Bachmann Message Board

Discussion Boards => Large => Topic started by: trainman844 on October 29, 2007, 10:09:48 PM



Title: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: trainman844 on October 29, 2007, 10:09:48 PM
Mr Bachmann

I have read the other thread and I want to express a different opinion.  If I  understand this you are intending to offer us a socket similar to the one used by AristoCraft in their locomotives.  If true this will be fantanstic!

I currently run on track power but intend to go RC or DCC n the future.

If  I understand this correectly, I can purchase a QSI sound board now that plugs right into the socket and get sound for my locomotives now and later when I am ready I can choose to go DCC or Radio Control if I just plug in the QSI receiver.

What could be simplier

And I can do this myself without the need of a high cost installer.

Which locomotives will have this socket?

Plug and play   ;D ;D ;D

Trainman


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: altterrain on October 29, 2007, 10:43:01 PM
Great concept if that is what is being proposed (and its not). The devil is in the details and they are all there if you bother to read them and be informed.

-Brian


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on October 29, 2007, 11:23:29 PM
This is NOT the same as Aristo.
Aristo as of right now is NOT on-board with this.
Therefore, the Aristo units will most likely NOT plug into the proposed sockets.
There is a very qualified person now working diligently to write the non-existant list of requirements.
Once that is done, and the process re-starts with the independent observer in the process, we might, and I say agin, MIGHT, get something usable.
If you are going to go r/c, I wish you luck, as right now not one major r/c manufacturer is on-board with the proposal as it stands.
Therefore, you will NOT be plug-and-play, rather cut-and-throw, then re-wire.

edit:  http://www.mylargescale.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=49409


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Jim Banner on October 30, 2007, 01:15:48 AM
Trainman, that is the basic idea behind plug-and-play.  Whether the sound board plugs into the motor controller, or the motor controller plugs into the sound system, or whether they double stack on top of the socket, we don't know at the moment.  In existing systems, we are already seeing sound cards that plug into motor controllers, both in DCC and in radio control.  Personally, multiple cards stacked one on top of another, each with plugs on the bottom and sockets on the top, strike me as the best approach with where the proposal seems to be going at the moment.  In addition to sound and motor control, I can see a third card that is a battery controller, looking after battery charging and discharging.  Maybe a forth card to control animation.  The cards might have auxiliary connectors on their edges for batteries, on/off switch, speakers, little motors that make the engineer turn his head when the locomotive backs up, and so forth.  Plug-and-play is on the way.  It is just a question of how it will be implemented.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: zubi on October 30, 2007, 06:21:37 AM
Plug and pray, Zubi


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Jim Banner on October 30, 2007, 10:33:41 AM
Plug and pray, Zubi

For the technically disinclined, that might be better than "wire-and-weep."


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Dale Loyet on October 30, 2007, 08:22:51 PM
      I think plug and play is a GREAT idea, especialy if it works good. It would be nice to just unplus track power, and plug in battery power. or just plug in a sound system, or radio control. It can't be that easy. I must be dreaming.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: zubi on October 30, 2007, 10:01:05 PM
Can we plug in live steam too? Zubi


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: lkydvl on October 31, 2007, 09:21:41 AM
Once all your plug and play cards are installed....where do you plan to put batteries?

With the given board and plugs sizes you'll be unable to put batteries inside many locos.

Andre'


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on October 31, 2007, 11:29:36 AM
You just have to remember, once they have been brainwashed into one operating system and one alone, with cookie-cutter socketing that leaves out any thought process, the concept of any other operating system becomes heresy, punishable by bending of their track gauges.
Many, many folks I know or talk to went to outdoor LS to escape the nmra.
Now, we have indoor, fair-weather, small-scale, standard adherers deciding what the LS outdoor community is going to do.

If for no other reason than to keep your independence, I would avoid this.

You see the folks who are staunch nmra supporters jumping right in line with this?
No comprehension (even if they claim to understand) or speaker size, weather issues, current draw, and battery size?

There are two far, far better proposals on the table right now.



Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Loco Bill Canelos on November 01, 2007, 12:22:53 PM
Agree that the concept of plug and play is a good idea.  I am not a techie, and do not enjoy that part of the hobby.  A simpler reliable method is attractive to me.  Thanks to help from TOC and others I now do my own successful installs on electronics etc on my locos, but I would still rather be doing something else. 

A friend had a professional install done, battery sound- the works, but does not understand any part of it.  He has sent it back to the installer at least twice at great cost for repair or other problems.  With his huge inveatment in this loco, and the problems,  has decided the hobby is simply not affordable to him and is to much hassle relative to the enjoyment level.   I go to the National Convention and it is mostly old timer like me,  The cost of the hobby keeps escalating (track prices are only the beginning, as the dollar drops and all oil & fuel related costs take their toll)
the only good side is that maybe some production will come back to the USA.  Anyway the technically defficient like me and younger people seem to be shunning the hobby. 

If reliable socket or two will make it easier and and less costly then I am for it.  Hopefully all the issues, amps, reliability etc can be worked out.  I am not a fan of the NMRA, I spent a lifetime of work fussing over issues and standards, and don't want to now.  I appreciate the efforts of others to surface all the issues, and will remain hopeful that some compromise will be worked out that will be benificial to all, and keep cost low. 

My 2 cents worth!

Bill


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on November 01, 2007, 12:37:33 PM
Well, Bill, they didn't come back to me!
But I know what you're saying.
The socket will not fix that issue, however.
Just look at the MR forums, even these forums, and see how many posts of "How do I install DCC?" followed with "How do I remove the shell?"

I talk folks through stuff so they know how it works.
A friend and I used to build railroads indoors for folks.
Gave up.
Why? Because the owners had no clue on wiring, gauge, lubrication, none of it.
The question I have seen on smaller scale forums goes like this:
"I have 2 locomotives, a circle of track, and 8 cars. What brand of dcc should I buy?"
The answers go on for pages.
But the real answer is never given
The answer is "none".
Not because dcc isn't what they may eventually want, but the newbies need to start out with straight track power, learn about joiners, feeders, insulating, clean track, clean wheels, lubrication, gauge issues, in other words, they need to "figure it out" before they throw technology at the problem.
If they start out with the technology, and it doesn't run (one thread like that now on MR..... "My trains don't run!") they are clueless as to where to look.

Let's look at the LS version as proposed:
Current issues. Mis-undertsnading of doubling of contacts. Electricity does not follow the path you might think, and generally does not split anywhere close to evenly in curent draw.
Corrosion. What happens with water or just moisture? What happens with moisture and current?
How long are those sockets going to last with moisture and higher currents?
Who is going to fix it when it fails?

Remember, I have no problem with it, as I have the expertise to yank any such board (and I have bags, boxes and drawers full of removed boards).
Manufacturers seem to look at such boards and try to cram as much onto them as possible.

I can address Climaxes, Shays, Heislers, Porters, 45-tonners, industrial 2-6-0's, and tell you it does not appear as if any consideration was given to battery placement OR large speaker placement.
In the case of the three-truck, batteries and speaker over third truck, but no wires to main body can handle any current.

There are two other proposals being worked on by actual engineers.
These will work for for everyone.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: zubi on November 01, 2007, 12:47:12 PM
Bill, I have two words of advice for your friend: live and steam. I guarantee this will bring the balance back between the hassle and the enjoyment level. Plus, there is some pretty affordable choice around these days. Best wishes from Tokyo, Zubi


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Loco Bill Canelos on November 01, 2007, 06:25:17 PM
TOC, 

You are right they did not go back to you,  and I really appreciate all the help you have given me over the past years.  Now that you have trained me I have been helping some of my friends a little.   My son is now doing his own installs as well.  Clearly we must have the amperage, and reliability in outdoor conditions.  I am hopeful that wisdom will prevail and one of the two engineer developed proposals you mentioned will get adopted.  I do hope they will put in a switch that will allow use of the same locomotive under either track power or battery power.  Most of the folks I know are all track power.  I would like to easily switch back and forth as needed.  Now about coupler standards......Uh......  never mind!!!!! ;D  ::) ;D

Zubi, 
There are some affordable choices.  Live steam is fun for me to watch, but it is not somethiong I am personally interested in doing myself.  As for my friend it is too late he has changed to radio controlled cars, He says it is cheap compared to Garden size trains, no expensive track to buy, no permament space needed, no hundred dollar buildings to buy, no expensive locomotives to buy,  with two hundred dollar sound boards to put in them not to mention the cost of the battery power.  I better shut up, don't want to convince anyone to switch to radio controlled cars!!



Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on November 01, 2007, 10:45:55 PM
Bill-
This isn't all that's afoot.
Three or so years ago I got into it with a certain person over track and wheel standards.
Thought we had it fixed.
Now, the nmra is proposing changing it all again:

http://www.mylargescale.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=49459


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: zubi on November 02, 2007, 03:49:43 AM
Bill, I see. But he may still get back when he gets bored with the R/C cars. But I agree, the expenses involved in our hobby are bordering with absurd. In Japan, at least in the Tokyo area there are a few clubs where one can run his/her loco and rolling stock. But obviously, some contribution is necessary to the costs of establishing the line and subsequent maintenance. So it may be actually cheaper to have your own line, but then you will not have as much fun as we do during the steamups;-)... Well, I am going to have both, actually. My own line here in the centre of Tokyo as well as continued participation in the steamups. While I am not interested in R/C cars, I like both R/C planes and ships in particular paddle steamers,  planes are a bit tricky to be operated in central Tokyo as you may imagine (or perhaps not if you have never been here) but there is a possibility to play with the R/C ships, I know where the club meetings take place. So next time you come to Tokyo, take your steamer, either the boat or the locomotive;-),  or also electric one, to plug it here and play! Best wishes, Zubi

 


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Loco Bill Canelos on November 02, 2007, 11:13:03 AM
Zubi, If I ever get to Tokyo I will look you up!!   I like the steamboat idea!!   Good Luck with your railway construction and your live steam.

Bill


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Cascade Northern on November 02, 2007, 11:41:06 PM
Plug and pray, Zubi

For the technically disinclined, that might be better than "wire-and-weep."

Think about this:
wire-and-weep.  It fails, you can find and fix your problem.
Plug-and-play.  It fails, your screwed!

So, for me, I would rather wire-and-weep!!!! ;)


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Jim Banner on November 03, 2007, 07:07:45 PM
And when you miss-wire-and-weep?  Not many of us are equipped to repair damaged boards.

Most failures of plugs and sockets are contact failures with tin plated contacts.  Repair is to unplug board and then plug it back in.  With gold plated pins, this almost never happens, even after repeated insertions and withdrawls (property of gold.)  Harder to deal with is an overheated socket pin which can happen when an accidental short meets an unfused battery pack.  This type of failure can be repaired by by-passing the pin with a piece of wire but does involve that dreaded process - soldering.  How do you repair a broken screw in a screw terminal?  Or a screw terminal that burns away from not being tightened enough?


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on November 03, 2007, 09:36:24 PM
Since gold-plated contacts are now off the proposal, as are heat-sinked sockets, and the dreaded 36-pin socket assembly, we are only dealing with tin.

That said, add water to the mix.
Then add electricity.
Then factor in spring-loaded contacts (or, just the inherent springiness of said socket).
You can add high current to that equation.

Before you get all steamed up, discussions with the nmra have indicated that (if this ever gets out of committee) it will be a LONG time before it is accepted.

There IS no LS nmra socket approved, contrary to what some websites might claim.

There is now someone on-board the WG who is going back and writing the non-existant requirements.

For all intents and purposes, consider this proposal dead until the basics that weren't done are accomplished and the process re-starts.

That could happen soon, or later down the road.
My crystal ball is currently in the shop, so I am unable to give you an exact moment in time when that will occur.

Please note, for the record, I am not telling you your opinions are wrong.
Rather, I am laying out the data as it stands now, from sources inside the nmra and from the proposal website.
I am in awe of you great experience running LS trains, and dcc with sockets, in wet outdoor environments.
I appreciate your vast experience, and encourage you to continue sharing with the people who visit this forum.

Thank-you for choosing Bachmann.



Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Cascade Northern on November 03, 2007, 09:43:18 PM
Most failures of plugs and sockets are contact failures with tin plated contacts.  Repair is to unplug board and then plug it back in.  With gold plated pins, this almost never happens, even after repeated insertions and withdrawls (property of gold.)  Harder to deal with is an overheated socket pin which can happen when an accidental short meets an unfused battery pack.  This type of failure can be repaired by by-passing the pin with a piece of wire but does involve that dreaded process - soldering.  How do you repair a broken screw in a screw terminal?  Or a screw terminal that burns away from not being tightened enough?

So, if the board fails and it is not the board being seated wrong, your screwed.  Ever try to fix a computer curcuit board (that is seated properly) :-\?  You can't (been there done that, never going back).  This plug-and-pray board would be similar.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Jim Banner on November 04, 2007, 12:11:01 AM
Thanks, TOC.  That is good news if it means they are going to do it right.  Hard to believe that with the other costs involved - locomotive + sound card + receiver + motor control - that they would balk at the slight extra cost of gold flashed pins, the one thing that would make the difference between success and failure in a wet environment.  Back when I was designing, prototyping and field testing scientific instruments, gold contacts were a minimum.  When the going got rough - humidity 100% condensing, corrosive atmosphere, etc. - I used a silicone dielectric grease on the pins and stuffed the sockets full of it as well.  There were still failures, of course.  Military grade components rated to -55 C occasionally failed because they got too cold.  Wild life (the two footed and the four footed kinds) tore up some installations and carried others away.  Batteries were a favorite item to go missing, although what use a 50 pound battery is to anybody when they are 100 miles from the closest road I do not know.  But connector failure was so rare as to be virtually non-existent.  The only example that leaps to mind was an instrument case that a bear used as a volley ball - not only did the cards shake loose, they shattered as well.  Sort of like a couple of soccer pros playing football with your Shay.


I have to agree with Snoq about multi-layer computer boards.  They are so hard to work on, the success rate is so low, and the cost of labour is so high that replacement is a far better choice than attempted repair.  With the simpler, two sided boards used in decoders, sound cards, motor controllers, battery chargers, etc., repair is often possible, if you have the test equipment, the knowledge, and the fault does not involve a proprietary part that the manufacturer will not sell you.  When Snoq says

Quote
So, if the board fails and it is not the board being seated wrong, your (sic)  screwed.

he is basically correct for most people.  Unfortunately, board failure is not unique to boards with pins - boards with screw terminals, with solder pads,  and with edge connectors can fail just as easily, or perhaps even more easily.  These failures are all devastating, and all will mostly require a trip back to the factory for repair.  Even replacing multipin sockets is a fairly simple repair given the right equipment, but it certainly is not a job for the average train owner with a Radio Shack soldering iron.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on November 04, 2007, 12:18:18 AM
Since I now know that my opinion is considered invalid, and all others are of utmost importance, it is with reluctance that I continue.

Moisture, current handling, ability of the newbie to install the electronics of their choice without using said socket assembly, and the need for battery space all add into this concept.
Do a check and see how the stock 2 watt oval speaker supplied with a Sierra, the board, the electronics, and the connecting wires will fit into the available space of a Climax.
Then add the Sierra board to your control system.

Or a 2K2, or a Phoenix 97.

The interesting bit that has showed up is that it seems to be considered an nmra socket already.
We are almost talking "X2F" here.

http://www.qsisolutions.com/news/bach_k27_090307.html

"Bachmann has just announced the release of a G scale K27 with an NMRA G scale decoder socket. The NMRA decoder socket is modeled after the Aristocraft decoder socket......"


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Jim Banner on November 04, 2007, 02:12:53 AM
Climax with DCC and Sierra Sound

(http://members.shaw.ca/sask.rail/dcc/climax/climax3.jpg)

1 - voltage regulator
2 - power supply board
3 - DCC decoder
4 - Sierra sound board
5 - power supply filter capacitor
6 - volume control/programming switch
7 - speaker

This was a battery-less installation.  The owner did not want a battery visible anywhere,  and there wasn't enough room in the tender for the stock battery.  In others, I have put the battery up under the roof of the cab, which eliminates the power supply board and the voltage regulator, but adds a battery charger board.  If I were doing a battery-less one today, I would use a battery charger board plus a super cap.

Bottom line though, I agree with TOC - with presently available boards, there is no room for a socket in this locomotive.  To effectively use a socket here would require a redesign of the boards and a different approach to the socket idea.  The boards would have to stack like a cheese sandwich with each board plugging into the board beneath it and the bottom board plugging into the locomotive socket.  I am not at all convinced that such co-operation between manufacturers will ever come about, independent of what the NMRA comes up with.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on November 04, 2007, 12:38:00 PM
Apparently you mis-read the challenge.
Apparently you mis-understood what this thread was about.

I do not see a fixed 2.4" X 1.5" board with two rows of 12 pin sockets, approximately 1/2" high, with your control equipment mounted to it and plugged in.

If you look at the photos on this page, you will see a QSI nmra socket and dcc board. This is a retrofit, except it is to an unknown version of the Ames Super Socket. See what the actual size can be:

http://www.qsisolutions.com/news/bach_k27_090307.html


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Jim Banner on November 05, 2007, 01:35:25 PM

Do a check and see how the stock 2 watt oval speaker supplied with a Sierra, the board, the electronics, and the connecting wires will fit into the available space of a Climax.
Then add the Sierra board to your control system.

I'm sorry, was that supposed to be a challenge?  All I tried to do was to show how cramped it can be, even without the socket.  I suspect that TOC did not realize that I was agreeing with him (it does happen!)  Particularly when he asked for a Sierra board which, as far as I know, has not come out yet in a piggy back form.

I can visualize how a 1/2" thick "Ames board" plus a 1/2" thick DCC decoder plus a 1/2" thick sound board plus a 1" thick speaker would fit.  I can even see how the same stack substituting a radio control board for the decoder would fit.  But I would be at a loss to cram batteries in there as well.  Mind you, I do not know how I would fit batteries in given conventional boards either, although I seem to remember that TOC has managed to do it.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Curmudgeon on November 05, 2007, 01:40:41 PM
No, I saw that you agreed it was tight.
Add the Cu In displacement of the socket was all I said.

Since my opinion is of no value, I now feel I can share, as no-one will pay any attention anyway.

Jim- On batteries.
We always use fuses, in my case, Polyswitches, which keep you from arc-welding.
On simply track-powered units, running on a 15A supply, a derailment can and does take out wiring and circuit boards.


Thank-you for choosing Bachmann.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: granpab on January 28, 2008, 07:39:29 PM
Tin is good for tomato juice cans.  It flavours the juice as it mutates.

I am new to LG trains, but have decades of experience with R/C planes.  We tried some tin connectors and rekitted planes because of it.  Tin is BAD for low voltage electical contacts -- it oxydizes due to humidity -- prevents constant electrical flow -- creates radio noise interference -- wreck radio receivers and ruins electronic speed controllers.

For electrical connectors in LG trains, my experience indicates that the only viable electrical connector is gold.  Like Ft Knox, use the GOLD standard.


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: Greg Elmassian on January 28, 2008, 11:28:04 PM
Guys, there was an attempt to make an NMRA standard socket and put it into the K.

That did not happen, it is not a standard.

Now, several decoders MAY plug into this socket, but I am trying to get confirmation of what actually does plug in and what modifications are required. I do not have this information, but someone may have it. I have asked him, and did not get an answer yet.

BUT

This socket does little to help installers that are not plugging in a circuit board designed specifically for this socket.

You WILL see places on the main board where screw terminals COULD be installed.

BUT

The K has brought up even more fundamental issues, like should lights have a common. Should the common be plus or minus?

Should there be provision to allow leds and incandescent bulbs to be used?

What kind of electrical interface should be brought to the socket and screw terminals for chuff sensors? (No matter whether they are solid state or reed switches)

How "involved" should the board be in accepting or switching power so that battery power can be used as well as track power?

So all of this is up in the air. One good thing about the electronics in the K, it has brought to focus that trying to define a standard socket is WAY premature.

What we need to come up with is what interfaces need to be "presented" and what electrical "characteristics" should they have?

On top of this, we need to try to cover all users, from the most "stripped down" interface of motor and headlight and backup light, all the way up to all the "bells and whistles" that a user might want (like controlling all lights independently, driving flicker from a separate circuit, remote smoke on/off, and the list goes on.

Trying to do all of this will be a monumental task.

It behooves anyone who takes the "larger" view to consider all of the hobby. Doing this job right will benefit the Manufacturer and the Consumer.

So, that's what I am involved in.

No perfect answers yet.

Regards, Greg


Title: Re: Plug and play a great concept
Post by: rperego on January 29, 2008, 03:03:37 PM
Speaking of connector problems, it's ironic this post appeared on the Atlas site a few days ago:  http://forum.atlasrr.com/discussion/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=44041

I'm glad I took TOC's advice from the start of installing stuff by first throwing out any factory boards.

After just over a year in this hobby, my take is customers fall in three camps - live with what comes out of the box, learn what it takes to make modifications, or pay someone to do it.   The reason I think PNP will have problems is because from what I can see many of the products are basically cottage industries.   Consequently one must be willing to put up with a miriad of difficulties.

As an example, I recently bought an upgrade to my DCC system advertised to bump the amps.  So far I've discovered 3 differences in how the system operates.   I'm not unhappy but only because I discovered quickly that if you don't like quirks and the attendant follow up necessary to get things to work, this isn't the hobby for you.

Having spent a career making Mainframe software and hardware work where adherance to protocols is paramount, and seeing where huge corporations don't get it right, I can't imagine PNP working without difficulties in this hobby.

I'm also into RC planes, and the story is no different.  In a review of a new plane I'm considering, it was noted that the servos included in a package deal won't fit without modifying the mounts.  And by the way, PNP is also used in the RC businiess.  I agree with whoever said it means Plug and Pray - and research, and network, and buy stuff you didn't' know you would need, and know TOC's phone number.

Bob