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What is the next big advance in ho trains?

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 6:50 AM

Sometimes I get the impression that we are just a bunch of old geezers in this forum who are stuck in the "good old days". Thank goodness we are already beyond clockwork drives!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 7:50 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Why not use a hybrid system, similar to a normal automotive charging circuit.

A small battery, able to run the loco for 5 minutes, constantly charged by the track power, except when there is no track power. 

In this case the "battery" is the battery, and the track power is the "alternator".

Control it by direct radio.

Reversing sections could be handled with simple dead spots longer than the locos, no short detecting auto reverser needed. 

Power supplies might need to be "clean" but otherwise very simple. Current levels could be kept low with multiple power districts just like DCC.

Much simpler layout infrastructure. Since polarity would not change detection could be done with a diode circuit or track relay circuit. Detecting that reverse dead spot might be tricky? Maybe a "powerless" circuit could detect the loco power being fed into that section?

Frogs could be left dead, complex interlocking trackage could be left dead with the right gaps.

Not saying track would never need cleaning, but not likely much of an issue overall.

That said, in 50 years at this hobby I have never had all these track cleaning problems I hear about.......

Sheldon

 

 That's exactly what "stay alives" are in DCC. Only using supercapacitors instead of a battery, since they don;t wear out ofter so many charge cycles. There have been applications of supercapcitors for full size vheicle starting as well. I don;t see it catching on until they make them weith the same capacity as a standard car battery, because otherwise it is a lot like an air starter on a truck - you only get so much crank time and then it's dead, pull out an air compressor (or a charger, in this case). The average driver just won't know what to do. Just like turbos are now becoming commonplace - when first introduced, people would drive full tilt to their destinations just like without a turbo, turn the engine off, and wonder why the bearings kept failing, causing expensive repairs. Now with oil and water cooled turbos, and electric water pumps that keep the coolant flowing even after the engine is turned off, there's nothing to 'think' about, just drive. Which is how must lazy Americans want it - too lazy to shift our own gears, too lazy to even bother to perform normal maintenance on vehicles, just female dog and moan when it breaks because the last time you cnaged the oil was 50,000 miles ago "Oh, you have to change that?" 

 The thing is, I was already doing DCC lon before stay alives became a thing. I never had a problem. Now that they are available, we are led to believe they are absolutely essential for your loco to run. Why? What changed? My old locos still work just fine. 

 Maybe what we need, if you want to make 'refueling' the loco a thing, are for lower voltage, lower current motors to be used, which allows an equivalent supercapacitor to provide more total energy. Even 5 volts for electronics is becoming outdated, why do we still use 12 volts for trains? Today's batteries still aren;t up to the task - it takes too long to get a meaningful charge into them without overheating or exploding them. No one is going to want to stop on the fuel pad for an hour so they can get scale range out of their loco before another refueling, and it doesn;t take an hour to refuel a diesel loco. Maybe a little more practical with steam, if you could both water and coaling time - but you also have periodic water fills along the way as water is normally consumed far faster than coal. And a water stop to tank up doesn't take enough time to cahrge up the batteries. But supercapcitors - that could be done.

 In ther mean time, why NOT power the tracks and keep things charged, and just completely insulate 'tough' things to wire like reverse loops? With traditional DC or DCC, you can keep running a loco until you get too tired. With pure dead rail, you're switching locos, or else giving up after a relatively short time, whether you wanted to or not. Battery's dead, you're done for a while. 

 I love gadgets, but not for the sake of it being a new gadget. Clockwork trains? We've come full circle. The ONE loco I have that came factory equipped with a keep alive runs just like a clockwork toy - I cna take it off the track and run it across any suitable surface for about as long as a typical clockwork toy would run. It's frankly ridiculous. If that much of my track is so dirty that no power is picked up, I'm doing something wrong. And it's not adjustable, like all the inexpensive 2 wire types, there's no control wire. Some vendors use a 3 wire interface, so there is +, -, and a control, and you can set the duration to something other than "until the capacitor is discharged". But naturally they cost more, and being the cheap rats most of us are, we use the cheaper more basic ones most of the time. And then get the runaway loco that derails and drives across 5 feet of benchwork and right off the edge. Silliness, not improvement.

                                       --Randy

 


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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 7:53 AM

I spent my 49yr 10mo working career in two-way radio communications and batteries were always a problem.  A battery operated device is only as good as it’s operator, if the operator is perfect then the batteries perform perfect.  Without perfect battery management batteries can be totally worthless.  How many of you have picked up a battery operated device and it wouldn’t work because you the operator failed to maintain it correctly?

I use battery operated lighting in all my passenger cars powered from a power unit, in my case the baggage car.  I have a 3.6 volt 1000ma Lipo battery with a Lipo charger in the baggage car. 



The cars are daisy changed from the baggage car at 4 volts. 



I also use a function decoder in the baggage car to turn on and off the passenger car lighting.  I’ve had a streamline and a heavy weight passenger train working without a single problem for four years.



On board batteries will work but only if they are maintained properly.  The single 1000ma AA Lipo battery will support my 11 car passenger trains lighting for well over 48 hours without power to the charger, but my lighting draws less then 60ma at 4 volts.  A 3.6 volt Lipo battery is at full charge at 4.2 volts.

The larger the battery the more charge time to keep it charged.  Rule of thumb is double the charge time vs operating time.

So Dead Rail or on board batteries is doable but . . . . cost and non perfect battery maintenance are it’s worst enemy.

For anyone experimenting with Lipo batteries please buy the protected type.  An unprotected Lipo battery can explode if shorted.  I have a 50ma resetable fuse in series with my power cars just incase.





Mel


 
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:31 AM

rrinker
otherwise it is a lot like an air starter on a truck

I have not seen an air starter on a truck since the 1980s.

In The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) it is always funny to me that when he gets the abandoned highway tractor running in the desert it has an air starter... never would have happened!

Some industrial engines that are installed in large facilities with a huge compressed air (or other gas) supply still use them. Some stationary applications use them in "zero electric" set-ups. These are started by a service truck with a 2" air hose from a large compressor.

I have heard they are still used in arctic conditions where batteries will not work in the extreme cold. Not a problem in my climate.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:34 AM

Tinplate Toddler

Sometimes I get the impression that we are just a bunch of old geezers in this forum who are stuck in the "good old days". Thank goodness we are already beyond clockwork drives!

 

Eh, my clock work choo-choos still works. MischiefLaugh

Larry

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:54 AM

Larry - actually, some of those clockwork drives were quite sophisticated, with a number of different speeds to select, from mainline high speed down to yardwork crawl. Easy to use, even off grid, ecologically friendly, no track cleaning required.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by Eric White on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 11:48 AM

As to the charging question, there are four alternatives:

1. a powered track section where you park your locomotive and charge it.

2. induction charging at a specific spot on the layout or off

3. a plug port to plug in the battery

4. remove the battery and place it in a charger

 

The first two are the most popular because they can be set up to work without having to handle the locomotive.

And yes, adding all of this stuff greatly complicates the models, increasing the price and the number of parts that can break. Some people like tinkering with electronics and that's what drives them in this hobby. Some people want to have all of the features available no matter what.

I don't think any of this technology is going to become the standard, just options for people who want them and want to pay for them, or build them into their models themselves.

Eric

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 12:53 PM

Tinplate Toddler
... actually, some of those clockwork drives were quite sophisticated, with a number of different speeds to select, from mainline high speed down to yardwork crawl.

I'd like to see what the Welte people, or watchmakers of skill like Vaucanson, might have produced in building miniature spring-driven proportional control ... quite possibly with electric remote changing of settings.  Some of the metallurgy and physics of the late '60-hour' generation of watch mainsprings might have been useful ... as would periodic electric rewinding using cheap constant-speed motor, as on a Varityper, but that's a different issue.

People have largely forgotten that for most of a century today's expression "pushing a button" was expressed as 'touching a spring'.  Even as late as Forster's The Machine Stops the assumption is that much of the operation would be mechanical.

I was going to comment on some of the great potential danger of allowing collector specialization into brass.  We have already seen railroad book prices and many types of railroad watch prices driven out of reason by the collector 'infrastructure' and its predatory assumptions.  I saw a very similar issue to white-elephant brass come up in real estate in the '60s and '70s, and it would be sad to contemplate a world in which brass is again inaccessible to actual modelers who need a specific prototype...

... but now I wonder: what if we do what the Swiss and other Europeans have done, at much higher prices, with complicated watches?  Build precise replicas full of prototype operating features (not just modified toy-train gimcrackery) with best materials, full support for maintenance and repair, and even best-practices 'artist' weathering.  If you have to have twee people raking off double-digit buyer/seller premiums and profit margins, why not have at least a few 'hyper-Crown' examples to show... and who knows? there may be enough status-conscious nouveau-riches out there in the New Economy to sustain a whole high-end industry!

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 1:15 PM

In the 1960s, Mr. Egger introduced HOn30 trains into the European market. Unfortunately, the business was rather shortlived and in 1967, the line of products was taken over by the French firm Jouef, which today is a part of Hornby. After a few years only, these cute little trains disappeared from the market, but were resurrected by a Swiss guy, who built precision drives for them. They are still available - at unbelievable prices!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by BATMAN on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 1:24 PM

I wonder many amp battery you could cram into a steam tender of say a 2-10-4?

Brent

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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 2:31 PM

Overmod

 

 
Tinplate Toddler
... actually, some of those clockwork drives were quite sophisticated, with a number of different speeds to select, from mainline high speed down to yardwork crawl.

 

I'd like to see what the Welte people, or watchmakers of skill like Vaucanson, might have produced in building miniature spring-driven proportional control ... quite possibly with electric remote changing of settings.  Some of the metallurgy and physics of the late '60-hour' generation of watch mainsprings might have been useful ... as would periodic electric rewinding using cheap constant-speed motor, as on a Varityper, but that's a different issue.

People have largely forgotten that for most of a century today's expression "pushing a button" was expressed as 'touching a spring'.  Even as late as Forster's The Machine Stops the assumption is that much of the operation would be mechanical.

I was going to comment on some of the great potential danger of allowing collector specialization into brass.  We have already seen railroad book prices and many types of railroad watch prices driven out of reason by the collector 'infrastructure' and its predatory assumptions.  I saw a very similar issue to white-elephant brass come up in real estate in the '60s and '70s, and it would be sad to contemplate a world in which brass is again inaccessible to actual modelers who need a specific prototype...

... but now I wonder: what if we do what the Swiss and other Europeans have done, at much higher prices, with complicated watches?  Build precise replicas full of prototype operating features (not just modified toy-train gimcrackery) with best materials, full support for maintenance and repair, and even best-practices 'artist' weathering.  If you have to have twee people raking off double-digit buyer/seller premiums and profit margins, why not have at least a few 'hyper-Crown' examples to show... and who knows? there may be enough status-conscious nouveau-riches out there in the New Economy to sustain a whole high-end industry!

 

Knowing how much my Tissot Powermatic Le Locle cost, I don't want to know how much a Tissot EM-1 2-8-8-4 would run. 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 4:23 PM

Tinplate Toddler

Sometimes I get the impression that we are just a bunch of old geezers in this forum who are stuck in the "good old days". Thank goodness we are already beyond clockwork drives.

As Carly Simon sang, "these are the good ol days".

Anyway, dead rail hasn't become the defacto standard and that still looks to be some time off.  Wake me up when things have changed significantly.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 4:30 PM

NittanyLion
I don't want to know how much a Tissot EM-1 2-8-8-4 would run. 

I can't resist. "As much as you want it to".  Or your great-grandchildren will want it to.  Superbly.

Granted you will need a MUCH larger self-winding track to keep it wound overnight.  And you would be wise not to drop it even if it has full nominal 'anti-choc' protection...

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Posted by Paul3 on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 7:12 PM

Deane Johnson,
Are you familiar with RailPro?  It's direct radio control and can run on DC rail, DCC rail, and DC battery power.  It's a very nice system and has been on the market for at least 9 years.  Yet few people use it.  I certainly don't know of any, personally.  Sure, there's some online that do on this forum, but they aren't taking much market share away from DCC (or DC).  Why?  It's more advanced than DCC, it does more than DCC, it will run on anything, wiring is a snap, and so on.  But it's not an NMRA Standard and it's not cheap ($300 for a throttle, $60 for a non-sound receiver).

Tinplate Toddler,
Still no answers?

And again, not every technical achievement is popular or needed.  You sound like the guys that were promoting DCC car uncouplers without acknowleding the expense, complexity, or the actual use of it.

BATMAN,
Your question is one I've been asking about for a while.  How many charges can a battery take before it dies completely?

According to Ring Engineering's website (the makers of RailPro), they say, "Typical number of recharges for today’s batteries is about 300-500 charges. A HO locomotive could need charged several times a day. If that were the case, you would need to replace the batteries after only a few months! Imagine the cost an work involved." [sic]

Sheldon,
Capacitors offer a better solution than batteries.  I have a capacitor in one of my 0-8-0's, and that engine will continue to run at least 5 seconds (possibly more) after it's removed from the track.  That's enough to get it over any dead frog or minor dead spot.  And for a steam switcher, that's great.

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Posted by Deane Johnson on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 7:22 PM

Paul3, I have taken a cursory look at it, but realized that if it were not an industry standard with the model railroad world jumping on it, it would be insurmountable for me to even take a serious look at it.

No reflection on the product, just that it's not mainstream and for me not worth trying to get into.

 

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Posted by Drumguy on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 9:46 PM

I want to know who the heck coined the term "dead rail" and thought it had a chance of catching on with that name. Dead. Deceased. Inert. Non functioning. Shuffled off its mortal coil! Howzabout something positive like free rail or open rail, whatever. This is mareketing 101. Imagine a kid looking at some starter train sets and one says Digital Command Control! And the other says Dead Rail! Unless the dead rail set has some tie in with The Waking Dead, it stays on the shelf. Smile

As far as speakers, I've got the Rolling Thunder thing, and while cool, it suffers from the gap in frequency between what the loco can produce, and the upper limit of non directional low res sound from the subwoofer. It's a significant gap. In HO scale, it seems if there is enough room for a depleting coal load ther would be enough room for a ported speaker enclosure. Yes there is a physical limit to the freqiency our small speakers can produce, but a properly engineered enclosure with ports might bridge that gap. A port is simply a hole(s) and tube(s) of a specific diameter and depth for a given speaker and enclosure that significantly increases efficiency and Low end. Dedicated sound only B units would have plenty of room. Not gonna be perfect or full range, but has a chance of being much better Than a speaker without it.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 10:31 PM

Drumguy

I want to know who the heck coined the term "dead rail" and thought it had a chance of catching on with that name. Dead. Deceased. Inert. Non functioning. Shuffled off its mortal coil! Howzabout something positive like free rail or open rail, whatever. This is mareketing 101. Imagine a kid looking at some starter train sets and one says Digital Command Control! And the other says Dead Rail! Unless the dead rail set has some tie in with The Waking Dead, it stays on the shelf. Smile

As far as speakers, I've got the Rolling Thunder thing, and while cool, it suffers from the gap in frequency between what the loco can produce, and the upper limit of non directional low res sound from the subwoofer. It's a significant gap. In HO scale, it seems if there is enough room for a depleting coal load ther would be enough room for a ported speaker enclosure. Yes there is a physical limit to the freqiency our small speakers can produce, but a properly engineered enclosure with ports might bridge that gap. A port is simply a hole(s) and tube(s) of a specific diameter and depth for a given speaker and enclosure that significantly increases efficiency and Low end. Dedicated sound only B units would have plenty of room. Not gonna be perfect or full range, but has a chance of being much better Than a speaker without it.

 

Having designed and built ported (and sealed) hifi speaker systems for about 45 years now, and having followed and studied the advancement of that science during that time, I can tell you that it just ain't going to happen in HO.

The way sound waves are created, and the way our ears hear, and room acoustics effect those waves, and the physical length of a sound wave below 400 Hz, make it beyond any current technology to get much below that level from a speaker that will fit in an HO locomotive, port or no port.

The port uses a resonance frequency of the driver to progressively add the rear energy to to front energy, but in phase. It depends on three things, the resonance peak of the speaker, created by its impedance vs its mass, the mass of the air in the box, and the mass of the air in the port.

The range of frequencies below the resonance point that the port will reinforce is limited.

So you have to get down low enough to begin with, at least down around 200 Hz. The smallest somewhat effective ported enclosures I have ever heard are still about the size of a G scale box car, and they only get down around 100 Hz before dropping  off.

The next problem is getting that same speaker to reproduce high frequencies......

The best sounding speakers still require boxes with volumes of 1 to 2 cubic feet, despite all the advancements....

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by chenxue on Thursday, June 4, 2020 8:11 PM

Paul3, your comments on RaiPro are right on, IMO.  I don't have any market share numbers to point at, but they are currently trying to attract G scale rather than downsize loco modules to N-scale. Don't really understand their marketing at all.  Current price point is not competitive, and they must be afraid of growing the company.  Hard to believe they wouldn't have the technical expertise to continue expanding the product line! Oh, well, they could be the next "big thing"!!Big Smile

Heck, if I were they, I would probably be cautious also!

Cid    (Memphis, Tennessee)

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Posted by GERRY DERIDDER on Thursday, June 11, 2020 8:06 AM
Having read all the following replies, I've decided to share. 6 years ago I spent $12 on a remote operated toy car, took the RC guts and put together a dead rail loco run by a 9v battery. It works great. Still have the original battery in it. To be sure it was a primitive exercise but I built my layout as dc with the intent to go dead rail. I believe the main reason it has not caught on yet is because dcc providers have so much invested in dcc. Imagine if they had gone from dc to rc instead of super charging old dc technology. RC does not mean you have to change your current systems. If I had $$ invested in expensive dcc I'd keep it. My option would be to augment with rc if so moved. All the arguments against rc are easily overcome, ie: batteries could be plugin. A friend has a rc steamer and it runs for over 3 hours before he parks it on a charging site. It does everything dcc will do, without shorts. Track cleaning is rare. Some are developing blue tooth. COOL.
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Posted by wrench567 on Thursday, June 11, 2020 9:33 AM

I got to toss my 2 cents in.

Wireless lights, miniature steam generators and double acting cylinders. All powered by some sort of Tesla wireless power. Controlled by chips implanted in our heads.

   Pete

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:11 AM

wrench567

I got to toss my 2 cents in.

Wireless lights, miniature steam generators and double acting cylinders. All powered by some sort of Tesla wireless power. Controlled by chips implanted in our heads.

   Pete

 

Heaven forbid!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:37 AM

GERRY DERIDDER
Imagine if they had gone from dc to rc instead of super charging old dc technology.

R/C that recharges from the rails would be perfect for me.

I doubt that will become a retro-fittable mass produced product line in my lifetime.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by PaulJL on Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:40 AM

I'd like to see advancement in the area of "detection" of trains, perhaps some form of GPS or RFID.  The identification, location and motion of all trains down to the inch (not just block level) shown on a monitor screen track plan.  This would also control signaling.

Along with that I like to have all rolling stock tagged and located on the layout with inventory automatically updated by computer and fed into JMRI Operations pro.  Probably with RFID detectors along the track.

All of this can be done to a degree right now with a lot of work, both paperwork and wiring.

With modern technology, a combination of GPS, RFID, and computer visual recognition, it is doable.

Paul

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:43 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
GERRY DERIDDER
Imagine if they had gone from dc to rc instead of super charging old dc technology.

 

R/C that recharges from the rails would be perfect for me.

I doubt that will become a retro-fittable mass produced product line in my lifetime.

-Kevin

 

I have always been a fan of direct radio as a means of control, whether the power comes from a battery or from the track, or both.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by roper on Thursday, June 11, 2020 12:23 PM
I agree, signals would be the next logical "Major" step. Dead Rail only for large scales.
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Posted by Allegheny1633 on Thursday, June 11, 2020 12:43 PM

Hi All,

I've read through this thread with some interest and amusement. I do agree with the comments about sound technology being about as good as it can possibly get, simply because of the physics of it all.

What I would love to see is another (I believe) physical impossibility - that of 'scale' smoke! Have you ever seen a 'smoking' locomotive steam or diesel, that looks even remotely realistic in H0 scale? Gauge 1 German outline steamers, yes, definitely but no such thing in H0.

I have a couple of ESU's own fully DCC diesel locos and don't even use the smoke as it's useless! The sound however, is excellent.

Also, these locos have really good onboard capacitors that allow them to roll easily over dead sections of track - up to a good six inches or more (I haven't fully explored their limits).

For this reason, I really believe all this talk of dead rail is simply a dead end!

John.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, June 11, 2020 1:09 PM

A little over 100 years ago, Carl Benz said that the automobile was at the height of its development and no further innovation was required. In 1895, his competitor and later business partner Gottlieb Daimler is said to have said, the the world does not need more than 5,000 automobiles.

Both were proven wrong in a short time.

I am not the one to predict which way the technology will head in our hobby. I don´t think that dead rail is a dead end, as it is widely used already - in individual conversions in nearly all scales. It may become an industry standard - who is the one to deny that? We all agree that there needs to be some kind of a standard. I am sure someone within the NEM or MOROP is already working on such a standard.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, June 11, 2020 1:55 PM

I think more likely than a switch to dead rail being standard might be sort of a hybrid, sort of an advanced version of today's "keep alive" where the engines have batteries that recharge from the DCC power - but unlike "keep alives", the batteries could run for say an hour or two if necessary. That would maybe not change how engines work, but would make lighting cars, cabooses etc. a lot better.

In years past, I know some DC O scale engines have been adapted to "coast" - if you cut the power, the motor / gears don't lock up, so the engine gradually rolls to a stop. Something like that could work in HO - along with working brakes. Yes you can simulate that with CV3 and CV4 and having a function button "brake", but it would be interesting to see if it wouldn't replicate real train operations to have to say be cautious going down a grade with a train lest your trains runs out of control.

I think two-way DCC will probably improve, so you could have a grade crossing where when the crossing software is triggered, it not only begins lowering the gates and flashing the crossbucks, but sends a message to the locomotive to sound the grade crossing two longs - short - long whistle or horn.

Stix
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Posted by DrW on Thursday, June 11, 2020 4:39 PM

wjstix

In years past, I know some DC O scale engines have been adapted to "coast" - if you cut the power, the motor / gears don't lock up, so the engine gradually rolls to a stop. Something like that could work in HO...

There are a few HO brass models available with a coasting drive. All that I know of were produced by Samhongsa and imported by Key in the late 1980s to mid 1990s.

Edit: I checked the brass guide at brasstrains.com, searching for "coasting drive" in HO. I got 174 hits, also from importers other than Key. They command substantial prices (in the $1,000 range for 25-30 year old models).

  • Member since
    September 2003
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Posted by Overmod on Friday, June 12, 2020 11:47 AM

Allegheny1633
What I would love to see is another (I believe) physical impossibility - that of 'scale' smoke!

Scale smoke is a cinch (you adapt the technique used in military installations for cooling 'time-stabilized' high-power electronics, "printing" color and neutral as appropriate, and use multiple timed jets and a Venturi in the stack to get the speed, punch, and shape).  It is getting rid of the smoke in a confined layout/room volume, or getting the color to dissipate without winding up staining things you don't want stained, that are the problem.  I would note that good crossflow laminar ventilation in the layout room would solve this, but in the current COVID-19 environment it may be a while before the required equipment to do this shows up in the 'Bay within even an order of magnitude of price modelers would pay.  (And even then operators might need little spray cans of compressed air-clearing potential like a physical delete key for the effect of a given 'smoke show')

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