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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. Let me provide some background about my history with G-Scale. My Dad and I have owned a couple LGB and USA Trains locos and cars for 30+ years now. For the majority of that time we had them in a large game room ceiling train layout (double-track). We used a simple analogue transformer that allowed us to run both tracks independently and it worked well enough. About 6 years ago my Dad took down the ceiling train system and the trains have sat in boxes in his garage since then. I have always had the desire to do something with the trains at my house, but have never committed to anything. A ceiling train setup would be difficult because the ceilings in my house are low and the rooms are very small. I have been kicking around the idea of a garden railway for years, but I live in a wooded area up in the Pacific Northwest, so I know a garden layout will be a maintenance nightmare.

If I decided to do a garden railway, I think going battery-powered is the obvious best solution. However, I really have no idea what is involved in transitioning my locos over from their current setup to a battery setup. On another note, I fly RC airplanes and have lots of lipo batteries, receivers, a transmitter and all the stuff needed for that hobby. I was wondering if I can use the same stuff for my train set, but then quickly realized that probably isn't the best option. I do have decent soldering skills and I'm not afraid of doing some rewiring (to an extend). But, I need someone to give me the low-down newby's guide on what it would take to convert 5 locos over to battery operations. Or, at the very least, what would it take to allow me to run 2 locos at a time on my layout? I'd love to have all the bells, whistles and horn working on demand. But, I also want to keep costs to a minimum. This is a secondary hobby for me and while I want to see these trains running again, if it's going to cost me tons of money to convert these over to battery, then perhaps it's not worth the cost/effort.

So, after all that, here's a bulleted list of some things I'm curious about:
  • What type of transmitters are there? I'm used to my RC airplane stuff, but I suspect there are dedicated train-style transformers that allow you to control multiple trains from a single transmitter/controller?
  • What type of hardware needs to go into the loco? (Receiver, Speed Controller, Battery, ???)
  • What kind of battery is typically used? (Lipo/NiMh/LiFe?) What size battery would I need? The largest loco I have is a USA Trains GP-38 pulling about 12 cars.
  • It's been a while since I've bought any train stuff. Can you provide links to the equipment I would need? Where would be the best place to buy that would save me money?
Any additional thoughts or advice would be welcome. This is all in the dreaming/planning phase right now. I just want to know what my options are and if this is the route I should go.
 

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I'm partial to Railpro. But that's not the only route to battery heaven. Look around the net, there are videos showing how wireless receivers are installed into USA locos. But you don't have to go dead rail with batteries, though that's probably why you're going battery in the first place. Since you're using lithium batteries, you already have a charger for them. You'll need a way to connect the charger cables to the battery, maybe a 1/4" plug/jack combo.
 

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It's going to cost you more for battery power than track power. If cost is your #1 issue, battery is not the answer.

(you can make battery cheap if you make your own track from wood and aluminum strap).

Greg
 

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I'm used to my RC airplane stuff,
I have steam and electric locomotives, and I use airplane r/c equipment in both so I can use the same transmitter (TX) for everything. Most of us are using LiIon batteries - I make my own rigs using a protection board from China. Some folk still use NiMH, but I got fed up with the slow discharge. G size trains use 14.4 to 21.8V packs, depending on the manufacturer. Your GP38 probably needs 5 Li batteries for about 18 volts.

I use the same receivers (RX) as the aircraft in both types of trains. There are ESCs available that have an output to power the RX as well as drive the motor. I use sound cards from Mylocosound in the electrics.
It is often more convenient to have multiple TX if you are running multiple trains at once, though you can bind several receivers to the same TX.
I also have switched to DSM2 2.4Ghz technology, as I can buy cheap RX from multiple sources (mostly aliexpress.com,) and I have a neat small TX from RCS (www.rcs-rc.com) that is much more convenient than a stick TX. [Note: RCS is in limbo as the owner is recovering from cancer. A lot of the RCS stuff comes from Fosworks in the UK if you can't wait.]

I would recommend you talk to Don Sweet at RCS of NE. (RemoteControlThrottles.com | Add battery wireless control to model trains) (No connection with the other RCS any longer. He is extremely helpful and carries lots of different parts, though he tends to sell RailPro.
 

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For battery power on a tight budget and the cheapest method I use is an ESP32 that has on board blue tooth and wifi so you can control it with your smart phone and its easy to covert This would cost you about £6 and with L298N for the motor driver £5. You can then run any DC motor from 5v up to 35V. I run mine with a 12v motor using 3 x 18650 batteries £10. You can make your own app with MIT App inventor or there are some free ones you can use. If you already have a smart phone then the total cost would not be more than about £25. See my video.
 

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I've installed RC in a couple of steam boats, some live steam locomotives and also just converted a Bachmann Brassworks electric model to battery and RC.

Fosworks/RCS-RC make some nice controllers which are better suited to trains/boats than the joystick type controllers you typically use for model aircraft. They are DSM2/X and will work with many receivers - for example, I have a Spektrum receiver salvaged from a model aircraft in one of my installations.

For speed control on the electric locomotive, I bought a cheap ESC from Amazon (Hobbypower) that seems to work well although limited to 9V.

I use NiMH rechargeable batteries in packs I make up myself so that I can match them to the available space. For the Brassworks Locomotive, 7 AA cells for 8.4 volts gives me a scale 60 MPH which is fine.

I also tried the Piko 35040 R/C Loco Receiver. It works OK but the range is limited and it is quite expensive ($90) for what it is.

After much experimentation, I would recommend the Fosworks/RCS-RC solution. More expensive to get started but you can match a single controller to multiple trains so the incremental cost after the initial investment isn't that high.

Robert
 

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Where do you get Fosworks in the USA? The OP is apparently in the USA.

Have you looked at the G Scale Graphics offerings? USA-based, simple, inexpensive, easy to connect.

Greg
My daughter lives in the UK. Delivered to her and I pick it up when I visit - which has not been as often as I would like over recent months courtesy of the pandemic. I was getting RC stuff from RCS-RC but this has dried up somewhat because of the owners health issues, hence the switch to Fosworks as their TX3 looks pretty much identical to the TX3 from RCS-RC, albeit with a different box and face plate.

I will check out G Scale Graphics. Boats - my primary RC interest at the moment - get a little more complex is you need proportional controls for the rudder as well as throttle and reverser. RCS-RC did a unit that fitted perfectly but it is no longer available so I've had to compromise by using the two proportional channels for rudder and throttle and relegating the reverser to be either fully forward or back.

Robert
 

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Where do you get Fosworks in the USA?
I know Tony at RCS-RC got his ESCs from Fosworks, but he says he will no longer be doing electric conversion parts so get them from Fosworks. My pal Tim, just got some from the UK - I don't know of a US supplier. They don't cost much to ship.

The other supplier you should check out is Deltang. I built one of their TXs and RCS used to get the RXs from them.
 

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Hi everyone. Let me provide some background about my history with G-Scale. My Dad and I have owned a couple LGB and USA Trains locos and cars for 30+ years now. For the majority of that time we had them in a large game room ceiling train layout (double-track). We used a simple analogue transformer that allowed us to run both tracks independently and it worked well enough. About 6 years ago my Dad took down the ceiling train system and the trains have sat in boxes in his garage since then. I have always had the desire to do something with the trains at my house, but have never committed to anything. A ceiling train setup would be difficult because the ceilings in my house are low and the rooms are very small. I have been kicking around the idea of a garden railway for years, but I live in a wooded area up in the Pacific Northwest, so I know a garden layout will be a maintenance nightmare.

If I decided to do a garden railway, I think going battery-powered is the obvious best solution. However, I really have no idea what is involved in transitioning my locos over from their current setup to a battery setup. On another note, I fly RC airplanes and have lots of lipo batteries, receivers, a transmitter and all the stuff needed for that hobby. I was wondering if I can use the same stuff for my train set, but then quickly realized that probably isn't the best option. I do have decent soldering skills and I'm not afraid of doing some rewiring (to an extend). But, I need someone to give me the low-down newby's guide on what it would take to convert 5 locos over to battery operations. Or, at the very least, what would it take to allow me to run 2 locos at a time on my layout? I'd love to have all the bells, whistles and horn working on demand. But, I also want to keep costs to a minimum. This is a secondary hobby for me and while I want to see these trains running again, if it's going to cost me tons of money to convert these over to battery, then perhaps it's not worth the cost/effort.

So, after all that, here's a bulleted list of some things I'm curious about:
  • What type of transmitters are there? I'm used to my RC airplane stuff, but I suspect there are dedicated train-style transformers that allow you to control multiple trains from a single transmitter/controller?
  • What type of hardware needs to go into the loco? (Receiver, Speed Controller, Battery, ???)
  • What kind of battery is typically used? (Lipo/NiMh/LiFe?) What size battery would I need? The largest loco I have is a USA Trains GP-38 pulling about 12 cars.
  • It's been a while since I've bought any train stuff. Can you provide links to the equipment I would need? Where would be the best place to buy that would save me money?
Any additional thoughts or advice would be welcome. This is all in the dreaming/planning phase right now. I just want to know what my options are and if this is the route I should go.
hey me and my dad are also building a garden railroad in a wooded area (North Seattle) in the pacific northwest but we have a plan to deal with plant bits
 

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Shadow, you and your Dad should make friends with Dave Goodson, one of the authorities in battery installations, he is in Kirkland. He has operating sessions where you can run.

Email me and I will introduce you. He is a wealth of knowledge.

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Shadow, you and your Dad should make friends with Dave Goodson, one of the authorities in battery installations, he is in Kirkland. He has operating sessions where you can run.

Email me and I will introduce you. He is a wealth of knowledge.

Greg
I'm not sure how to send ya a PM via my phone, but if you want, you can contact me at [email protected]. I don't have lots of free time right now, but I wouldn't mind talking to some guys about the option of going battery powered. Cost is the big issue for me.
 

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Very nice, there are some specific tips on the U-25, important to keep those funny rollers between the truck and chassis lubed!

I have some tips on my site:

Note the 3 sub-pages... nothing other than lubrication needed now, but might be needed in the future.

I replace the traction tires on the USAT locos with "solid" wheels, improves power pickup, and while they pull a little less, (just add more locos) the improvement in power pickup is noticable. The skates can be problematic on switches.

Congratulations!

Greg
 

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Here's a video I made showing what I've got so far. Starting the project in late October means I will be severely limited by daylight and weather. I don't expect to make (more) significant progress until closer to Spring.

so cool i am planning on having lots of bridges, tunnels, and a 3% grade cause our yard i not very level and one part is almost 2 feet higher then the other but this gives me ideas for the loop and brewery
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
so cool i am planning on having lots of bridges, tunnels, and a 3% grade cause our yard i not very level and one part is almost 2 feet higher then the other but this gives me ideas for the loop and brewery
Yeah, mine had a pretty bad rise from one end to the other too. I tried to minimize it, but I was limited by factors outside my control. I won't be running massively long trains, so I don't think it'll be an issue for me.
 
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