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| | |-+  IS there a bright future for model railroading?
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Author Topic: IS there a bright future for model railroading?  (Read 9677 times)
Yampa Bob

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« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2008, 09:57:05 PM »

I still have my first computer, a Commodore VIC 20.  I keep it as a reminder of those so-called good old days. No software, had to write programs in BASIC.

One time I had a huge derail that reminded me of one I saw on TV.  It was a coal run, engine front and back.  The lead loco went off and the rear just kept shoving everything off the track..I suddenly had a flashback impulse to grab a huge hammer, as was often suggested for computers.

I'm  thinking magnetically controlled  Monorail might be the next step in trains. Unlimited speed, impossible to derail.  We might be in awe of our current trains, but as often quoted "You ain't seen nothin' yet"

Bob






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Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
TonyD

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« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2008, 01:31:14 AM »

Bonjour gene, coma ca va? Le Car a vente? quel an? Ces possible, le transmission automatique? No petite Gremlin pour moi? gosh. I want some of Bob's solar panels too, I better get my trailer out of the snow bank huh? And my commodore 64 is sitting in a box waiting for me to fling this rig out the window..... same as the open motor engines were sitting in the round house door, like Thomas and freinds, gloating as they watched the dcc trials go downhill...
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Yampa Bob

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« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2008, 03:52:14 PM »

Since this thread is about the future, it might be appropriate to elaborate on the solar modules,  they are a viable option for a portable or garden railroad, perhaps at a remote cabin, outdoor exhibition, etc. 

Solar technology is fairly simple,  layers of semi conducting material (silicon) doped with additives (boron) to produce a  Photovoltaic cell.  A single cell generates about 1/2 volt of DC electricity, so it takes 36 cells to provide a nominal 12 volts (18 volts peak) module.  Modules are arranged into panels and arrays to provide higher voltages and amperages needed for homes and other application.   

Pure DC, and wired just like batteries, in series for more voltage, in parallel for more amps. 

You see the small modules along railroad tracks for signaling and communications, by highways for emergency phones and traffic warnings, anywhere that the grid isn't available.

With some exceptions, including water pumping, solar panels don't power anything directly.  They are used to charge batteries, the batteries provide the power, either as DC, or through an inverter to provide AC.   Batteries are dangerous, a car battery can generate an instantaneous amperage of thousands of amps   Always remove the negative cable first, and reinstall the negative terminal last.   First off, last on.  I forgot myself once and welded a wrench to the car frame while taking off the positive terminal first. 

Batteries to power your trains?  Nothing new, we did it many years ago before the REA ran lines to farms. Ever see a windcharger on an old farm house?  Yup, it was charging surplus telephone batteries to light the home.  

If you only want to run your trains when the sun can hit the panels, you can wire them directly.  There's  a catch.  Sun goes behind a cloud, the train slows or stops. Solution:  Get a small hobby battery, 12 volts at 5 to 7 AH, a charge controller to regulate the charging current from the panel, and you're set to go. 

Quality modules are scarce as most are being shipped to Germany. This site has some inexpensive ones that will work.

http://www.northerntool.com

There are some errors in their catalog, I haven't checked the specs on the site lately.

You only need a small charge controller for this, not the huge one they list for large arrays.  Charging amps for small batteries are usually C/10, meaning  1/10 the battery ampere/hour rating, or .7 amp.  The Tower wallwart charges at 600 milliamps or .6 amps.

A 15 watt panel  $80, charge controller  $30, battery  $25  Add your own protective stuff like fuses, current limiters (light bulbs)or resistors.  That's still a fairly weak panel, only provides 1.25 amps of charge, a little better than a trickle charger, as here is the theory: 

Say your loco draws .8 amps. Run your loco for one hour. You just used .8 amp hour of current from a 7AH battery, about a 10% discharge.  The charge controller should just keep the battery peaked and into the float stage.

Of course if you only run for a short period, use a battery or two and forget the panel and charge controller.

You still need a throttle. Take apart a standard DC controller, bypass the transformer and rectifier circuit, you only need the rheostat.  You can leave the delay action circuit breaker if you want, but I would still use external fusing.  Add polarized plugs for the battery leads.  Any rheostat of adequate power rating will work. 12 volts @1 amp = roughly 12 to 15  watt. It may get a little warm.  If you are not comfortable doing this, find an electrical savvy person to assist. Use fast action fuses and get a bunch of them, 1 amp just like your controller. 

If you need  3 amp for a garden loco, you need a 50 watt panel a high power rated throttle and a larger battery, say 28 to 30 AH.  Be careful as this many amps can do some unwanted welding.  You can still use the small charge controller, but it won't keep the battery peaked.      

For DCC you need a pure sine wave inverter to change to AC, but most inverters are only square wave. I don't recommend DCC as it may ruin your controller or power panel.

Battery from Tower Hobbies is  gel electrolyte  so no acid to spill, buy the wallwart charger also. You can get a digital voltmeter from some NAPA stores for $10 (bargain  bin) It measures  DC and AC volts and  DC current to 10 amps.

Bob
« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 09:28:21 PM by Yampa Bob » Logged

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Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
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