion uses a Black Beetle (or NWSL alternative) spud for power. All circuitry/drivetrain is contained in the one, powered carriage.
 I admit to not having the article in front of me and I haven't read it since before it was in the mag :-)

 It is a while since Neil visited (he doesn't live in Australia), but at the time he was indeed using battery RC as his article illustrates. He demonstrated with the popular method of running a train across a table without rails.
 When Neil says "The battery is charged from the DCC track power, and operation is improved by using battery backup power to eliminate problems caused by intermittent contact between wheel and rail." I believe it could be construed as easily to mean that having the majority of or the entire model railway track energized as well as using batteries is a good way to ensure faultless running.

 This is not a glorified wireless DCC system, but a standalone system with an important link to NMRA standard DCC. The following is how I understand it to work:

 The base motor/lights/sound decoder indeed could be your off the shelf DCC decoder (I say could be as I think Neil made his own to NMRA standard). However, signals are not picked up through the rails, they are transmitted from the handset to the loco's receiver on board, hence RC. The receiver 'speaks DCC' to the decoder so the decoder has all its usual functions as one would hope for and expect. That means sound, back EMF, ditch lights, valve gear, couplers and anything else DCC can do, can be done here (Well, I don't know how many functions Neil has incorporated into his handset controller yet or how the batteries will cope with the extra load from sound). I have not messed with DCC functions such as sound, I understand it takes a lot more power than base level DCC so the battery life may not be enough with sound to not have energized tracks all around.
 As designed and demonstrated, the batteries power the train, not simply making up for dirty track. The powered tracks used for charging can be in station areas or similar where there is dwell time for the train, or a reasonable section of mainline if preferred. The powered carriage has 8 wheel pick-up, and with the currents used in contemporary railway modelling, I am surprised that people have experienced the small contact area of the wheel and rail influencing things negatively. In theory, 30 years ago HO trains used to pull well over an amp on a bad day using brass track and wheels, we aren't charging at anywhere near an amp of current and using much more effective and clean conducters to boot. As I understand it, charging currents don't need to be high for LiPos if you aren't trying to pull high currents from them as the RC car guys do.

 I'm afraid thats about as much as I know, and chances are I will forget to drop back in to your fine forum.
 I do have a few Kyosho boards put away for my O scale std gauge and wish someone would design a bluetooth receiving DCC decoder so I could play trains from my mobile phone!
 Good luck and keep at it paving the way forward in the world of model railway control!
Cheers,
 Mark K
 

W C Greene
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Mark-since you have seen the train run across a table without any track, I will concede that this gent has it down. I run without any track wiring and do use Li-Po rechargables due to the larger than HO (1:32) locomotives and heavy ore cars which are run half the time with a full load of "ore" up and down vicious grades so I need some power. I am getting about 6-8 hours of run time per charge with average 7.4 volts and 1200 MAH. Like my buddy Herb, I like to run with a stick transmitter and there are none offered for model rr use so we use old r/c car xmitters and run with the Kyosho boards. It is great to know that others are using what we consider the future of the hobby, I look forward to more advances. Keep us posted on what's happening in your part of the world.           Woodie

Herb Kephart
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Woodie-

I have seen your comment about the wheel/rail contact area to not be enough for recharging before. Talking through my nether extremities right now, I think that started with the guru guys that you work with- but remember that they are trying to recharge quickly to get back in the air, or on the track- so that the amperage that they are charging is far more than you or I use. The wheel to rail electrical connection can either perfect, or less than perfect to some extent- if less than- the voltage will still be there, the amperage will be cut down- resulting in a longer than expected charging time.

I think that Mark is is right- I have  couple of electric locos that each unit has two old K&D #1's (not R/C) that pull 4 amps running and wheel contact on code 100 rail is not a problem.

OK refute away-----


Herbie:old dude:
 

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Hello all,
 If you come across the new NWSL 'Stanton' Drive, it is the SPUD that the author of the articles this thread is about has designed in conjunction with NWSL, that he uses with his radio control. The units run very well, better than the Hanazono, Tenshodo, PDT and Black Beetle SPUDs in my opinion, and are wired ready to be used with DCC/RCC or what have you.
 I'd link to the NWSL website but its useless. Best I can do is this from my works' blog:
http://bergshobbies.blogspot.com/search/label/Stanton%20Drive
 Cheers,
 Mark

W C Greene
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OK Herb, as for your post way back in October about charging circuits through the wheels. Yes, it would be possible to do this with the low amperage we need BUT then you will have wired track and pickups on the loco's wheels. The charge goes through the rails..OK, then it goes from the wheels through extremely small and sensitive pickups and then on to you know where. Maybe your big old O scale locos would have "robust" wheel wipers, but wipers on most smaller models and those without metal frames, etc. are prone to lose contect and wear out quickly if you do any long time operations. Brass locos don't need fiddly pickups, the drivers and tender trucks route power to the motor in a satisfactory manner, some "split frame" HO & N locos have shed the pickups but many still have some form of wipers that make (or break) contact and power the motor. Most of the repairs I do concern pickups that are worn out or not making contact or just plain dirty. Others may love wheel/track power interface, but I think it is an antique way of doing business.

But then, it's my opinion, and opinions are like a..........., everybody has one. I won't leave my name here because I am afraid of the dcc police. Hasta la Vista.

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So, if you are recharging the battery through the rails and wheels, how do you isolate the r/c board from the battery while recharging.  It is my understanding that during a recharge, the r/c board must be isolated from the battery to eliminate possible damage to the board.

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Jim- I don't isolate the board while charging, and haven't had any problems (YET!)

While I have not tried charging from the track, and really dont have a way of doing this, since all my wheels are grounded, I think that it could be done this way--

Put AC to the track, and have a diode bridge in the loco. Doing this will eliminate the problem of reversed (DC) polarity if the loco is turned around. Switches, crossings would be isolated, and electrically dead so the loco would only pick up charge current when on plain sections of track. If the pickup was intermittent (dirty track) no problem, just no charge for that instant. When the loco came to a switch, there would be no charge, but the battery could not short, or try to back feed the track because the diode bridge would prevent it. I envision the use of a 9V NiMH battery, because of the charging of LiPo's is time and voltage critical. No need for a lot of on board battery capacity, as some, or most likely all the power to the motor is coming from the track. Just brainstorming about this. It might even be possible to use coin cell batteries, if there are any that are rechargeable--all the battery needed would be enough to carry the motor for a moment to get across non-charging sections. This is the reason for thinking about this, as battery size is one of the critical things when putting RC in a loco. 


Woodies Uncle  :old dude:

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Good idea, Herb. Once again, I have been "cautioned" by the r/c crowd to isolate the board when charging. While sitting here listening to it rain and watching a "tearjerker" Bonanza show, I realized that since I won't have any "charging track" on my layout, I might be able to make charging easier and achieve the isolation while doing so and also change the on/off switch. When I can get some, I will try a micro DPDT with center off. I will wire the battery output to the center taps, wires to the board on one end and wires to a charging jack on the other end. When the toggle (that's what I want) is centered, the board is off and the battery is TOTALLY isolated from the board. When in charge position, I can use a charging jack perhaps under the loco to juice up the battery. The other position will power the board. There is probably no problem with charging batteries while the board is hooked up but I don't want to fry a board as an experiment.  Maybe one of the resident electrical brainiacs can guide us through this mire of electrons, any takers?

As the "r/c nazi" said-"No pickups for you!"                 Woodie 

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Mopman/Woodie:
 Toy-sized infra-red control helicopters and my RC submarine have the (really bad) LiPo charging circuit integrated with the rest of the onboard electronics so it can't be too much of a hazard to the control circuits. I should warn, this is my opinion not verbatim! Those foam choppers are very easy to blow a battery in though :doh:


EBT: proper 4 diode bridge rectifiers work with both AC and DC to ensure you get only the desired polarity output. So you can still take your trains to your friend's DC or DCC layout and have it charge, and not bother about AC on your own layout.

Cheers,
 Mark

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Burra wrote: Hello all,
 If you come across the new NWSL 'Stanton' Drive, it is the SPUD that the author of the articles this thread is about has designed in conjunction with NWSL, that he uses with his radio control. The units run very well, better than the Hanazono, Tenshodo, PDT and Black Beetle SPUDs in my opinion, and are wired ready to be used with DCC/RCC or what have you.
 I'd link to the NWSL website but its useless. Best I can do is this from my works' blog:
http://bergshobbies.blogspot.com/search/label/Stanton%20Drive
 Cheers,
 Mark


Hmm, Hanazono & Tenshodo are the same, Hanazono make the Tenshodo SPUD. However it is an old design and is showing its age.

When you say the Stanton Drive is better than the Tenshodo SPUD, I would agree, almost anything runs better than a SPUD. To say the Stanton is better than the PDT is a bit odd since the PDT has not been available for 10 years or more.

And comparing the Stanton to the Black Beetle is a little odd also, as the Stanton Drive is not really available to purchase. When, and if it becomes available, it is only offered in 3 wheelbases, no mention of choice in wheel sizes and no price or date of delivery.

So, how did you get one to compare with the SPUD, PDT and Black Beetle?

 

 

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Geoff,
 You might know me as Mark K from the ausnarrowgauge yahoo group. I work for Berg's Hobbies, where there has been a sample since the first test units were built.  Berg's is the Oz importer of SPUDs, and the dank dungeon that is the Berg's Hobbies store room occasionally offers treats such as long out of production drives. There is a BB under a loco body kit in the cabinet.
EDIT: BB, SPUD and PDT drives are the closest to the Stanton Drive so why not compare them? /EDIT

Mr Stanton is expected in Sydney in October to demonstrate his RC system on the Berg's Hobbies stand at the annual AMRA exhibition.:rah:

 The big news is, the Stanton Drives are now available. Sold 12 already, only came in last week!

Geoff, I didn't have one of your BullAnts on hand to compare it with, and didn't think to test against your bogie mech. EDIT: I could compare yours to the Stanton next week if you'd like and I remember.  /EDIT

Cheers,
 Mark

Last edited on Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 12:27 am by Burra

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Cool, so emachisit and what wheel sizes, wheelbase, gear ratios etc. are available?

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AU$99.95 and don't have the foggiest on the guts of it because they don't come in 14mm gauge so are of no use to me! But then neither do yours that i am aware of...:sad:

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That's not a bad price.

My mechanisms are available in gauges from 9mm up to about 25mm, but do not fit under-the-floor like the others you mentioned. As Bergs are probably most interested in powering their suburban cars with the Stanton Drive, my units would not be suitable anyway.

However, none of the under-the-floor types are offered in less than 16.5mm gauge, and only the Black Beetle is offered in gauges from 16.5mm up to 32mm.

Geoff

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My name has come up a few times in this forum, so I've just joined to help out with some of the questions. Yes, I designed the Stanton Drive and it's now in production by Northwest Short Lines, replacing their PDT product. (http://www.nwsl.com).

It's a digression from where this thread started, which was battery powered, radio controlled HO scale models; specifically an application in Sydney suburban electric multiple units. The articles in the Australian Model Railway Magazine are continuing and will provide reasonably complete explanation, although I know some readers are getting inpatient. The articles have been written for some time and publication depends on space allocation and layout of the magazine.

Just a word on batteries. I'm using a single cell lithium polymer battery, 750 mAH (3/4 of an amp-hour) capacity. Remember, I'm working in HO with motors that have a stall current less than 250 mA. Typical running current is 100 mA at 12 volts, and, yes, I am using a step-up converter to get 12 volts. Charging current is limited at 500 mA and charging only occurs in stations and on storage sidings. The rest of the layout has no track wiring. I haven't welded any wheels to rails yet, and don't expect to.
 

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G'day Neil,
 Glad you found the forum-it was me you spoke to on the phone today.
Hope I described your system accurately!
-Mark

Last edited on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 06:26 am by Burra

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Neil does this system have enough power to run the locos with a sound decoder installed?

That and removing the battery to recharge are the main things holding me back from going to the dark side.

I always liked the idea of a side track where the loco could be recharged through the rails.:2t:

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Niel

Welcome to Freerails!

How about describing the "step up converter" circuit?


Herb:old dude:

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Sounds like a great system to me. I would like to know how long a charge lasts under "typical" operating conditions.

          Woodie

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Hi Mark, Dave and Herb,

First, the step-up converter: I originally bought converters from BetaDyne (http://www.beta-dyne.com) but the price kept increasing, so now I build my own. Being new to this forum, I'm not sure how much detail is appropriate or the best way to describe the design. Herb, can you give a little advice how best to respond to your request.

Re sound: Someone needs to tell me the power consumption of the sound system. Once I know power consumption, the rest of the battery issue is arithmetic to determine appropriate battery size and operating duration before needing a recharge. I'll do the math and explain the process, if someone provides the sound system data.

However, my concern with on-board sound is the choice of decoder. Remember, my goal is to operate with on-board battery power and radio control. No operational dependency on track wiring; "Free Rails" at last!. My radio control is NMRA standards compliant, which allows 2 options for a decoder; "kit-bashing a commercial DCC decoder card or building my own decoder. I've done both and prefer my own decoder for loco operations (not too surprising).

I have not investigated sound decoders, but I certainly will not attempt building my own. That means converting loco control/sound decoders for battery power and radio control. To my knowledge, this is unknown territory.

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Hi Woodie,

With the 750 mAh battery and no recharging, I get 2 to 3 hours operation with the Sydney suburban electric multiple units (one motor per 4-car set). For heavier locos and trains in HO scale, I would use a larger-capacity battery.

For O-scale and larger, I would use a 3 or 4-cell lithium-polymer battery pack; probably with an external battery charger.

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OK, maybe the run time is pretty short. How big (physical size) is this converter?  The technical link had no dimensions on these converters. Sound operation is the biggest source of battery drain. A loco that has no sound may be able to run for several hours with a 7.4 volt li-poly before recharge. The same loco with sound is doing good to get a little over an hour run time. Besides that, most sound decoders don't come on until they receive 7 volts-Tsunami is that way. Since I don't mess with sound effects, it is all lost on me anyway.

         Woodie

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Neil- you wrote----"Herb, can you give a little advice how best to respond to your request."

How about a schematic? Also, like Woodie, I would like some idea of size. Vi-Vo and max Ma would be helpful also.

Herb :old dude:

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Neil-thanks for all this information, I am glad that so many others are going wireless. My 1:35n2 locomotives run with 2 cell, 7.4 volt Li-Poly batteries, one Shay loco uses an 11.1 3 cell job since it runs way too slow on just 7 volts. Long ago, I decided that I never ran my locos on more than 6 volts when they were dc, so the 2 cell batteries work great. I have a Model T railcar that uses a small 7.4 volt battery due to the Falhauber gearhead motor and 2:1 crossbox which I would love to install a 1 cell with a converter due to space considerations. That's why I was interested in the size of the converters. Keep up the good fight.     Woodie

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This is the converter I build myself, which is more or less a reference design from the IC manufacturer's web site. It converts an input between 2.5 and 5 volts to a regulated 12 V output. It can provide 400 mA output current, maybe more; I haven't required this kind of current so I did not test for max capability. I designed the circuit board for minimum space. It measures 1 inch by 1 inch using a 2-sided PCB, which is 3/8ths of an inch thick when components are mounted both sides.
 

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Neil

Thank you! One  question--you show R1 as .03  ???  Sounds like a near-perfect short--

Herb :old dude:

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Hi Herb,

You're looking at a current sensing resistor that provides feedback to limit maximum output current. 0.03 ohms limits output to roughly 500 mA at 12 volts when the voltage input is 4 volts. The following manufacturer's circuit (courtesy of Maxim) may help explain what's going on.




 

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Hi All,

Thanks for your interest in the step-up converter. Pictures are more interesting than circuit diagrams, so here it is:


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Neil-

You told me that this is only the voltage step up board, and that you have now incorporated it into the receiver.

How about some details on the system- frequency, comparability with other systems, etc.

How many operators can use the system at one time?

Do you make the transmitter as well as the receiver? I know that you have been working on this for several years, and use it on your own HO layout. Has it been tried by others? Do you have more refining to do?

Are the RX and ESC incorporated into the same board?

Neglecting the battery, what is the size of the components that go into the loco? If you are using it in HO equipment, it must be fairly small.

How does DCC fit into this whole picture?

As Woodrow is fond of saying "Expiring minds want to know"


Herb  :old dude:--- who not too long ago thought that a crystal set was high tech---

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Hi Herb,

I had all the same questions so I subscribed to the magazine so I could follow along.

I think most of your questions will be answered in the next two parts of Neil's magazine article.

You may be putting him on the spot asking him to talk about the contents of the article in a public forum before it has been published.

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Bill-

I certainly do not want to put anyone on "the spot" or force Neil to divulge something that he would rather not.


Neil-

Answer as many or as few questions as you see fit. I suppose that I should subscribe to the magazine, but I have missed half the articles already. I will see if I can get back issues.


Both- Just sent in a subscription and an order for all 2009 back issues


Herb  :old dude:

Last edited on Thu Mar 11th, 2010 10:32 pm by Herb Kephart

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ebtm3 wrote:
Bill-

I certainly do not want to put anyone on "the spot" or force Neil to divulge something that he would rather not.


Neil-

Answer as many or as few questions as you see fit. I suppose that I should subscribe to the magazine, but I have missed half the articles already. I will see if I can get back issues.


Both- Just sent in a subscription and an order for all 2009 back issues


Herb  :old dude:


Herb, I should have posted this. The issues you want are the August 2009 and October 2009.

August 2009 - Article Overview

October 2009 - Re-Powering the Sydney Suburban - Part 1

Next - ?? Part 2

Next - ?? Part 3

Next - ?? Part 4

I have the Dec 2009 and the Feb 2010 but nothing in them about Neil's article. They missed a couple issues but Neil told me Part 2 should be in the next issue. They come out every two months so the next issue for me will be the April 2010 issue.

The article has been very interesting so far and I have gotten several ideas that I an using on some of the McKeen Motor Car conversions to Radio Control that I am working on as I type this.

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Herb, Bill,

Bill's right; I wrote the articles trying to cover the full range of what I've been doing and AMRM is doing a slow, but quite nice job, with the stuff I sent them.

I'll answer some basic questions about my radio control, but skip details. The magazine benefits by spreading the word about their publication, but you will need the articles if you want to seriously pursue what I'm doing.

What frequency?     
916 MHz
What radio maunfacturer?     
Linx Technologies
DCC?      
Lot's of confusion here. I use radio with NMRA DCC packet protocol.
So what the heck does that mean?      
The messages to the loco look exactly like DCC but arrive by radio; not the track. There's no master station, no booster, no wiring, no $600 price tag.
So what does a train operator use?    
A hand-held wireless CAB.
What goes in the loco?    
A radio receiver, a decoder and motor controller. Optionally, a battery if there is no track power.
Loco accessory control?
Yes, we have function outputs from the decoder
What about sound?     
I haven't done much in this department
Does this stuff exist?
Yes, it's operational, but not commercialized. (I'm a hobbyist; not a manufacturer.) It's been in use on my HO scale layout for over 2 years.
Will it fit in very small locos?
No general answer here. Lot's of ingenuity is required. This is how I got started on the Stanton Drive (see earlier part of this thread). By using under-floor powered trucks, I free space in the loco body. In the case of electric multiple units, I wanted people in the passender compartment; not machinery.
How many operators?
I have 2 grandsons, who each have a CAB, and they operate compatibly together; so long as I set the routes. The controllers are not a problem because the radio only transmits when a message is sent (a fraction of a second).
How is the system packaged?
I started with a number of separate modules so I could test more easily during development and experiment with different ways to cram stuff into HO spaces. The radio receiver is a separate unit so I can keep it away for the motor (electrical noise). There is a decoder, which includes motor control. The rest of the system concerns battery management and power supply.
Size?
The radio receiver, the decoder and step-up converter all fit in the ceiling of a HO-scale electric multiple unit out of sight about the window line.
 
Okay folks, this should get the conversation started. I appreciate your interest.

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Thanks, Neil

I will await the arrival of the magazines for more information  :slow:  :slow:


Herb  :old dude:

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Hi Herb,

Just checking in. Did you receive your AMRM subscription okay. The next issue should have another installment on my radio control.

This thread has gone quiet since your last post (March 12). I could add new comments but interest seems to be focused on use of model car/plane RC in very small locos. My interest is mainline locos; diesel and electric.

Best regards to all.

Neil.

 

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Hi Neil,

I am very interested in how you did the different parts of the installation but the magazine has spread your series over so many months now that it has been hard to keep any focus on it.

I just renewed for my second year so I will get all the issues with the series in it, I hope. I know this is something that you don't have any control over and I sent the magazine an email about stretching the series out over so many months.

Bill

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Hello Niel-

Yes, I did get a sub, and the back issues. You say that the next installment is the coming issue. How many more installments do you suppose that there will be? The magazine, while professionally done, has little of interest to the average US modeler- my feeling is that it is mostly a showcase for new releases of Aussie prototype models---but I am interested in your series, and hope to learn more.

Keep up the good work, and if you have any new news or comments, please post them.

Herb :old dude:

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Yes, I and others use the "inferior" r/c car equipment to operate our trains...but while others wait and fret about the newest thing, we are actually running trains and are happy doing so. As I have stated, I won't be a customer for any new products aimed at the train hobby. Matter of fact, when the "model railroading" designation is applied, the cost is raised dramatically. I wish everybody good luck and it would indeed be a wonderful thing if radio control was embraced by the multitudes.

Now, back to my antiques and the pleasure they offer. I am waiting also, for live steam 1:35 Shay locomotives and real tiny engineers to run them. Guess I will join the "crowd" and fret...

                     Woodie

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I agree with Bill re the spacing of installments, but I appreciate the AMRM editor's willingness to publish the series. In total, its 5 parts:

Introduction; Published August, 2009

Repowering a Sydney suburban; October, 2009

Battery Power; Earlier this year

Radio Control, scheduled for next issue

Decoder Conversion, later this year

The overall delay is also frustrating. The work reported was done 3 years ago and the articles were written in July-August, 2008. Development has continued in the direction of packaging the technology for easier application by modellers who simply want to use radio and battery power - not invent it!

Unlike some US publishers, AMRM does not claim copyright on the content of these articles (only the magazine), which allows me to disseminate the info as I choose. However, I did not want to spoil their party thru separate disclosure.

I could put a lot more info on Free Rails but its a fine line between self-promotion and genuinely helping the progress of the hobby. Some folks have been interested enough to request some of my gizmos and reimburse my costs. Sometimes there is commercial fallout; the Stanton Drive, for example; but I'm not a vendor, not a manufacturer; just a retired engineer with a half-finished model railroad (HO) and a bench full electronic stuff that may or may not have a futrue.

Let me know your thoughts. We can keep this thread going if there's sufficient interest.

Neil.

 

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Hi Woodie,

In my book, nothing that works is inferior. I've followed the RC conversation. I also have doubts about the direction being taken by manufacturers, especially in the electronics area where complexity makes reading user manuals more important than enjoying model railroading. Even more discouraging, all this elaborate stuff reduces reliability, makes operation less intuitive, and depletes the bank account.

So I'll also join the crowd and  fret .  . while I tinker with the search for better, more user-friendly electronics. Battery power and radio control is the future.

Once upon a time, model railroading was a hobby; not a market.

Neil.

 

 

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Stanton said:

Once upon a time, model railroading was a hobby; not a market.

Ah, well said. If not for the fact that I'm not equiped with certain tools I'm regulated to using products produced for the masses. However, those products tend to get dismantled for essential components in order that I can create something unique to me. Case in point is the brand spanking new Bachmann 'G scale' Porter I just bought. It's now in pieces and the drives, running gear and electric motor are being used to create my own lokie. I'm into model bashing big time as I simply don't want cookie cutter equipment that everyone else is sporting.

Same goes for my RC gear. Buy a new Losi vehicle, strip it of it's components and insert into my railroad engines. And presto... Frankentrain! :cool:

But alas, the masses are loud and demand ready-to-run stuff now! And the Chinese oblige the masses. It's a statement of our society's need for instant gratification. People simply have lost the desire to work with their hands and create. Lord help us if geopolitical events set the western world back to the nineteenth century. We'll be wishing we were Amish with their self reliant ways. As soon as the flow of oil stops, half the world's population will be goners. Thank gawd I'm a country boy... I'll survive. :)

Last edited on Wed Jun 23rd, 2010 04:35 pm by Dwayne

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Hi Dwayne,

My viewpoint is similar to yours. In a burst of enthusiasm (now abated) I set up a Web site http://www.semimanmade.com that you may visit to see what I was doing. Last major update was 2008 and the link was broken for a few days; but is now repaired.

It still reflects my current philosophy and I'm finding some manufacturers that are supportive of "model bashing" as you call it. We need manufacturers, they need a mass-market to survive. There are a few companies that will listen to modelers with unique requirements, but they can't afford to be distracted form their core business.

As you say, self-reliance is a virtue.

Good luck with your model-bashing.

Neil.

 

 

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Neil, I think many of us on this forum have this approach... of hovering over readily available products like vultures seeking components to use to build our own models, be they engines, buildings or whatnot.

With regards to the entire RC issue I find it amusing that so many are waiting on a ready made product. As Woodie has been saying for sometime... the products already exist, just do it by gathering up the seperate components and cramming them into a lokie. It may not look pretty at first, but part of the fun is to go back and refine until an acceptable result occurs.

Granted that RC in the smaller scales is much more of a challenge than for me working in 1:17 scale. But as Woodie has shown, it can be done if a modeler is willing to look beyond the box of model railroad manufacturers.

My biggest challenge is sourcing material for my creations while driving a Kenworth around the countryside. I'm severely limited to places I can access because of size contraints. But even more so by time constraints. I wish I had the luxury of going to my local hobby shop and buying what I need. I simply don't have the time. My 'hobby shops' for my 1:17 scale modeling efforts are big box hardware stores and Wally World... as well as the truckstops I spend time in.

Then of course I have constraints on my workshop, which is nothing more than an aluminum briefcase style toolbox available at the same big box stores mentioned.

In my world, everything has to be compact enough to fit inside this truck. My 'computer' is my iPhone. Typing takes a bit longer (especially long posts like this one)... but where there's a will there's a way. :)

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I know of only one company (besides All-Trol) which has any plans for radio control in smaller scales. CVP Products here in Dallas is one of the pioneers in dcc, the owner-Keith Guiterrez-was building dcc systems when others in the hobby thought he was crazy.."it will never replace dc!" But now who's laughing? Well, CVP has a large scale r/c system (Airwire) and is trying to do small stuff. The problem is that the large boards for big trains can be made by little old ladies and a production line but the tiny stuff needs to be done with robotics...lots and lots of money and possibility of making money off guys who now say "it will never replace dcc!". Companies like Bachmann, etc. have not answered any questions about radio control and whatever happened to Crest (Aristo Craft) and their "r/c system" which was touted and promoted back a couple of years ago? That has all seemed to have sunk in the quagmire. Most model railroaders feel that "wireless" is here now...wireless throttles to run their dc or dcc trains on layouts that HAVE to be wired and most of those throttles are using infra-red transmission so when you adjust the speed of the loco, your TV might change channels also. There's a difference between wireless and radio control. And of course, there's the Bluetooth, PC, cellphone throttles that are talked about now. I will not run my trains with a cellphone and I still think Bluetooth is something that the dentist takes care of. Still, we (everybody else) wait for that new thing, some have blasted me for using r/c car stuff (on another website), I should be waiting also...life is too damn short to wait for something as trival as a way to control toy trains. To those who wait, tomorrow may never come...do it today!

The above comments do not reflect the views of the big guns here, but at least they allow me to go crazy once in a while.

                            Woodie

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I agree Woodie, the radio scene (excluding wireless throttles) does not attract much vendor attention.

All-Trol's web site does not say much about their product. I suspect the radio communication protocol (message format) is proprietary. Bill (Gardenville) can you help me with this. Am I right or wrong?

Aristocraft seems to have departed the radio scene. Their focus was G-scale where space is not a problem.

GWire (http://www.qsisolutions.com) and Airwire (http://www.cvpusa.com) use similar technology from Linx Technologies (http://www.linxtechnologies.com) and I believe they use NMRA DCC message protocol, ie: an open standard that is essential for broad market appeal.  NCE (http://www.ncedcc.com) cooperated on the GWire product by adapting their ProCab for direct radio transmission. It does not appear in NCE's catalog, but is available by special request.

The core of these products is Linx Technologies HP3 Series transmitters and receivers. These are excellent products, but expensive and bulky when engineering a decoder to compete with non-radio products where the street price is less than $20. It's not so bad in the CAB where prices are $150 and higher.

Why choose such an expensive radio? Answer: It provides a choice of 100 different radio frequencies.

Why is this important? Answer: Two radios transmitting on the same frequency will interfere with each other. IE; the communication will fail.

Now, this is a big deal for club layouts with 15 operators using 15 CABs. It's of no consequence for 1 or 2 operators. Why? first point: It's downright rude to use a radio that transmits continuously. (No one would do that would they?). So, being good citizens, our radios only transmit long enough to send a DCC message, which is less than 0.01 seconds. Actually, it's a good idea to repeat the messge several times for reliability. So let's say 0.05 (1/20th) second of transmission time.

Conclusion: 2 or 3 operators are unlikely to interfere with each other except on rare occasions, in which case they retransmit (but not at the same time!).

The punch line:

Most of us don't need a choice of 100 frequencies. Happily, Linx Tech has their ES Series; same technology, single message frequency, smaller and less expensive.

I've been using ES series for 3 years as the basis of my radio control, which is described in a forthcoming issue of AMRM. (By the way, this idea started in Seattle, It just happened to be published in Australia.)

As far as I can determine, GWire, AirWire and Stanton feed DCC to a Linx Tech radio (instead of the track) and pick it up (from the air) using a Linx receiver in the loco.

Neil.

 

 

 

 

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Hi all just a quick hello from a new user who is also working very hard at bringing radio to loco control.

I am based in the UK and have carried out plenty of development work on a radio control system for model railways.

By trade I am a RF designer so have designed my own radio transceiver for the loco and handset.

I would be delighted to see if there is sufficient interest from you guys in the work I am doing?


I am working to 4mm scale (oo).

 

Rob

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Rob-

There are a handful here of R/C'ers who actually use radio

But there seems to be a lot of interest- look at the number of "hits" on the R/C threads

So, I would say that if you are looking for a spot to describe what you are doing, and have accomplished--this is it.

So have at it Mate!

Herb

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Hi Herb,

Thanks for the warm welcome :) I have designed a module that plugs into a DCC socket and it contains a radio chip plus a microcontroller. I should add this is not an off the shelf radio design it is my own custom design. The module also contains the circuit to drive a motor of up to 1 Amp.

The module measures 29mm x 29mm x 3mm.

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Rob-

Woodie and some of his friends use 27 MHz R/C car equipment--I started with this also.

Bill Fornshell has experimented with a number of different systems

I am using Niel Stanton's- a poster here- setup.

But I think that I can speak for all in saying that anything that promotes R/C control is very much of interest.

Eventually, any radio gear will have to become small enough to fit inside a N scale loco--but that will come--when enough people see the advantage of radio.

Right now, batteries are the limiting thing, space-wise.


Herb 

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Herb,

I have done some work on N scale and yes its a challenge but its not impossible just needs much smaller components which when designing radio is actually a bonus!

Rob

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Howdy Rob, welcome to Freerails. Keep working, I would like to hear about new developments and anything that can fit into N scale would work in larger "critters". A good friend of mine did stuff r/c into an N scale A B A F-unit lashup pulling 10 passenger cars. When he took it to his club, nobody..NOBODY was even the slightest bit interested. My friend was so upset that he took out the r/c stuff and installed it in an On30 loco. Now, the local On30 group has "growing" interest in r/c, quite diferent than what they thought about 8 years ago when I showed them my r/c On30 locos. Somebody muttered "get a rope"...
Woodie

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Hi Woody,

I know the feeling I had the same response over here at a local club which is probably why I am no longer a member :)

I was told over and over that DCC has been around for 15 years so why would anyone want to change to radio control?

My answer was that "your telling me nothing has changed in this hobby for 15 years, I don't think that is anything to be proud of"

I have managed now to get some interest in my work over here and would like to expand it further hence my joining this forum :)

Rob

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Rob-for those who just want to sit and watch a train run 'round & 'round...then DC or DCC is the answer. You can sit and drink beer while the "3:10 to Yuma" rolls on by. BUT if one is interested in actually operating a train (maybe while that DCC train rolls by), then r/c is the better choice. I have a little mini layout that is DC and wouldn't think about running it with r/c...but then all I do with it is watch it run around. My Mogollon Railway is wireless and impossible to sit and watch, it is point to point and far, ar more interesting than being a viewer.
Woodie

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Hello Rob,

Hello all, yes, I'm still alive.....

I was playing arround with a 40 Mhz Radiocontroller a year ago. It ran but not with great succes. Much radiosignal problems. Then I lost my job and .......oh lets forget about it. But now I'm back and kicking!

Just bought a Planet T5 radio with 2,4Ghz. Everyone I spoke told me to do so to get rid off that signalproblems. I do not know much about technics but somehow I will manage to get that train running again.

Here in the Netherlands there is not much activity in rc-railroading but in Germany there is a growing popularity. All self-made with trial and error. So I'm very intrested in your small equipment and I believe there is a market over here as long it is a kind of 'plug-and-play' like. 

regards,

Albert

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Hi Albert, yes it is plug and play. I have made it very easy to use on purpose so that it will appeal to users young and old like me :)

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There she is in all her glory nearly finished !

Last edited on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 08:09 am by Radio-Rob

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Hi Rob,

I've been following your posts, and recall your decoder uses radio communication and plugs into a DCC socket. Looking at the photo I see pads for diodes and the DCC socket.

Am I correct in assuming that you use DCC orange and gray to connect the loco motor and use track input thru rectifier diodes to power the radio and motor controller?

Do you provide function outputs for front and rear lights (DCC white and yellow)?

Since control messages are by radio, I assume no DCC messages on the track so it can be simple DC or whatever connected thru the DCC socket to the rectifier diodes. Am I correct?

Do you use NMRA DCC packet format for your radio messages?

What radio frequency are you using?

Are you using a radio transceiver IC? Are you comfortable disclosing the manufacturer and part number? Don't let my curiosity bother you. I won't be offended if you prefer to keep some info private.

You may have read some of my posts and noted that I decided to convert commercially available decoders for radio communication, although I have designed and built some of my own DCC decoders using radio modules from Linx Technologies.

Thanks for contributing to the RC effort.

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Hi Neil,

I am more than happy to answer your questions as I feel as a group its easier to develop products than going alone...

Q.
Am I correct in assuming that you use DCC orange and gray to connect the loco motor and use track input thru rectifier diodes to power the radio and motor controller?
A.
Yes you are correct.

Q.
Do you provide function outputs for front and rear lights (DCC white and yellow)?
A. Yes there are 4 outputs.

Q.
Since control messages are by radio, I assume no DCC messages on the track so it can be simple DC or whatever connected thru the DCC socket to the rectifier diodes. Am I correct?
A.
Yes the decoder will work off a battery, DC or DCC.

Q.
Do you use NMRA DCC packet format for your radio messages?
A.
No I have wrote my own protocol.

Q.
What radio frequency are you using?
A.
868MHz and 915MHz.

Q.
Are you using a radio transceiver IC? Are you comfortable disclosing the manufacturer and part number? Don't let my curiosity bother you. I won't be offended if you prefer to keep some info private.
A.
Yes I am using a transceiver IC and its the CC1101 from Texas Instruments.

I have developed products using this part since it was released to market so I have many years of experience with the part. Also on the pcb is a Microchip PIC.

Regards

Rob

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The rope was only to hold ya till the barb wire was ready. Good thing ya got away :apl:
since I want low volume sound someday this is a cool thread.
TCC:} :old dude:

W C Greene wrote:

quite diferent than what they thought about 8 years ago when I showed them my r/c On30 locos. Somebody muttered "get a rope"...
Woodie

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Hi again,

If I decided to invest in my design and bring it to market as a proper commercial product would any of you guys be potential customers?

Rob

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Howdy TC..welcome to the madness. It has been a while since I looked out and saw the local villagers coming with pitchforks and torches. Low volume sound? That's what I have...the sounds of birds, insects, wind, and the occasional B17 flyover.
Glad you made it here, stick around a while.
Now, back to radio control and how it will change the hobby like DCC did 30 years ago.
Woodie

Radio-Rob
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Woodie your as crazy as me but hey it keeps us smiling :)

I believe it will change the world just hope I don't run out of money developing it before it does!

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Rob,

I asked a few questions earlier because I followed the same idea as you. I checked the datasheet for the CC1101 radio. It's in the same frequency band as the as the Linx Technology product I use. It's also used by CVP for their "AirWire" product and by QSI and NCE for their "GWire" It is a narrow band radio product, whereas the momentum in the radio space is "Spread Spectrum" with Europe very big in 2.4 GHz for model aircraft and other hobby uses.

I first wrote up my prototype work for publication in 2008 and it was published in the AMRM magazine (See Bill Fornshell's first post in this thread). Its now in production. Please have a look at http://www.nwsl.com.

Conclusion: You would be too late in the game if you tried to commercialize your design.

That said, I'm delighted to see someone with a radio engineering background offering to help drag model railroading into the future. The model aircraft folks are way ahead of us.

To enter the US market also requires using DCC packet protocol to be compatible with commercially available decoders, which are mature products that sell for incredibly low prices. To get an idea how tough the manufacturuing game is; look up the MSRP (suggested retail price) and divide by 4 to estimate the cost at the factory. It gets worse as US modelers demand sound in their locos and manufacturers scramble to chase this market. Decoder design and manufacturing is something to avoid unless you want to help bring sanity to the immature world of sound decoders where there are few standards and no compatibility between manufacturers.

You could help us greatly with the transition to loco radio control by investigating the next generation of technology and Europe is very well positioned in this space. What we need is a poor man's version of spread spectrum radio adapted to model railroading. What fits in cell phones and Bluetooth doogles is the best bet for N scale and it solves the problem of radio interference in what is becoming a crowded radio spectrum.

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Hi Neil,

Thanks for your reply. It seems that all is not lost as Europe is behind the US on these products. I have done my research and believe that the EU market is ripe for me to sow my seeds as it were.

I hate 2.4GHz for lots of reasons and honestly believe that 868MHz for Europe is the way to go. Why are the solutions in the US all spread spectrum is it that the 1mW radios at 915MHz can't do the range?

My business partner owns a subcontract manufacturing plant so I can produce these products at the right price and as an indication I took the selling price and divided by 5 not 4 :)

Regards

Rob

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Rob,

Excellent, it's good you've done your homework re manufacturing. You are certainly in a better position to tackle the European market. There is someone in France not happy with me because I refused to support the 850 MHz band, even though Linx Tech offers their radio chip for that market.

It's hard to like 2.4 GHz, but that's where billions of $ are being spent by the big -name players. I assume you have looked at Specktrum (Germany) radio products. They are clever products with wide market acceptance.

Best wishes and may your endevours succeed brilliantly. Go get Europe on board!   .    .   and please, .     .   keep us posted here at FreeRails. This is a great forum.

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Hi Neil,

I will keep you posted :) May I enquire about the customer in France?

I have seen the German products and yes they are cool but I still feel I have some nice ideas up my sleeve that will be novel :)

Regards

Rob

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Rob,

The inquiry from France was a FreeRails private message. Sorry, that was a year or more ago and I've since 'cleaned the outbox'.

Radio-Rob
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Hi Neil,

Ok thanks anyway :)

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.............................If I decided to invest in my design and bring it to market as a proper commercial product would any of you guys be potential customers?.........................

Hi Rob,

I guess I would. But keep in mind that most of us here, me included, have already invested in RC stuff and when it's working and people are satisfied they won't buy as soon as your product will be on the market. I suppose.  What I'am saying is that you aim at the wrong targetgroup in this forum or thread. But I'am sure there is a market and I suggest you to do some marketing to people who do 'play trains' but never thought of rc-control before.... Bring it as something new, make it plug and play, supply controllers also (as a turn-key starter kit), make sure you can controle more than one train with the same controller at the same time, make sure your frequency is legal in Europe also, find dealers, go to shows, make a website, and so on. I'am not a businessman (anymore) but I suppose I could promote your stuff in the Netherlands on shows and in magazines. I believe that 'plug-and-play' and 'affordable' are the magic words. Aim at the mainstream, there is enough exotic stuff to buy for the happy few.

Good luck,

Albert

 



 

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Rob-I agree with Albert, this forum is for discussions about the r/c advance, there may be some interested in new products, but the "real market" might be the readers of Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, or maybe the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette. Many of us here, me included, have their own stuff and will probably not be customers for new products. I just want to see radio control for trains grow and advance like DCC did 20 years ago. I will support new products with my words, but I am afraid that my money will not be spent for anything new. I have been at this (r/c) for over 8 years and have everything I want or need. I would love to have Stanton's new system, but I would be spending for one loco, not a "fleet", so that limits me as a customer. There will be a day when r/c will be the "standard" much as DCC is now but it is in the future. Keep pushing, the idea is worth all the headaches involved.
Woodie

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Hi Albert,

Thank you for your wise words. I have already produced a handset with display that is capable of controlling up to 4 locos at a time so I will keep you posted with progress.


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