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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It seems some like a transformer, some batteries. I bring this up as a new thread for benefit of us newbies, mainly not to garble another thread when someone does a search. As a long time large scale RC airplane (and 'N' scaler) guy, I'm pretty familiar with remote control, nicads and lipo's (lithium). I see advantages in both-except for the pretty long recharge times. Would someone please outline/describe..and/or pics of how to run remote control w/battery power. I'm trying to understand here voltages, controllers, servos etc. Is there a preponderance of one system over the other for, specifically, outdoor use? Thanks guys, you folks are a helpful lot!
 

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Cap'n Bill you have just opened the biggest can of worms in Large Scale Modeling. In a nutshell:

The bigest advantage to using battery power with remote controll is that you can operate your trains just like the real ones. You only use the rails to guide the train. You carry all your controls and power with each engine just as you do with model airplanes. You seem to be familiar with the biggest problem of battery power which is keeping them charged. You will have to invest in receivers, controllers and batteries for each engine. There are several multi channel transmitters that permit you to operate multiple trains with only one transmitter.

If you go to track power with a transformer then you are faced with potential problems of loss of power due to dirty track. Track cleaning and matienance can be required daily before you can run trains. There is complicated track wiring required for reversing the rail power feeds when using reversing loops. stopping trains on sidings, keeping electrical flow through switches, etc. Since you are familiar with track powered N gauge trains you should be aware of what needs to be done. Just remember your track is outside and it makes it necessary to keep the controls dry and free of corrosion. There are controll systems such as DCC that will permit the operation of multiple trains on the same track but these require special receivers in each engine as well as a transmitter.

I am in the battery/RC group. I use the least expensive aluminum track and do not have to worry about special connectors or soldering across rail joints and switch points to keep power flowing through the rails. I like the fact I can do whatever I want with my engine by walking around with my train carrying a small transmitter. When I have friends over they each operate their own engine just like the real world engineers with no worries about track polarity.

I am sure there will be a lot of others voicing their opinions. If I had to guess I would say that the trend is moving toward battery/RC and away from track power for Large Scale trains that are operated out side. Good luck and think about it alot before you take the plunge. Either way you go it gets expensive and you don't want to have to change over from one system to another. Of course if you go with track power you can always operate a battery/RC or live steam engine on your layout in the future.

Big John
 

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I prefer batteries. Lead Acid gel type. These are cheap simple robust and best of all HEAVY. I normally run my locos off two 6 Volt SLA using a simple DPDT switch and a power relay.

I put down the basics here : http://www.cabbagepatchrailway.co.uk/kitchen3.html

There is a lot of personal choice on Radio remote control -for instance I built my own... However "the Australian system" has by far the best back up and tech support system. Noways I simply use a fwd/off/back switch and that does for me.


regards

ralph
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, Gents, for the thoughts, ideas, and recommendations! I'll take heed. I am, however, glad I posed the question before running out to buy anything. Almost seems this is the most basic question to be answered by anyone getting into this area of model railroading. I will indeed, devote much time and thought to your ideas. Bill
 

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Cap'nBill.
There are basically two types of R/C used with large Scale trains.
1. Proprietary brands such as TE, AirWire, Locolinc and RCS. These look nothing like regular stick type R/C and do not work the same way. They do have the advantage of the TX's being quite small.
2. Stick type R/C such as made by Futaba, Hi-Tec etc. The ESC's made for these are different to model plane R/C in that they are momentum systems rather than Digital Proportional and can handle much higher voltages.

Which is best for you depends on what you actually need.
By far the lowest cost way is with regular 2 x stick R/C. You can of course also use multi channel R/C including the new 2.4 GHz equipment made by Spektrum.

I would suggest you ask specific questions on the Battery R/C forum below.
 

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Battery power doesn't always mean radio control either. You can very easily control your trains with semi-automated controls. All the advantages of battery power with none of the frustrations of radio control.
 

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Cap'nBill.

If you are desperate to have something up and running as easily as possible then hooking up to track power is definitely the quickest way.
However, in the long run, it may prove the most expensive way of getting started.

One of the big advantages of battery power is you do not need expensive brass or stainless steel track.
You can use low cost aluminium instead.
Also you will not need to bond every rail joint to maintain power flow and you will never need to actually clean the rail surface. Grotty track actually aids traction.

Do the numbers on the cost of track and after market rail joiners to keep them electrically joined and I bet you will possibly save enough money to get started in battery power.
Del is correct.
There are a number of battery systems made for simple automatic control that can be added too later, if you want R/C as well.

Once again do your homework before spending any money.
 

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My two cents.

I am leaning to track power and as mentioned ver conversations on this site the key issue and expense is the time taken and design criteria to set up the track system. Full development allows for constant power (DCC) which in turn allows for easy tapping of the system for auxilliary needs (Lighting etc... )

Am I wrong here?

Focus on the heart of the system. The track design and set up. When properly done, track cleaning is is lot easier and more enjoyable than battery recharging and swapouts etc.

Best Regards and I really appreciate the bantering. :)

gg
 

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You made a good choice you'll be up and running in no time and you can run all day and night without stooping your trains. use rail clamps is a good ideal for keeping the track together factory joiners usually not that good. i use the clamps not so much for contuity, although it a plus. i run very heavy locos and long trains so i went with ss over because of it strengths and nothing else i will belaying my track on the ground and i wanted the strongest track possalble so when someone or dog steps on it it will stand a far better chance of not being damage as the softer track can do...... also track cleaning no big deal all forms of power have to clean twiggs and dirt and pebbles and so on off there track before they can run so if you run brass you clean the tops of the rails same time while doing that... as i run SS no need for track cleaning.. there are lots of options out there but i think you made a good choice you can always add different things down the road, and if you run a lot of engines like i do i can just drop them on the track and away they go... no desporation in that!!!!! just good ,quick clean fun.. by the way have fun with your trains...
Nick
 

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Hi Cap'nBill,

It was a good idea you posted a question and definitely agree you should try and do some reading on information that is provided here and on available user websites.

I use Stainless steel rail with all stainless steel clamps and run without worry or having to clean my track. My track connections stay solid and 100% reliable even after 2 years outside. I'm grateful SS was available when I got started and don't regret my decision.

On cost, it can depend on what you are trying to run. To provide myself as an example, I may run my 5 Aristocraft Dash-9s all day on a weekend say maybe even 10 hours.

To run each Dash-9 1 hour would require 1 Aristocraft Lithium Ion battery pack (~$70) (Note: that there are supposed to be cheaper batteries out there but this is what I have known run time examples for)

http://www.rayman4449.dynip.com/Battery_Run_Time.jpg - example run time from one user

So for me to run all 5 engines 10 hours would require 50 Aristocraft battery packs at ~$70 each plus ~$26 each for each charger. Based on these numbers that alone would cost $4800 in batteries and chargers alone.

As far as cost of track, I've calculated the following: (and I encourage you to do some checking yourself, you may find better prices on some of these items)

Track: (based on 7/11/08 prices)

Aluminum: (~$3.02/ft - http://www.svrronline.com/trackandrail.html )
Brass: (~$4.52/ft - Aristocraft track without feeder wires, with brass split jaws. Feeder wires add ~$0.40/ft)
Stainless Steel: (~$6.59/ft - Aristocraft track with feeder wires, with Stainless split jaw clamps)

(Notes: Railclamps priced at www.Trainworld.com for best price, and Aristo track at www.ridgeroadstation.com with Aristocraft buy 4 get 1 free sale. Railclamps added on avg ~$0.79/ft for SS and ~$0.57/ft for brass when you add them all up.)

If I was to have a layout of say:

200ft - it would cost:

Aluminum: $604
Brass: $904
Stainless Steel: $1318

500ft:

Aluminum: $1510
Brass: $2260
Stainless Steel: $3295




700ft:

Aluminum: $2114
Brass: $3164
Stainless Steel: $4613


If you run track power and get a top of the line Bridgewerks transformer they will run you about: [$148(3 amp), $244(5 amp), $281(10amp), $310(15amp), $384(20amp) $517(25amp)] (www.ridgeroadstation.com - 7/11/08)


So even with a 700ft layout:

- with Stainless steel rail, SS clamps + feeder wires with a big 25amp Powersupply you are at ~$5130 for everything.
- with aluminum rail and batteries you are at ~$6914 for everything.


This is an extreme example but it is a real one because I do this. Not everyone does, most run one train at a time and run much fewer engines. But it does highlight the point that there is a diminishing return on initial cost of entry in savings with battery power the more engines you add and the longer you want to run. So just keep that in mind.

Understand too that in about 3 years (maybe a little longer) you will have to replace the batteries: http://www.rayman4449.dynip.com/Battery-life_2.jpg

So hopefully this helps provide a framework on maybe how to approach your decision from purely a cost perspective. There will be other intangibles that may and will likely override cost, but you have to decide that. Even if it costs 10x more to go one way or the other, if that's what you want to do then DO IT! As far as my figures please DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and homework and check and compare with current numbers. There maybe other brands and types of batteries and track that will affect these numbers, but you get the point.

Good luck with your decision and I hope this helps some. There are a lot of variables and things to consider.

(FYI, a great guy by the name of Bubba (Username: "madstang" here on MLS runs battery power and told me he has info on cheaper batteries than the ones above.))


Raymond
 
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in my opinion the basic question to answer, before deciding between track power or batteries...

...are you lazy? or better, when do you want to be lazy?

if you want to sit and look at your trains, while they chugg along, put in the effort to make a good automatized track powered system.

but if you want to be in command, if you want to shunt a lot and send trains where you want anytime, go RC and battery.
 

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Raymond.

You should know that good quality NiCd batteries will last a lot longer than 3 years.
Dave Goodson has some packs that are used at least weekly and are 12 - 15 years old.

Looked after they last a very long time. At least 1,000 recharge cycles
So, if you did run each train daily with NiCd's you will equal 3+ years.
Do you run every train daily?

I note you need 50 battery packs to run 5 big trains for 10 hours plus. That seems to be a bit excessive.
I don't see anywhere in your writings that says you do any switching. Correct me if I am wrong but it seems you have made up trains that are switched on, brought up to speed and let run.
Nothing wrong with that of course.
The trains you run could always carry high capacity batteries in the trail cars that would enable a non stop run for at least 5 hours. Then another high capacity pack, also in the train, could be switched in for another 5 hours running.
Simply charge them up overnight when you are not running. Just like the mere mortals without such a huge layout do all the time.
 

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Posted By TonyWalsham on 01/04/2009 11:29 PM
Raymond.

You can bad mouth batteries all you like but you should know that good quality NiCd batteries will last a lot longer than 3 years.
Dave Goodson has some packs that are used weekly and are 12 - 15 years old.

Looked after they last a very long time.


Tony, let's please keep this from getting emotional.

I wouldn't have spent so much time coming up with all this information and references if I was just trying to subjectively convince him or anyone else of anything.

On battery life, I have never in my life seen any battery Nicd or any other type of battery that lasted more than 3 years or so. Never. But you say it is so that's fine. It still does not change the economics and the pattern of what you run and run times. At some point batteries do end up costing more than track power depending on the situation and variables.

Cap'nBill: This is why so many are afraid to even attempt to discuss this and why I've tried so hard to put this out in black and white as much as I can. Anyways, take any and all information you collect, think for yourself and use it all to help make your decision.

Good luck.


Raymond
 

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Raymond.

I "fine tuned" my posting long before you posted a reply so there is no real reason to include what you did include.

Each user needs to satisfy their own needs.
For many it is battery R/C that proves to be the most cost effective.

NiCd batteries last for 1,000 recycles of charge discharge providing they are treated the way manufacturers say they should be treated.
You can divide that up anyway you wish.
Once a week = 20 years or so.
Twice a weeks = 10 years or so.
Once a day = 3 + years.
 
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