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"Two wires" is / was a phallacy, no doubt dreamt up by the manufacturers.

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This is compounded (IMHO) by those modelling 'names' who, in monthly articles, espouse the latest digital gadget, one that will perform things you had never previously imagined necessary.

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And, guess what, they are only £80 each, and you'll only need 5 or 6 for your layout.

( That's £80 each, on top of your Powercab or Prodigy, Cobalt motors, sound chips etc etc )

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And, have you noticed, that the modelling 'name' behind the article makes you feel inferior as a modeller if you don't buy and fit these ?

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And, what's more, that modelling 'name' obtains all the items featured from the same company ?

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Some, suspicious folk, may suspect 'product placement' has crept into railway modelling.

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I leave you to decide.

 

If someone is writing an article about using a specific product, that's not product placement. At least, not as practiced on TV and in movies.  :pardon:

 

However, looking at the price of "must-have" items, and seeing how many you're then told you need ... I know where you're coming from!

Edited by DavidH
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That would be an excellent future. Conceptually simple enough, but to win general market acceptance it needs a lead manufacturer or a hobby body to develop a proven system, define and package it -  preferably as an open standard - and get major model manufacturers on board.

 

BlueRail were onboard with a major manufacturer, Bachmann with their EZ App range of locomotives. That was 3 years ago but nothing since. The App part was even 'open source' so anyone could write the control part. Maybe it is being deliberately 'sat on' for commercial reasons, such things happen

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I am a confirmed DC operator, my stay at home layout has loads of wires, who cares, it works. Saying that only two wires to each section. It is points that start to make more wires, power to them and then frog switching.  All this talk of being able to operate multiple trains with DCC, I can with DC. Three is the normal, two out on the mainline and one in the terminus with one operator. Four can be managed with two operators, no more because the signalling would not allow more than four on the real railway without a crash. DC is not complicated, with DCC you have to set the route (as you have to on the real thing) same with DC and in setting the route you set the section you need for power. All my locos and units can run on my layout, the cost of buying a chip for all of them  would  be more than the cost of the layout. I know where I would rather spend my money. The cost of a section switch for a section all my locos can move over is a few pence. I don't need sound, tone deaf so a diesel sounds like a diesel and they all sound the same. I don't need lights, I model the 1960s, check out colour photos of 1960s diesel locos and units, very rarely can you see the orange glow indicating the driver had turned the lights on. Coach lighting was turned on and off by the guard, so on a clear day there was no lights on in the coaches. Tail lamps were only to be lit in adverse weather and night time. I model a nice sunny day, daylight hours only.

 

I have people tell me that with DCC you drive the train not the track. With my layout you set the route, as you need to on the real railway and a DCC layout. I then twist the control knob and drive the train. I have never driven the track.

 

I don't want to drive my trains by computer or by my phone. 1960s railways didn't use mobile phones to drive their trains.

 

As for two wires most my locos are only two wires, one from each set of pickups to the motor. I am known for disabling lights etc by removing unnecessary PCBs and hard wiring the motor to the pick ups. More room for additional lead and adhesive power. 

 

I did start a small layout, a classic inglenook shunting layout, DC, only two wires.

Edited by Clive Mortimore
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"Two wires" is / was a phallacy, no doubt dreamt up by the manufacturers.

.

This is compounded (IMHO) by those modelling 'names' who, in monthly articles, espouse the latest digital gadget, one that will perform things you had never previously imagined necessary.

.

And, guess what, they are only £80 each, and you'll only need 5 or 6 for your layout.

( That's £80 each, on top of your Powercab or Prodigy, Cobalt motors, sound chips etc etc )

.

And, have you noticed, that the modelling 'name' behind the article makes you feel inferior as a modeller if you don't buy and fit these ?

.

And, what's more, that modelling 'name' obtains all the items featured from the same company ?

.

Some, suspicious folk, may suspect 'product placement' has crept into railway modelling.

.

I leave you to decide.

 

Surely not Brian, surely not.....

 

The only chips have curry sauce, and my resistor help me to keep my wallet shut. My bus has a pass, and any electrified frogs happened when I chucked a toaster in the fishpond by accident....

 

Surely not Brian, surely not....

 

Ian.

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I have followed this thread with some amusement and has brought the odd smile, but some thoughts. The phrase only two wires goes back to the heady days of the Hornby zero one. Dcc has progressed a long way since them days and many factors now are taken into consideration when wiring for dcc. Many of the same factors apply to plain old DC and if DC is your thing nothing wrong with that.

 

To feel inadequate that after reading an article on the latest gizmo and not having it or you must have it or more to say keeping up with the jones, is something that no one should feel and certainly not from reading an article. if your happy with your layout then be proud of that. Product placement is a fact of life I guess.

 

As to computer control, having a layout that's around 70 foot long and can have around 20 trains running at any one time, the only way to achieve this is with computer control, and could be said is a necessity in my case. But I have areas that I control manually to keep interest, but sometimes it is just relaxing watching the trains do there thing with beer in hand( no drink policy on my railway ) but again if it's not for you that's a personal choice. But there's nothing more satisfying then meeting the challenge of creating an automatic train and watching it run and interacting with other trains and you could even argue it's like the real thing as modern signalling does automation of routes.

 

Sound I'm not even going there it's like marmite you either love it or hate it.

 

But going back to the title of the post. Two wires in its basic form means taking a piece of track with DC to control two locos that track would need to be divided into two and 3/4 wires used. With dcc you wouldn't need to divide the track and you use two wires. And I certainly have used a lot less wire with Dcc but still have speggeti in places. But this is down to the needs of the layout.

 

Andy

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BlueRail were onboard with a major manufacturer, Bachmann with their EZ App range of locomotives. That was 3 years ago but nothing since. The App part was even 'open source' so anyone could write the control part. Maybe it is being deliberately 'sat on' for commercial reasons, such things happen

Bachmann are still producing their EZ-app locos that are equipped with the Blue-Rail scaled down Bluetooth control systems.

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I have a main layout and a shunting layout.

If I want to move between the two I just unplug two wires from my command station to one layout and plug them in to the other layout.

See, it is just two wires.

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... 1960s railways didn't use mobile phones to drive their trains...

 

 Nor did they use a 12V DC controller somewhere at the lineside to drive their trains. Hmmm?

 

It is the flexibility that comes with DCC that makes operation using it such a joy. Parking any number of traction units nose to tail on a length of plain track with just two wires supplying the power, with individual control to each loco, it is really neat. Any manouevre the real railway could perform, DCC will provide with none of the trouble of building in switched isolating sections which limit the locations in which the manouevre may be performed.

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 Nor did they use a 12V DC controller somewhere at the lineside to drive their trains. Hmmm?

 

It is the flexibility that comes with DCC that makes operation using it such a joy. Parking any number of traction units nose to tail on a length of plain track with just two wires supplying the power, with individual control to each loco, it is really neat. Any manouevre the real railway could perform, DCC will provide with none of the trouble of building in switched isolating sections which limit the locations in which the manouevre may be performed.

Yeah !!!!!!!!!!

 

 

See Hanging Hill, it was DC. It worked.

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I think the DCC two wire stuff is a good example of how exaggerated marketing and selling can come back to bite you. I remember the early days of DCC and at that time there was a lot of marketing that based the appeal of DCC primarily on virtually doing away with layout wiring, supported by magazine articles and shops joining in (I remember several shops trying to convert me to DCC for that reason). The trainset we have at home is DCC and I'd not want to go back to DC, but it isn't the simple option it was initially sold as. Funnily enough, personally I don't care for a lot of the added functionality it can bring either, the reason I like DCC is the extra options for operating trains and excellent slow speed control. 

I tend to think DCC is quite a limited technology and pretty much as obsolescent as DC in technology terms (in fact maybe more so, as there will probably always be support for simple transformers and motors), I hope to see the industry move to power onboard and true wireless control.

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Power on board = battery, what a backwards step that would be, let's examine the pitfalls of such a move. Technology has not reached a point to make a battery that is small enough and provide long term power requirements for a train, then there is the performance issue every time you charge a battery it loses a bit of total storage capacity, look at your cordless drill for example it may turn the drill but has no torque. Then there is the problem of charging it and having to remember to do so, wouldn't it be inconvenient to go for an op session and find your loco is out of charge. Also how do you charge i.e. Plug in, yes there cableless charging but not viable if you have a number of locos. Then there's the cost element batteries only last so long. Bottom line until such time a miracle power source is invented it will be two wires still DC /DCC of course there's always clockwork.

 

Andy

Edited by Andymsa
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......I tend to think DCC is quite a limited technology and pretty much as obsolescent as DC in technology terms (in fact maybe more so, as there will probably always be support for simple transformers and motors), I hope to see the industry move to power onboard and true wireless control.

DCC is an old 1980's and early 90's technology, but suitable successor technology has been around for more than a decade or so.

A next generation solution wouldn't require batteries onboard and could remove much of the problem areas involving signal and power through the rails.

 

Despite what the proponents claim, onboard battery power would be a total faff for most people and is not necessary to overcome most of the problems that battery power is supposed to solve.

 

 

 

Edited by Oakydoke
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...

I tend to think DCC is quite a limited technology and pretty much as obsolescent as DC in technology terms (in fact maybe more so, as there will probably always be support for simple transformers and motors), I hope to see the industry move to power onboard and true wireless control.

 

TCP/IP which the World runs on was invented around 1980, and the same is true of CanBUS which your car uses to communicate with the subsystems, with SCADA being even older - no-one has found a better solution to these technologies yet because like DCC they deliver what is required and have not seen their full potential used yet.

 

The inability of manufacturers to agree on a standard bus technology is a real issue with each manufacturer more or less living on their own island with only a smattering providing any form of interoperability between busses, but DCC within itself is perfectly adequate and as it still has room for expansion therefore no need to replace it.

Edited by WIMorrison
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Power on board = battery, what a backwards step that would be, let's examine the pitfalls of such a move. Technology has not reached a point to make a battery that is small enough and provide long term power requirements for a train, then there is the performance issue every time you charge a battery it loses a bit of total storage capacity, look at your cordless drill for example it may turn the drill but has no torque. Then there is the problem of charging it and having to remember to do so, wouldn't it be inconvenient to go for an op session and find your loco is out of charge. Also how do you charge i.e. Plug, in yes there cableless charging but not viable if you have a number of locos. Then there's the cost element batteries only last so long. Bottom line until such time a miracle power source is invented it will be two wires still DC /DCC of course there's always clockwork.

 

Andy

 

I have a moderate sized 00 scale layout running radio controlled battery powered locomotives. So far I have 49 converted locos. It is a cumbria inspired continuous run with 2 main lines, a continuous run branch and small goods yard plus loco shed. mid 1950's to mid 1950's so I run steam and early green diesels.

 

Power on board = battery, a backwards step - Actually it is a forwards step, Why? because you get none of the problems associated with delivering power and command signals through the track and wheels. This has been a basic problem even with DC. There are lots of work arounds but that is what they are, workarounds!. with battery power you get pure PWM modulated DC delivered to the motor, no workaround needed.

 

Technology has not reached a point to make a battery that is small enough and provide long term power requirements for a train - how long is long term? My operating sessions last from 2 to 3 hours with 12 to 15 locomotives per session. My rule of thumb for a 3 hour session is each loco pulls at maximum load for half an hour  and sits idling in the fiddle yard for two and a half hours. That's 56 circuits per half hour at scale 60mph!

 

Take a large pacific loco as an example. This typically requires about 400mA of battery power to pull a 12 coach express at scale 60mph for 1 hour. The receiver/voltage regulator needs less than 20mA per hour when idling. 30 minutes pulling needs 200mA and 150 minutes parked needs 50mA. That means the battery needs to supply 250mA. A battery that size is easy to fit, large loco tenders can have at least 500mAh with ease. Lets do a large exhibition layout and a 8 hour operating day. There are 16 locos per running line, not excessive in my experience. Half an hour pulling and seven and a half hours idling needs 200mA + 150mA = 350mA, well within the capacity of our 500mAh battery

 

then there is the performance issue every time you charge a battery it loses a bit of total storage capacity - yes it does, so does your phone battery. A use a lot of lithium polymer batteries (lipoly) and typically they can be recharges 150-250 times, probably more because model train use does not strain the battery the way model plane/car/truck does. A lot of my diesels can use NiMh batteries they can be recharged many hundreds of times, even over 1000!. Back to the lipoly batteries, I average 1 operating a week so a battery should last 3 to 5 years, so I need to budget about 3.3p per battery toward replacement cost, or about £43 per year or even less, especially with NiMh.

 

Then there is the problem of charging it and having to remember to do so - do you forget to charge your mobile phone? I recharge all the batteries used in a session after the session. I can charge 10 lipoly and 8 NiMh batteries at the same time. With typically 25 lipos used in a session recharging takes less than 2 hours spread over a few days

 

Also how do you charge - I charge off loco and have 4 lipo chargers and 2 NiMh. I don't have on/off switches either, just plug the battery into the harness before the session. My locos have easy to remove tender and diesel bodies. I can fit a battery set in a loco in less than one minute!

 

Increased efficiency of your locos - I found converting to battery power improved the loco haulage capacity. It is all down to the lack if power pickups My reading has Dapol class 20's having poor pulling power. my converted one lifts 20 coaches with ease!. Sigle bogie drive? no problem, I use Bullfrog Snot for traction and pulling loads of wagons

 

Batteries can be a viable power source for model railways, even with existing technology!

Edited by davetheroad
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I have a moderate sized 00 scale layout running radio controlled battery powered locomotives. So far I have 49 converted locos. It is a cumbria inspired continuous run with 2 main lines, a continuous run branch and small goods yard plus loco shed. mid 1950's to mid 1950's so I run steam and early green diesels.

 

Power on board = battery, a backwards step - Actually it is a forwards step, Why? because you get none of the problems associated with delivering power and command signals through the track and wheels. This has been a basic problem even with DC. There are lots of work arounds but that is what they are, workarounds!. with battery power you get pure PWM modulated DC delivered to the motor, no workaround needed.

 

Technology has not reached a point to make a battery that is small enough and provide long term power requirements for a train - how long is long term? My operating sessions last from 2 to 3 hours with 12 to 15 locomotives per session. My rule of thumb for a 3 hour session is each loco pulls at maximum load for half an hour  and sits idling in the fiddle yard for two and a half hours. That's 56 circuits per half hour at scale 60mph!

 

Take a large pacific loco as an example. This typically requires about 400mA of battery power to pull a 12 coach express at scale 60mph for 1 hour. The receiver/voltage regulator needs less than 20mA per hour when idling. 30 minutes pulling needs 200mA and 150 minutes parked needs 50mA. That means the battery needs to supply 250mA. A battery that size is easy to fit, large loco tenders can have at least 500mAh with ease. Lets do a large exhibition layout and a 8 hour operating day. There are 16 locos per running line, not excessive in my experience. Half an hour pulling and seven and a half hours idling needs 200mA + 150mA = 350mA, well within the capacity of our 500mAh battery

 

then there is the performance issue every time you charge a battery it loses a bit of total storage capacity - yes it does, so does your phone battery. A use a lot of lithium polymer batteries (lipoly) and typically they can be recharges 150-250 times, probably more because model train use does not strain the battery the way model plane/car/truck does. A lot of my diesels can use NiMh batteries they can be recharged many hundreds of times, even over 1000!. Back to the lipoly batteries, I average 1 operating a week so a battery should last 3 to 5 years, so I need to budget about 3.3p per battery toward replacement cost, or about £43 per year or even less, especially with NiMh.

 

Then there is the problem of charging it and having to remember to do so - do you forget to charge your mobile phone? I recharge all the batteries used in a session after the session. I can charge 10 lipoly and 8 NiMh batteries at the same time. With typically 25 lipos used in a session recharging takes less than 2 hours spread over a few days

 

Also how do you charge - I charge off loco and have 4 lipo chargers and 2 NiMh. I don't have on/off switches either, just plug the battery into the harness before the session. My locos have easy to remove tender and diesel bodies. I can fit a battery set in a loco in less than one minute!

 

Increased efficiency of your locos - I found converting to battery power improved the loco haulage capacity. It is all down to the lack if power pickups My reading has Dapol class 20's having poor pulling power. my converted one lifts 20 coaches with ease!. Sigle bogie drive? no problem, I use Bullfrog Snot for traction and pulling loads of wagons

 

Batteries can be a viable power source for model railways, even with existing technology!

Lots of facts and figures and a soundly put case, but there's still the issue of where to put the battery, you may be able to put one with ease on a tender steam loco, but most locos you can have a difficult time just finding room for the dcc chip let alone a sound speaker, and that is on a reasonable sized loco. Small locos can be a real challenge. And I'm wondering how automation would work with your setup? As you don't use dcc chips.

 

Yes from time to time I do forget to charge my phone, but by your own admission it takes some days to charge up the batteries. But if it works for you then that's good. DCC may not be perfect but it works for the majority of users.

 

Andy

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I went DCC about 10 years ago and yes, it was expensive (financed by selling off some stock), plus there was a little effort converting locos without DCC sockets, however most, if not all, stock produced nowadays has a socket and I would not for one moment consider going back to DC. It is perfectly possible to power an entire DCC layout with only two wires, assuming non-self isolating dead frog points are used, yet still run any number of locos in a prototypical way. Battery power should be the next step forwards, doing away with the issues of dead frog points and dirty track, and having to recharge batteries simply emulates the real life need to fuel steam and diesel traction at the correct intervals (and full size diesels running out of fuel is not unknown !)

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"Two wires" is / was a phallacy, no doubt dreamt up by the manufacturers.

.

This is compounded (IMHO) by those modelling 'names' who, in monthly articles, espouse the latest digital gadget, one that will perform things you had never previously imagined necessary.

.

And, guess what, they are only £80 each, and you'll only need 5 or 6 for your layout.

( That's £80 each, on top of your Powercab or Prodigy, Cobalt motors, sound chips etc etc )

.

And, have you noticed, that the modelling 'name' behind the article makes you feel inferior as a modeller if you don't buy and fit these ?

.

And, what's more, that modelling 'name' obtains all the items featured from the same company ?

.

Some, suspicious folk, may suspect 'product placement' has crept into railway modelling.

.

I leave you to decide.

 

Ten or fifteen years ago, yes there was a problem with articles by DCC gurus habitually omitting grubby inconvenient facts like the prices of the kit being enthused over. This was coupled with the invariable advice by DCC advocates that you should only ever consider buying top-line decoders at GBP25-35 a pop, and consider only high-end systems (The latter species of conspicuous consumption was ended by the excellent and reasonably priced NCE PowerCab)

 

There is - or was - also a distinct "fanboy" culture within DCC whereby people tended to look only to the maker of their own system. Those using Lenz buying exclusively Lenz kit throughout, Digitrax users using only Digitrax etc. This is partly because system-bus protocols tend to be proprietary (Xpress , LocoNet etc)

 

Things seem to be rather healthier now - prices are openly discussed and "throwing money at it" is rarely advocated openly now

 

The truth about wiring is that DCC will support a vastly greater complexity of operation from the same level of wiring than DC.

 

This matters, because electrical wiring is something that the vast majority of the hobby find difficult, laborious  and very unattractive. The maximum complexity of wiring that most people can build/endure building is fairly low - and under DC that imposes serious limits on what is possible operationally

 

Yes many of the benefits of DCC operation are technically possible with DC - but they require amounts and complexity of wiring to deliver that are far beyond the practical limit of what most modellers can handle

 

With DCC the modeller can wire to a level they can cope with comfortably - and get vastly greater levels of complexity of control out of it.

 

Therefore the amount of wiring under the layout doesn't change much - because the modeller still wires up to his (low) limit of comfort. But what is delivered in terms of control is transformed

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Lots of facts and figures and a soundly put case, but there's still the issue of where to put the battery, you may be able to put one with ease on a tender steam loco, but most locos you can have a difficult time just finding room for the dcc chip let alone a sound speaker, and that is on a reasonable sized loco. Small locos can be a real challenge. And I'm wondering how automation would work with your setup? As you don't use dcc chips.

 

Yes from time to time I do forget to charge my phone, but by your own admission it takes some days to charge up the batteries. But if it works for you then that's good. DCC may not be perfect but it works for the majority of users.

 

Andy

 

On my steam locos I put the battery in the tender along with the receiver although that could go in the loco boiler if I wanted. I have 3 tank locos. The jinty 0-6-0 has a pair of batteries which slot in under the water tanks. The Smokey Joe 0-4-0 has the single battery in the loco with the receiver and the 2-6-4 Tank has the receiver/battery in a trailing car. Ah!, it won't fit!. yes it will but I use standard consumer batteries and fitting them in the big tank is more than my old hands/eyes can manage. There is plenty of room in my diesels as most of them are full of empty space.

 

What you want to fit in the loco is down to personal preference. I have the radio on when playing trains so have not considered sound. Sound is possible, I have seen it demonstrated.

 

Automation is possible even with my simple receivers which have station stop, shuttle stop and reverse available as options. More advanced systems can apparently runs scripts on your smart device although I have not seen this demonstrated.

It does not take days to charge the batteries, it takes less than 2 hours for all of them at my convenience. I have a spare set ready anyway so the 'recharge' takes less than a minute.

 

I am not against DCC but as I mentioned before I believe the future will be a radio controlled system with seamless onboard auto switching between track power and battery power. It does not matter if it is DCC or another system.

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They said the future of headphones for phones was Bluetooth, heck - Apple even tried to force the issue by elimating the jack socket, yet wired earphone/headphone sets outsell the bluetooth version by hundreds to one - my wireless headphones even allow you to connect via wire for when the batteries are flat!

 

I accept that garden railways are different, but for indoor and especially small scales, it will be an awfully long time before Bluetooth, wifi, lifi, or any other technology replaces the two important wires - the track - that are already there as they will still need to be there, even when using batteries, to guide the trains :) so why not just continue to use them to deliver the power?

 

An interesting diversion from the original question, but ultimately just a minor blip that won't become mainstream.

Edited by WIMorrison
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There is plenty of room in my diesels as most of them are full of empty space.

 

What you want to fit in the loco is down to personal preference. I have the radio on when playing trains so have not considered sound. Sound is possible, I have seen it demonstrated.

 

Automation is possible even with my simple receivers which have station stop, shuttle stop and reverse available as options. More advanced systems can apparently runs scripts on your smart device although I have not seen this demonstrated.

It does not take days to charge the batteries, it takes less than 2 hours for all of them at my convenience. I have a spare set ready anyway so the 'recharge' takes less than a minute.

Your very lucky to have such space within your locos, I have not seen many that allow me such luxuries.( these are continental European locos).

 

So it appears there are limitations to automation using batteries and radio control. Using good proprietary software many things are achieved with automation and how many average users understands scripts. I can see some advantages with batteries but with large layouts I wouldn't consider it advantageous.

 

my understanding of how long you take to charge was incorrect, but I would find it a pain having to charge them or rembering to do so. But at the end of the day if it works for you using batteries that's good and you get pleasure from it then great, but I'm afraid it will be many years before it becomes mainstream and even then I'm not sure it will, but who can predict the future. I certainly as a child never imagined DCC as as possibility but look at us now

 

Andy

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Also how do you charge - I charge off loco and have 4 lipo chargers and 2 NiMh. I don't have on/off switches either, just plug the battery into the harness before the session. My locos have easy to remove tender and diesel bodies. I can fit a battery set in a loco in less than one minute!

 

Batteries can be a viable power source for model railways, even with existing technology!

 

Any length of plain track or sidings could be used to provide charging power at the expense of slightly more components in the loco.

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Any length of plain track or sidings could be used to provide charging power at the expense of slightly more components in the loco.

 

You are right but my old hands are very clumsy so any fancy wiring is now beyond me. A simple system with a set of wires from the receiver to the motor and another set from the battery to the receiver is my ideal. I use a lot of voltage regulators so there are some more short lengths of wire.

 

someone is trialling a contactless charging system which if successful will eliminate the need for any physical connection. hoever insering and removing the batteries for an operating session works for me.. 

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Any length of plain track or sidings could be used to provide charging power at the expense of slightly more components in the loco.

But that means keeping the wheels clean and the pickups adjusted....

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But that means keeping the wheels clean and the pickups adjusted....

 

Wheels and track clean and for me actually having pickups. I have seen good, sometimes impressive improvements in performance once the pickups are gone. I clean my track twice a year and have the bliss of no wires at all!

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