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  • Topic: Tam Valley DRS1 Hi Power

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    • April 6, 2019 5:17 PM EDT
      • Columbia, Maryland
         
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      Tam Valley DRS1 Hi Power

      What can you all tell me about the Tam Valley DRS1 Hi Power?  Does it have lighting functions? Is the speed curve programable? Can inertia be programed? 

      I hear it is compatible with Airwire, and it is a good price for a battery receiver.

      Thank you all for chiming in. 

    • April 6, 2019 7:43 PM EDT
      • Penacook, New Hampshire
         
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      Hi Joe, I believe the Tam Valley system was designed for indoor HO/ON30 scale. It is a older generation system.  You might be better choosing the AirWire Converter board if you plan to use AirWire transmitter. 


      As a suggestion the newer RailPro system offers a single board for small scales and G scale radio control.  To see and learn about the RailPro system please visit my web site.

      www.rcsofne.com

      Don

       

    • April 8, 2019 5:47 PM EDT

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      There are two versions of the Tam Valley Depot receiver. The small one is good for HO/On30, and the "Hi-Power" version has a 3-amp continuous rating (5-amp peak) suitable for large scale. I use both. It is a receiver only. You connect battery power to it, and it sends a standard DCC signal out to whatever DCC decoder you choose. The sound, light, and motor functions are dependent on the decoder you connect to it, not the receiver. I've paired it with decoders from Zimo, QSI, TCS, Soundtraxx, Massoth, and others. (Joe, Woodland Railway #220 uses one to drive the QSI decoder.) They're similar to the Airwire Convertr series of receivers, but there are some key differences to keep in mind:

       

      The Tam Valley Depot is a passive device. There is no programming involved to get it working. Battery in, DCC out. It's that simple. It only works on Airwire channel 16. You cannot change this. If you run in an environment where you're the only operator, then this won't be an issue. If you run in a club environment where others are using Airwire, you may run into issues if someone else is operating on channel 16 and cannot change their setting. This isn't necessarily as big of an issue as it may seem, as Airwire has a limited range to begin with, and with the T-5000 throttle, you can pull the transmitter power way back so its range is maybe 10' at the most, allowing you to operate with other Airwire operators on the same frequency. That's largely why Airwire put that feature on the T-5000. Note that you cannot adjust the transmitter power on the T-9000 or new T-1300 OPS throttles. (Joe, for reference, all of the locos on the Woodland Railway run on different Airwire frequencies, which is how we have multiple operators all using Airwire. The NW-2 uses a Tam Valley Depot receiver, which is why it's set to channel 16.) Even if you have multiple locos with receivers set to channel 16, so long as the DCC address of each of the locos is different, you will not be able to actually control the other's locomotive. The worst that happens with two Airwire transmitters set to the same frequency overlapping each other is that no signals get through. 

       

      The "passive" nature of the TVD receiver makes it a good candidate for building a battery power car if you were to want to save some money and use one car to run different locos. You'd install the DCC decoder in each individual loco (or perhaps the loco has one already installed, such as LGB or MTH), and you'd put the battery and TVD receiver in the power car behind, needing only to run two wires forward to the loco itself. (You'd need to disconnect the rail inputs and connect the DCC decoder to the input of the battery car instead. (Toggle switch to select either one?)

       

       

      In contrast, the Airwire Convertr boards must be programmed to both frequency and DCC address. This means the receiver must be paired permanently with the decoder to which it's attached, since they must be operating on the same DCC address. You can change the frequency of the Airwire board (CV200), but you need to make sure that there's not anything on the decoder that uses that same CV number, lest you change the value for that at the same time. (If there is something controlled by CV200 on whatever decoder you are using, you would have to install a disconnect switch to allow you to program the Convertr without adversely affecting the decoder.) The key advantage of the 6-amp Convertr is that it's rated at 6 amps continuous (55 amps peak), so it's a much more robust board for controlling large or heavy-hauling locomotives. It's also more expensive. 

       

      Later,

       

      K

       

      This post was edited by Kevin Strong at April 8, 2019 6:50 PM EDT
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    • April 8, 2019 8:22 PM EDT
      • Columbia, Maryland
         
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      Thanks for clarifying things Kevin. I wondered just what exactly the DRS1 was. So I would need a dcc decoder in addition to the DRS1 for it to work. Doesn't sound like what I'm looking for at the moment. The one problem I have with Airwire is that they don't make anything that caters to the cheaper, no-frills side of the market. I wish I could keep the system for something I don't need all the nice features for, but it seems like I will have to buy a different system.

    • April 9, 2019 12:41 PM EDT

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      If you're looking for inexpensive but still fairly full-featured, there's the Revolution system. Each receiver will run you somewhere around $100 give or take, and is all you would need for the loco. With that, you get motor control, sound, and lighting. For probably 80% of the folks looking for some level of R/C control, I think it'd be all they would ever need. The new sound files are much better than the original ones, too, and (in theory) they will continue to release new sounds. 

       

      Bottom line, though, is that if you're going to go with any of the systems designed for large scale trains, you're looking at around $100 per loco minimum. That's even for the basic stuff from RCS or G Scale Graphics. I'd suggest if you're looking for cheap, "no-frills" control, join the Dead Rail Society group on Facebook. There have been some posts recently from guys dissecting R/C car and plane controls to run their trains. A bit of sweat equity, but also a bit cheaper than $100/loco. You can always upgrade down the road if you find you want more or better control.

       

      Later,

       

      K

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    • April 9, 2019 2:51 PM EDT

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      Well, Airwire is pretty much DCC over the air, so it was never designed as a low end system. Of course you could use a deadrail adapter and a $35 DCC decoder (no sound) and come off inexpensively and still use your airwire.

       

      $90 for the DRS1 high power and $35 for a D408 NCE gives you lights and function outputs and 4 amp decoder (although your DRS1 is 3 amp), that is a total of $125 in my book and you still can use your AirWire throttle.

       

      Greg

       

       

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at April 9, 2019 6:08 PM EDT
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    • April 9, 2019 6:06 PM EDT
      • Columbia, Maryland
         
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      Greg, that's a wonderful suggestion.

      It would certainly be cheaper than a stock Airwire board. I know Airwire is meant to have all the "bells and whistles" (pun intended) of dcc, but I still wish they could come out with something that was cheaper but still utilized their throttles.  There is a cheaper system that I know of, but the remote is basically a key fob. Key fobs are bound to get lost and are too small for my large-ish hands. 

      I'm not exactly sure what I'll decide on just yet.

       

    • April 9, 2019 7:18 PM EDT

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      If you've already got the Airwire transmitter, then Greg's suggestion has a lot of merit. You can start with that then upgrade the decoder to a motor/sound decoder later on if you desire. Having said that, the price of the TVD receiver and NCE decoder combined ($125) is pretty close to Airwire's G3 board ($140), which gives you the advantage of having all 17 Airwire frequencies as well as motor and light control all on one board. Any way you slice it, it's not an inexpensive proposition. Not needing to spend extra money on a new transmitter, however, certainly makes it easier to absorb the extra cost of the receiver and speed control if it's slightly higher. 

       

      One other thing to think about--the future. A lot of the tech we've been talking about for the past year or two is still vaporware, but it's on the horizon. If you've got parts of a system in hand, it may make sense to go with that for one or two projects even if there is a bit of sticker shock, then down the road as new (cheaper?) tech becomes available, going with that for whatever new projects cross your workbench. 

       

      Later,

       

      K

       

      This post was edited by Kevin Strong at April 9, 2019 7:19 PM EDT
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    • April 9, 2019 7:35 PM EDT
      • Columbia, Maryland
         
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      True, it is certainly convenient to use the Airwire t5000 that I have. I also already have an Airwire decoder, but I felt that it had too many features for my current install (the eggliner I mentioned). Nonetheless, I think the tam valley drs1 and dcc decoder would be a good combination for installations where I don't need all the features of the g3, while still using the Airwire throttle. While I happen to have Airwire, my main reason for the system was so I could control Woodland Railway locos. Now I feel a little stuck with it, though the throttle is better than many others. I figure for the eggliner, all I need is basic speed and direction control. I have found a system (albeit with the key fob remote) for $90 that does just that. 

      This post was edited by Joe Loll at April 9, 2019 7:38 PM EDT
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