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Old 12-03-2014, 09:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Best battery for old Sierra Sound from Soundtraxx

It appears practically everything I need to know about the Sierra is in the user manual that Soundtraxx very kindly sent me.

I have however still one dilemma, which battery to choose: Stay with the 9v nimh battery allready installed very professionally by the previous loco owner on the Soundtraxx Sierra sound Sistem and modify the shuff start with programing to compensate for the high voltage . (The easy choice). To buy the Power Sonic PS-605 Battery Soundtrax recommends as a replacement (The safe choice). Or to install 5 x 1,2 volts nimh batteries hooked up to produce the required 6v. (The best choice?)
I remember reading that Soundtraxx do not recommend the use of nimh batteries on their products. I would like to know why. Contradictory to this Soundtraxx recommendation is the view expressed in the last part "Sierra Battery Issues" of this very interesting article http://www.trainweb.org/girr/tips/ti...erra_tips.html Here the author points out that the batteries Soundtraxx uses die completely if not used very often. A great inconvenience considering that trains are a hobby and most people do not or can not practice their hobby constantly. The author argues that nimh batteries apart from being very inexpensive recuperate easily from long periods of being without charge and that they work perfectly with the Sierra .
I would very much like you experts to comment on this.
Thank you again for your patience and advice.

Last edited by trainstrainstrains; 12-03-2014 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
The author argues that nimh batteries apart from being very inexpensive recuperate easily from long periods of being without charge and that they work perfectly with the Sierra .
The PS battery recommended by Sierra is a lead-gel and dies of old age quite rapidly. Most people replace them.
NiMH batteries should work, but be aware that they are almost as bad as the lead-gel type. If you don't recharge them often and let them go dead, they stay dead. Ask me how I know. (Or ask me how many expensive NiMH batteries are sitting in the 'recycle' box.)

Soundtraxx's board recharges the attached battery from track power and uses it to keep the sound going when the track is dead. The charge system may not be set up for an NiMH battery, which may be why they don't recommend them? If you aren't charging from track power, I suspect any 6V battery will work.

Soundtraxx made a small power regulator board, which I have used to couple the loco battery, often 22V, to the Sierra card. I think I have a spare, and I think Star Hobby, in MD, might still have one or two in stock. Give them a call.
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Old 12-03-2014, 04:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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NiMh batteries will work fine, some are inexpensive and a very viable answer IMO. That said as Pete noted the Sierra card is not designed to charge batteries per say, it employs a regulated voltage output to charge the battery, nothing is in play to limit or recognize when said battery is fully charged. Nor does it matter what technology the battery is, the Sierra card just continues to charge no matter what... I use inexpensive 6V NiMh radio control aircraft RX batteries in several engines equipped with Sierra Sound cards. I charge the batteries with a separate or remote AUTOMATIC or Smart battery charger, this also helps to cycle/maintain the batteries.

NiMH batteries need to be form charged or fully cycled; i.e, charged/discharged at least three times to realize their full capacity and voltage. Thereafter trickle charging is fine for nor more than 24 hour period in most cases. It really depends on the output of the charger and the battery capacity. Simply divide the charger output by hours/minutes to factor a typical recharge time interval. For example: 120mAh charger and a 600mAh RX battery is in hand.

120mA/1000=.12Amps output
600mAh/1000=.6Ah
.6Ah/.12A=5 hour charge time.

600mAh/120mAh=5 hour charge time.

Keep in mind the above is reflective of charging a completely expired battery, not a partially discharged battery. That said low output trickle chargers can be allowed to run wild for a maximum IMO of perhaps 24 hours, this allows cells to balance charge themselves without the detrimental heat associated with higher current/amperage charging. Prolonged trickle charging is NOT a good thing...

Another consideration is NO battery at all, some of us have employed SUPER CAPCACITORS in lieu of batteries. These charge up when the railhead is powered and act much like a battery thereafter. The good part is you never need to charge them.

Michael

Last edited by Michael Glavin; 12-03-2014 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you Michael and Pete for all the valuable information.

In the Sierra owners manual there are instructions for very simply mounting an optional charging jack for the purpose of charging the battery while the system is idle without needing to take apart the loco or the tender. This plugged to a simple wall socket timer and charger seems to me an easy solution for charging batteries adequately but not excessively when the system is idle. Would this be OK?

The super capacitor option sounds extremely interesting , could you please expand on this. How this works, pros and cons, where to buy one and how to install it.

With the formula for determining charging time one could calculate when a 9v battery has reached 6v of charge and never charge it over this point. This way I would not have to change my present setup. I suspect this is not such a good idea. Or is it?

Last edited by trainstrainstrains; 12-04-2014 at 05:37 AM.
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've been using the super caps with the Sierra boards and they work just great....

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Old 12-04-2014, 05:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I like the idea of super capacitors Stan, please tell me the reference to order them and how you installed them on the sound board. Thank you.
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Old 12-04-2014, 01:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Please could you(Stan) post the super caps reference to order them?
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Some info here on super caps for Sierra Sound, there is also a link to Super Caps available on eBay, bottom of first page:

http://forums.mylargescale.com/41-so...nd-system.html

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Old 12-04-2014, 02:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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trainstrainstrians,

May we address you by your name?

Yes, the optional charge jack is needed IMO in any circumstance with batteries. A simple inexpensive wall transformer with a timer works great for many... No charge jack for the Super Cap option.

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Old 12-04-2014, 07:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I' m going to try the supercap option since not having ever to worry about charging batteries is a clear advantage besides no one has commented negatively about supercaps and installing them seems straightforward and simple .

I found the ebay link to the supercaps, three supercaps joined together.
I wonder if this single super cap also from ebay would work?
5.5V 4F Farad Ultracapacitor Supercapacitor vertical config backup .
Or the one on the photo from Amazon?

Most likely three 1.7v 10 Farad super caps are better than one 5.5v 4 Farad supercap? More Farads means greater storage capacity which possibly means longer running time before it stops working? I just looked up Farads, I'm guessing the rest. A knowledgeable explanation would be interesting.

Thanks for all help.
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Last edited by trainstrainstrains; 12-05-2014 at 12:46 AM.
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