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  • Topic: Total Nube to DCC needs advice

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    • October 27, 2017 11:29 PM EDT
      • Cypress, Texas
         
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      Total Nube to DCC needs advice

      I am a Total Nubie to DCC and need advise on what DCC system would be the best one to get and use for my layout soon to be built.  My motive power consists of 2 Bachmann inside frame 2-8-0's, a 4-4-0 and a 2-6-0 as well as a LGB 50 Plymouth Diesel and a work Goose #7,  These are all 1:20.3 scale and I want to be able to operate them wirelessly with sound at the cheapest cost.  I don't want to have to spend $300.00 per Locomotive to be able to run it with sound.

      So my question is,  which system is the best option.  I would  prefer to go deadrail and battery power over having to power the rails,  but  if that is the cheaper route then that would be acceptable as well.

      Also are the Spectrum 2-8-0 engines DCC ready?

       

      Dan

    • October 28, 2017 6:53 AM EDT
      • Eastern Massachusetts
         
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      So, 2 questions come to mind about this.

       

      What system to control the layout (command station plus power supplies) vs what decoders for the engines, switches.

      For the smaller engines like the Davenport, the Zimo MX645P22 is $100 and can control the motor, lights, sound, 2 servos, and one reed input.  Project is another $25 for the software.

      I use this decoder in many G scale engines as it is rated at 35 volts (50 volt peak) and at 1.5 amps.

      For a system, you get what you pay for.  Many are 21 volts to the track (NCE, MRC for 2) which is fine for the engines you are running.  For more $$ you get 24 volts (Zimo, Massoth, LGB for 3)

      Some systems are for smaller scales only.  And watch for current output plus boosters needed for extra $$ as some systems are 5 amp. ( Zimo is a 12/8 for 20 amp, Massoth is 12 amp)

      Go to Greg 's site (a poster here www.elmassian.com ) for a lot of info on systems and decoders.

       

    • October 28, 2017 9:13 AM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      What is best for one may not be best for you.  If you want to learn everything you ever wanted to know about DCC I still have the Big Book of DCC available for $20 + media mail shipping. They are selling on eBay for just under $40.

       

      ____________________________________

      www.cvsry.com www.cvsry.com

    • October 28, 2017 10:04 AM EDT
      • Saint Helena, CALIFORNIA
         
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      Dan:

       

      You might want to review the Battery/DCC Cost Question thread on that other forum.  Though it's from 2013 much of the basic arguments are still true when it comes to battery versus rail power and the various control system choices.  As with similar types of decisions it is always best to have relatively clear goals in mind before committing; easier said than done. 

       

    • October 28, 2017 10:22 AM EDT
      • Ottawa, Canada
         
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      While the heading asks about DCC you mention battery power and wireless which are a different thing. In my case we use the Precision RC Revolution system with battery power which also has a generic sound feature. This system has worked well for us and is the system of choice for the clubs in my area. It has proven to be the most cost effective for us if you want sound, however if you are a stickler on sound quality it is also compatible with other sound cards. I run on two club layouts as well as two home layouts which are all battery operations. The freedom that battery power gives us is great and I am real fan of this system. Have a look at the OVGRS site http://ovgrs.org/ as part of your research. There are other systems you can research as well such as Airwire, RCS, and G Scale graphics, also Blue Rail systems are coming on as well. I am not as familiar with these other systems but know many on this site are and will no doubt be able to help you out. Try to remain open minded each system has its benefits and cons, battery choices such as Li-Ion etc also have their pros and cons. We have everything from gel cells, Li-Po to Li-ion all have been successfully used and proved trouble free. Good luck with your research.

    • October 28, 2017 10:22 AM EDT
      • Ottawa, Canada
         
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      Here is a link to a video showing a typical operations session on the OVGRS, all trains are battery powered RC mainly using the Revolution but also other systems are in use as well. The flexibility of battery operations allows us to run multiple trains during our sessions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqmVFhiPrHo

      This post was edited by Steve McKenzie at October 28, 2017 10:33 AM EDT
    • October 28, 2017 1:22 PM EDT
      • Cypress, Texas
         
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      Thanks for the information guys.  I guess I should have been more specific as to my question.  I was looking to find out  what PNP Dcc decoder works in the outside frame 2-8-0 that came out 10 years ago.  I have 3 of them and dont want to have to go into them and cut a buch of wires to get them to run on DCC.

      Steve thanks for your input.  I have been using the G-scale graphis Rail Boss system and they work great,  but I have to have a seperate Rc-Transmitter for each Loco,  I want to be able to have one  controller that I can select which loco I want to run, plus be able to switch between battery power and Rail power if I want to.  I prefer battery power and  build my own Li-ion battery packs, but the local club layout if track power.

      I have  read all of  Dave Bodnars stuff on building a wireless DCC++ controller and  have  built 3 of them  so far,  but have not got the Decoder/motor controller to work very well and have yet to tackle the  sound.  Most of the stuff I have read about DCC talks about all the  bells and whistle and awesome stuff they do.  I just want the basic stuff of being able to operate several trains, with limited functions and sounds.  Bell , several whistles, compressor and  blowdown and cuff is all I need.  

      Dan

       

    • October 30, 2017 1:26 AM EDT

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      Dan, your Goose and LGB diesel can definitely both use the less-expensive HO-sized DCC decoders and the low-current version of the Airwire "Convertr." If you're looking for basic stuff for those, keep an eye out for the older Tsunami decoders (not the Tsunami2). Many retailers are selling the older decoders at a deep discount. There's a specific "Goose" version of the Tsunami which is great. (That's what I'm running in both of my Geese.) The lower-current Airwire Convertr receivers and the less-expensive HO decoders will keep your price down to probably $150 - $180 per loco. Not quite the sub-$100 you were looking for, but about the only system that's going to get you that is the Revolution system with their stock sound files. For what you're describing, you may find that adequate, though I don't know they have quite the variety of sound you're looking for as yet. They do not have a sound suitable for a Goose, and I don't know how many diesel sounds they have available. Their original one is for a loco much larger than #50.

       

      Which 2-8-0? Your first post says "inside frame," and your most recent one says "outside frame." The inside frame C-19 (came out three or so years ago) is DCC-ready, having the "plug-and-play" socket built in. It's pretty simple to add wireless control to that, either with a plug-and-play board (Airwire G3, Revolution) or using their included interface board which plugs into the socket with 23 wires sticking out of it to be wired to the appropriate places on whichever control system you want to install. The older 2-8-0, which came out around 2002, is definitely not DCC ready. Having said that, it's also a pretty simple loco electronically speaking, so wiring it for wireless control is easy. Headlight, back-up light, motor, and then provide full battery power to the PC board in the boiler that controls the cab and firebox flicker lights. The 4-4-0 will be much the same as this 2-8-0, having very simple internal wiring. If your 2-6-0 is one of the early releases, then its wiring will be virtually identical to the 4-4-0. If it's the latest version, it has the "plug-and-play" socket in the tender.

       

      Later,

       

      K

      ____________________________________
    • October 30, 2017 8:30 AM EDT
      • Carlsbad, CA
         
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      To start with the first few questions from the op:

       

      Track power is cheaper per loco, no question. Track power only needs a decoder, and even the best are $200 each. Go to deadrail, and you increase the cost with batteries, chargers, the receiver, charging jacks, switches, etc, plus more work to wire in.

       

      In the old days, everyone compared an R/C system to DCC and at about 4 locos DCC was cheaper. If you are comparing battery powered DCC vs. track powered, track power is cheaper immediately.

       

      Clearly the DCC sound cards far outstrip the Revolution system in sound options and quality.

       

      So, if you have 3 locos, I would still go track power, but I have no issues with track power because I went rail clamps and stainless steel. Always runs, been down for 10 years. Yes SS costs more than brass... if I went brass, I'd solder jumpers between sections if I needed to save a couple of $$.

       

      Greg

      ____________________________________

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    • November 1, 2017 11:21 AM EDT
      • Eastern Massachusetts
         
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      When people talk battery, I do not see the cost down the road of replacing the batteries.

      Also, I myself forget to recharge the batteries, therefore they need replacement sooner.

      Plus if not done carefully, recharging can cause real smoke and when I visited a meeting in Reno this year, one person lost his house and garage due to a recharge on a battery causing a fire.

      That is way more expensive than any DCC system!!

       

      All my DCC systems use supercaps, no batteries to change out.  My LGB mogul with super caps works great after 15 years!!

       

    • November 1, 2017 9:56 PM EDT
      • Cypress, Texas
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      To start with the first few questions from the op:

       

      Track power is cheaper per loco, no question. Track power only needs a decoder, and even the best are $200 each. Go to deadrail, and you increase the cost with batteries, chargers, the receiver, charging jacks, switches, etc, plus more work to wire in.

       

      In the old days, everyone compared an R/C system to DCC and at about 4 locos DCC was cheaper. If you are comparing battery powered DCC vs. track powered, track power is cheaper immediately.

       

      Clearly the DCC sound cards far outstrip the Revolution system in sound options and quality.

       

      So, if you have 3 locos, I would still go track power, but I have no issues with track power because I went rail clamps and stainless steel. Always runs, been down for 10 years. Yes SS costs more than brass... if I went brass, I'd solder jumpers between sections if I needed to save a couple of $$.

       

      Greg

       

      Greg ,  I am fully aware of the difference in cost between RC and  track power.  If I was going to be  using this indoors, I would go with track power,  however as I am running outdoors already and everything is battery power and I have using a combination of Steel, Brass and Aluminum rail. Track power is  out of the question.  I would  not  feel comfortable  using  24V at 10 amps in a damp environment for  safety reasons.

      as far as the cost of the chargers, switches, jacks and battery packs, that does not concern me as I have the  hardware in abundance as I have been doing electronics for years and I build my own LI-Ion Battery packs at a very low cost.  I am using  Rail boss system, but  the  issue I have with it is that I have to have a separate  Transmitter and receiver for each locomotive and they are bulky and the battery in the transmitter only  lasts a couple hours before it has to be charged.  The cost of a rail Boss system with Transmitter and receiver using a two stick RC system runs about $125.00 plus the $12.00 fro the 14.8V 5 amp Li-Ion battery pack.  The rail Boss system does allow the addition of a Sound decoder, but I have not added any at this time.  I would like to be able to switch over to wireless DCC at try to keep the cost for each locomotive conversion to around that cost with sound Plus the cost of a hand held controller that will allow me to run all of my engines with just one controller.

      Dan

    • November 1, 2017 10:21 PM EDT
      • Cypress, Texas
         
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      Dan Pierce said:

      When people talk battery, I do not see the cost down the road of replacing the batteries.

      Also, I myself forget to recharge the batteries, therefore they need replacement sooner.

      Plus if not done carefully, recharging can cause real smoke and when I visited a meeting in Reno this year, one person lost his house and garage due to a recharge on a battery causing a fire.

      That is way more expensive than any DCC system!!

       

      All my DCC systems use supercaps, no batteries to change out.  My LGB mogul with super caps works great after 15 years!!

       

      Dan:  That is true that you don't see that talked about much ,  but the same goes for the cost of adding additional power supplies and plug in stations to a traditional track power DCC system when you make changes to the layout that requires more plug in stations and when adding more motive power requiring more amps to handle the additional engines.

       

      Those that use battery power tend to have a routine to always having a battery pack on the charger at all times and  when needing to change it out, we automatically put the dead battery on the charger when taking the charged one off it.

       

      As for the fire issue, I don't know what kind of  battery pack the person you heard about was using that caught fire.  I can  only suspect that it  might have been a Li-poly battery as they are prone to catching fire.  I however  don't use them,  I use LI-Ion battery packs that I build myself and use all the correct protection circuits and I have never had any issues with Battery packs catching fire or shorting out that I make myself.  Granted commercial made battery packs can cost a lot,  usually $80.00 or more depending on the amps and voltage, but they don't have to be replaced all that often.  Since I make my own, my cost per pack is  less than $15.00, so it is  not a concern to me how much they cost when I have to replace them.

       

      Dan

       

       

    • November 1, 2017 10:57 PM EDT
      • Carlsbad, CA
         
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      Dan S., you state in your first post on the thread:

      " I would  prefer to go deadrail and battery power over having to power the rails,  but  if that is the cheaper route then that would be acceptable as well."

       

      But, your response when people tell you that track power may be cheaper, you come back, and well, argue about it.

       

      So are you really asking advice, or just justifying a decision you may have already made?

       

      Can you see my confusion with your question and responses?

       

      Greg

       

      p.s. you could have 5,000 amps in a wet environment, it's the voltage that is an issue not current. 24 volts is safe, and the national electrical code allows up to 48 volts, although I will tell you that you can feel almost 50 volts if you are wet!

      My responses were an honest answer to your question and an attempt to help.

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at November 1, 2017 10:58 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­massian.co­m

    • November 1, 2017 11:33 PM EDT

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      Dan S.

      Battery powered locos can run on any track powered or unpowered, at any time . Track powered DCC locos cannot do that.

      How elaborate do you want whatever system you choose to be?
      With RCS 2.4 GHz R/C you can bind as many RX's (locos) to one Tx handpiece as you wish.


      Unless you particularly want to operate multiple locos from one Tx at the same time, you only need to buy one # EVO-BATT Tx and one 3 amp 15 volt Rx/ESC for around A$ 170 (about US$ 130).
      The RCS pocket sized # EVO-BATT handpiece can control one loco at a time with 3 x sound trigger functions built into the handpiece. If the loco requires sound trigger parts add a plug in # MRW-SSDS with 2 x 3 amp triggers.
      Extra Rx/ESC's will be A$71 (US$ 55). A$ 29 (US$ 22).
      All parts will be available soon from Don Sweet.

      ____________________________________

      Best wishes,
      Tony Walsham

      Remote Control Systems. www.rcs-rc.com/
        Modern technology. Old Fashioned reliability

    • November 2, 2017 11:12 AM EDT

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      The long-term replacement costs of batteries is negligible. I probably buy one replacement pack a year on average ($40 at the most). That's much less than what I spend replacing plants on the railroad every year. I've been getting 6 - 7 years out of my Li-Ion packs before they start showing signs of not taking a full charge. I just started using LiPos in my tighter installations and my On30 stuff. It will be interesting to see how they hold up long term. 

       

      As for charging, I think it prudent to be respectful of the technology, but not be put off by the hyperbole which often surrounds it. Many of the same folks who opine about the "need" to charge lithium batteries in fire-proof containers write such advice on devices powered by lithium batteries which they charge on their nightstands while they sleep. Bottom line--don't be stupid with the technology. Use batteries with built-in protection (most higher-end packs) and chargers designed for those batteries which charge at a rate appropriate for the capacity of the battery pack. Know that the packs used by R/C car, plane, and boat folks typically do not have any built-in protection, so you must take extra precautions with those. (Which is why most battery-powered train folks prefer the higher-end packs.)

       

      Later,

       

      K

      ____________________________________
    • November 2, 2017 9:24 PM EDT
      • Ottawa, Canada
         
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      The use of Lithium-Ion batteries has grown as our use of battery powered technology has expanded. Kevin's comments are spot on but many people still don't get it. Lithium-Ion batteries are safe, providing certain precautions are met when charging and discharging. Today, lithium-ion is one of the most successful and safe battery chemistries available. Two billion cells are produced every year.This article might be of interest to some. http://www.relionbattery.com/blog/the-seven-top-uses-for-rechargeable-lithium-ion-batteries

    • November 2, 2017 10:01 PM EDT
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Dan S,

      I see you are using the old railboss. The new ones have a one handed Tx and you can control 6 trains, just one at a time. It supports MyLocoSound cards.

      There is a Kid throttle with fewer functions.

      He also has a Enhanced Critter control that will do timed station stops (magnets on track) with gentle starts and stops. A waved magnet turns it on and off.

       

       

       

       

      This post was edited by John Caughey at November 2, 2017 10:11 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • November 3, 2017 5:27 AM EDT
      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
         
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      Steve McKenzie said:

      The use of Lithium-Ion batteries has grown as our use of battery powered technology has expanded. Kevin's comments are spot on but many people still don't get it. Lithium-Ion batteries are safe, providing certain precautions are met when charging and discharging. Today, lithium-ion is one of the most successful and safe battery chemistries available. Two billion cells are produced every year.This article might be of interest to some. http://www.relionbattery.com/blog/the-seven-top-uses-for-rechargeable-lithium-ion-batteries

      This is true, but then we hear on the news about cell phones and laptops exploding. While this does happen, I wonder what the rest of the story is. Was the device dropped? Was there some kind of design flaw in the device itself? Was the device abused in some way? I am sure there is more to the story, because if the batteries were inherently unsafe, I am sure some government agency would have them banned.

      ____________________________________

      Shannon car Shops
      Home of the infamous leg lamp

      I.A.R.R.R. Member #12

      and King Butt Modeler

    • November 3, 2017 6:50 AM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      I wish my battery life experience was as good as Kevin's.  I will, however, admit fault.  At one time I had too many cheap (Tenergy) packs in my rotation and they sat idle for too long. Cheap packs tend to have a higher self-discharge rate and the protection circuit only protects the pack from over discharge when being used, not from self discharge. The result is that if you don't maintain the cheap packs while in storage they will self-discharge to uselessness.  I've also been guilty of abuse by drawing too much current, beyond the packs comfortable discharge rate, but within the protection circuits current range. This causes the pack to get hot and when LiIon gets hot it breaks down.

       

      I recently decided to spend the extra dollars and buy a quality pack from Don Sweet last summer for my C-19. It is early yet, but so far it has performed flawlessly and holds a good charge for a long time.  I was surprised to find when I put my Shay back on the track after being boxed up since TrainOps in early August that the Tenegy batteries inside were still at nearly full charge.  The batteries in the Shay have been treated much better than some of my old packs.

       

      I now use a programmable charger as well which I expect will help as it does not depend on the protection circuit to limit the charge time/current like the cheap chargers do.

      This post was edited by Jon Radder at November 3, 2017 6:52 AM EDT
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    • November 21, 2017 12:41 AM EST
      • Carlsbad, CA
         
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      Hilarious...

      (I had to delete everything I wrote... )

       

      What was the reason for this post? I cannot connect the first post with any of the op's responses.

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at November 21, 2017 12:42 AM EST
      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­massian.co­m

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