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Old 04-29-2017, 11:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Best recommendation on "DC power pack"

OK, I don't need this answered for myself, I'm thinking of the new persons who ALWAYS ask this question.

So, I'm sort of seeking consensus among us more experienced guys in what's a good recommendation.

So, when I try to figure stuff out, I was trained to break the problem down into it's parts.

So, the parts I come up with is "pure dc" vs PWM, current, voltage, cost.

DC vs. PWM
So for DC vs. PWM, I'd say with modern locos there's no difference. It's sort of a crap shoot, PWM will give better low speed control, brighter lights at slow speeds and better output from smoke systems.

On the other hand, older stuff may go nuts on PWM, even Aristo's locos often had flickering of lights since they ran some from microprocessor based regulators.

Also old sound cards, notably the SoundTraxx Sierra go nuts on PWM.

Current
I cannot see recommending anything under 5 amps to anyone. Yes, you can run one small LGB on under an amp. So what, as soon as someone adds lights, sound, a second loco, all of a sudden there is a post on the forum, "hey my locos run slow", or "I bought a USA Trains XXX and it does not run". Just plain wasteful for something you buy and keep 10 years.

Voltage
Again, I'm sure I will hear from a narrow gauge modeller that never runs over 35 smph, but I would say anything under 20 volts is not good for G scale, and there are some locos that need 24 volts for proper operation (the LGB track cleaning car for example). Again, for something you will use for 10 years, getting something that does not put out the correct voltage will just cause operation issues, and smoke units might not put out enough also.

Cost
Jeeze, I know many people are on limited incomes, but the logic of buying a cheap supply, and having 3 $600 locos just excapes me. Track, and then power are the foundation of your layout. Cheap out on either and your hobby turns from fun into a chore. Again, consider this power pack as an investment and amortized over 10 years.

Conclusion
Consistently, the 10 amps MRC "power G", a simple DC power supply with a big lever, correct voltage, simple and rugged construction is my recommendation. I'd consider Bridgeworks a second, but the cost is higher, but a 5 amp unit, perhaps used would be a good choice.

So what are your guys' "standard" answers to this often posed question?

Gregt
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Old 04-29-2017, 01:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have two MEAN WELL HRP-450-24 24V 18.8A 450w Power Supply one is a back up. I got both for under $40 each with shipping from ebay and they work great.
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Old 04-29-2017, 03:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You have named two solid throttles. Bridgewerks has such a good name and reputation they often sell themselves. Some want LGB, period. The 10 AMP MRC is hard to beat for the price.
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Old 04-29-2017, 05:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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For someone new who doesn't know exactly what they want as far as locomotive power and are not tied to LGB as you mention, I don't think you can go wrong with the MRC 10amp. It will handle pretty much anything you power up and do it at a reasonable cost. Now, 2-3 years into the hobby, if the hobbyist is still interested and looking to do more, than I can see Bridgewerks being the obvious next step.
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Old 04-29-2017, 07:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Greg, we can agree! (And do, far more often than you realize.) In terms of throttles which one can recommend without hesitation or qualification, I can't argue against any of your selections. They're all very solid units. LGB's "Jumbo" would make my list as well. Pricey, but very solid.

Also, don't forget the various trackside throttle controls which use external power supplies like the Meanwell that Dick mentioned. Those would include Aristo's Train Engineer (in any of its forms), G Scale Graphic's Trackside RailBoss, and RCS's "Titan" trackside controller. These provide wireless control, which has distinct advantages in the garden. One need only add a PWM-Linear filter to the output of these if a linear voltage output were desired.

I might also add the Dallee "Engineer" throttle to your list. Dallee's web site says it's currently unavailable, but they're considering bringing it back. I did a review of this throttle when it came out a while back, and I really liked it. It works more like a prototype locomotive's throttle, where you use the brake to slow the train as opposed to simply turning down the knob so the loco stops. It has a tethered handheld option as well. Not as flexible as a wireless option, but you're at least somewhat mobile. (Edit - I looked at the fine print of their promotional flyer. The price is really steep - $1,5,00! I'm not sure that's going to be high on anyone's wish list at that price, but I like the operating premise.)

Later,

K

Last edited by East Broad Top; 04-29-2017 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 04-29-2017, 10:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Dick, I'm looking at the combination power supply and "throttle"... meanwell is a power supply only...

Kevin: I'm wanting to look at the traditional "controller" all in one box, so the LGB is a good suggestion I forgot, thanks, but expanding to wireless systems and separate power supplies is not necessarily what I want to recommend to first time DC users.

Once you start down that path, I think a person should start thinking about remote control, battery, r/c, DCC, etc.

The LGB Jumbo might be a candidate indeed, and also the smaller 5 amp unit... I'll need to compile the "street prices", but they should probably be in the list.

I'll look at the Dallee, but if it's not available off the shelf, I won't recommend it to anyone, especially a beginner!

There's also the USAT 10 amp system, but I've heard a lot of breakdowns and problems with this unit, looking for a solid performer, trouble free.

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Old 04-29-2017, 11:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The 10 A USA is selling well. I have had just a couple with problems, USA Trains has taken care of those with no hesitation. The 5A LGB is two separate items, power supply and throttle.
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Old 04-30-2017, 01:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Greg,
My comments on your comments:
Quote:
DC vs. PWM
So for DC vs. PWM, I'd say with modern locos there's no difference. It's sort of a crap shoot, PWM will give better low speed control, brighter lights at slow speeds and better output from smoke systems.

On the other hand, older stuff may go nuts on PWM, even Aristo's locos often had flickering of lights since they ran some from microprocessor based regulators.

Also old sound cards, notably the SoundTraxx Sierra go nuts on PWM.
Most of my 60 or so locos are LGB.
The older, simple ones do benefit from PWM in the ways you stated but as soon as one adds a simple sound system like the LGB steam or diesel sound in the box car, things go haywire with the sound.
Most of the newer LGB locos include a 5 volt regulator and use 5 volt lights and smoke units, so lights are at constant brightness and smoke is at maximum output at any speed with a DC supply

Quote:
Current
I cannot see recommending anything under 5 amps to anyone. Yes, you can run one small LGB on under an amp. So what, as soon as someone adds lights, sound, a second loco, all of a sudden there is a post on the forum, "hey my locos run slow", or "I bought a USA Trains XXX and it does not run". Just plain wasteful for something you buy and keep 10 years.
I would agree with your 5 amp minimum recommendation unless all one wants is to run a Stainz around the Christmas tree once a year.
I ran some measurements on a typical passenger train I run, a two-motor RhB electric loco pulling 12 lit RhB 4-axle passenger cars. Worst case current draw was just under 3 amps going up a 2 1/2% inclune - that was with all cars lit but no sound and obviously no smoke.
Sound and smoke would easily add another amp.

Quote:
Voltage
Again, I'm sure I will hear from a narrow gauge modeller that never runs over 35 smph, but I would say anything under 20 volts is not good for G scale, and there are some locos that need 24 volts for proper operation (the LGB track cleaning car for example). Again, for something you will use for 10 years, getting something that does not put out the correct voltage will just cause operation issues, and smoke units might not put out enough also.
I really don't understand why G scale power pack manufacturers don't all design their power packs to deliver 24 VDC.
One can always reduce the voltage if the train runs to fast but one obviously can't increase the voltage if the train runs too slow and the throttle is at maximum.
And as you have pointed out here and elsewhere, for some locos the full 24 volts is required to run them properly.
[/QUOTE]

Quote:
Conclusion
Consistently, the 10 amps MRC "power G", a simple DC power supply with a big lever, correct voltage, simple and rugged construction is my recommendation. I'd consider Bridgeworks a second, but the cost is higher, but a 5 amp unit, perhaps used would be a good choice.
On the MRC "Power G" - does anyone have more technical information than what is available on MRC's website and on the unit itself?
The labeling shows 22 VDC and 10 amps but no VA rating - can the unit really deliver 10 amps at 22 VDC.
From reading various old posts on mls and elsewhere, it seems to me that this unit is basically a variac with a rectifier, minimal filtering if any,a simple toggle switch for direction and some overload protection.
Has anyone had this unit open to see what's inside or better yet have a schematic?

Knut
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Old 04-30-2017, 01:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have a 10A MRC open that is malfunctioning, no semantic. The overload light was coming on with nothing connected.
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Old 04-30-2017, 09:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Knut, if the pack is rated in voltage and current, then it's the current at all voltages.

It's VA that is deceptive, VA means at SOME voltage and SOME current the product of them is the VA rating.

Almost always at max voltage the VA rating is not achieved.

Unfortunately the VA rating is still used, and most people need the current at heavy loads, which is often higher voltages, as the load increases, losses from rails and wiring and connections increase, thus more throttle.

The Power G is true 10 amps up to rated voltage. Take the average MRC pack for G, like the 6200, it's output current sags as you increase voltage.

Most of the MRC packs are like this, and many people can't understand it because they assume the VA rating is good at ALL combinations of voltage and current.

I first ran into this in about 2009 when my LGB track cleaner would not run... I watched the output voltage and current of my MRC 6200, and since the LGB track cleaner needs higher voltage to spin the cleaning wheels, basically the more I turned it up, the less it ran. I gave it to Ray Dunakin, who was running small locos slowly.

Greg
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