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RC Smoothness and Sound
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 Posted: Thu Apr 18th, 2013 04:52 pm
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J.Brown
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William

I was where you are on this subject a short while ago when I decided to get back into a hobby I had enjoyed as a boy. Now with the help of Woodie and many others on this forum I have a clearer idea of the direction that I am going. I’m not sure, but I don’t think your existing throttle can be made to give the commands to the locomotive without additional components and maybe not even then.

There are four basic categories of model railroad control: DC, DCC, RDCC (Radio Digital Command Control) and RCC (Radio Command Control). I ruled out DC and DCC for the disadvantages than many on this forum have commented on.

My next decision point was whether to go with RDCC or RCC. They are significantly different technologies. I had 2 main concerns: whether one was superior to the other when it came to 1) SMOOTHNESS and 2) SOUND. Hence I named the thread: “RC Smoothness and Sound”.

I am satisfied that there is no advantage to RDCC or RCC when it comes to smoothness. Depending on the quality of the locomotive and some individual tweaking, either can be wonderfully smooth, even at low speed (far smoother than a wired track with its inevitable dead spots).

If sound is essential to you then RDCC is more developed than RCC (where sound is still at the vapor ware stage, as far as I can tell). Probably the closest thing to off the shelf radio controlled DCC with sound is S-CAB (link provided by Tom, above) although it is limited to operating about 6 locomotives simultaneously (more than enough for anything that I am planning). Tam Valley is developing a full blown RDCC system (complete with DCC Command Station) but it looks like it is still in the prototype stage. I am working in HO scale which imposes some limiting space constraints which may rule out some of the other options that have been mentioned.

If improved performance through new technologies in battery life, motors and transmitters is more important to you, however, RCC is more elegant and may offer more in the long run. The simplest path to immediate RC gratification is that taken by Woodie a decade or so ago (that he still uses) with a model car/boat transmitter and a set of crystals in the receiver all powered by a 9v battery. (I think Woodie uses more sophisticated batteries now). I am in the final stages of reproducing that experiment and if it all works out will publish a set of instructions with pictures on this forum.

-Jim

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 Posted: Thu Apr 18th, 2013 05:02 pm
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W C Greene
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Thanks Jim, I do use Lithium Polymer batteries now. A couple have been in service for at least 10 years, they last quite a long time. Whatever happens, I am very proud that this forum has grown like it has. The more...the merrier!

Woodie



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 Posted: Thu Apr 18th, 2013 05:08 pm
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1whudson
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Thanks for all that info Jim. I will be waiting to see your publication here and pics on your latest project. Again, thanks for all the information..........

Bill

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 Posted: Fri Apr 19th, 2013 05:31 am
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J.Brown
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Woodie

You mentioned that you use Lithium Polymer batteries. What is the brand and specs?  Are they cylindrical or block shaped like a typical 9v battery?  To recharge, you mentioned that you unplug the Miniatronics 2 pin micro plug and plug it into the charger to charge the battery. What kind, brand or model of battery charger is that?

Thanks for the help.

-Jim

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 Posted: Fri Apr 19th, 2013 02:19 pm
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W C Greene
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Jim-I will try to get some pix & info here (the forum is full of my photos already) but I need to do some "work" right now so I will respond later. Take care.

Woodie



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 Posted: Fri Apr 19th, 2013 07:46 pm
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Craig W
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Hey Jim, if I might chime in here; there are an unbelievable amount of lithium battery options out there. Finding the right cell to fit your space requirements, would be my first suggestion. Steam locomotives with tenders have a distinct advantage in this area, as do wide body locomotives. Most Lipo cells are flat, with a few cylindrical exceptions. If you have empty space within your locomotive, it makes sense to fill the void with batteries, unless you can be satisfied with short operating sessions, or if you are going to supply track power to charge the cells in your loco.

Battery capacity can be a confusing topic when you’re shopping for cells. Despite their ratings, different cells with identical capacities do not always yield the same run times. If you have a lot of room in your locomotive, then this won’t be much of an issue.

When choosing batteries, I think it is wise to also consider what motor system will be used. Consider weather or not it is worth your effort to re-power your locomotive, or use the motor it came with. In some instances you may be better off using the stock motor, unless you have access to machine tools or the necessary materials for a motor swap.

I stand in opposition to many, I believe that running a smaller capacity battery and a higher cell count is more favorable for most applications. My opinion regarding cell count; more cells = : ) comes from a lot of experience building and flying R/C electric aircraft. More cell s= more power, better motor efficiency, better starting torque, stability etc. There’s a delicate balance to this and in many cases, a single cell may be the only way to go, depending on how much space is available in a given application.

I have bought and built dozens of voltage boosters and they work for boosting single cell voltage, but they also suck up a lot of precious power and space; space which could be used to place another cell. Can’t get something for nothing here.

Can you give us the brand and type of locomotive that you are converting? It would really help. Some photos? I’m sure we can help you nail down the right set-up.



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 Posted: Fri Apr 19th, 2013 09:40 pm
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wv railbaron
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Jim, it's important to determine the amount of voltage needed to operate your loco at a desired speed. If you have a layout or just a couple sections of track( 6feet ) you can ascertain the voltage by hooking up the track to a powerpack and when you get the engine to operate the way you want take the engine off the track but leave the power on to the track at the setting you used to get the operating speed you want. Now take a volt meter, digital is best and hook it to the track the reading you get will indicate the minimum voltage that will work for your engine. Many of the Bachman engines will work nicely on 3.7 volts and they are the smallest size made for our use. The larger the number of mah( miliamps ) the longer they operate.
Steve Sherrill

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 Posted: Sun Jun 2nd, 2013 09:57 pm
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J.Brown
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Bill

I'm coming down the home stretch on assembling and documenting the "half-hour R/C conversion" but it looks to me like one of the larger DCC manufacturers is coming out with a wireless system that will obviate the need to convert model car/aircraft  R/C transmitters, receivers and motors for use in HO locomotives. It is described at

http://cvpusa.com/mini_airwire_convrtr.php

and I think it is what I have been looking for.

Jim

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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 12:39 am
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Craig W
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Jim, that would be nice if it will work for you. Unfortunately, for those of us doing narrow bodied diesel conversions or smaller locomotives, packaging a large circuit board ( I mean large in this scale) like the Airwire, plus a decoder, plus a battery, is probably not feasible for a single unit. The current Airwire system looks a bit like a like a copy of what Mr. Stanton is making.

Just out of curiosity, what kind of locomotives are you planning to convert?



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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 02:32 am
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dan3192
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Hi Jim,

I noticed your post about the miniAirWire system. You might recall I've been working in the 2.4 GHz/DSM2 open architecture arena, so I'm curious about some of the features of this system.   

* Isn't this similar to the Tam Valley system which uses batteries, relies on the DCC decoder for all functions and also sends commands wirelessly? Don't you still have to deal with CV's and programming issues? 

* Are you aware of the Rail-Lynx infra-red system (no sound) that has been out for years and can be used with 12V on-board batteries? If you need sound, this won't apply.

* Besides the additional space needed for a 2nd PCB, do you have a feel for the mah required by both a DCC sound decoder plus AirWire receiver? I always try to save mah whenever I can.         

* Wouldn't the latest hobby radio frequencies and protocols be more reliable than the frequencies used by this system? Isn't interference more of an issue than the higher frequencies?

* Although not fully tested, it appears the new radio receivers, with their higher operating voltages, will run my DCC equipped engines and provide basic steam and diesel sounds. Have you done any work in this area? 

Please don't misunderstand the reasons for asking these questions. I can put the brakes on what I'm doing at any time and re-evaluate. I'm just curious to know if I've missed something along the way.

Dan

 

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