Track and Battery power

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  • Member since
    October, 2013
  • 2 posts
Track and Battery power
Posted by Timeless Trains on Saturday, April 15, 2017 8:08 AM

Is Train Engineer the only company that you can run both track and battery power from the same hand held unit?

  • Member since
    April, 2017
  • 4 posts
Posted by David N on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:03 AM

Both the Train Engineer and the Train Revolution can run track and battery power from the same transmitter.  I used the Train Enginner for years with both a trackside receiver and and on-board receivers for battery power, (and also powered the onboard receivers with track power).  The TE system had a 10-channel transmitter that could communicate to multiple receivers, and the on-board receivers didn't need to know where the power came from. (the locos do need to be wired for one, or the other, or have a switch).

I tried this with AirWire, whcih is designed for battery power.  The Airwire folks advised against it, and they were right, it was not stable enough for track power.

Keithco's Locolinc advertises as able to do both, but have no experience with them and they are not very common where I am.

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: North Coastal San Diego
  • 867 posts
Posted by Greg Elmassian on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 2:11 PM

 I could interpret the question 2 ways:

1. the on board decoder can be powered from a battery or the track..

2. you can buy on board decoders or a decoder designed to power the track.


Both are reasonable questions, but different questions.


Which are you asking?



Visit my site: - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site


  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Florida, USA
  • 97 posts
Posted by Narrowgauge on Sunday, April 23, 2017 8:42 AM

The answer to your direct question as I interpret it is 'maybe'.


The Train Engineer has two components, a transmitter and a receiver. The way your question is worded, I interpret it to ask 'Is the Train Engineer the only transmitter capable of running both track and battery power from the same transmitter unit?' Currently, in an off the shelf configuration, yes. This exists because the manufacturer of Train Engineer are the only folks to make both a unit designed to power the track in a manner like the old time power packs used in smaller scales (referred to as a trackside or base station), and an on board unit similar to a DCC unit for smaller scales mounted in the locomotive (constant track power).


There is little functional difference between a trackside and local (engine) mounted receiver. Both receive a a constant input voltage, either from your battery pack, or a clean power supply. Both control the output voltage from signals received from the transimtter (hand held). The only real funcitional difference is the trackside has a bit more 'protection' circuitry because a derailment and resulting short circuit is hard on electronics. 


There are however alternatives to this system, but these may require the user to 'go an extra mile'. I am using the AirWire system in my locos, and with a bit of creativity, I am also abld to run both battery power (the original design for AirWire) and constant track power, same as the Train Engineer with an engine mounted receiver. Is it EXACTLY like Train Engineer, no, because I am not controlling the voltage to the track. That being said, one of my 'round tuits' is to build up a trackside unit from an onboard receiver and see it it can be done.


There are also other 'trackside' manufacturers. In some cases I am sure they might be able to be converted to an onboard with out much difficulty. This magazine also published a series of articles on building up your own TX/RX system.


I have deliberately evaded the DCC systems, partly because they do not relate directly to your original question, and secondly my knowledge of DCC is VERY limited, therefore I don't wish to mislead you. Greg who posted above will be able to better aid if you have questions in the DCC arena.


Bob C.

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