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RC Smoothness and Sound
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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 02:40 am
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J.Brown
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Craig, even though I knew that some of the Garden manufacturers had some R/C offerings I never gave them a second thought for exactly the reason you mention--I didn't think they made anything that would be close to useful for HO. But this Airwire receiver circuit board is only 0.8"x 2"--smaller in some ways than the LOSI board that I am trying to stuff into my FT-A (I'll have to use a box car). Of course you have to get a DCC decoder in there, too, but locos already are shipping RTR with Tsunami sound decoders installed in HO and I'm thinking a little receiver board might fit in there too.
There is no doubt that Stanton was first in this concept with his S-CAB. In fact I had pretty much decided that if I had to have sound I would go with an S-CAB system. But I wasn't wild about bundling the decoder and receiver into one unit. And I think the S-CAB/Airwire transmitter/throttles must be significantly different. S-CAB suppposedly encounters conflicts if you try to run more than 4-6 locos while Airwire claims the miniAirwire900 throttle can run 9999 decoders on 17 freuencies. The S-CAB system looks like it is a little less expensive unless you can find a good deal on the Tsunami decoder but Airwire has been around for a while and looks well positioned to take advantage of fully wireless operation when the large market of new HO users discovers it and they could emerge as the dominant player.
My planned locomotives? Plastic steamers with big tenders and smooth motors!
Jim

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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 04:22 am
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J.Brown
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Hi Dan

I think the S-CAB and AirWire systems are very different than the Tam Valley RR prototype. “Tam Valley RR” has developed a prototype that adds radio receivers to each  locomotive; adds a transmitter to the back of all existing DCC command stations and broadcasts the DCC pulses over the airwaves on the 916 MH “Instrument Band” Radio Band  and not the 27 MHz R/C Band. This is not a very elegant system and remains a partially developed prototype that is not near being brought to market so far as I can tell.

The S-CAB and AirWire systems manage to do away with the DCC command station or at least incorporate it into a well designed hand-held throttle. The components that you need to get up and running are well described on coherent product lists. You don't have to worry about motors or drive trains. About the only thing that you do have to worry about is battery selection and charging.  You do have to deal with some DCC programming issues in exchange for the advantage of a wide selection of mature products developed for the DCC market--especially products for sound and lighting. So S-CAB and AirWire are real systems and product lines.

It does seem to me that the transmitters, frequency control, brushless motors and batteries developed for model aircraft and cars are far advanced and have much more potential for model railroading with long battery life than the components now readily available to model railroaders, although I do have concerns about heat and low speed efficiency of  brushless motors in model train applications.

I greatly admire those of you who are experimenting with things that will materially advance the hobby but I lack the engineering background to do much more than follow your train of thought and appreciate your discoveries.  In my former life as a judge I followed, understood and evaluated the testimony of many expert witnesses on subjects as esoteric as these and I would love the chance to apply your knowledge to a project of my own. How great it would be to have a separate thread dedicated to successful R/C locomotives and projects that gave a bill of materials listing each component, source of the component and price that went into the project. Then I'd take a crack at building it! I think you're on the right track and would love to see you offer your own product line some day.

Jim

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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 04:32 am
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Craig W
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OK Jim, I see. You have a lot of room in the FT, so I think this will work for you. I am eager to see what you put together.



"I didn't think they made anything that would be close to useful for HO"



There are quite a few options out there, but they require some legwork. There are also cheaper ways of getting things done, for those who are on a budget, but those methods require at least some dexterity and a modicum of know-how. Personally, I've been banging away at some cost effective solutions for the past couple of years and I to plan on posting some of my conversions in time. I wish that I didn't have to work so much, so I could enjoy this hobby a little more and share more of my projects.


"I do have concerns about heat and low speed efficiency of brush-less motors in model train applications".

Brush-less motors are so under-taxed in model train applications, that heat is almost non-existent in my conversions. The thing that scares some about the use of brush-less motors in this type of application, has to do with starting, which I have not had an issue with. I use lower gear ratios in my locomotives primarily for smoothing of low speed operation, where it works very well.





Last edited on Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 06:12 am by Craig W



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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 03:09 pm
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J.Brown
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Craig

I did suspect that with high speed brushless motors you could gear them down and get awfully smooth low-speed performance. Glad to hear that confirmed as well as no heat issues.

Jim

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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 03:23 pm
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Herb Kephart
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I've been using on board batteries and R/C for quite a while now, and I'm very happy with S-Cab.

It is frequently mentioned that S-Cab only provides for the control of a limited number of locos, while other systems can have 999 addresses--but--how many locos can you run at once? Two, if you are super agile (I'm not!).

So- with S-Cab, don't think loco numbers, think OPERATOR numbers. You use address #1, your buddy #2 etc. ANY loco (with a RX) can be instantly be re-programed to respond to a different throttle, with a couple button strokes. NO programing track or complicated protocol is needed.

One of the very necessary things that all R/C locos must have is a switch of some sort to disconnect the battery--so that there is no discharging while the loco is sitting unused.

So--hypothetically--You bring a train into its destination, uncouple it and park the loco at the refueling point, then turning it's switch off. Go to the switcher that is going to break up the train, and switch it on. IF NECESSARY, change it's address to correspond with the address that you have decided to use on your TX. YOU CAN control 999 locos (if you think that you can run that many at one time, please share the video with us) with your TX!

Think about this

It is only practical to control one loco at a time!


Herb



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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 03:48 pm
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dan3192
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Jim,

Don't forget the flywheel for smooth operation at all speeds. I use the heaviest that will fit. It will also improve traction.

And given two flywheels with the same weight, pick the one with the larger diameter and shorter length. You'll get more of a flywheel effect this way.

Dan       

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 Posted: Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 04:34 pm
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J.Brown
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Herb

I totally agree that S-CAB will operate as many locos as I ever would want to on my layout. The only reason I mention it is that I do not understand what is going on inside these "throttles" of S-CAB and AirWire but I suspect that it is different technology because of the different claims about how many decoders they will run. Also at this weekend's Ontario, California show I heard tales of significant interference between a big 1/32 loco and a nearby N-Scale layout using this kind of "throttle". I wish I could find out more about the technology inside these handheld DCC wireless throttles. I'm pretty sure it is far less sophisticated than the frequency search/lock technology of the latest R/C aircraft/car transmitters and receivers that makes such interference virtually impossible no matter how many aircrraft are in the air. That's one of the things that draws me toward true R/C even though the nifty feature set of matured DCC is a powerful draw toward an S-CAB/AirWire solution. Not to mention that S-CAB and AirWire actually have an off-the-shelf product that you can buy.

Jim

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 Posted: Tue Jun 4th, 2013 04:36 am
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Stanton
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I see some discussion of what I would call DCC compatible radio control (or radio-DCC) with or without battery power. S-CAB, Tam and CVP are mentioned.

It's a coincidence that today I opened a website for S-CAB.
If you're interested, the link is:

http://www.s-cab.com

Neil.



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 Posted: Tue Jun 4th, 2013 05:58 pm
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J.Brown
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Neil

Congratulations on a fabulous web site. This is exactly what is needed! I don't see a way to post comments on your web page yet, but I am eagerly awaiting the strings and comments  that are sure to come quickly.

With miniAirWire jumping into the HO game I was inclined to go with them because they are well established and have what seems like a pretty neat dead-track throttle.

But your web page shows a much more developed and coherent overall solution for someone like me who wants to get up and running quickly. I still have some questions about the wisdom of bundling the receiver and decoder and the long-term viability of S-CAB in the market,  but I expect that those issues will soon be addressed by comments and discussions on your blog.

Thanks for your great service to the hobby

Jim

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 Posted: Fri Jun 7th, 2013 04:10 am
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J.Brown
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Neil

I notice that comments are "closed" on "Neil's Blog" on your web page.

Will this feature or some other page on your web site eventually be opened for those interested in S-CAB to exchange information?

Jim

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