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Looking for a quality DC power pack

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Looking for a quality DC power pack
Posted by BMMECNYC on Friday, March 17, 2017 4:20 PM

I am looking for a quality DC powerpack to replace the train set power packs I have been using for locomotive testing (Bachmann/Tyco).   Rapido warns against using MRC 1300 series powerpacks (also has voltage spikes).

What DC powerpack would you recommend?

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, March 17, 2017 4:33 PM

 Guess I will have to hook up my MRC 1370 to my scope and/or my peak reading multimeter and see if it spikes, because that's what I use. I can't see this hurting a DC loco, and there's no point in DC testing a loco that already comes with a DCC decoder installed. I've been using it to run some DC locos back and forth on sections of flex track to test sound transmission of various roadbed combinations and it certainly hasn't hurt any of them.

                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Friday, March 17, 2017 5:30 PM

rrinker
I can't see this hurting a DC loco, and there's no point in DC testing a loco that already comes with a DCC decoder installed.

Unless someone else places a DCC locomotive on the DC test track, or I use a circle of track to break in a locomotive on DC (my layout design does not have a continuous loop....hmm I could just use my Power Cab for break in).   Still would like to have a quality DC power pack that does not have voltage spikes.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, March 17, 2017 6:48 PM

MRC power packs have, for as long as I can remember, been THE decent quality DC power packs recommended by MR magazine.  I can't think of anything else still around that could be suggested.  If MRC ain't it, I don't know what is.

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, March 17, 2017 6:58 PM

rrinker

 Guess I will have to hook up my MRC 1370 to my scope and/or my peak reading multimeter and see if it spikes, because that's what I use.  

I have 6 of them scattered around my DCC powered layout to power everything from signals to Tortoises to control panels.

Rich

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Posted by tstage on Friday, March 17, 2017 9:52 PM

I have two Railpower 1370s.  Utilitarian...but solid performers.

Tom

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, March 18, 2017 6:17 AM

I have a MRC 1370 and a MRC 2400, I checked both with my scope and both are super clean . . . . No Spikes!
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
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I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 8:44 AM

RR_Mel

I have a MRC 1370 and a MRC 2400, I checked both with my scope and both are super clean . . . . No Spikes!
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 

Thats good to hear.  Im going to stop by my local shop this morning and see what he has in MRC power packs. 

Here is a link to rapido's warning:

http://rapidotrains.com/ho-emd-fl9-support/

They might just mean the Railpower 1300?  But why would they say series?  I wonder what circumstances create the voltage spikes that are killing the ESU decoders.

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 18, 2017 9:32 AM

BMMECNYC

Here is a link to rapido's warning:

http://rapidotrains.com/ho-emd-fl9-support/

They might just mean the Railpower 1300?  But why would they say series?  

Because they mean just that. All of the MRC power packs beginning with the number 13, so that would include the 1370. I wonder what MRC has to say about that warning.

Rich

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 9:48 AM

richhotrain
 
BMMECNYC

Here is a link to rapido's warning:

http://rapidotrains.com/ho-emd-fl9-support/

They might just mean the Railpower 1300?  But why would they say series?  

 

 

Because they mean just that. All of the MRC power packs beginning with the number 13, so that would include the 1370. I wonder what MRC has to say about that warning.

 

Rich

 

Within the instruction manual they specifically call out the 1300 only.  Not the whole series.  The RDC manual might say series in it though specifically calls out 1300 and 1370.  I wonder if its a case of a specific year production run of a multi-run product that has this issue, and as such Rapido made a blanket statement telling their customers not to use these powerpacks, and if they do, they will not get repair support for their locomotives.

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 18, 2017 9:51 AM

You might want to email Jason at Rapido.

Rich

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 9:56 AM

richhotrain

You might want to email Jason at Rapido.

Rich

 

I dont actually own any of his locomotives (yet), but I guess I should ask the question.

Email sent.

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Posted by mobilman44 on Saturday, March 18, 2017 10:09 AM

Don't know why anyone would knock MRC packs.   I've used them exclusively since 1959, ending up with two Controlmaster 20s.  When I went to DCC, I retained a less powerful one to run the turnout machines - which its done flawlessly over the last 8 years.  Like anything else, you will get what you pay for.  If you are able and "in to" the hobby, I would get the best one you can.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 10:12 AM

mobilman44

Don't know why anyone would knock MRC packs.   I've used them exclusively since 1959, ending up with two Controlmaster 20s.  When I went to DCC, I retained a less powerful one to run the turnout machines - which its done flawlessly over the last 8 years.  Like anything else, you will get what you pay for.  If you are able and "in to" the hobby, I would get the best one you can.

 

 

From what I can tell they are only "knocking" 2 MRC power packs.  I dont believe they would do that unless they have had a rash of incidents with those specific models causing permanent damage to the ESU decoders. 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 10:24 AM

I think I even have an MRC product back home from my N scale days.  I think it was in a white box, so I guess that makes it a Tech 4? 

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, March 18, 2017 11:09 AM

 I still haven't dug mine out to view the output on my scope, but my guess is these models might use PWM, which will just confuse the heck out of a decoder that is trying to sense DC or DCC. Got a hockey game to go to but I will try to remember to bring it up with me when I get back.

                            --Randy

 


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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, March 18, 2017 11:28 AM

I decided to really dig into my MRC power packs, I have a sack full dating back to 1958.  I used a 1157 automotive light bulb (.6 amps) as a load during my testing.  
 
After checking 7 MRC power packs & my Soundmaster 210 and finding no spikes I decided to see what it looks like with full throttle and flipping the reversing switch back and fourth on my MRC 7000 and I did see a slight spike both directions.  I do not think that any conscience model railroader would attempt that while operating his layout, that could easily screw up a locomotive.
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 18, 2017 12:00 PM

BMMECNYC

 

 
richhotrain

You might want to email Jason at Rapido.

Rich

 

 

 

I dont actually own any of his locomotives (yet), but I guess I should ask the question.

Email sent.

 

Yes

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 12:48 PM

RR_Mel

I decided to really dig into my MRC power packs, I have a sack full dating back to 1958.  I used a 1157 automotive light bulb (.6 amps) as a load during my testing.  
 
After checking 7 MRC power packs & my Soundmaster 210 and finding no spikes I decided to see what it looks like with full throttle and flipping the reversing switch back and fourth on my MRC 7000 and I did see a slight spike both directions.  I do not think that any conscience model railroader would attempt that while operating his layout, that could easily screw up a locomotive.
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 

Mel

Did you test at low power with Pulse on? 

I think Randy is on to something with the Pulse thing.  Would you see the pulse if you were not looking for AC?

 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 12:50 PM

I decided to go with the TECH 2 Railmaster 2400, because it has an on-off switch for pulse.  I seem to remember hearing or reading somewhere else not to use Pulse with DCC decoders, but I dont remember where I saw that. 

 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 18, 2017 1:03 PM

richhotrain
 
BMMECNYC

 

 
richhotrain

You might want to email Jason at Rapido.

Rich

 

 

 

I dont actually own any of his locomotives (yet), but I guess I should ask the question.

Email sent.

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

I also emailed MRC asking if they had heard of this issue and if they had a specific recommendation for what power pack to break in DCC locomotives with.   I imagine I will get a response that includes Tech 6 or 7.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, March 18, 2017 1:36 PM

BMMECNYC
 
Yes I checked them with and without pulse.  Pulse does have a different pattern but NO spikes.  I can see why pulse could give a problem to decoders.  I dinked around with several locomotives with Digitrax and MRC decoders and none had any problems.
 
I suspect the damage to the decoders was caused by using the reversing switch at a running speed.  The decoders do have a current spike when applying voltage.  When I apply 10 volts DC to a DCC decoder there is a current spike.  I didn’t try the reversing switch higher than 10 volts for fear of dinging a decoder. 
 
After several hours of testing I do not think that there is any problems with the MRC power packs.  I would say that the problem would be caused by operator error rather than a voltage spike.  
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, March 18, 2017 9:11 PM

While I couldn't find my 1370, I also have a Tech 4 that came in that box o' junk I picked up when I moved in here (literally junk except for a few items, the Tech 4, an Atlas/Roco S2 in LV that I can repaint for Reading, an Athearn SW remotored with a Maxon can motor, and a few misc. bits I can use. Most of the rest is Life Like train set level, though I do have a box packed full of Tyco cars I promised to send someone on here and just haven;t gotten around to yet - it's been packed up ready to go for 2 1/2 years now..oops.

Anyway, hooking the Tech 4 to my newest and fanciest meter, which has dusl display (so I can do AC and DC volts at the same time, or volts and amps at the same time) plus various peak hold options, I found no spikes whatsoever. Either when flipping the reverse switch with the throttle wide open - peak was the same voltage it displayed before and after flipping the direction. There were no spikes when turning the main power on and off while the throttle was open - it just jumped to whatever the setting was, no higher.

 What's insteresting is the frequency measurement. It's very high, a few KHz, with a few millivolt amplitude with the knob against the stop. As you crack the throttle, the frequency goes to around 60Hz - 59.9 on my meter. As you increase the throttle, the frequency of the AC component goes up, once again several KHz at full throttle.

 The biggest problem is the output is so sloppy my scope could not trigger on anything. The signal looked more like noise than anything. Definitely now PWM or high voltage pulses in this model, the pulses were all low voltage, below the DC voltage and faded out at higher throttle speeds - I think it's a side effect of their circuit design that gives the KHz frequencies when the pulse amplitude is in the millivolts.

 I see no reason why this particular model would cause any problems with DC or DCC locos provided the DCC decoder was of the type that can operate on DC as well (Soundtraxx decoders before Tsunami are a prime example of ones that are DCC only).

 I knew this fancy test equipment I can't stop buying would come in handy some day.

 I'm sure if I dig more I will find the 1370. I found the box. Empty, of course. I'm not so sure it matters, since my train workbench and electronics workbench will be combined, I can just test locos with a precicion lab power supply. Pure DC, no spikes or overshoot, very little ripple, and it can be current limited in case something goes wrong. I tested the Mantua 0-6-0T I got on ebay that way. Guy said it wouldn;t run, hence cheap price. Soon as I looked at it I saw the DCC decoder in the cab - likely configured with DC operation turned off. However, it ran fine off my lab power supply, DC is not disabled.

                                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Monday, March 20, 2017 4:25 PM

rrinker

While I couldn't find my 1370, I also have a Tech 4 that came in that box o' junk I picked up when I moved in here (literally junk except for a few items, the Tech 4, an Atlas/Roco S2 in LV that I can repaint for Reading, an Athearn SW remotored with a Maxon can motor, and a few misc. bits I can use. Most of the rest is Life Like train set level, though I do have a box packed full of Tyco cars I promised to send someone on here and just haven;t gotten around to yet - it's been packed up ready to go for 2 1/2 years now..oops.

Anyway, hooking the Tech 4 to my newest and fanciest meter, which has dusl display (so I can do AC and DC volts at the same time, or volts and amps at the same time) plus various peak hold options, I found no spikes whatsoever. Either when flipping the reverse switch with the throttle wide open - peak was the same voltage it displayed before and after flipping the direction. There were no spikes when turning the main power on and off while the throttle was open - it just jumped to whatever the setting was, no higher.

 What's insteresting is the frequency measurement. It's very high, a few KHz, with a few millivolt amplitude with the knob against the stop. As you crack the throttle, the frequency goes to around 60Hz - 59.9 on my meter. As you increase the throttle, the frequency of the AC component goes up, once again several KHz at full throttle.

 The biggest problem is the output is so sloppy my scope could not trigger on anything. The signal looked more like noise than anything. Definitely now PWM or high voltage pulses in this model, the pulses were all low voltage, below the DC voltage and faded out at higher throttle speeds - I think it's a side effect of their circuit design that gives the KHz frequencies when the pulse amplitude is in the millivolts.

 I see no reason why this particular model would cause any problems with DC or DCC locos provided the DCC decoder was of the type that can operate on DC as well (Soundtraxx decoders before Tsunami are a prime example of ones that are DCC only).

 I knew this fancy test equipment I can't stop buying would come in handy some day.

 I'm sure if I dig more I will find the 1370. I found the box. Empty, of course. I'm not so sure it matters, since my train workbench and electronics workbench will be combined, I can just test locos with a precicion lab power supply. Pure DC, no spikes or overshoot, very little ripple, and it can be current limited in case something goes wrong. I tested the Mantua 0-6-0T I got on ebay that way. Guy said it wouldn;t run, hence cheap price. Soon as I looked at it I saw the DCC decoder in the cab - likely configured with DC operation turned off. However, it ran fine off my lab power supply, DC is not disabled.

                                          --Randy

 

 

Rapido replied.  I will post the contents of that email after I eat dinner.

Edit:  Here is the email I received.

Hi Andrew,
 
The issues seems to be consistent with all production runs of the MRC 1300/1370 series transformers. Any other MRC transformers including the Tech 6/7 and older Tech 2 and 4 versions don't seem to have these problems. 
 
The FL9's are a bit delayed at the moment, but we will would like to have them in production late this year.
 
All the best,
 
Jordan

--
Customer Service
Rapido Trains Inc.
 
I have no reason to doubt what he is saying, because they gain nothing by telling a lie.  They even say that the Tech 2, 4, 6 and 7 are all suitable for use.  If they had something against MRC, they wouldnt recommend any MRC product. 
 
Speculation:
I wonder if lower end circuitry allows voltage fluctuations in the AC input power to be carried through the rectifier and you get DC fluctuations?  Is that even possible?  That would explain how some dont have issues with the transformer and some do.   Certain parts of the US has what I would not call stable electrical infrastructure.
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Posted by rrinker on Monday, March 20, 2017 6:28 PM

 If I ever find my 1370 I guess we will find out, at least if it's an electrical issue.

I still don't see it being a problem with the non-decoder locos. Plenty of 1370's out there running DC layouts and locos aren't frying all over the place. And as I said, it's sort of pointless to test a loco that comes from the factory with a decoder on DC. Maybe give it a shot on the program track to make sure someone in the factory didn't miswire anything, but after that - right on DCC and test away and/or run a break in loop.

                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Monday, March 20, 2017 8:54 PM

rrinker

 If I ever find my 1370 I guess we will find out, at least if it's an electrical issue.

I still don't see it being a problem with the non-decoder locos. Plenty of 1370's out there running DC layouts and locos aren't frying all over the place. And as I said, it's sort of pointless to test a loco that comes from the factory with a decoder on DC. Maybe give it a shot on the program track to make sure someone in the factory didn't miswire anything, but after that - right on DCC and test away and/or run a break in loop.

                     --Randy

 

 

It may be just their decoders.  The whole idea was so that I could do break in runs without having to add dcc to a loop of track.  I should be able to do that (Rapido said the Tech 2 is fine, so I will take their word on that).  I was able to pick up a Tech 2 Railpower 2400. 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, March 25, 2017 9:42 AM

BMMECNYC
 
rrinker

 If I ever find my 1370 I guess we will find out, at least if it's an electrical issue.

I still don't see it being a problem with the non-decoder locos. Plenty of 1370's out there running DC layouts and locos aren't frying all over the place. And as I said, it's sort of pointless to test a loco that comes from the factory with a decoder on DC. Maybe give it a shot on the program track to make sure someone in the factory didn't miswire anything, but after that - right on DCC and test away and/or run a break in loop.

                     --Randy

 

 

 

 

It may be just their decoders.  The whole idea was so that I could do break in runs without having to add dcc to a loop of track.  I should be able to do that (Rapido said the Tech 2 is fine, so I will take their word on that).  I was able to pick up a Tech 2 Railpower 2400. 

 

No reply yet from MRC. 

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.

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