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Author Topic: The Ames' "Super Socket": A BAD decision for Bachmann!!  (Read 15311 times)
Steve Stockham


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« on: October 27, 2007, 04:29:38 PM »

  Stan Ames is the coordinator (he categorizes it as "spokesman") for a NMRA sponsored "DCC Working Group" which is working on a "universal socket" that would be mandated for all Large Scale engines from ALL manufacturers. Now why would this be a "bad" thing? Because it is being designed by DCC people with a DCC agenda that have little or no experience with Large Scale. They are trying to develope a 22 pin "Super Socket" that will make all of our older non-DCC compatable "Heritage Locomotives" obsolete. Again, what's so bad about that?
  Well, it just so happens that the r/c battery industry (which has a significantly larger percentage of the LS market) is NOT an active part of this group which is working in secret and who's members are also secret!  We don't know WHO is making decisions for us!!
  Worse, this WG is struggling with some major problems with their design which if not corrected could spell some real headaches for Bachmann!! (Remember the "Quasinami" fiasco? Our r/c battery systems don't work with this unit!)
  Worse yet, all of this new stuff isn't cheap! How many of us will care to spend an extra $100 or so just to have electronics that we can't use? I sure as heck don't!! Angry
  A level headed suggestion by Tony Walsham of RCS Systems, Dave Goodson of Northwest Remote Control Systems, myself as a r/c battery layman user and nearly everybody on the thread over on MLS where this is being discussed, is for the use of screw terminals which would allow for inclusion of "heritage" equipment as well as various manufacturer's proprietary pin and sockets now currently in use. This suggestion was paid lip service but has been "double-talked" into a "decision to be made after we have decided on the socket design." The concensus among most people on the thread is that Stan Ames has an agenda and is NOT interested in changing the design to use screw terminals. This is unacceptable. Period.
  I am a Bachmann enthusiast and I have five of my engines converted to r/c battery. I have NO interest in this design if it doesn't take into account the needs of the r/c battery community. Bachmann dropped the ball rather badly with the "Quasinami" unit not being r/c battery compatable. If Bachmann decides to adopt this design as is then it will be a BAD decision for Bachmann Industries! Sad
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lkydvl

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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2007, 04:52:50 PM »

Agreed Steve...this is not a consumer friendly idea at all.  The socket Ames is pushing doesn't even begin to handle the current load our LS trains use. 

Andre'
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Lawrie

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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2007, 08:36:12 PM »

Considering how many LS modellers are going to battery RC forget about sockets and come out with locos that have no track pick-up and an empty tender or bunker ready for installation of our chosen system
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Nathan

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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2007, 09:32:08 PM »

>"little or no experience with Large Scale."

Stan has been in Large Scale for many years.
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altterrain


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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2007, 11:15:57 PM »

No matter which side of an issue you side up on, secret discussions on a matter that effects many of us in the hobby is a bad idea. I will be sure to inform the members of the club about this.

-Brian Donovan
 President-Elect of the WVMGRS
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Steve Stockham


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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2007, 11:19:35 PM »

  Ah yes, so he has been but who else? The manufacturers that are supposed to be composing this WG are mostly from the smaller scales. Large Scale presents a whole plethora of new challenges that don't have to be dealt with in the smaller scales! Besides, Stan claims to be a spokesperson for the group and not affilliated with any particular manufacturer.
  You know, this doesn't only affect r/c battery users! This thing is supposed to be mandated for installation in every Large Scale locomotive! Track powered people will be stuck with this as well! This will include Loco Linc and AirWire controlled engines as well! My problem with this is that it's being covertly forced on us as a "fait acompli" whether we want it or not!
  I had hopes that this WG would take the concerns of the r/c battery manufacturers into consideration but the obfuscation and outright mischaracterization of their intentions as well as the intentional disregard of our concerns has left me totally disenchanted with their plan! In fact, I would not be surprised to learn that this scheme is a ploy to foist DCC onto Large Scale and I strongly suspect a certain manufacturer is already planning on monopolizing this new mandated technology!
  Don't just take my word for it! There are at least 13 pages of postings over on mylargescale.com where this has been discussed, analyzed, questioned, argued, enveigled and obfuscated and even promoted! (Yes, Stan started the thread!) Check it out!
http://www.mylargescale.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=48900
  
« Last Edit: October 27, 2007, 11:30:26 PM by Steve Stockham » Logged
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2007, 12:19:39 AM »

I think a suitable socket is a great idea.  Pull out a dummy plug, plug in your radio receiver (brand of your choice) or decoder (brand of your choice) and sound card (brand of your choice).  If you want to run on batteries, plug them in too.  No more having to spend hours figuring out the wiring for every different locomotive or having to spend hundreds of dollars to have it done for you.  Anybody with the skills to open up a locomotive for routine lubrication will be able to install their own sound, radio, DCC, on-board power, or what have you. 

Where will you get these magic plug-in products?  Once there is a standard socket, everyone who wants to sell products for large scale will get on board, either by modifying their products to fit the standard socket or by producing an optional wiring harness that includes a standard plug.

For those who never want to add the goodies, the added cost will be just the cost of a socket and a dummy plug, probably a buck each in quantity.  For those who want to go radio, they will not have to pay for unwanted DCC items because the DCC people will be able to pop them in by themselves, taking away any motivation for manufacturers to pre install them.   Same goes in reverse for DCC people who do not want radio.

For die hards who cannot imagine a life without screw terminals, or who want to reuse older radios/decoders/sound boards that do not have standard plugs, I am sure someone will produce an adapter card with screw terminals on one side and a standard plug on the other side, or at least a standard plug with long wires which will let you do as you wish.

Please note that I am taking about a suitable standard socket.   I have no idea whether the socket under "secret discussion" will be suitable for large scale or not.  Because of current requirements in large scale versus space availability in the small scales, I feel that one standard socket that covers all the connections in all the scales is not very likely.  That does not, however, preclude using a tiny standard plug in all scales plus a larger four pin plug that is required only in the larger scales to carry the heavier pickup and motor currents.  I for one will be looking forward to seeing what Ames and company come up with.  If it turns out to be suitable for large scale, I believe we will see a gigantic leap forward for all of us.  But if, as many doom sayers are saying, it is not suitable for large scale, then I see chaos continuing for years to come, whether Bachmann or any other manufacturer decides to use it or not.  As one who basically guts locomotives then rewires them when installing radio, DCC, sound, or special effects, I believe an unsuitable socket will be just one more thing that has to be cut out, torn out, and tossed out.
 
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Curmudgeon
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2007, 12:57:08 AM »

LS Interface Version 0.0.0.0.0.1 is screw terminals.
Works with everything currently made, everything ever made, and nobody or nothing gets "obsoleted".

If there is one thing I HATE in an outdoor environment, it is plugs and sockets.
Avoid as many as I can.
This one adds, all by itself, 23 more sockets.

What happens to this "standard" in 2 or 3 years when someone invents something new that requires two or three more pins?
A redesign?
And what they propose now is obsolete?
That, Jim, is "planned obsolescence".

You use 8 pin sockets on H0, right?
Hang onto your hat.
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Nathan

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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2007, 08:13:52 AM »

> "mandated for installation in every Large Scale locomotive! "

There is no mandate, a manufacturer may do what they want, there are two "socket's" that are being proposed, one already in use in  large scale..

A number of the manufactures are involved in the creating of the 'Standards'.

Stan is not 'in charge' or the 'spokesperson' , he is one of many that are trying to find better ways to do things.  A number of manufactures do not like his proposal and have voted 'no' to the connector in question, but then a number have voted 'yes'.

There locomotive manufactures form all over the world, R/C manufactures form all over the world, DCC manufactures from all over the world, and Model Railroaders from all over the world that all are part of the Working Group.  They all do not agree on everything all of the time.
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Tony Walsham

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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2007, 09:30:28 AM »

SNIP

Please note that I am taking about a suitable standard socket.   I have no idea whether the socket under "secret discussion" will be suitable for large scale or not.  SNIP
Jim,

Judging by your comments above that just about sums up the situation.

Might I respectfully suggest you read up on the subject and I feel certain your opinion will change rapidly.

The problem with all this is that Stan Ames agreed with the concept of screw terminals mounted on the socket.  Then he reneged on the idea and allowed the WG vote to go ahead on accepting the socket proposal WITHOUT the screw terminals he previously had agreed to.
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Tony Walsham
Founding member of the battery Mafia.


(Remote Control Systems).
Bruce Chandler


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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2007, 09:37:42 AM »

I think a suitable socket is a great idea.  Pull out a dummy plug, plug in your radio receiver (brand of your choice) or decoder (brand of your choice) and sound card (brand of your choice).  If you want to run on batteries, plug them in too.  No more having to spend hours figuring out the wiring for every different locomotive or having to spend hundreds of dollars to have it done for you.  Anybody with the skills to open up a locomotive for routine lubrication will be able to install their own sound, radio, DCC, on-board power, or what have you. 

Where will you get these magic plug-in products?  Once there is a standard socket, everyone who wants to sell products for large scale will get on board, either by modifying their products to fit the standard socket or by producing an optional wiring harness that includes a standard plug.

For those who never want to add the goodies, the added cost will be just the cost of a socket and a dummy plug, probably a buck each in quantity.  For those who want to go radio, they will not have to pay for unwanted DCC items because the DCC people will be able to pop them in by themselves, taking away any motivation for manufacturers to pre install them.   Same goes in reverse for DCC people who do not want radio.

For die hards who cannot imagine a life without screw terminals, or who want to reuse older radios/decoders/sound boards that do not have standard plugs, I am sure someone will produce an adapter card with screw terminals on one side and a standard plug on the other side, or at least a standard plug with long wires which will let you do as you wish.

Please note that I am taking about a suitable standard socket.   I have no idea whether the socket under "secret discussion" will be suitable for large scale or not.  Because of current requirements in large scale versus space availability in the small scales, I feel that one standard socket that covers all the connections in all the scales is not very likely.  That does not, however, preclude using a tiny standard plug in all scales plus a larger four pin plug that is required only in the larger scales to carry the heavier pickup and motor currents.  I for one will be looking forward to seeing what Ames and company come up with.  If it turns out to be suitable for large scale, I believe we will see a gigantic leap forward for all of us.  But if, as many doom sayers are saying, it is not suitable for large scale, then I see chaos continuing for years to come, whether Bachmann or any other manufacturer decides to use it or not.  As one who basically guts locomotives then rewires them when installing radio, DCC, sound, or special effects, I believe an unsuitable socket will be just one more thing that has to be cut out, torn out, and tossed out.
 

A socket sounds pretty nifty when described that way.

How will you connect your speakers?   Or do I now have to buy a specific speaker with plugs already attached?  

If I am a DC user and just want sound, where do I plug in my sound card battery?

How do I PLUG IN the batteries?    Most battery packs have two wires coming from them - where do they go in this socket???

How do I charge those batteries?  Does the super socket help me there?  

How about an on/off switch?   Do I have to open up the tender to turn on the power?

You talk about an optional wiring harness with a standard plug - what standard plug should a vendor use?    How does a sound card vendor co-exist with an RC card?  

If this socket isn't working correctly, what are the trouble-shooting procedures?  

There's just a LOT that doesn't seem to have been thought out.

On the other hand, if I have a standard screw terminal, it won't take you hours to figure out that #1 and #2 are your power terminals.

Sierra and Phoenix just came out with some new products - now we're going to ask them to redesign everything?   And stock new and old so they can sell upgrades for locomotives that don't have sockets?   Do you think this will make the products cheaper, or more expensive?

And for the diehards who only wanted screw terminals, they get an adapter card with screw terminals on one side and a standard plug on the other side for some outrageous price - and now find they don't have room in the tender for all this plus the sound card, batteries and RC gear.  
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Bruce
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2007, 12:11:36 PM »

Tony, rightly or wrongly, I prefer to skip all the guesses and opinions and wait to see what Ames and company come up with.  Being an NMRA committee, they are not going to listen to us anyway.  If they listen to Stan, there is a good chance that they will come up with something useful.  But I am not holding my breath.

Having seen what has been accomplished in the electronics industry in terms of standard plugs/sockets for specific applications, I think that a standard socket is a great idea.  But I am not at all confident that the NMRA is capable of coming up with a great design.  A couple of past fiascos leap immediately to mind - the X2f coupler and more recently their insistence on changing an existing international de facto electrical standard for large scale (left rail positive) to fit into their localized way of thinking.  It is that thinking that scares me the most.  The concept of a standard socket being used in all scales works only if it solves just a portion of the problem i.e. handles only a sub set of the necessary connections.

I am out of time for the moment, but will be back later to answer some of Bruce Chandlers excellent questions.
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Steve Stockham


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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2007, 03:26:20 PM »

Jim,
  There's something going on here that stinks to high heaven! The NMRA didn't ask for this! We have an agenda driven issue and that agenda doesn't have r/c battery as one of it's primary interests! That in and of itself wasn't enough to make me an opponent. heck, as far as I was concerned, the "universal socket" seemed like a pretty good idea! If people were wanting DCC then it made complete sense to give them this option but the Devil is in the details! Tony Walsham was asked by Stan to join the WG but there were secrecy conditions attached that were unacceptable. Still, Tony was willing to work with Stan to ensure that r/c battery's interests were properly represented.
  To that end, Tony got certain assurances from Stan about using screw terminals as part of the socket issue that were non-negotiable. Stan promised and didn't deliver. More so, he denied that he even agreed to the decision stating that he always meant that the screw terminals would be part of a later discussion about internal wiring. As Tony has written, this was not what was agreed to! This "secret" WG is working in secret with a definite agenda and they are not negotiating in good faith! This is not good!
  The plan that this WG has voted on is chock full of problems that are not being addressed simply because this plan is for DCC to make inroads into Large Scale by fiat! Again, this wouldn't be a problem except that this decision is supposed to be for all manufacturers and it would cause major problems for after market r/c battery (and track power!) manufacturers! Now, some (maybe most) manufacturers will look at this and say "Nope, not for us!" but Bachmann is listed as "on board" with this decision hence my posting.
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2007, 03:35:42 PM »

TOC, I too can remember the good old days in automotives where everything had screw terminals and you could rewire your whole car without having to buy a single plug.  The last car I remember doing that with was a '48(?) Chev.  But times changed.  They crammed more and more electrics and electronics into cars to the point that there just isn't room under the dash for all those screw terminals.  They had to go to plugs.  I don't know how many plugs and sockets there are in today's cars, but I bet it is in the hundreds.  And they work in a much harsher environment than what we have inside our large scale locomotives.  Bruce Chandler has pointed out that space is at a premium, even in large scale, with all the batteries, receivers, power controllers and sound systems that we want to cram in.  Plugs and sockets can help to free up a lot of that space.

No, I haven't used an 8 pin plug in DCC for years.  In small scales, I use in-line 9 pin and in large scale  I use 12 pin for power and 9 pin for functions. I have not yet run into the new 24 pin plugs that are already out there but only because I have no interest in sound in the small scales.  Do I consider that "planned obsolescence"?  No, I believe that is just technology having advanced more in the last ten years than anybody could see when the DCC standards were set down.  To me, its a lot like playing music.  My Edison cylinders don't quite cut it any more.  That standard is dead.  Phonograph records?  Dead.  Eight-track?  Dead. Cassettes?  Dead.  CDs? On their last legs.  Two years ago I bought a DVD player that also played CDs.  Thanks to blue ray and flash memory, that player has one foot in the grave and the other is slipping.  Again, technological advance.  And we haven't even started on computers yet.  But, and this is a BIG BUT, a standard for a socket can be developed that will NOT make previous hardware obsolete.  I will try to expand on that in a posting addressed to Bruce.
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CCSII

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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2007, 04:01:50 PM »

Let's look at an industry that thrives on standard sockets, the computer industry.

The wide spread interchangability of components is a result of standardized sockets: USB, ATA, Video, Firewire, Ethernet, PCMCIA, memory, etc.

The interesting aspect of this standardization is that it is not a single socket.

Your laptop does not have a super socket, it has many sockets, one or more for each necessary interface.

If we have a controller card plugged into this super socket the socket is occupied, how do we plug in a sound card? If we have a sound card plugged into the super socket, how do we plug in a speaker? (remember, the socket is already occupied.)

Interesting problem. Inovation should solve problems, not introduce them.
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