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Old 08-26-2013, 11:37 AM   #21 (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,"
There's plenty of "volume" (space) in most any locomotive given the small size of receivers and batteries these days. I just did a full battery R/C install in a Berlyn RGS #6 work goose. Everything's below the deck between the frame except the battery, which is easily disguised as a 3" x 3" x 1" crate in the payload area of the goose. (I was hoping to get away with an 11.1 volt battery, but the thing is geared such that I need 14.8 to get to a scale 20 mph.) I even installed a track/battery switch hidden in one of the toolboxes so I can run the goose on battery powered- or track-powered DCC. To borrow an old phrase, "size doesn't matter." Miniaturization has been wonderful!

...no external charging jacks or hatches to remove batteries,
Well, sure... you've got to drill holes in the floor (wall, wherever inconspicuous) for a power switch and charging jack. Forgive me if I don't really view that as being anything significant. If you want to go battery, you drill a few extra holes, or--even better--the manufacturers are now making removable coal loads and convenient access hatches, so they've done the work for you!

...or external programming jacks, or external volume controls, or trigger magnets and on and on...
Er, those exist in track-powered DCC environments, too, all depending on the needs of the particular decoder you're using. Phoenix's need for a programming jack doesn't go away if you're using it via track-powered DCC. Even QSI recommends a magnetic reed switch placed somewhere on the locomotive for volume control, factory resets and other purposes. Chuff triggers are not mandatory in either circle. Even the obsolete Soundtraxx Sierra has the option for voltage-controlled chuff. I've heard good things about the QSI Titan's revised automatic chuff, but since that operates by both battery and track, that doesn't support any argument that DCC is less work to install. (That, and it integrates with Bachmann's optical chuff triggers seamlessly, so the manufacturer has already done that bit of wiring for you.) I don't know what you'd use other "trigger magnets" for, unless you're triggering sounds via track magnets. Not many folks who run advanced control systems do that, so that's not really a consideration. (And--again--if the DCC decoder is capable of external triggers for sounds, then--if you want to use them--you've got to run the wires.)

"WAY more wiring for battery?"
Sorry, can't agree there. The complexity of any advanced control system is dependent upon the level of control you want to place on the locomotive. There's simply no significant difference in the work required when powering the decoder from the track vs. from a battery. Yeah, you've got to add a power switch. So what. (Technically, you need a means of disconnecting the battery, so a power switch could consist of simply unplugging the battery from the pig-tail sticking out of the back of the locomotive.) That's pretty inconsequential, and if you are squeamish about that, you can get one of G-Scale Graphics "Battery Conversion Modules" that has the power switch, fuse, and charging jack all pre-wired on a singe PC board for you. Two sets of screw terminals for battery in and power out to the decoder--about as simple as it gets. The "real work" of any installation comes downstream of the decoder. How do you connect the motors, lights, smoke, etc., and to what extent do you want to control them? That's what varies significantly from locomotive to locomotive, system to system, and individual preference to individual preference.

Plug-and-play interfaces make the conversion to either camp even easier. We both can use the same Titan decoder in the same Aristo locomotive. I've got to have the G-wire receiver plugged into mine. That's the only difference between our two installations. You set your loco on the track, turn on the power to your command station, and make sure the "Track/Battery" switch on the loco is set to "Track." I set my loco on the track and plug a battery into the pig-tail on the back of the loco, and make sure the "Track/Battery" switch is set to "Battery." We're both off and running with the identical amount of control, with no more or less work relative to one another. This has been the major push of manufacturers for quite some time--to make it easy to install aftermarket control systems of any flavor. Airwire's got their USA "Drop-In" boards, and just released their own plug-and-play adapter board. No one's going to use this stuff--regardless of flavor--if it's a bugger to install. So you make it dead-nuts-simple to install regardless of where the electrons are coming from, and your customers are happy.

Ten years ago, I would have agreed with you. The R/C control electronics were large, and the batteries even larger. "Fitting everything in" was the primary challenge even in a moderate-sized locomotive. We didn't have the capability for on-board DCC control, and there were no "plug-and-play" sockets. Today's a whole new ballgame. It's no longer black and white. The two camps are fast converging, and the manufacturers--both locomotive and electronics--are working hard to make it ever easier to do so.

Later,

K
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:05 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

There are so many variables.
Start with locale.
If you have freezing weather, where your frost line is down a ways, burying wiring in ballast and connecting to floating track isn't a good idea.
Example:
Local fella who thumbed his nose at all of us battery guys, laid his floating tack in ballast, wires to switch machines and rail in the ballast. Rained. Rained some more. Rained a bit more. Then froze...and froze..and froze hard.
Locked the wires in the ballast and heaved.
Ripped every wire off the track and switch machines.
Fixable?
Yes.

Type of soil. We have a very acidic soil. 20+ years ago, when I started the CCRy, I did LGB track and track power. For two months.
That is all it took for the electrolysis to eat through the LGB joiners......and clean the brass every time....and clean the LGB switch machines out every other time.

Cost of track.
To be effective on any track-fed system in non-temperate climes, you need NS or Stainless.
Cost per foot?
I use aluminium, always have since I gave up track power outdoors for good.

Booster districts. Requiring power feeds to and from.

What I have done is all aluminium (cheaper) track, zero track power outdoors, all track screwed to something, plates, stakes....no heave, no shifting, I can run the track along the edge of a cliff without worrying about it settling and dumping a train in the canyon.
I have manual switch controls, except for two air operated ones in obtuse locations.

I know a guy who insisted on NS track for his indoor railroad....visions of computer control of trains. I tried to talk him out of it. Told him for the additional cost, he could convert the rest of his locos to battery r/c.

Several years later, he called me up...not happy. Why hadn't I tried harder to talk him out of NS rail?

I have a friend.....talked to him a couple of weeks ago...he'd visited a dcc railroad.....talked to the owner (who is a strong dcc promoter) at the far end of the railroad...just the two of them...and the owner confided if he had it to do all over again, he would never do dcc outdoors, as it's just too much work.
Non temperate climate.

We have run our railroad through 4 or 5 power outages. One lasted five days. We could run trains. Had enough charged up we never ran out of power.
I refuse to use 787 batteries. My old NiCads can and do go 8-12 years. NiMH not quite as long, but I consider it maintenance...like changing the oil in your car.
I do not clean my rails. We use a shop vac to blow the debris off before a run. I'm still using all the original ME aluminium railed track I started with, with a handful of about 8 pieces taken out for line relocation or different switches.

You don't have to worry about flaking driver plating. Nor plating wearing down through the copper, which requires much cleaning with any track powered control.
I remember a dcc promoter told me years ago, when I still talked to him, that before an operating session, they remove every locomotive from the rails, clean the pickups, then the wheels. Then they clean the track. And, once they started running, the performance continuously degraded as wheels and pickups collected dirt.

I love it when my plating goes away, as my tractive effort increases dramatically.
Example:
My original BachShay, first one out of TrainWorld from first shipment.....28-34 loads unassisted up 150' of 4% grade. Drivers worn to pot metal.
New drivers (did that once), 12 max, lots of wheelslip.
Dry weather....wet weather all bets are off, and helpers are the name of the game.
We don't do consisting or speed matching, altho we have on occasion run two locos from one handpiece. Like for snowplow or passenger runs (12 mixed LGB and Bach passenger cars on 150' of 4% required two LGB Moguls....)

It's your call.
Just have spare parts so if your decoder smokes, your booster dies, your control station dies, you can get it running again.

Many years ago, Herb Chaudiere of CRANIS Garden Railway fame, long time GR contributor....died.
Went to his memorial service.
Towards the end, one of the operators on the CRANIS came to me and said they wanted to have a wake at Herb's railroad, let it run one last time.
Good, go for it!
It won't run. It ran two weeks ago (before Herb died).
I spent an hour and a half on my stomach, soldering iron, solder, wire, screwdriver....we'd get one section running, trains would stop. I ran over, plopped down, held a screwdriver to the side of the rails to bridge the gap until the train had gone past.
The wires that bridged the joint had corroded away. I'd solder a new jumper, go to the next one.
If you can solder the wire, it will corrode. If it won't corrode, you can't solder it.

I would never, as in ever, in this climate and soil, do any type of track power out of doors.
Personal opinion...based upon observed fact.

TOC
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:47 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

I suppose everyone's decision tree is different, but one of the "basic-level" deciding points for me was not having to clean the rails. I kept having this vision of an elderly me on his not-so-functional knees, draggin' myself around the layout with a bag of Tuffy Pads...

So, I figured, either rail power with non-oxidizing rail, or battery. SS and NS seemed too expensive for me, but the nickle-plated brass was a good deal. And it's really held up; the plating is tough as nails.


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Old 08-26-2013, 01:10 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

I see a lot of words in response.

Still easier based on available volume, and don't neglect speaker space. Less wires.

You admitted you have to drill holes... also you DO have to solder wires to them! (your are not forgiven ... every little bit adds up to more work)

External programming jacks are NOT normally used on DCC... come on, you are writing a 6 part series on DCC and you claim this? I cannot under the disparity between your statementHave you been under a rock? Only old sound board designs need an external programming jack... all MODERN DCC is programmed through the rails! The QSI magnet (which I NEVER use) is anywhere INSIDE the body with no hole. COME ON Kevin!

It's just plain easier to put a single board in a loco than 2 boards (the only viable single board R/C solution with sound is the Revo)

It's just plain easier to not to have to find space for batteries.

It's just plain easier not having charging jacks, external programming, volume up down switch, hatch for batteries, etc. You are ignoring the drilling, placement, volume and wiring for all this junk that you don't need with MODERN DCC...

You have lots of words trying to fight a losing battle.

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Posted By East Broad Top on 26 Aug 2013 11:37 AM
"It's a lot easier to install DCC just based on less volume in the engine,"
There's plenty of "volume" (space) in most any locomotive given the small size of receivers and batteries these days.(ahh no speaker??) I just did a full battery R/C install in a Berlyn RGS #6 work goose. Everything's below the deck between the frame except the battery, which is easily disguised as a 3" x 3" x 1" crate in the payload area of the goose. (I was hoping to get away with an 11.1 volt battery, but the thing is geared such that I need 14.8 to get to a scale 20 mph.) I even installed a track/battery switch hidden in one of the toolboxes so I can run the goose on battery powered- or track-powered DCC. To borrow an old phrase, "size doesn't matter." Miniaturization has been wonderful! (no sound?) (nice example of low speed low current motor that can use small batteries... definitely NOT a representative example of the average installation)

...no external charging jacks or hatches to remove batteries,
Well, sure... you've got to drill holes in the floor (wall, wherever inconspicuous) for a power switch and charging jack. Forgive me if I don't really view that as being anything significant. (not forgiven, extra work and extra wiring and extra space, you just dismiss those facts with "forgive me"?, dismissal of reality not accepted) If you want to go battery, you drill a few extra holes, or--even better--the manufacturers are now making removable coal loads and convenient access hatches, so they've done the work for you! (ask TOC about water getting into top of loco through coal load)

...or external programming jacks, or external volume controls, or trigger magnets and on and on...
Er, those exist in track-powered DCC environments, too, all depending on the needs of the particular decoder you're using. (NO!!! only old junk does this) Phoenix's need for a programming jack doesn't go away if you're using it via track-powered DCC. Even QSI recommends a magnetic reed switch placed somewhere on the locomotive for volume control, factory resets and other purposes. (Yep, old stuff, the ONLY example left in the market... you make your entire point on one old manufacturer!) Chuff triggers are not mandatory in either circle. Even the obsolete Soundtraxx Sierra has the option for voltage-controlled chuff. I've heard good things about the QSI Titan's revised automatic chuff, but since that operates by both battery and track, that doesn't support any argument that DCC is less work to install. (last 3 sentences are non-operational, what is the point?) (That, and it integrates with Bachmann's optical chuff triggers seamlessly, so the manufacturer has already done that bit of wiring for you.) (oh, ok, DCC is good because it integrates with the already-wired electronic triggers) I don't know what you'd use other "trigger magnets" for, unless you're triggering sounds via track magnets. ( DOH! Yes, of course ) Not many folks who run advanced control systems do that, (point me to an "advanced control system" other than DCC with 28 independent function controls) so that's not really a consideration (yeah, because they cannot do it) . (And--again--if the DCC decoder is capable of external triggers for sounds, then--if you want to use them--you've got to run the wires.) (yeah, but why do manual triggering if you have complete remote control... like your claim earlier, virtually no one does this in DCC, they don't NEED to)

"WAY more wiring for battery?"
Sorry, can't agree there. (yeah, I got the drift, you are bound and determined to counter me and prove me wrong... got it) The complexity of any advanced control system is dependent upon the level of control you want to place on the locomotive. (wrong, very simplistic statement and wrong take 2 cars, one with a lot of push buttons and one with the single "knob" like a BMW... just not a reasonable generalization) There's simply no significant difference in the work required when powering the decoder from the track vs. from a battery. (ok, so justify this with facts) Yeah, you've got to add a power switch. (there's a difference, so you shot yourself in the foot already) So what. (ahh, there is a logical reason to dismiss a fact: so what... man that makes a lot of sense... ) (Technically, you need a means of disconnecting the battery, so a power switch could consist of simply unplugging the battery from the pig-tail sticking out of the back of the locomotive.) That's pretty inconsequential (not really, especially with the size necessary for handling a good amount of current, look at quality R/C battery products, large connectors and large screw terminals... bang, another shot in the foot), and if you are squeamish about that (what does squeamish have to do with this, it's whether it is easier or not, and more work is LESS EASY), you can get one of G-Scale Graphics "Battery Conversion Modules" that has the power switch, fuse, and charging jack all pre-wired on a singe PC board for you. (ahh, more space used up with yet ANOTHER circuit board so harder to get it inside... bang, hole in foot again) Two sets of screw terminals for battery in and power out to the decoder--about as simple as it gets. (MORE WIRES = MORE SIMPLE? I think you might lobby that wiring a jet plane is simple) The "real work" of any installation comes downstream of the decoder. How do you connect the motors, lights, smoke, etc., and to what extent do you want to control them? That's what varies significantly from locomotive to locomotive, system to system, and individual preference to individual preference. (that part is indeed ALMOST equal, although MODERN decoders can have multiple voltages and built in LED outputs to eliminate dropping resistors..)

Plug-and-play interfaces make the conversion to either camp even easier. We both can use the same Titan decoder in the same Aristo locomotive. I've got to have the G-wire receiver plugged into mine. That's the only difference between our two installations. You set your loco on the track, turn on the power to your command station, and make sure the "Track/Battery" switch on the loco is set to "Track." (HAH! and back feed battery power to the rails! You need more wiring changes my man!) I set my loco on the track and plug a battery into the pig-tail on the back of the loco, and make sure the "Track/Battery" switch is set to "Battery." We're both off and running with the identical amount of control, with no more or less work relative to one another. This has been the major push of manufacturers for quite some time--to make it easy to install aftermarket control systems of any flavor. Airwire's got their USA "Drop-In" boards, and just released their own plug-and-play adapter board. No one's going to use this stuff--regardless of flavor--if it's a bugger to install. So you make it dead-nuts-simple to install regardless of where the electrons are coming from, and your customers are happy.

Ten years ago, I would have agreed with you. (Kevin, I think you are in a reverse time warp, clouded by everything referenced to what you do personally, short trains, Narrow Gauge, few locos running at the same time. Not everyone has the same requirements...) The R/C control electronics were large, and the batteries even larger. "Fitting everything in" was the primary challenge even in a moderate-sized locomotive. (Yes, time warp, here you are still 10 years ago) We didn't have the capability for on-board DCC control,(yes there was) and there were no "plug-and-play" sockets. (might check when Aristo made the socket) Today's a whole new ballgame. (even better) It's no longer black and white. (nobody said it was) The two camps are fast converging, and the manufacturers--both locomotive and electronics--are working hard to make it ever easier to do so.

Later,

K
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:36 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

If installing battery R/C was such a pain in the butt to install, why is it still so popular? Especially for smaller Garden RR's with not many locos.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:39 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Decoders are from Mars, batteries are from Venus.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:46 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Greg- That's why God in his infinite mercy and wisdom invented proofreaders.
Once someone gets out of their technical comfort zone, anything can happen.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:52 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

Another thing about DCC. Certain decoders (e.g., NCE) work with DC also. In my case, it's nice to be able to fire up a converted DCC loco on a DC test loop. Conversely, if you have a DC throttle pack with enough snoose, you can plug that into your layout and at least test run a (single) non-converted loco there.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:06 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Default RE: Battery/DCC Cost Question

I did that in LS...once. Put a QuasiNami equipped three truck Shay on track power, a "normal" two truck Shay behind it, and turned the power on, watching the three trucker.
Two truck hit the three trucker so hard it knocked the back truck clean off the rails.
So, I checked.
The QuasiNami equipped took 8 volts to start, with a noticeable loss of top end.
The QuasiNami shortly thereafter became landfill.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:37 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Posted By Curmudgeon on 26 Aug 2013 02:06 PM
I did that in LS...once. Put a QuasiNami equipped three truck Shay on track power, a "normal" two truck Shay behind it, and turned the power on, watching the three trucker.
Two truck hit the three trucker so hard it knocked the back truck clean off the rails.
So, I checked.
The QuasiNami equipped took 8 volts to start, with a noticeable loss of top end.
The QuasiNami shortly thereafter became landfill.
TOC That's why I said "test run a (single) non-converted loco."

Great clarification on why not to mix approaches on the same track, but a sad story nonetheless TOC... shays are my fave...
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