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Author Topic: Stan Ames was RIGHT!!  (Read 10793 times)
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2007, 01:48:03 PM »

Kevin and Tony, I am grateful for your comments and thank you both for taking the time to post them.

 I do not expect this technology to wipe out battery power with radio control.  There will continue to be situations where radio control has a distinct advantage.  And I suspect these are the situations where it has its stronghold right now.    A major one of these is when you have a large layout, capable of supporting many trains and you operate it with many operators, each moving along with his own train.

Many of us will never have layouts that big.  Some of us have occasional access to one, and may even have one battery powered radio controlled locomotive that we can take with us.  But many of us have smaller layouts, what I have been referring to as suburban backyard layouts, where we like to run a few trains.  Once we reach the point of wanting to run more than one at a time, we have essentially three choices.  We can use dc power and block wiring, we can use DCC, or we can use battery power and radio control.  They all have advantages and disadvantages.  What I am hoping to do is find out whether battery power and through the rails command control can provide a fourth alternative for those suburban backyard layouts, an alternative that combines the good points of the other three without their bad points.  So what are the good points?

(1) independent locomotive control.
(2) lower cost than radio control, particularly if you have a DCC command station that you use indoors in the winter but leave idle during the summer.
(3) lower cost than DCC - no boosters required.

There is still some down side, and this includes:
 
(1) more expensive than dc, one-at-a-time control.
(2) requires batteries, all of which have limited lives and require special care and attention.
(3) to break free from a fixed-in-place controller, radio throttles are required, many of which are more expensive than full radio control systems.

I should also point out another major difference - with DCC control, your trains are never out of range of your command station sitting beside your comfy chair on the patio.  But if you use a radio throttle and walk along with your trains, you may go out of range of the receiver back there on the patio.  With full radio control, the reverse occurs.  Walking along with your trains, you never go out of radio range.  But if you sit in your comfy chair, your trains may go out of radio range.

Will this fourth method of control work?  I hope so, but until I do some serious testing, I cannot say yes it will or no it will not.  All I can say is that so far, it looks promising.  I would like nothing better at the end of the summer than to be able to say that all you need is a Bachmann E-Z Commander, some Gold Maxi decoders, and some batteries, and boom - you are running multiple trains with independent control.  But you can bet your boots that if it will not work for me, I will not be recommending it to you.
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2007, 02:36:15 PM »

Thank you, Bob, for taking the time to come up with the questions and comments.  As there are so many of them in your posting, I will repeat them here in bold face to distinguish them from my own answers and comments.

Yes, 7 years ago I did a demo for some visitors where the locos slowed gracefully to a stop on the tape, reversed the headlights, sounded the correct toots from the sound decoder, and gradually accelerated back off the tape. All that using thick black electrical tape on BOTH rails. I did it using two different brands of decoders and carefully setting up the proper CV's. I admit that several other brands of decoders I tried could not be made to do that even though they had access to the + & -. at best they could only cross the tape. Some could not even do that because they did not handle DC conversion in a standard way.

I also tried a Digitrax decoder but the one I tried was far less than 7 years old.  It did not respond the same way.

I too use thick electrical tape on BOTH rails when testing the Lenz Gold Maxi decoder.  The only difference was I used red tape for better visibility.  I did not change any of the CV's.  I just took it out of the package and slapped it into the locomotive, no special adjustments required.  I did not test dc conversion, but will add it to my list for summer testing.

I would be more interested to know what happens when you INTEND to stop at a spot on the tape. Does the creep on stop feature work. Does it continue to creep off the tape in an attempt to regain track power?  According to the web site, it will not stop on a dirty piece of track but will creep to a clean spot. Does that work when loco stops while backing up?
I was able to get that to work years ago by adding a resistor and small relay, but I never got it to work in both directions. One thing I did not like was the drivers creeping when I picked the loco up and set it on a shelf. I had to add a cutoff switch. Does the gold decoder solve that problem?


When I intended to stop at a spot on the tape, I turned the throttle down to zero and the locomotive stopped.  It did not creep.  This worked equally well in both directions.  Incidentally,  I could not find the word "creep" in the description but I may have been looking at the wrong page.  Could you please post the URL for the page where you found that?

Can you stop the loco on the tape and still be able to control the loco an hour later, 8 hours later? When the battery goes dead.
Yes, although I discovered that accidentally.  I turned off DCC command station at 6 p.m. Saturday but forgot to turn off the battery.  At ten am Sunday, I went to demonstrate it, turned on the command station, and ran the locomoitve off the tape.  I do not recommend doing that as there is an 8 mA drain on the battery which would have flattened my little 320 mAh batteries in about 40 hours.

Is there a way to have the decoder go to low power mode, IE turn off the smoke generator etc. when it looses track power?

Yes, I believe the battery charge control output could be used to do that.  As I never use smoke, I had not thought of that, but it would be a great thing to do.

I guess I have to get one to find out. All I've ever seen is a description of the test as Stan described it a and a repeat of the same test. Getting it to run on and off the tape is only the first step. There are a lot of other issues that have to be solved. Can you run a COMPLETE set of tests? Please include how the decoder handles DC stopping sections. How about DC conversion for analog operation?

I do not have any dc stopping sections on my large scale layout but I will set one up to do just that.  It would also make the dc conversion test easier.

What happens when one of the drivers get jammed in a turnout, and shorts out the DCC signal so the booster shuts down? Does BMEF just keep applying more power until something breaks?

No.  There is a time out feature built into the decoder to shut it down in case of loss of DCC signal.  That can be a nuisance because a short such as you describe would shut down all of the other trains as well.  But it can also be a blessing because it stops all those other trains from smashing into the stuck train.  The command station does not care - they are designed to protect themselves from shorts; and the batteries in the locomotive do not care, they are isolated from the rails and cannot discharge backwards into them.

There was an earlier question about return loops that I missed answering.  As the DCC signal can be picked up from just one rail, I suspect that isolating a section of one rail at each input to a return loop would be all that would be required.  Testing will tell. 
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Hunt
?
MBB


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« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2007, 02:40:11 PM »

An aside to this thread and on the soap box.

I have a different point of view than some. It does not matter to me which control system one uses...   DC, battery with R/C,  DCC or a combination. Yes, there is a command control system available using wireless throttle, battery on board power and DCC powered by battery needing track only to steer where the train goes. However I, as I believe some contributors to this board, would desire a decision about the control system one uses be made on facts and not misinformation or misperceptions.

I never have recommended someone change control systems if you have a control system that does what you want.  In fact, I rarely recommend a control system to anyone. I suggest and encourage one make a decision what they want now and in the foreseeable future and do their own research and compare. BUT --- Always place a recommendation based only on I have in proper perspective.

An involved model railroader, of any scale, can make decisions about what they want and are willing to pay for their railroads; but, only when relevant product information is readily available. Relevant information is the hurdle and it can be a high one at times.
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Colorado

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« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2007, 09:16:14 PM »

Just want to make sure I have this right, I have a NCE Powercab for HO.

I could add to my battery powered LS a Gold Maxi, use the Powercab to control the loco and any additional functions, and batteries to supply the power.

Quite happy to be able to have a "power area/siding/track segment, to charge up batteries between usage, I very rairly run for more than 30 minutes at a time anyway.
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Lee Carlson


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« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2007, 09:36:15 PM »

I like the possibility of having a much longer range of radio control.
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Lee Carlson
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NYS&W -- Niantic, Yantic, Scantic & Willimantic Traction Co.
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2007, 12:23:13 AM »

Colorado, from the limited testing I did over the weekend, that would seem to be a good possibility.  I intend to try just that if/when spring comes to Saskatchewan and my railway reappears from under a hundred (scale) feet of snow.  I plan to keep readers of Bach-Man's board up to date with my findings and also put the results on my website so that all the information is in one place.  I have three different command stations to try it with and can probably borrow more from my dealer.  And I have at least three different railways to try things out on.  Hardly an all inclusive test, but if all these combinations are successful, I hope it will encourage others like yourself to give it a try.  If the concept does not work out, I will certainly let you know that too.
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Hunt
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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2007, 01:38:53 AM »

Colorado and others,
More info about Hybrid drive using DCC technology--
Click http://www.tttrains.com/dcc/hybriddrive/
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2007, 08:30:41 PM »

Thanks, Hunt!!

Everyone looking for more information on hybrid drive (DCC plus batteries) should follow Hunt's link and read these pages.  I found them very encouraging, especially reading results of trials beyond just one five foot length of track.  Stan's successes give me all the more reason to test the limits of the technology for myself. 
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Pospete

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« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2007, 02:28:05 AM »

   Very interesting comments on whats going on. I have to say from my own experience the Lenz Maxi is a very good decoder. Altho my small railway is in doors, in the garage as I have no garden here, I don't clean the track very often, in fact I hav'nt cleaned the track since last spring( September down here in Roo Land).
   As regards Radio Trans. I use the Lenz DCC system with a couple of their XPAs which enable me to use spair  home portable phones for wireless radio controllers.   for me it works out a cheap and very effective means of control of locos and full sound functions easily. I can even sit on the loo indoors and still make the whistle blow! hehehe
   At the time I opted for DCC, but I figured it was right for what I wanted. It's not all plain sailing and it's good to hear all arguments in favor of the different control systems. I think it's good that we go with what we know and it at least gives us the opertunity to compare notes.
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bobgrosh

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« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2007, 01:25:56 PM »

Jim, or someone, please explain this diagram to me.
Quote
More info about Hybrid drive using DCC technology--
Click http://www.tttrains.com/dcc/hybriddrive/

On that page you will find a link on how to install hybrid drive.

http://www.tttrains.com/dcc/hybriddrive/installing_hybrid_drive.htm
I've seen this wiring diagram before. And I still do not understand it.

The relay contact switch is, according to Stanly, a normally open contact.

Look closely at the circuit and you will plainly see that the battery is out of the circuit. The relay is de-energized. The only way to energize the relay, and connect the battery, is to apply power to the relay from the decoder.

Got that so far?

OK, so we set the loco on the tape. The decoder supposedly gets it's DCC signal through the tape. How the decoder processes the signal is a mystery to me. The decoder is not getting POWER through the tape, and the battery is still disconnected.

So, QUESTION 1. How does the decoder process the DCC signal without power? Remember, it is on the tape, and the relay is not energized, so the battery is disconnected by S1.

I suppose the decoder could be a very low power device and can use the signal it has detected to power itself.

So, Question 2. Where does the power come from to energize the relay?
Remember, according to Stanly, it is a relay from an automobile. It probably takes 12 volts and at least 200 MA to energize the relay. The battery is not connected, and the decoder is on the tape.

B0B

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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2007, 05:39:37 PM »

Bob, you are exactly correct.  If you use that circuit, you cannot start on taped track.  You have to start off with electrical contact with the rails in order to charge up the capacitor on the decoder board enough that it can operate the relay to turn on the battery circuit.  This was an early attempt at a circuit that would automatically prevent the battery from discharging through the decoder when the locomotive was taken off the rails and put away.  Lenz is working on a more sophisticated version that does away with the relay completely. 

In my initial testing, I used a slide switch which was already installed in my test locomotive to turn the battery on and off.  The down side of this method is that there is no fail safe for bad memory.  Everyone who runs battery powered locomotives, including me, learns sooner or later that such a switch is easy to leave on and if left on long enough, destroys the batteries.  But this switch allowed me to power up the decoder and allowed the decoder to do its magic on or off the tape, because my "S1" was manual, not part of a relay.

I am presently working on the design of a third method of turning the battery on and off, one that requires pushing a button to turn on the battery circuit and requires detection of a signal to keep it on.  If no signal is dectected within a presetable time-out period, the circuit will turn off the backup battery and then turn itself off.  I would like to make this circuit flexible enough that it can be used in any battery powered locomotive, whether DCC or radio control.
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Bruce Chandler


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« Reply #26 on: September 13, 2007, 04:13:33 PM »

Spring has come and gone.   Summer is almost over.

Any more results?
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Bruce
Jim Banner

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« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2007, 04:58:55 PM »

Sorry, Bruce, but health problems have kept me from doing the testing I wanted so badly to do this summer.  My outdoor layout has only run twice this year, both times with others operating it for shows.
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