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|My personal foray into battery powered locomotives, controlled by a radio transmitter has been a bumpy but determined trail to this point.
But I am going to get to that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
There's a lot to learn in fits and starts.
The old "You don't know, what you don't know" maxim rules here.
The help from the experts at this Forum has made it all possible.
Until only recently, I knew just enough to be dangerous.
I'm still in the dangerous zone but am getting closer to the finish line (I hope).
The common saying "cash is king" works in business (I know from personal experience this statement to be factual)
but with regard to BPRC model railroading the saying might be: "Information is King."
I'm not entirely a dunderhead by nature, but I sure have felt like one multiple times during the past two months or so.
But I am gradually "getting it."
When I talk about BPRC to other model railroaders here in my home town,
they are quite interested but have absolutely no idea about the application procedures.
It's all Greek to them.
I'm sure this is a common position the vast majority of model railroaders find themselves in, when they consider BPRC,
and unfortunately many will give up trying almost immediately.
Most of the internet based BPRC articles I've read (and I've searched exhaustively) have succeeded in getting me interested,
but have lacked the hands-on application detail necessary to seamlessly move a neophyte into this type of wireless layout.
I'm pretty sure that this will change because market success will demand an easier way for the average modeller to become involved.
But it will need to be driven by the manufacturers imv.
I'm new to BPRC and it has been an uphill battle for me.
I've never been very good with electrical devices so this has been a stiff learning curve for me
(and yeah, I considered chucking the whole idea).
I started by using the guts from RC cars and had only moderate success.
I moved on to using 'FlySky' components because of their simplicity and pretty much idiot proof
(I've fried a few boards).
'FlySky' is inexpensive with transmitter and receiver costing about $20-25, plus an ESC and battery, with total cost around $30-35
Additional receivers are about $6-7
With much help from many people on FR I've made a lot of progress.
Couldn't have done it without everyone's help.
Hope all is well in sunny Southern Cal.
You mentioned, With much help from many people on FR I've made a lot of progress.
When you indicate that you've made a lot of progress,
does that mean you're up and running trains using the FlySky equipment?
Fellow Forum member, Bernd recently experimented with FlySky and unless I am mistaken,
he found that he struggled to make the electronic speed control work well for him.
As I recall, his test diesel locomotive would blast off immediately at full speed etc.
How have you solved those issues?
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences?
W C Greene
|Howdy guys, there is a real procedure for "firing up" an r/c locomotive (or any other r/c device)
and that is to turn on the transmitter FIRST and then the loco, turn the loco OFF then the transmitter.
I have made that mistake time and again and almost all the time when I turned on the loco first, it would "take off" without any control.
Now, there may be some other reason for Bernd's control situation but this is just MY experience.
I was warned by r/c flyers and car racers long ago to switch on the Xmitter first and off last.
It works every time (for me).
BTW Rick, if you don't wire up a layout to begin with then you might "get the drift" faster.
Necessity is the Frank Zappa of invention...or something like that.
I've got one little gas switcher that I converted using FlySky and it works fine.
A little on the slow side, but that's because of the new motor I installed.
Working on a Tyco 0-4-0 Shifter.
It runs fine under DC power, and I tested it using a 7.4 volt Li-Po battery and it chugs along at a decent speed.
I haven't done anything special...it's pretty much just plug-and-play with the FlySky receiver plus ESC and battery.
I do follow the rule of transmitter on first, then the receiver.
You mentioned: BTW Rick, if you don't wire up a layout to begin with then you might "get the drift" faster.
Necessity is the Frank Zappa of invention...or something like that.
No worry about wiring up first here, Woodie.
I'm all in with BPRC. Benchwork is bereft of wires
I suppose I'll wire up some 12 volt power to a couple of hard to reach turnout switch machines,
plus for fun I have also purchased a few Railcrew uncoupling devices that I hope will actually work.
I'm awaiting an order of Rx62 Receivers from Micron plus my Battery Protection circuits,
and then I'm going to begin powering up my locomotives (or perhaps begin blowing up some boards)
Thank you, Woodie for the advice about the order of firing up.
P.S. We can get into Frank Zappa if you want to, but this is a family channel.
You mentioned: It runs fine under DC power, and I tested it using a 7.4 volt Li-Po battery and it chugs along at a decent speed.
I haven't done anything special...it's pretty much just plug-and-play with the FlySky receiver plus ESC and battery.
Michael, I suppose the ESC is a mystery to me.
The Receivers I have purchased have a built-in ESC (Del Tang Rx61 and Rx62).
Obviously, the FlySky equipment appears to come with a Receiver that does not have a built-in ESC.
(or perhaps it has one that we can't utilize for model trains)
So what did you do, Michael?
Go out and purchase an ESC circuit board and then solder it in between the battery and the receiver?
How is it wired. Are the solder pads visibly identified?
By the way, are you running your switching engines on a 2 cell LiPo or a 1 cell with a booster?
Thank You, Guys
The 2 pairs of red & black wires emerging from the E.S.C. for the battery & motor are ...
... cable-plug is for the battery ...
... cable-socket is for the motor.
The 3-way white/red/black wires emerging from the E.S.C ...
... should be connected to the 'FlySky' receivers Channel-2, observing correct polarity.
The single pair of red/red wires emerging from the E.S.C. ...
... terminates in a cable mounted general on/off switch.
A single 3.7-Volt battery can be used ...
... with a 9-Volt 'DC-DC Step-Up Regulator'
Or just two 3.7-Volt batteries or a single 7.4-Volt battery ...
... sans 'DC-DC Step-Up Regulator'.
" they consider BPRC and unfortunately many will give up trying almost immediately "
Sadly you may well be right Rick.
Some people have the attention span of a newt ...
... and no perseverance or ability to see the job through.
Michael on the other hand, has stuck with it.
Starting with valiant experimentation using economy R.C. car parts.
Then moving up to the affordable & high-quality 'modular' 2.4 GHz 'FlySky' R.C. gear.
As you can hopefully see from the more or less very simple 'Plug n Play' wiring ...
... and as Michael says himself ...
... It aint rocket-science & you don't need an overdraft !
I recently purchased all the components needed for 1 loco on eBay ...
... for the princely sum of ... £9.10p inc. P&P !
Or current U.S. $ of 1.35 ... $12.28c inc P&P !
That was for 'FlySky' Receiver, E.S.C. Electronic Speed Controller & 2x 3.7-Volt batteries.
- - - - - - -
The reason for the 'modular' approach, is simple.
Not all R.C. applications require an E.S.C. Electronic Speed Controller.
For example, neither a glider nor sailboat have a motor, so don't require an E.S.C.
The receiver can control the glider or sailboats rudder servos directly.
On the other hand.
Some applications need very very high-power E.S.C.s.
Such as speed-boats or large racing-cars.
Things like big G-scale trains, also need quite large E.S.C.s
So you can see.
The 'FlySky' receiver is 'universal' in its application across many different uses.
A receiver with built in E.S.C. can only power things within it's limitations.
If you exceed those limitations, you toast the WHOLE BOARD ! ... not just the E.S.C.
An expensive business !!
Last edited on Mon Feb 19th, 2018 07:45 am by Si.
The ESC just plugs into the receiver...it also has an on/off switch.
I'm using a 7.4 volt Li-Po that already wired together by the factory:
So far, so good.
|In the January issue of Model Railroader magazine,
"dead rail" operation is listed as one of twenty innovations that have changed the hobby of model railroading.
It states "A relatively new development, whose impact on the hobby has not yet been fully realized,
is radio-control and battery technology."
It concludes by saying
"We can imagine a future where today's standards like power packs and layout wiring are things of the past.
This gives me great pride and joy, having spent 8 years exploring the potential of BPRC,
including 10 clinics for clubs and conventions and 100's of hours operating on home layouts.
Having demonstrated BPRC's ability to provide excellent performance, and work with DCC sound decoders for even better performance,
imv we are close to being on a par with the features that model railroaders truly appreciate.
Work on wireless charging for on-board batteries,
is an additional feature that will enhance prototype operations and is now in the testing stage.
Since manufacturers do not have a market for BPRC,
it seems more likely individuals working with entrepreneurial partners will create the desired market,
to a point where it ultimately has the attention of manufacturers.
So congratulations to Model Railroader for having BPRC on your list of innovations.
And thanks, Rick, for some forward thinking.
|BlueRail had a product in their first board which had excellent features.
For me it was just too large for most of my locos.
In email exchanges with them they said they could make it even better for battery use by implementing battery voltage monitoring.
Their new smaller board was due for release this summer but no news so far.
It appears they are dependent on investment by another company for money and that cash is not forthcoming yet, if at all.
There is so much invested in DCC that a new product that is much better would be unwelcome.
W C Greene
|Yep, some may "experiment" and give up on r/c as being "too much thinking"...
That's OK, they can stay with DC/DCC and WIRE a layout with polarity considerations,
install DCC boards and program them which is another bunch of $%^&,
be sure all the track is as clean as can be, be sure the loco's wheels are immaculate,
all the above again and again.
On the idea that r/c car boards don't cut it, remember that if it wasn't for those backward antiques,
there MIGHT NOT be the interest that there is today in wirelessness.
Time marches on...but watch those "third rails"...
Besides all this jabber, remember that it is not "rocket science" but rather ROCKET SURGERY !
There...now I await the townsfolk with torches and pitchforks...again.
|Apologies in advance for the length of this post.
Definitely not required reading.
Thanks Dan and Dave, and yes in my opinion you have brought up some interesting thoughts and information updates.
I didn’t realize Bluerail’s smaller board had not arrived.
It would seem to me that BPRC is probably facing some daunting road blocks,
if it is ever going to leapfrog into the general marketplace and thereby develop a serious niche for itself.
We’ve all heard about the difficulties involved in getting a “better mousetrap to the marketplace.”
But it’s also difficult to keep a better product under wraps for ever.
Therefore I do believe that BPRC will be a success because speaking objectively (I hope),
I believe it is a better system than DCC.
Just like modelling with BPRC, modelling with DCC presents it’s own learning curve.
Neither did DCC develop smoothly or quickly even though it presented a better product than simple DC.
Over the past fifty years there have been a goodly number of DCC model train control systems that have competed for marketshare.
Products from Dynatrol, Legacy and a system from Hornby are just a few,
and probably these days the basic winner for most DCC modellers seems maybe to have become Digitrax.
It still is and always will be a fairly involved procedure for the average neophyte to become even a DCC model railroader.
“What do you mean, I have to wire a return loop a certain way and my turntable differently.”
So in everyone’s opinion, what qualities will the company boast that finally does ride to the rescue of BPRC products ??
Your thoughts, please.
And can they do it in under ten years ??
I’m thinking that in this growth age of internet sales, an online company can make significant inroads and in a timely manner.
Look what Tesla has done without Tesla dealerships and localized repair facilities.
If a Tesla breaks down where I live, the repairmen travel here from Montreal (140 miles away.)
The Battery Powered – Radio Controlled Store of the Future
Would you agree that the successful internet BPRC store would however need to be a stunning site,
comprehensive and one which incorporates all phases of a successful marketing plan.
I would think that a customer would need to be able to purchase a turnkey product and suffer no backorders,
and also receive the product quickly by courier (Amazon style).
In my view there should be a fairly large and finished model railroad layout available where finished products are demonstrated live.
(The simplest solution is to rent space on one of our more famous model railroad layouts).
So many BPRC youtube videos leave the impression that battery powered locomotives are seemingly experimental in nature.
They often video a locomotive with exposed wiring shoehorned into the frame of a locomotive or tender,
which in turn is running around a loop of bare track laid out on floor.
These demonstrations are technical but not sales worthy.
They seem to scream, “I told ya it was possible.” instead of stating, “This is the future.”
Safe onboard charging probably needs to be solved.
Do you agree that the new manufacturer/sales company would need major Facebook presence.
I’m wondering if it could also equip and advertise a technical department ready and willing (after a customer signs a disclaimer)
to convert a customer’s current fleet to battery power... FAST
We would all probably agree that a new company attempting to win this market,
will need to be fiscally sound from the very beginning and have deep pockets.
It will cost money to make money.
But I believe there is a lot of money spent in the model railroad industry.
Thomas the Train has been a financial success.
So I think a market study might encourage a new player to invest in a new “division” to add to it’s current business lines.
The idea of a start-up having to depend on obtaining semiconductor products from a third-party company,
is daunting but probably necessary.
Perhaps a major partnership with a company like DelTang etc. could be negotiated,
whereby DelTang guarantees and staffs for a certain level of product sales to the new manufacturer,
at a favourable price point (depending on the order sizes).
What I am mainly suggesting here is the need to avoid the steep investment in high tech semiconductor board design and development.
Good products are already out there and so no need to re-invent the wheel,
they just need to be sold efficiently and successfully.
So gentlemen, will there indeed be a Bachmann clone that specializes in BRPC?
Will kids be getting a BPRC train set at Christmas instead of a Thomas the Train?
Will new modellers cut their build time in half by skipping the wiring looms?
|Great post Woodie
We also need a monthly online "magazine" that deals only with BPRC,
and provides an advertising forum for today's current manufacturers, at a price they can afford.
W C Greene
|As for the future of this hobby...MY OPINIONS...easy to use r/c is the way.
Today's youth, the ones who have I Phones and know how to use them,
WON'T, I repeat WON'T be interested in something that needs wiring to be performed, problems with wheel/track contact, needing to read a book on how to wire a layout and program some throttle just so they can run a stinkin' model train!
There are many kids who would like the artistic side of model railroading...building structures, rolling stock, scenery, and everything that makes this hobby what it is...something for everybody.
I know modelers who love to build dioramas and could give a flip less about whether a train would operate on one of them,
because the damn track would need to be wired and cleaned before anything could happen!
The kids coming up and into this, and other modeling hobbies, will want to enjoy operating a local or passenger haul.
Other hobbies? I look at model aircraft mags and youngsters are flying r/c aircraft and U-Control (control line) since it is fun and do-able,
without having to learn how to track down shorts and clean microscopic bits of dirt from tiny rails.
How many of those kids would like to build trains?
Maybe more than we think BUT manufacturers MUST embrace the wireless technology NOW!
Oh yes, there will be old dinosaurs like those I know who will still believe that wires are good...
and many of those believe that kids are not wanted around "serious" train nuts.
I know of 2 "local" clubs that don't want kids under 18 and "secretly" don't want kids under about 30!
But then, I know at least one local group which will be unnamed (TexasOutlawsOn30)
who actively promote young members and they have some guys using r/c also.
I would love it if there was a magazine devoted to r/c model railroading...I would buy something like that.
It would be great to drop by the local train shop and see RTR r/c locos for sale.
And it would be wonderful to see a young father buying his kid a cool r/c locomotive or even an entire set...Imagine that.
Hopeful future...Christmas morning, the kid comes down stairs and sees an r/c train set and a big box full of snap track and switches,
and he/she opens the boxes, sticks the track together around the living room into the kitchen and maybe a branch on the front porch...
takes the loco and cars out of the box, puts them on the track, and RUNS THE TRAIN!
Dad can sit back and drink his coffee watching his offspring having a blast (operating) the train and witness the beginning of a lifetime hobby.
Maybe then when somebody mentions wiring track, the angry townsfolk with torches and pitchforks will be on their a$$ !
Well, I can hope, can't I?
|You know what is fun to me?
Throwing down some dirt and scenery material - spraying with wet water - dousing with diluted white glue -
and then running my BPRC through the scene without concern for cleaning the area up.
Of course I find that occasionally I need to clean off the wheels,
because they have picked up some scenery material and "bump roll" down my imperfect trackwork.
|I worked in electronics (hard to believe from some of the I ask) from 1976 to when I retired in 2007.
I was always working on broke Navy gear,
when we got it working, the "Big Boys" would come in and push us out of the way so they could have their fun with it.
I found that working on layout wiring was NOT for me,
and reading several hundreds pages of a tech manual in order to run trains was NOT for me either.
BPRC can't hardly get any easier, you basically have less than 10 wires to connect.
Unless you're a klutz the worse thing you'll do is wire the motor or LEDs backwards and I have yet to have one die because of it.
Linking the receiver to the transmitter is probably the hardest thing to get a engine running, and that ain't hard.
The one area I have to remind myself to be careful in is when connecting the battery.
I use to use a plug on the end of the battery and on the connections of Tony's BIK,
but now I'm plugging the wiring straight into the BIK terminals.
Got to be careful as not to touch things that aren't suppose to touch.
|I agree Bob.
Wiring up those LiPo batteries backward leads to interesting results.
Because I seem to have to learn everything the hard way,
I have inflated one battery while simultaneously frying a DelTang receiver.
I was down at the hobbystore earlier today buying three Peco right hand switches
(why are they called turn-outs in model railroading - anybody know??
I worked on the railroad all through high school and on the CPR they are called "switches")
and the store owner was insisting on making sure I bought the correct ones for electrical continuity when he knows I'm a deadrail guy.
I told him, "Jeff, give me whatever you got, you know it doesn't matter to me."
He says, "Oh yeah, I forgot."
The other funny anecdote here is the clerk who works in the store has taken to calling me a Deadhead,
like the groupies who followed the Grateful Dead band around during the seventies.
I have to rebind one of my locomotives.
I couldn't figure out why until my grandson slept over last night,
and calmly mentioned he'd been up in the train room with his nine yr old buddy earlier in the week,
and they'd been practicing turning the reed switch on with the pencil magnet.
Obviously the transmitter wasn't turned on at the time and so the locomotive lost it's connection with that transmitter.
As usual, there's a reason for everything.
|I accidently put a screwdriver through a LiPo.
It got really hot.
I am much more cautious these days.
|Another good thing not to do -
If you need to cut the connector off a LiPo to fit a different one DO NOT just get a pair of wire cutters and cut through both wires at once. The LiPo will be no good afterwards, if you are very lucky the wire cutters may be still OK.
And don't forget that LiPo cells are shipped part charged so have a kick in them straight out of the package.
A car turns out of the straight way when you set the switch.
So the British, as it turned out, stuck with that term.
It is not uncommon in US railroadese, anyway.
Funny that a British guard stumbled over the sleepers when trying to set a turnout -
and found a conductor carrying ( not wearing ) a tie
Another good thing not to do -
When I first started working I worked as a draftsman at a machine shop, we did work for NASA.
One job we had was building a "Wing Vortex Vehicle" which had an Oldsmobile engine, battery, etc mounted inside.
The machinist making the mount for the battery took his tape measure to measure the distance between the 2 battery terminals,
and he touched them with the METAL tape measure.
Shoulda seen the look on his face, as the end fell off, followed by the piece between the battery posts,
then the rest of it reeling back inside the housing!!!
|It is NOT funny; but it IS funny.
W C Greene
|Yep, it takes a rocket surgeon to manage that! LOL