Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Discussion: Dead Rail Layouts in HO and Smaller Scales...

4034 views
44 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 570 posts
Discussion: Dead Rail Layouts in HO and Smaller Scales...
Posted by SPSOT fan on Monday, April 22, 2019 3:30 AM

I mentioned on another tread the idea of having a dead rail layout on another tread and I thought it would be interesting to start a thread dedicated to the topic

Dead rail layouts would require two things, first a way of controlling locomotives through radio control. These already exist, RailPro is one example of which I am more firmiliar, and the RailPro ”decoders” are not much larger than most DCC decoders. I have also seen some other systems that use Bluetooth, though those decoders are usually larger.

The second thing we would need would be batteries that are small enough to fit in a locomotive. I’ve seen people fit batteries in locomotive fuel tanks but I think we will need smaller batteries if we are going to equip small switcher with battery power.

Battery power dead rail is already widespread in G scale, and I think it’s going to be the future of our hobby. Once we get smaller remote control molecules and batteries I think dead rail will become more common in smaller scales like HO or even N.

Go ahead and add your opinions and ideas below on the topic of dead rail and what you see in the future in terms of model train control. I’m interested to see what people think!

 

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 18,149 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, April 22, 2019 4:53 AM

Oh boy, I have the honor of replying first to what could prove to be a contentious thread if the previous threads on the subject are any indication. But, I will start out nice. Smile, Wink & Grin

The future of model railroading? Maybe yes, maybe no. Deal rail, in theory has several advantages over electric power. No wiring has a lot of appeal. No special requirements for reverse loops since there is no polarity in the traditional sense. But once a layout is wired, the objection to electric power pretty much goes away. 

The real issue with dead rail then becomes battery power. As you point out, smaller, more powerful, batteries need to be developed to fit into smaller scale locomotives and a method of recharging the batteries becomes the issue. So, what's worse? Wiring a layout for electrical power at the outset or the ongoing maintenance of battery power?

The other issue that I see is the marketing and acceptance of battery power once a system is successfully designed for smaller scale model railroading. The younger generations getting into model railroading would be likely to readily accept it, but the older guys, especially those with existing layouts, are likely to be less accepting.

I am not about to launch into the hobby is dying argument, but the popularity of model railroading going forward is an issue that potential developers will have to deal with. How much demand would there be for battery operated layouts if the hobby is, indeed, in decline.

That's my two centa. I look forward to the comments of others.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,909 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Monday, April 22, 2019 5:22 AM

Battery power requires at least 2 things I can think of:

Smaller powerful batteries.  Currrently the smallest battery operated trains are plastic locmotives with 2 cars on plastic track - i.e. toys for the kids.  For model railroading you need batteries powerful enough for a locomotive and 30-50 cars.  And it needs to run for a couple of hours or have a fast recharge or very easy change out.

Standards.  This could be the current standard dcc with a standard radio setup attached to dcc or something else.  Without standards manufacturers will not include this in their RTR products.  Withour RTR this remains at best a niche market.

One advantage of battery power is that you can probably use it with an existing system if the recharging system doesn't give you problems with the power on the rails.  In fact it could maybe recharge it while the train is running.

Cost is another issue.  While it may save some wiring costs, in the beginning you have to sell it to folks who have already wired their layout for something else.  Plus most are layouts are small and wiring is not a big cost.  The new system has to be cost competitive with a dcc locomotive.

Oh and don't forget that while you're squeezing in the battery you still need space for the speaker so you have sound.  And weight so the locomotive can pull a bunch of cars.

I don't really see this happening because it doesn't really solve a big problem.  Wiring for DCC on a small layout is pretty simple and not much more complicated on a larger layout if power is your only requirement. Signaling detection and wiring will still be needed as well as wiring for switch motors, lights, etc. 

So while this is interesting I think it remains at best a small niche in the hobby.  Useful for outdoor large scale layouts and a curiosity for indoor smaller layouts.

Paul

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,469 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, April 22, 2019 6:28 AM

Well, I won't see it.  And if it does develop into something that is viable, with batteries, and such, I'll be stickin with my Digitrax.  I'm not going to reinvest a bunch of money all over again.

I'm 70, so I'll be staying with what I have.  Smile, Wink & Grin

For the up and coming model railroading set? that can't get enough of new technology,  You go for it if you must.  Have fun!

Mike.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 6,929 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, April 22, 2019 6:34 AM

I agree, niche for the foreseeable future.  It has been discussed further at some other locations but MR mods will probably delete my post if I link them here.

I don't see it happening for some time either in terms of it becoming a viable option for many of us, especially those with a good size fleet of engines.  Those with a small fleet may probably find it useful sooner than the rest us because the cost per engine is rather high.

 

In fact it could maybe recharge it while the train is running.

To me, it would make sense to not have the rail dead even with batteries because the engines could recharge the batteries from the rail, logically.  Especially in the near term if batteries have limited run time.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 9,978 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, April 22, 2019 7:15 AM

I don't think the size of the batteries is an insurmountable issue. The batteries don't absolutely have to be in the locomotives. Larger batteries with enough power to haul full trains could be installed in freight or passenger cars, with smaller batteries in the locomotives to allow for running light.

The question is how do you charge the batteries? Having the track powered would seem to be the easiest solution and the wiring doesn't need to be quite as complex as what is required for DC or DCC operation. Not all the track needs to be powered. There would be no reason to power frogs, or perhaps even reversing loops for that matter. As long as the units carrying batteries can get enough time on powered track to keep them charged, theoretically they should run forever.

There might still be the requirement for a lot of other wiring for things like switch machines or signals, but those elements are not essential to running a layout.

The bottom line of course is who's going to buy it? Even if the decoders were cheaper than DCC, you still have to buy a bunch of batteries to go with them. I can't see batteries becoming cheap enough to make the whole system less expensive than a DCC system.

Right now if I was in the industry I would be concentrating on keep alive development. The current keep alives have some challenges with size and operational logic, i.e. preventing derailed runaway locomotives from charging across the layout and into the abyss, and the keep alives interferring with programming.

My 2 Cents

Cheers!!

Dave

  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 570 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Monday, April 22, 2019 8:17 AM

I must say that I don’t think we will see large, completely dead rail layouts anytime in the next 20 or 30 years. Nonetheless I think the technology is very close. Batteries (and I’m not talking your AA and AAA batteries, I‘m talking the kind of stuff in RC airplanes and such) are small enough to fit in the fuel tank of a locomotive (I have seen it done on YouTube). Also electronics are small enough, think of the size of our decoders.

I know many people will be slow to adopt new technology, that’s just how we humans are. There are many DC users today 20+ years after DCC’s introduction.

My worry is standardization of this tech. Developers are going to be hesitant to let go of their patents, and without that the NMRA can’t do much in terms of standard if they don’t.

I personally plan to wire my future (perhaps fantasy) big layout for DCC, but use mainly RailPro radio control locomotives with both track power or batteries. But that’s just me, and I’m a minority I’m sure!

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,047 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, April 22, 2019 9:35 AM

When DCC was new I thought it would be a long long time, many decades, before it became dominant.  Installation of your own decoders for example - now it seems obvious that engines come factory equipped with decoders but back then it was just taken for granted that that was something you did yourself (perhaps because that was also when you took it for granted that installation of knuckle couplers was something you did for yourself.  Nobody was going to do it for you!).

One reason why I thought it would take a long long time for DCC to dominate was that it was incompatible so completely with what "everyone" had.  It seemed almost like a step backwards to lose compatibility like that.

Things changed faster than I ever thought they would.  I have no idea if battery powered "dead rail" is the future of the hobby or just an interesting notion for the dedicated few.  It too is somewhat incompatible with power throught the rails systems (DC or DCC) and for that reason again my hunch it would take a long time to express its dominance if indeed it ever does.  But I was so wrong before that I would now say, if dead rail is the way of the future it will happen faster than we think.  But I will go out on a limb and say that if it means having to have a car holding the batteries permanently coupled to the locomotive, that is too much of step backwards in realism and flexibility to make a go of it.  It has to be self contained in the locomotive, whether a Big Boy or a 0-4-0T.

Actually there is precedent in model trains for rapid changes and I should have remembered this when DCC was new.  The change to 12 volts from 6 volts happened almost in a flash after WWII.  The circumstances were perfect: there had not been new motors made for trains during the duration.  Moreover for those who still used car batteries to power their layouts, I believe they made they switch from 6 volts to 12 at about the same time.  The stars were aligned ...

Meanwhile, I am reminded that our friends the British went much further than we ever did with beautiful scale clockwork trains that had more sophisticated speed governors than our speed-demon Marx wind-up trains ever did.  And Hornby has or had small scale (OO/HO) live steam.

Dave Nostradamus Nelson

  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 570 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Monday, April 22, 2019 10:47 AM

Well Dave, you have certainly got something right, we can’t predict what the next thing will be, both in our hobby and everywhere else!

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 6,929 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, April 22, 2019 10:49 AM

SPSOT fan

I personally plan to wire my future (perhaps fantasy) big layout for DCC, but use mainly RailPro radio control locomotives with both track power or batteries. But that’s just me, and I’m a minority I’m sure! 

Probably.  The cost of equipping 100+ engines with RailPro would be expensive at $60 a pop, but with DCC decoders, much less, especially because some already have decoders. 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 26,336 posts
Posted by rrinker on Monday, April 22, 2019 10:57 AM

 Battery size is the biggest obstacle right now. That may change, it's all a matter of what kind of workable (enough energy storage, easily recharged, not prone to burning up or catching fire, etc) chemistry can be developed. 

 Standardization is another big one. There are several competing but incompatible products onthe market today This is akin to the pre-DCC command control days. There were many choices, usually one man band operations. Just before the DCC standards were adopted, this had sort of filtered out to only the top companies were left. But still, brand A did not work with brand B, you couldn't take your locos to a friend's house unless they used the same system. 

 A power car behind the loco - might work for steam, but for anyone into serious operations, and using diesel locos, this will never fly. Requiring a specific car to always be right behind the loco flies in the face of prototypical operation. MU, where there is a dummy loco, that would work, at least in cases where the prototype used multiple units on the train being modeled.

 Another thing to consider is signaling. With DCC and power in the track, all we have to do is detect a current flow and know if a car or loco is in a block. To accomplish this with deadrail, there will still need to be some sort of power in the rail. Point detection with photodiodes and the like is not a good substitute for block occupancy, just like block occupancy is not a good way to control point devices like crossing gates. 

 And we're probably still going to want power pickup through the wheels, to charge the batteries. No one is going to want to constantly pick up their locos and/or remove the shell to charge the batteries.  

                                          --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 570 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Monday, April 22, 2019 11:05 AM

riogrande5761
 

Probably.  The cost of equipping 100+ engines with RailPro would be expensive at $60 a pop, but with DCC decoders, much less, especially because some already have decoders. 

I would disagree, I find RailPro to be cheaper based on my reasearch. RailPro’s LM-3, their basic “decoder” it just $60, and their LM-3S sound decoder is $100. Soundtrack Tsunamis and LokSound Selects, todays high end sound decoders, are always $100 plus. I figure I could save money by buying DCC ready engines and pluging in the RailPro decoders or buying DCC equipped locos so I don’t have to add my own speaker and then replace the stock decoder with a RailPro one and sell the stock one to get some money back.

On course this is my plan, and I wouldn’t spend the time doing that if I had been using DCC for years and hade 100 or so DCC locos. I can understand the views of a lot of those who would not do what I would do. It’s much easier for me because I just got in to the hobby and can count all my locos on one hand! And none of them are likely to be on this future/fantasy layout I keep dreaming about...

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 415 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Monday, April 22, 2019 11:29 AM

SPSOT fan
then replace the stock decoder with a RailPro one and sell the stock one to get some money back.

May have trouble with this.  Often the stock decoder is specific to one or a few units and not really universal.  Those units it would fit, were likely all sold with them in it.  Not uncommonly, there are also somewhat stripped down sound units, not the full featured ones.  This could further limit your market.  Lastly, those manufacturers with proprietary decoders (BLI, MTH) you will be really hard pressed to find folks willing to buy them.  They are sometimes replaced with better aftermarket units because people don't want them.  Someone may well be able to provide contradictory information, but I personally see this as limited at best.  

Mike

  • Member since
    May, 2002
  • From: Massachusetts
  • 2,634 posts
Posted by Paul3 on Monday, April 22, 2019 11:31 AM

SPSOT,
"Dead Rail" will never be a majority or even a significant factor in the smaller scales (HO and smaller) for one very simple reason: batteries die and will need replacement.  One can make batteries small enough, one can make them powerful enough, one may someday be able to make them last enough for multiple hours of operation, but you'll never get them to last for decades.

I've been in the hobby "seriously" for almost 30 years (gulp...how'd that happen?).  I own approx. 150 locos, some of which I have had for 25+ years.  If I expect to be in the hobby for another 30 years (which would be nice), how many times would I have to replace all the batteries in my locos?  Say they each last 5 years and cost $10 ea., that means that I can expect to pay $9000 in batteries in the next three decades (provided none of them blow up and burn down my house) just for the locos I already own. 

And what are the odds that, 10, 20 years from now, the batteries one needs to replace will even still be available in the same size/voltage/amperage and form factor as they are now?

It's different in the larger scales.  They generally don't own hundreds of locos like we do in the smaller scales.  They also have the cubic volume to make batteries an easy fit and the real need for batteries as being outdoors, cleaning track is a real pain.

IMHO, the real "future" in the smaller scales is better capacitors.  I can see direct radio control becoming a "thing" (like Ring Engineering), but I can't see more than a tiny fraction of smaller scale layouts going to a complete "dead rail" technology.

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,469 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, April 22, 2019 11:39 AM

Never mind.  Smile, Wink & Grin

Mike.

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 18,149 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, April 22, 2019 11:48 AM

And therein lies the beauty of electrical power over batteries and dead rail - - - the issue of maintenance over the power system. Once the layout is wired, there is essentially no further maintenance of an electrical power system. Not so with dead rail.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 570 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Monday, April 22, 2019 12:14 PM

Water Level Route

 

 
SPSOT fan
then replace the stock decoder with a RailPro one and sell the stock one to get some money back.

 

May have trouble with this.  Often the stock decoder is specific to one or a few units and not really universal.  Those units it would fit, were likely all sold with them in it.  Not uncommonly, there are also somewhat stripped down sound units, not the full featured ones.  This could further limit your market.  Lastly, those manufacturers with proprietary decoders (BLI, MTH) you will be really hard pressed to find folks willing to buy them.  They are sometimes replaced with better aftermarket units because people don't want them.  Someone may well be able to provide contradictory information, but I personally see this as limited at best.  

 

 

It’s certainly limited, and all an idea. I would probably buy DCC ready versions of stuff that is hard to sell. The point of buying DCC to convert is the speaker is already in place. Again all just an idea, I have not even tried RailPro yet, just reasearched it a lot and watched many videos. Perhaps it is as you say “limited at best”, I have not actually experience to back it up.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 4,014 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, April 22, 2019 12:19 PM

Having spent my entire career in Public Safety Communications batteries have always been the most important source of power.  That being said they are also the item that creates the worst maintenance headache ever.  We can’t do without them but when they fail it can be the worst possible thing that can happen.
 
Batteries in Model Railroading wouldn’t need the reliability that communications need but that doesn’t change the maintenance and cost issues.  By their makeup they are a disaster looking for a place to happen.  They are the most corrosive device people come in contact with.  Excessive heat and or cold dings the cells.  Improper charging or discharging also dings the cells.  A dinged cell is a corrosive material looking for something to destroy.
 
I’m the worst for having batteries, I most likely use more batteries then any other model railroader out there (lighting not locomotive power).  I haven’t had a battery unload it’s corrosive material dinging any of my model railroad stuff . . . but that is because I’m constantly checking all of my batteries.  I only install the batteries in equipment that I use almost daily and I constantly check all my batteries at least once a month.  That’s a lot of maintenance.
 
Using batteries for locomotive will be costly, a very good rechargeable battery is only good for 500 charges, most fail between 350 and 400.  You must match the batteries with the proper charger so replacing batteries could include a new charger too.  An improper charger can and often does reduce the life of the batteries.
 
I currently have 6 different types of rechargeable batteries requiring 6 different chargers.
 
I’m not saying Dead Rail wont work but it wont be an easy process, it will require more maintenance and more cost than rail power. 
 
Believe my folks, batteries are a PIA when put in service as the only power source!!!!   That’s 50 years of first hand experience.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 570 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Monday, April 22, 2019 12:21 PM

There seems to be some confusion as to what type of batteries would be used in dead rail loco. You would need to use a rechargeable battery with the proper dimensions to fit in a loco, perhaps the fuel tank. That where the loco I saw on YouTube had a rechargable battery in the fuel tank with a plug for recharging in the dynamic break hatch that came off.

I honestly don’t think many people will go completely dead rail, it’s just to inflexible. But a few dead rail loco in the fleet, that I think many will adopt. If you have just one battery loco it can be great to bring to you friends who use an incompatible system. Also what better engine to pull your track cleaner on that really dirty track!

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 570 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Monday, April 22, 2019 12:28 PM

Here is the link to the video that have me the idea of dead rail in HO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLlfPXIOXBk

I hope it’s helpful for those who would like an example of how it can be done.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 26,336 posts
Posted by rrinker on Monday, April 22, 2019 3:07 PM

 Just check RC sites for how often there are problems with lithium-polymer battery packs, especially cheap ones (and if you think model train manufacturers woudl spully their locos with high end batery packs instead of whatever their Chinese factories put in.....). Currently this is the only battery technology even remotely suitable for HO. N scale - pretty much forget it, and anything smaller, not a chance. Even a properly designed battery ack with the proper controller chips can still fail, and fail rather spectactularly. Don't forget to remove the battery when drilling holes for grabs or lift rings - drilling in to a lipo battery causes some really neat pyrotechnic effects. One of the reasons I never really took up RC flying (apart from a cheap drone I have, and a cheap foam plane) is because that's an awful lot of work to make a nice plane only to have it turned into a bunch of sticks when it crashes on the first flight (check out that scale model B52 - the fireball it sent up when it crashed looked like a real plane crashing). Now, I'm not worried about my loco going up in flames if it should accidently leave the layout and fall to the floor - that's not very likely to happen at all. But a bad battery, bad charger, bad charge controller - might end up with a melted puddle of plastic goo on the rails. 

Capacitors may be where it's at. A bunch of years ago, the idea of a > 1 Farad capacitor was almost a pipe dream. Or something size of a pipe - a sewer pipe. Now they are pretty darn small, small enough to fit inside an HO loco along with a sound decoder and speaker, plus the motor and drivetrain. And a cab interior. Combined with more efficient motors, these things cna now keep a loco moving for 30 seconds or more with no power at all coming throgh the rails - in fact I find the extra long run time to actually be more annoying a times than occasional stalls on dirty track. In the tiny little Walthers Plymouth switcher they have some capacitors. The loco runs across my workbench (the workbench - not on any rails, powered or otherwise) for at least 30 seconds. Keep alives should go for a couple of seconds at most, just to clean dead frogs or small dirty spots ont he track. If the dead areas are bigger than this - there are other problems you ought to be addressing, not hiding by adding more capacitors. However, no one says you couldn;t use MORE capcitors andmake the loco run for several minutes on a charge, at least. Steal locos - there's a LOT of room for a capacitor bank and then you'd have to stop periodically on powered track at a water tower to fill up the tender. ANd as long as you don;t conenct thembackwards, the capacitors will last a good long time. Only connect backwards if you want to simulate a boiler explosion.

 I see more of a hybrid appoach, unless there is a huge battery breakthrough. THe latest technology I have seen has slightly less capacity than lipo, but you can also cut through it with a shear and all you get is a reduced capacity battery, no smoke and flames.  Or drive a nail through it and it still works. So instead of a battery capable of running the loco for hours for a full operating session, a much shorter runtime would be fine if you also had some powered track and it could charge the batery. Still elminate reverse loop issues, and don't have to worry about dirty track until it gets so bad that no locos ever get charged. Constrol can still be direct radio instead of a signal in the rail. 

                                     --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,050 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Monday, April 22, 2019 3:41 PM

The first word the comes to mind is "Why?"

My 10 year old Digitrax system is flawless, and with $2k invested in it (and decoders) I just can't see any reason why I would want to mess with batteries in my trains.   

Yikes, just the thought of that brings me back to horror stories of leaking horn batteries in postwar Lionel diesels........ 

Some aspiring MRs may be interested in this concept, but I suggest anyone already established with a system - especially those of us "of age" - would not be willing to change over......

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 4,067 posts
Posted by cuyama on Monday, April 22, 2019 4:09 PM

rrinker
So instead of a battery capable of running the loco for hours for a full operating session, a much shorter runtime would be fine if you also had some powered track and it could charge the batery. Still elminate reverse loop issues, and don't have to worry about dirty track until it gets so bad that no locos ever get charged. Constrol can still be direct radio instead of a signal in the rail. 

+1

This seems like the right approach for the medium term. The metal rails are already there – why not use them to provide charging for some caps or a small battery to cover a few dead spots? Direct radio for control, if desired, but use the infrastructure for power.

If manufacturers approached this correctly, these small caps could be recharged from DCC power on the rails – easy and natural transition.

Byron

  • Member since
    January, 2011
  • From: NS(ex PRR) Mon Line.
  • 1,211 posts
Posted by Jimmy_Braum on Monday, April 22, 2019 5:13 PM

I've no interest in this.  DCC all the way.

(My Model Railroad, My Rules) 

These are the opinions of a 26 year old, from the east end of, and modeling, the same section of the Wheeling and Lake Erie railway.  As well as a freelanced road (Austinville and Dynamite City railroad).

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 8,167 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 22, 2019 6:02 PM

Well, still DC thru the rails here.

But I do think Direct Radio with track power would have some advantages over DCC once a full working system is developed and standardized.

Batteries for small scales seem like a lot of trouble and expense at this point in time.

Control needs vary greatly with modeling goals. DCC can meet most all goals, but it is not always the most cost effective. It can be very expensive in some layout senerios, and you are paying for functionality you may not really need or use.

But at this point direct radio is still limited and costly - let alone figuring out the battery thing.

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 8,167 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 22, 2019 6:07 PM

mobilman44

The first word the comes to mind is "Why?"

My 10 year old Digitrax system is flawless, and with $2k invested in it (and decoders) I just can't see any reason why I would want to mess with batteries in my trains.   

Yikes, just the thought of that brings me back to horror stories of leaking horn batteries in postwar Lionel diesels........ 

Some aspiring MRs may be interested in this concept, but I suggest anyone already established with a system - especially those of us "of age" - would not be willing to change over......

 

 

Agreed, just like my DC Aristo Train Engineer wireless throttles work flawlessly with my Advanced Cab Control with CTC and signaling.

I don't need DCC, it would require a $5,000 investment in decoders alone.......not to mention 8 wireless throttles at what price?

Point? It is unlikely that anyone who is happy with what they have invested time and money into will change to something new.

New stuff is for new people, or people starting new layouts.......

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    March, 2018
  • 555 posts
Posted by BNSF UP and others modeler on Monday, April 22, 2019 7:27 PM

$100 doesn't sound too bad for a dcc sound radio control decoder. But then you have to still buy the control system...

What I'm really itching for is a module that doesn't use radio, but recieves signals from withrottle. You would be able to wire this module in with an existing dcc sound decoder and it would also allow the battery to be charged on track power. That way you can mix and match with what decoders you want, and you can run battery when you feel like using battery, and when you feel like using track power, you can do that too. And since it would work with withrottle, no need to buy expensive radio controls. And withrottle already works with coventional dcc systems anyway...

I wonder if its possible to make something like this? I daresay someone will have to invent a DIY version and post instructions online before companies will take a hold of the idea. But if someone could make my idea happen, it would offer SO many options...

BNSF: Big and Noisy but Surely Fascinating!

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 145 posts
Posted by Bernd on Monday, April 22, 2019 7:45 PM

I have three steam engines, IHC 2-6-0, that I've installed an R/C system and voltage regulator in. The engines can run on DC, DCC, or AC. Very simple wiring for the layout. The recievers I use were developed by a British guy who flies battery powered model airplanes. David Theunissen produces receivers for locomotives from N to O scale. http://www.deltang.co.uk/about.htm

Here's a pic of those engines.

Bernd

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 8,167 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 22, 2019 7:47 PM

BNSF UP and others modeler

$100 doesn't sound too bad for a dcc sound radio control decoder. But then you have to still buy the control system...

What I'm really itching for is a module that doesn't use radio, but recieves signals from withrottle. You would be able to wire this module in with an existing dcc sound decoder and it would also allow the battery to be charged on track power. That way you can mix and match with what decoders you want, and you can run battery when you feel like using battery, and when you feel like using track power, you can do that too. And since it would work with withrottle, no need to buy expensive radio controls. And withrottle already works with coventional dcc systems anyway...

I wonder if its possible to make something like this? I daresay someone will have to invent a DIY version and post instructions online before companies will take a hold of the idea. But if someone could make my idea happen, it would offer SO many options...

 

Do you mean withrottle as in my smart phone on my home wifi?

A throttle on the smart phone I don't have and who's touch screen interface I would not want to control a train with?

Good luck getting wide acceptance of that........

Sheldon

PS - I don't have a smart phone, but I posted this from my Galaxy Tablet, but I won't be using that as a throttle either.

    

  • Member since
    March, 2018
  • 555 posts
Posted by BNSF UP and others modeler on Monday, April 22, 2019 8:19 PM

Yes, that withrottle.

Who knows if it would gain wide acceptance, but I would certainly love it if something like that could be made for cheap...

BNSF: Big and Noisy but Surely Fascinating!

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!