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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First thanks to all who gave me the help leading to my plunge into Li-Ion battery power, Stan, Greg and many others.

Objective: Get an Annie battery powered without the need for a trail car!! And without blowing anything up.

What I did:

I installed an Aristo 75 Mhz Receiver, a removable home made Li-Ion Battery pack, and retained the Simple chuff sound system in the Annie tender.

The install was no problem and I wired the Annie using the front direction switch behind the smokebox door, so that I could switch between track or battery power if I so desired. The Annie chuff sound system remains powered with the original 9-volt battery system unmodified. I used Tamiya connectors wired to the power tabs on the TE Receiver.

The only alterations to the loco, besides the switch behind the smoke box door, were made to the tender. I removed the body and then the coal load. I widened the area where the coal load sits with a dremel tool leaving just enough edge so that the coal load would sit firmly in place. This allowed me to just lay the load in place without needing the screws, but most importantly widened the access to the inside of the tender from the top. The receiver fits nicely in front of the speaker, and the batteries lay across the top of the speaker allowing the coal load to sit on top of everything very nicely. I did not use any chokes, or other noise suppressors and I did not use any receiver antenna boosters.

It would be easy to get aftermarket sound in the tender as well after removal of the original sound system.

To get two 14.8-volt battery packs, I made two battery packs.
One using four 3.7-volt Tenergy 18650 Li-Ion batteries with built in PCB protection. The other with an external PCB protection module to which the batteries had to be soldered. I used standard Tamiya connectors, so that I could use the Tenergy Smart charger already so equipped. These items were all purchased from all-battery.com.

On the first I soldered the batteries together in series using 14 gauge stranded wire, then soldered the appropriate Tamiya connectors to the pack. On the second pack I soldered the batteries to the PCB protection module as per the instructions. I wrapped the packs with black electrical tape and they were done.

It was pretty low cost. The first was a pack made with 4 Tenergy PCB protected 3.7 volt 2200 mAh 18650 Li-Ion batteries were only $28.95 and two bucks more for the connectors. Total cost 31 bucks. The second was made using Li-Ion batteries the same as above but without the onboard PCB protection $23.95. I added the separate PCB module at $9.65 and the Tamiya connector. Total cost of the second pack $35.60, and a lot more work.

I bought a Universal Fast Smart Charger for 3.7 to 14.8 volt packs of one to four cells for $23.95

How it worked: Let me say it exceeded all my expectations!!

Test conditions: Run as long as possible at an outside temperature between 75 and 90 degrees pulling 10 cars on a level grade.

I charged the battery packs, and ran them for a while to make sure there were no problems of any kind. I noticed that even with 14.8 volts battery packs the top speed was way to high for me. Both types of pack worked fine with no problems. I noticed that after running 2 to 3 hours switching, running around etc. (typical running) that the batteries showed no signs of fading or losing power.
After a few weeks I charged both packs and started the test to see what would happen.
I first used the lower cost pack with the build in PCB protection. I ran the train at various speeds continuously at no less than 1/3 throttle or more than 2/3rds throttle except for occasional bursts of (uncomfortable feeling) top speed. I became bored after 3 hours of running, and almost quit, but I wanted to find out when it would quit. After four hours I was getting really bored. After five hours and five minutes of continuous running I was using the Train Engineer transmitter and noticed that the Annie seemed to slow down just a little. Using the speed indicator on the TE I noticed earlier in the run that it was running on four lights at the 1/3 throttle level. Now I checked again and to maintain 1/3 speed I had to tick the throttle up to 9 lights!! So the batteries were about to give out. I ran for anther 15 minutes and quit the test.

I can’t think of a situation where I would be continuously for five hours or more!!!! The next day, the second and most expensive pack performed just like the first pack, but I was doing other things most of the time during the test.

Comments and Conclusions:

When charging the packs nothing blew up!!! In fact the batteries stayed cool throughout the charging cycle, and the charger got only slightly warm. Great performance at a great price, and NO TRAIL CAR!!!

Changing the battery takes just a few seconds, lift the coal load unhook the discharged battery plug in the new, put the coal load back on and you are back in business.

I did learn that it is best to disconnect the battery when not running as the 75MHZ TE receiver will cause the batteries to slowly discharge between sessions, alternatively one could install a on/off switch between the batteries and the receiver.

I failed to note that I put a 3-amp fast blow fuse between the batteries and the receiver.

Even though I used the standard antenna on the receiver and the telescoping antenna on the transmitter I did not experience range problems over a distance of about 85 feet.
Overall I am very pleased with the Tenergy line of batteries at all-battery.com, cut and paste this to your browser or if you type it in don’t forget the dash!! If the future I will use the batteries with the built in PCB protection.

It took me longer to type this than it took me to make both battery packs, and I never made one before.
 

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The Annie is a great locomotive to convert to battery power and radio control. My installation is similar to yours except that I used two homemade 9.2 volt NiMH battery packs.

I built a 1/8 inch thick platform over the speaker and around the Bachmann sound board to hold the battery packs and receiver. A Double Pole Double Throw center off switch is mounted between the speaker and the sound board to toggle the battery packs between their charge plugs and the receiver.



The charge plugs were added to the front of the tender along with the MU plug (formerly the rear light plug) and the sound board plug. The rear light is now run off the receiver and doubles as its programming light.



I ran the NiMH packs on two Saturdays in a row during our railway operations without recharging. I have no idea how long they would last running continuously.



I like using the 2 inch Black Kat antenna with the 75 MHz receiver because it is easier to install than a yard/metre of wire.



As long as the 75 MHz receiver is used in a tender or trailing car away from the motors, radio range is not a problem. I got 100 feet of reliable and responsive radio range without having to install any radio noise suppression components.

The following is a short video of the Annie on its new home at Dave McCurdy’s Rio Grande Southern Garden Railway.
 

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Way ta go, Bill..... Welcome to the darkside....... :):):)/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gif

Now you can just watch the trains keep going and going and going and going..... :D

Congratulations...

I just did a conversion in an Annie tender using a QSI decoder with sound, the g-wire receiver and an Aristo-Craft Li-ion battery all on board. Run time is over 6 hours. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Paul, Hi Stan,

Paul I failed to mention you by name in the thanks department, I got lots of great info from your website and really great photos!! I didnt want to use two packs like you did so I went with the single Li-Ion pack which is very compact and eliminated the need for the toggle between two battery packs and allowed me to make quick pack changes from the top. I was so afraid of all the scare stuffon Li-ion that I came very close to doing just what you did with the two NMIH packs. I'm sold now and no longer fear the Li-Ion packs. When you make your own packs it is no problem to customize them to fit anywhere.

Stan Thanks for all your help as well. I plan to add a sound card eventually and it will fit easily into the space in the tender occupied by the 9 volt battery for the stock sound. With the bachmann sound board stripped out it will easily allow two battery packs to ride in the space. I t was quite an eye opener to see how much less space the Li-ion's took up. I missed Marty's last year and hope to make it this year. Looks like no comparison to when I was there last.

Thanks again to you both for all the inspiration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Stan forgot to ask you, What do you think of the quality of the QSI sound? I haven't heard much good so far!!
 

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Stan, or anyone else, if you are going to provide information on the QSI soundboard/decoder; can we start a new thread so others don’t miss it. Besides we don’t want to see a picture of that dreaded derailer ;-)
 

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Thanks Bill! I am glad you found our club web site useful.

An extended pat on the back should go to Dave Goodson, who gave Fred Mills the information about the Annie wiring, who passed it on to me. I guess there is more to the information highway than just the Internet.

I understand your preference for lithium-ion packs. I replaced the two NiMH battery packs in both my FA-1 and RS-3 with a single lithium-ion pack as they take up much less room.



They are also easier to wire. I solder the male half of an All Electronics 2-pin plug set to the center tabs of a center off double pole double throw switch and plug the battery into that.



The female half, with its wings removed, is mounted on the pilot as a battery charging plug and soldered to one end of the switch.


The receiver is then wired through a fuse to the other end. Toggling one way brings the receiver and battery on-line, the other takes the receiver off-line and allows the battery to be charged. The center position turns everything off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Paul.

That is a great way to wire for onboard charging. I will use it on a 44 tonner I want to convert. I have been afraid to keep the Li-ion Batteries on board while charging due to all the fear stuff about blowing things up and overheating and so on. What is your and your club members experience with onboard charging of Li-Ion Batteries? Any big problems. tips?

I have had many great conversations with Dave Goodson, and he has been very helpful to me as well. I am not in agreement with his views on Li-IOn batteries tho, unless he now supports them!!

Starting a new thread on QSI is the best way to go, I need to spend more time researching sound,but seems there is way to much new for me to keep up with!
 

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Congrats Bill on a successful conversion! By using the liion packs with the circuit boards and a quality charger, you will probably never have problems.

Regards, Greg
 

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Posted By Paul Norton on 08/18/2008 10:40 AM
Stan, or anyone else, if you are going to provide information on the QSI soundboard/decoder; can we start a new thread so others don’t miss it. Besides we don’t want to see a picture of that dreaded derailer ;-)




Here 'tis........
QSI Report
 

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Posted By billsharron on 08/18/2008 2:07 PM
Paul.
What is your and your club members experience with onboard charging of Li-Ion Batteries? Any big problems. Tips?



Good afternoon Bill!

A number of our club members have used the Aristo-Craft lithium-ion battery packs and chargers without problems. I think the scare came from the R/C aircraft and cars guy guys that were trying to recharge their battery packs in minutes. The Aristo-Craft charger takes 4 hours for a complete recharge and the battery packs remain cool.

I have run my two power cars, FA-1, NW-2 and RS-3 with lithium-ion packs without problems.







The only problem we have run into so far is the second last batch of battery packs that are not compatible with the 27 MHz TE. Our club recently made a bulk-buy of Aristo-Craft R/C products and battery packs. Unfortunately 2 out the 6 battery packs are the so called “third generation”, and to make matters worse Aristo-Craft does not have replacements in stock at this time.

If you can find them, the “fourth generation” packs are all right and are easily identifiable by their new and improved price. Despite the price bump, I still prefer lithium-ion packs because of their small size, great power and easy plug-in wiring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Paul,

Thanks for the info!! I am going to try your on board charging circuit, on a gE 44 Ttonner. I will put the batteries in one hood and the electronics in the other hood. I am trying to stay away from battery trail cars, and while I understand that some folks are in love with trail cars for very good reasons, I don't like them on my steam powwered layout. If I ever build one I will follow your methods for sure!!!

Thanks to you and the other guys, I have lost my fear of Li-Ion Battteries and have learned from my experience with the Tenergy Brand from All-battery.com. The Tenergy brand Batteries & smart chargers are great and the batteries never get hot while charging, but the charger gets slightly warm. It takes about 2 hours for the batteries to charge, but even four hours would be no problem because my homemade 14.8 volt Battery packs last about 5 hours in my Annie.

The tech reps at All-battery.com have told me that it would be safe to use their smart charger for one to four cells to actually charge six cells. it would just take longer. The important point is that one must use the 3.7 volt batteries with the onboard PCB protection. This would allow making 22.2 Volt packs for big diesels.

You certainly have a great group in you club, and your club web site is great as well. Let the guy know I appreciate it.

Thanks
 
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