With the release of the new Blunami decoders by Soundtrax a local modeler desired to convert his HOn3 fleet to battery RC. The challenge of course is finding space for the batteries, decoders etc. We decided that the best approach was to us a removable single cell battery and house it in the tenders coal bay with a coal load to cover it. In this manner the battery could be changed at a coaling stop during operations as necessary. Run time thus far appears to be at least 1 to 1 1/2 hour on the units with the smallest batteries (400mah). Units with more tender space have 700mah batteries so run longer.
Using single cell batteries with a Pololu 9 volt step up regulator and having them easily removable eliminates the need for a charge jack or on/off switch. Maintaining single cell batteries is also easier and chargers are inexpensive and readily available which will charge 4 cells at a time.
Using the Blunami decoder eliminates the need for a seperate RC board and decoder and also eliminates the need for dedicated transmitters. Currently Iphones are usedbut Soundtrax is working on the release of a APP for android phones.
Battery under coal load. This shows a 250mah cell as that was all I had at time of photo. Minimum now in use is 400mah. Attached Youtube is of engine #485 with initial Airwire system. It has now been converted to Blunami. https://youtu.be/2ndDhpyiXUs
On30 should be fairly easy. I have a friend with On30 DRGW that is considering BPRC. I have looked at his engines and am looking forward to converting them.
I have converted 8 of the HOn3 engines. All are older brass which do not run particularly well on DCC. Battery power seems to greatly improve operability.
I have built several. batteries are available in many sizes and shapes so can be found for most applications. This Bachmann F7A was converted using a Bluerail board and two cell 400mah battery, Tsunami TSU1100 decoder, Pololu volt step up regulator, sugar cube speaker and LED light. Runs great with about 1 hour run time.
There are many potential applications.
For the DC modeler that wants to try DCC sound it offers the ability to convert an engine (or more) without the complexity of purchasing and wiring a DCC system.
For the modeler wanting to convert to Battery Power RC (BPRC) it eliminates the need for a seperate RC board plus decoder. That reduces cost over $100. Add in the fact a seperate transmitter/controller is not needed and another $150+ is saved. The cost of a Blunami decoder is only about $15 more than a standard one.
For me personally - I like knobs and switches. Touch screen is not for me. All the engines on my layout are CVP Airwire equipped.
The thing I like most is the programming. All from the phone app. Very user friendly and all CV values are visible. No programming track etc.
I have converted about 20 to Bluerail or Blunami so far and will say they are great systems. All have been BPRC. I have had Bluerail since it was first released and now Blunami since first release. The 2200 unit is only about 1/8" longer than a standard TSU 2200 so space requirements are no more. I am waiting/hoping for release of a 1100 version to further reduce size.