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Old 08-14-2013, 02:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

well, Im brand new at this. Although Im been modeling HO for over 30 years. I also love the dcc operation.
I have a couple of questions. Im not really looking for the cheapest route, but rather the most reliable.
Which is better, track power of battery pack?
Can I use DCC with battery packs?
can units be MUed with battery packs?
thanks,
Scott
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:28 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Your criteria being different, you should start your own thread with your own specific problem to solve.

The OP (original poster) of the thread is asking a very specific question about a specific situation (and states this).

Your question is different.

(the word reliable needs to be quantified)

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Old 08-15-2013, 08:37 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Which is better, track power of battery pack?
That is a very loaded question (much akin to "Ford vs. Chevy," "Tastes Great vs. Less Filling," "Mac vs. PC," etc.). Wars have been fought over that question. The answer lies more in how you want to run your trains, and how many you want to run at the same time than anything else (including cost). Lots of locomotives or really long trains lend themselves to track power. Fewer locos at once, or multiple operators each running their own locos individually; battery power may be more advantageous. Many other factors, too. More and more, however, ease of installation and the functions available to the user are becoming less of a determining factor. The locomotive and control manufacturers have worked to make the installation of advanced control systems of a variety of flavors pretty straightforward.

Can I use DCC with battery packs?
Yes, but you need to equip each locomotive with a wireless receiver since there's no central command station. QSI and Airwire are currently the only two manufacturers who make such receivers. QSI's is designed to interface specifically with their Titan (or older Quantum) decoders. Airwire's primary receiver (currently the G3) is a receiver and motor-control decoder all in one board. It also does lights and smoke. It does not do sound, though there's a DCC output on the board which will drive a DCC sound decoder. Airwire also just released a wireless receiver called the "Convertr" which is just a wireless receiver that outputs a DCC signal to any generic DCC motor or motor/sound decoder. It's rated at 2.5 amps, so it's probably not going to be the best option for all but small locomotives or critters. (I've got one in an RGS Goose connected to a Soundtraxx Tsunami.) You must also use Airwire's (or NCE's G-wire) wireless handheld throttles.

can units be MUed with battery packs?
They can. You'd consist the decoders in each locomotiive as you would two locos running under "traditional" track DCC. Each loco would have its own wireless receiver and decoder. If you're doing an A-B set that's always going to run together, you can use one battery pack and one decoder to feed both locomotives, though it's still better to (at least) have individual decoders in each locomotive so not to draw too much current through one decoder. You can get high-amperage decoders, though, for such high-current applications if you wanted to use just one decoder. Just be careful not to exceed the current rating of the decoder. It's always better to err on the side of caution where possible.

Welcome to MLS.

Later,

K
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Old 08-16-2013, 03:58 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Im not sure if this is the right place to ask this question. My 3 year old loves trains. He is autistic and sometimes he sits for hours watching the train. I constructed a very basic layout in the back yard this summer and i will make something bigger and permament next year. However the biggest pain in the butt is running the extension cord and hooking up the transformer then taking it down. ive been looking at an LGB battery powered remote controlled locomotive. and also a playmobil G scale battery trainset. I have never seen these in operation and my 3 year old could care less about noise, quality and pulling power but I do!! If anyone has has any experience with these locomotives i would like to hear your opinions. Ive also done some searching around here to convert a LGB stainz loco from track power to remote but the info is kinda hard to decipher. Is there a step by step thread on how to convert? thx.

Im leaning more towards the playmobil set. heres the one im looking at. http://www.ebay.com/itm/231022144658...84.m1438.l2649
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Old 08-16-2013, 04:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Sigh, another post on a different subject tied on the end of an existing thread.

You should start a new topic if you have a new topic.

But I'm sure Kevin knows the answer...
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:35 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

I certainly agree that it's best practice to start a new topic with a new question, as you'll attract a better variety of responses from those who may otherwise skip the original thread. Alas, the forum software does not allow us moderators to move single posts to a new topic once a question has been asked in an existing thread so it can get better exposure. So we have no choice but to leave the question where it lies and answer if we so desire. This being the "beginner's forum," we have to expect that this is where many new members come to post questions they may have, so I'm inclined to cut them a little slack and go ahead and answer if I can.

(Mod hat off.)

Anyway, the Playmobil set can be seen here. I've got one of their earlier sets (the passenger train), and my kids love it. Tons of play value, and the plastic track is easy to assemble if you don't already have the brass track in the back yard to run it on. Very easy to control, but drinks batteries for breakfast. Rechargable NiMH batteries are probably a good idea (or a Sam's Club/Costco membership). The LGB battery powered set looks very nice. I've seen one running at a local train show, but I didn't get a chance to try the throttle. Around Christmas time, you'll probably find an array of cheap R/C train sets at Toys R Us as well. I got two of these for my kids last Christmas. The locomotives aren't nearly as robust, but the cars have lots of play value, and the price is right ($60 for the whole set!). It's worth that just for the four or so cars that come with the sets, regardless of the locomotive. The coupers are compatible with the Playmobil couplers, so you can run them together--though the Playmobil cars are heavier.

I'd personally hold off on converting a Stainz until your son is a few years older. I gave my son an old LGB diesel whose motor had died so it can free-wheel when he was 3, and--while LGB's stuff is definitely durable, it's not "3-year-old-pushing-around-the-back-yard-railroad" proof. The Playmobil stuff has fewer breakable parts.

Welcome, and--again--don't be bashful about starting new topics with your questions!

Later,

K
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:31 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Well, going back to the original question. Battery conversion costs also depend upon whether you can do it or you need to hire someone to convert the engine? I know folks that will do it for about $150-200 per engine. The battery pack has many variables, but starting at $90-140 is probably right (voltage, amp hours, size, etc.); then you have the controller and encoder (I like Airwire) and that is another $145 plus $90. Throw in a sound card and you probably have another $180... So, if you add that all together, you can spend a cool $600-700 to pay someone to convert an engine.

I think I would agree with some of the other suggestions and really decide on how much you want to "play" or get involved with this. Oh, I forgot the smart charger for the battery pack. If you have some relatively inexpensive Stainz or other LGB engines, you might want to really think hard and long about who you are doing this for.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:35 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Battery conversion costs also depend upon whether you can do it or you need to hire someone to convert the engine?
You've got the same issues with a DCC install, though. There's not a whole lot of difference beyond where to fit the batteries, charging jack, and on/off switch. There may be a slight cost difference between installing DCC vs. battery, but that depends on who's doing the installation. I've never priced it myself, as I do all my own. When I've done work for others, I've not yet had a situation where I could justify charging extra for battery power. I could see doing so where you'd need to do major work to fit the battery, but for most locos, there's ample room and the work to install the batteries is no more than what you do just to install the DCC control. You're cutting and splicing all the same wires.

Later,

K
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:42 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

It's a lot easier to install DCC just based on less volume in the engine, no external charging jacks or hatches to remove batteries, or external programming jacks, or external volume controls, or trigger magnets and on and on.

WAY more wiring for battery.

(Kevin, you KNOW this)

Greg
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:30 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

My gripe with batteries is the limited life. Maybe you can get 5 years on Li-ion, but what if you totally ignore the packs for 7+ months at a time? Then how long would you expect? Furthermore, it seems that the less you use batteries, the shorter their lives.

My beef with Nicads is that they then refuse to take a proper charge. I'm not so sure with NiMH or Li-ion.

Also, if I only run my trains only a 3-6 days a year, the cost per run for batteries is outrageous! I'd be replacing them every 20 or so days of actual running!
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