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POWER what can I get for $400

6577 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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Tony, what is your objection to constant track power and remote control? I'm doing it with Aristo's 75 mhz and it works quite well.
I didn't say constant track power would not work well. I know it can be made to.
It is just that it is not my philosophy to do it that way.
I design what I make to work only on battery power.
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
Posted By Greg Elmassian on 07/04/2008 9:03 AM

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.

While 2.4 GHZ sure sounds high tech and ought to work better, It doesn't exist yet does it? We always get so excited waiting for new products. Unfortunately they don't always turn out so good (e.g. A/C 75 MHz). I would wait for some user reviews before jumping on the bandwagon.
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
I knew I would get some answers and opinions from this question. I like the sounds of what Dan wrote "it is almost to simple" That is just what I'm looking for something simple and easy to install and use. I'm a little concerned as to what Greg wrote about Aristo discontinuing some of the things I might be needing such as the 75mhz parts. The very last thing I want to do is lay down some cash only to find out in the very near future that the stough I bought is outdated and useless.
What is the deal with DCC and how much extra would it cost over the train engineer system? What can it do for me? How easy is it to install and use and what would I need in order to run a couple of engines?
Just make sure if you have track powered DCC that there is an analog feature so one engine can be run if it does not have a decoder.

LGB's MTS did this and I believe most DCC systems will also, just check and make sure.

Also, dcc systems can run LGB mts equipped locos and if the locos have the parallel function, you can control all the feaures. Again, verify compatibility.
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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Wow what a lot of great responses and mind numbing answers.... It certainly is getting more complex than I hoped it would but I would say that G scale is rather complex and getting more so everyday. Too many options and choices, much like picking out orange juice at the grocers. I just started deciphering the differing scales and now this??? My answer to the scale issue was I just run what I like and don't care how one car looks next to another. I am in no way a rivet counter in fact half my layout is buried in weeds at the moment tht I usually just clear a path through for the trains to fit. I like the wild look and am not an exacting modeller. In fact my approach is more whimsical, I had to snake the track around a few trees and I bought several big lawn ornament mushrooms to place around this spot and I will be calling it the land of BIG.
The budget has already been broken many times with this ever increasing expensive hobby and I have reached my limit so I think streching to DCC is beyond my reach plus I don't think I will need the extras that it offers. Besides only one of my engines have a decent sound system and I don't mind putting magnets on the tracks to activate the whistle and bell in the appropriate spots. My wife says I'm infatuated with the trains but I still view it as a hobby that I don't take too seriously and a hobby/distraction that I just want to have fun with.
So if I could return to my original question and maybe stress a few of the words. I'm looking for a SIMPLE system where I can run my cleaning pad over the rails a few times, hook up a couple of wires and get a train or 2 moving along for under $400 with a minimum of fancy wiring to the engines or track what type of system would you guys recomend and what exactly do I need to buy in order to make this happen?
Whew that was alot of typing LOL
Thank you
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The Aristo Track Side Train Engineer (27mhz) is a good reliable system which I doubt AC will abandon in the near future. It varies the track power by remote control so you can run one train remotely. The On Board TE (75Mhz) is the one they going to replace with a new system. If you can live with one train running on the track at a time, you can't go wrong with the track side TE. You will need a power supply to go with it so get an Aristo Elite. You will be under budget and have a good reliable, simple to use system.
If you have to have two trains running at the same time on the same track, cost and complexity goes up.
I am now curious as to what Todd will choose after digesting all this information.

Have you decided yet?

Did this help any others decide that were just watching/reading?
Hello You are right Dan what a lot of info. I am really leaning towards the aristo TE with an elite power pack #55465. It is the dual voltage that you guys recommend or is it he 5 amp 55466? In the latest garden RR mag I noticed that aristo is offering the 2.4GHZ #'s 57000- 57003 units now so I need to look into that. Ward H wrote that with the TE I can run one engine at a time remotely If I can do this without modifying my engines than that would serve me this summer, I could park one engine on an electrically isolated siding and get another going. Over the winter I could wire up each engine seperatly with the neccessary onboard gear.
The quest continues.
Todd. I sent you an pm thru this board.. if you decide to go with the TE & the Aristo Elite, let me know, I have an Elite I don't use anymore & would be willing to sell.
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
Always go with the larger supply for te future.
Read the 5 amp specs carefully as I do not believe it goes to the 22.5 volts or 24 volts of the 13 and 15 amp elites.

Newer engines with electronics need this higher voltage.
I hear you Dan about going for more power for the future.
As for the 2.4 it is a shame that they have it advertised with a part # and a price yet don't have it available? Talk about dangling a carrot. I finally connected the 2 ends of the track yesterday and my old tech 3 with just over an amp is no where up to the task of supplying power so I need to get something soon.
I'm back for a long weekend and had a train going around this morning but I do need more power. I was hoping to order what I need this weekend but I called 2 stores hat advertise in garden RR magazine and didn't get very far with either. The experts were on vacation at one store. At another store the 2.4 was out of stock. Was it ever in stock? the operator didn't know but considering it was a new item she thought it might be sold out. Their electrical "expert" told me that with the TE I can only run one train at a time even if I did put decoders into each engine. He suggested going to DCC to get that ability. From what I have read and what I have heard about the TE I can run more than one engine if they each have a decoder to receive the different signals from the control, one engine just remembers its last command and keeps on going. Is this true?
Who's idea was it to make this whole thing so confusing???? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif
I have been getting some good advice here and I hope you guys can keep it coming until I can make a good decision that I won't regret.
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As yet the proposed Crest 2.4 Gigaherz on board R/C has not been released.
This guy told you wrong. He's thinking of a receiver mounted trackside to control the power to the track. With the Elite, or other constant voltage power supply wired directly to the track, you can control each loco that has a receiver seperately. I have had up to 4 running at once on my layout, all powered off the Elite. One being an Aristo F-1 AB set pulling a string of lighted heavyweights, so the power consumption was pretty great from that train right there.

The TE trasmitter can control up to 100 locos, 10 on each of 10 frequencies. In practice, NOT changing frequencies is what I do, cause simply changing between locos (not complicated) while keeping an eye on multiple running trains & throwing switches is taxing enough.

Back to power, & other comments above, the Elite puts out 22.5V from the factory, but can be adjusted up with an internal set-screw. I upped mine to 24.5V, cause after losing a volt & half to on-board bridge rectifiers, then another volt thru the TE receievers itself, I found things ran much better with the higher voltage.

Again, I'm ready to part with my Elite since I've moved to battery, so if interested, let me know.

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