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POWER what can I get for $400

6573 Views 38 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  craigcoffman
I am in the process of nearly doubling the size of my layout and am in need of more power. I want to continue with track power but would like to be able to run more than one train remotely. I like the idea of a wireless transmitter so I can follow the train around and flip switches when needed. I have looked into the aristocraft train engineer (not the basic since that only runs one engine)and I like it, it seems simple and easy to use. Question is who makes the best system for minimum funds. The biggest bang for the buck. Whichever one I get I would like to be able to build on the system without having to junk it and start over because it is lacking something. I don't see myself ever powering switches, signals, lights or sounds in the near future so I don't need that ability plus that seems like it can get confusing quick. I am looking for something relatively basic to run more than one train at a time. I read some postings here and checked out Tonys' train exchange site. That sight has a lot of info but I would like to know what the experienced RR man is using and why.
DCC DCS and all that = Don't know?
I do know that each engine will need a decoder to be wired in but 27 mghz or higher and more money for each one ?? Where does it all start and where does it end??
A starter setup would be nice what do you guys use and what would you recomend for me and my budget of up to $400. I currently run 2 LGBs'from starter sets and a Bachmann big hauler (non annie) and will have near 300' of track when done. Do I need 10 amps? I like short little steam engines that will haul 1-6 cars around but I do have some grade issues of 2-2.5 %
I am posting this same query to the beginers forum since that is what I am when it comes to this kind of RR stough.
I hope my needs are clear enough. Thanks alot for your input.
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Most bang for the buck would probably be Tony Walsham's stuff running from track power. Contact him if he does not pop up here.

Regards, Greg
Just to be clear, Tony's stuff works from track power just fine. Also, his support for his customers is tops, so I would recommend his stuff for this application over the Aristo stuff.

I use DCC, so my RDC has a plug and play QSI in it, about a 5 minute install, but DCC is more money than you want to spend. Of course it is the most flexible and able to expand.

But you put your budget first. (I would put my long term goals first, since I expect to be in the hobby another 30 years).

Regards, Greg
Since the 75 MHz onboard is no longer manufactured, I would not recommend it to anyone starting out.

The confusion is that the 27 MHz Aristo is a "trackside" unit, for powering the rails and one locomotive, unmodified. It is basically a wireless speed control.

But some people have pulled this unit out of it's case and put in a loco or trailing car, then run constant DC to the rails. Now you have an R/C system. Since the unit was not designed for this purpose, it is large, and will not fit in many locos.

Funny about Tony's response, he told me before that there was nothing stopping his equipment from running on track power. He confirmed this again here, but does not recommend it, thus I retract my recommendation.

For someone starting in track power, and wanting remote control, I recommend DCC, there are many systems, you can get an entry level system, many decoders, and many sound units, just a lot of options.

But now this might not fit in the $400 budget.

Think long term here.

Regards, Greg
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Funny because your response, "designed to operate from battery power only"

and "RCS does not recommend using constant track voltage to power RCS/EVO equipment installed on board."

That's what seemed funny (not funny ha ha, but funny strange).

Regards, Greg

Posted By TonyWalsham on 06/28/2008 5:04 PM
Hi Greg.
Thanks for the plug.
However, the RCS and EVO R/C items are designed to operate from battery power only.
They can of course be made to operate from a constant track voltage with the addition of suitable bridge rectifiers and filtering, but not as they are supplied.
RCS does not recommend using constant track voltage to power RCS/EVO equipment installed on board.
The whole point of battery power is to eliminate any track power at all.
RCS is firmly of the opinion that wiring a loco for both types of power unnecessarily complicates the wiring.
The RCS philosophy is to keep it as simple as possible.
That includes how it is installed and how it works.
Unlike some other R/C suppliers, RCS does not constantly keep changing things trying to get R/C to work.
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So, my recommendation was to go with Tony's stuff on track power because once Tony told me that his stuff worked fine on it.

I made the mistake of recommending it in this thread.

So, I guess my recommendation for the $400 budget is Aristo. Sounds like Tony's stuff is both more expensive and not recommended in this situation.

I really hate to recommend the Aristo stuff to a beginner, since Aristo will soon have their 2.4 GHz stuff and wants to abandon the 27 MHz stuff.

(I guess my real recommendation is to change the $400 budget to accomodate DCC !)

Regards, Greg
Note I did not recommend the new system. (For the same reasons as you point out).

I just hesitate in recommending the old system since it will pretty much be abandoned. The 75 MHz unit is no longer produced, for example.

Just getting to 900 MHz solves virtually all the interference problems people have. In fact, it's my opinion that 900 MHz is the sweet spot for R/C, since all the other stuff at 900 MHz has now gone to 2.4, like your wireless computer, bluetooth, your cordless phone, and don't forget your microwave!

Regards, Greg
Actually, most DCC manufacturers are abandoning the analog feature in the DCC control system, due to non-interest. 10 years ago this was a big deal, but nowadays, most people do not care, as evidenced by the abandoning by most manufacturers. This feature allows someone to run one non-DCC loco on your layout. The feature never worked great in general (yes, I know a certain number of people will say it's great), but you need to look a the larger experience. I recommend putting a simple switch or set of jumpers to change the layout over to DC when you want. I can do this to my layout in about 5 seconds and it only cost me $7 in parts to swap in my old DC controller. I cannot agree with "MAKE SURE" you have this feature.

Also, the other side of the coin, since we have made this unfortunately more complex than Todd ever asked for (my apologies Todd) is decoders that have a DC mode, i.e. a DCC decoder in your loco. Most have this feature, but again, once you go DCC, you will rarely want to run the same loco on DC, so I do not classify this as a "must have" feature. Optional is a good term here. (I mention this other mode because often people just say "analog mode" and sometimes they refer to running a DC loco on a DCC layout, and sometimes they are referring to running a DCC loco on a DC layout, so these last 2 paragraphs illuminate both)

The point about the mts functions also bears more explanation. Early LGB decoders were "Serial", a very goofy way to control functions from the DCC perspective. Most DCC hand controllers have 10 or more "function" buttons to control functions. You push a button and the sound happens. Well, LGB did something funny, and if you wanted function 4, instead of hitting the F4 key (parallel), you hit the F1 key FOUR times.

Goofy. But, Dan implies that you cannot control all the features in such a system. "if the locos have the parallel function, you can control all the feaures."
Which implies "if the locos have the serial function, you cannot control all the features".

This is not true, you can punch the F1 button enough times to trigger the serial function on that old decoder in the loco. There are upgrades to the decoders to make them "normal" and also there are many many manufacturers of DCC decoders, so you have a lot of options here, it's not like being tied to one proprietary system, like Aristo, or Tony's or AirWire or Locolinc or ....

Now probably the flame wars will start, but I'm trying to be helpful, if you are looking into the future, it's hard to beat all the options in this method of control.

Regards, Greg
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The Aristo 2.4 system will not be available until next year. Do not be fooled by people publishing part numbers, you can find the part number for an Aristo SD-9 in the Garden Railways magazine, and it has not and will not be built.

Regards, Greg
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