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Battery powered/Radio controlled locos


StuartM
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Say someone was starting from scratch, do we have an estimate of the comparative costs of RC and DCC?

 

RC will probably be DCC, otherwise dead in the water.

 

For an idea of cost, based on currently available systems, the NCE G-Wire Cab wireless DCC handheld throttle is listed on the well known Tony's Trains web site at $215.95

That's approx. £142.95

Add VAT = £171.55

However that's based on US prices, so for the UK with the usual additional import costs, expect it to be circa £200

 

The QSI Quantum G-Wire wireless receiver module is listed on the UK Digitrains web site at £99.75

Add to that the cost of a decoder of your choice.

 

Then add the cost of a battery (probably £20 to £25).

 

It all adds up.

At £150 to equip each loco/train (non-sound), it would soon get very expensive.

10 x locos = £1500 against...

10 x locos with just a £25 decoder = £250,

i.e. 6 x as much.

 

Compare that with adding a system like the Tam Valley Depots DRS1 to a regular DCC system set-up.

DRS1 receivers = $59-95 each (£39.68 before VAT & import costs)

DRS transmitter = $59-95

 

 

Now consider that this is being proposed for a market (the UK) where we hear howls of protest at the rising costs of the hobby and where there's a reluctance to even pay the going rate for decent quality 21st century RTR, let alone the additional cost to get RTR models made to the higher standard enjoyed by our European and N. American cousins.

I respectfully suggest everybody should "do the maths".

 

 

 

.

Edited by Ron Ron Ron
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RC will probably be DCC, otherwise dead in the water.

 

For an idea of cost, based on currently available systems, the NCE G-Wire Cab wireless DCC handheld throttle is listed on the well known Tony's Trains web site at $215.95

That's approx. £142.95

Add VAT = £171.55

However that's based on US prices, so for the UK with the usual additional import costs, expect it to be circa £200

 

The QSI Quantum G-Wire wireless receiver module is listed on the UK Digitrains web site at £99.75

Add to that the cost of a decoder of your choice.

 

Then add the cost of a battery (probably £20 to £25).

 

It all adds up.

At £150 to equip each loco/train (non-sound), it would soon get very expensive.

10 x locos = £1500 against...

10 x locos with just a £25 decoder = £250,

i.e. 6 x as much.

 

Compare that with adding a system like the Tam Valley Depots DRS1 to a regular DCC system set-up.

DRS1 receivers = $59-95 each (£39.68 before VAT & import costs)

DRS transmitter = $59-95

 

 

Now consider that this is being proposed for a market (the UK) where we hear howls of protest at the rising costs of the hobby and where there's a reluctance to even pay the going rate for decent quality 21st century RTR, let alone the additional cost to get RTR models made to the higher standard enjoyed by our European and N. American cousins.

I respectfully suggest everybody should "do the maths".

 

 

 

.

 

Well thanks for doing the maths for me. So DCC and RC - a double whammy. And even more expensive with sound. I think I'll stick to my world of second-hand DC locos at £35 a time!

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RC will probably be DCC, otherwise dead in the water.

 

For an idea of cost, based on currently available systems, the NCE G-Wire Cab wireless DCC handheld throttle is listed on the well known Tony's Trains web site at $215.95

That's approx. £142.95

Add VAT = £171.55

However that's based on US prices, so for the UK with the usual additional import costs, expect it to be circa £200

 

The QSI Quantum G-Wire wireless receiver module is listed on the UK Digitrains web site at £99.75

Add to that the cost of a decoder of your choice.

 

Then add the cost of a battery (probably £20 to £25).

 

It all adds up.

At £150 to equip each loco/train (non-sound), it would soon get very expensive.

10 x locos = £1500 against...

10 x locos with just a £25 decoder = £250,

i.e. 6 x as much.

 

Compare that with adding a system like the Tam Valley Depots DRS1 to a regular DCC system set-up.

DRS1 receivers = $59-95 each (£39.68 before VAT & import costs)

DRS transmitter = $59-95

 

 

Now consider that this is being proposed for a market (the UK) where we hear howls of protest at the rising costs of the hobby and where there's a reluctance to even pay the going rate for decent quality 21st century RTR, let alone the additional cost to get RTR models made to the higher standard enjoyed by our European and N. American cousins.

I respectfully suggest everybody should "do the maths".

 

 

 

.

 

 

Well thanks for doing the maths for me. So DCC and RC - a double whammy. And even more expensive with sound. I think I'll stick to my world of second-hand DC locos at £35 a time!

Oh wake up,

Electronics are as cheap as chips, the manufactures of dcc controls just put a high end price tag on them, same with sound chips etc, these things cost pennies to make, they're just profiteering, that's what businesses do.

You've seen the RC helicopters for £25, its the same technology. Sure the battery might be a little more costly, but so what, look at what you're getting, a wire free locomotive that can run over trackwork as complicated as you like, because there IS NO WIRING involved, anywhere on the layout, ever!, plus no wheel clean, no wiper cleaning.

I'm sorry to get annoyed over this, but the technology is already available and is very affordable, the only two barriers to a battery powered remote controlled model railway layout are the manufactures and the naysayers of doom.

 

In the video, the Transmitter, receiver and chip cost me less than £20, you can't tell me that a manufacture like Hornby or Bachman can't reduce this cost through bulk purchase.

 

And for those who want to continue to buy second hand locos, just think of all the locos that would flood ebay as the rest of us scrapped our wired fleets and replaced them with battery/wireless technology.

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I fully support the idea of R/C for individual locos.

 

Certainly compared to DCC, for example?

 

Converting existing locos is a matter of experimentation and ingenuity.....in much the same way as fitting DCC chips, etc.

 

But, in my view, without the expense of extensive control equipment, and track wiring [not so much the wires, more the separation of polarities at all costs?]

 

As for manufacture?

 

Surely not having to design, and place in production, a complex chassis that has good pick-up, is DCC compatible, and has reasonable haulage capability means cheaper costs....?

 

 

If starting a new project, then R/C certainly should be given consideration before major capital outlay on existing conventional control wisdom.

Edited by alastairq
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Electronics are as cheap as chips, the manufactures of dcc controls just put a high end price tag on them, same with sound chips etc, these things cost pennies to make, they're just profiteering, that's what businesses do.....

....In the video, the Transmitter, receiver and chip cost me less than £20, you can't tell me that a manufacture like Hornby or Bachman can't reduce this cost through bulk purchase.

The cost of components are a relatively small part of the cost of bringing a commercial product to market.

If you can assemble a device for £20, even with commercial purchasing or bulk buying, the manufacturing, distribution and retailing costs are going to result in a shop price of a £100 or more. There may only be a narrow profit in that price to boot.

 

.....look at what you're getting, a wire free locomotive that can run over trackwork as complicated as you like, because there IS NO WIRING involved, anywhere on the layout, ever!, plus no wheel clean, no wiper cleaning.

I'm sorry to get annoyed over this, but the technology is already available and is very affordable, the only two barriers to a battery powered remote controlled model railway layout are the manufactures and the naysayers of doom.

There are some very attractive advantages from going wireless, but it cannot be a realistic commercial proposition, nor be attractive to a wide audience if it involves going backwards to crude RC technology.

It needs something that at least retains the more advanced capabilities of DCC (including bi-directional comms), or preferably a more up-to-date 2-way data protocol (e.g. along the lines of something like RailPro).

 

Unfortunately, using crude RC equipment is just the electronic version of going back to clockwork.

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There are some very attractive advantages from going wireless, but it cannot be a realistic commercial proposition, nor be attractive to a wide audience if it involves going backwards to crude RC technology.

It needs something that at least retains the more advanced capabilities of DCC (including bi-directional comms), or preferably a more up-to-date 2-way data protocol (e.g. along the lines of something like RailPro).

 

Unfortunately, using crude RC equipment is just the electronic version of going back to clockwork.

 

Again, I have to disagree,

DCC works by sending a constant stream of data through the rails to an "addressed" decoder and the decoder sends data back the same way. With wireless technology the only difference is, that the rails have been replaced by a radio signal.

Think of your Broadband routers wifi capability, that sends a constant two way stream of data between the router and the pc/laptop/tablet/smart phone etc.

The idea of a radio controlled loco is no different, it is to all intense and purposes, DCC without the rails and power via a battery rather than through the rails. The only thing the rails should do, is guide the train.

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Stuart, we are in agreement then about the type of wireless technology that should be employed.

There are many who are thinking about older, much cruder forms of R/C.

 

As you probably are aware, such kit is already available, or shortly to be so, albeit predominately for the larger gauges.

What is missing though, is a bi-directional, or network data type system.

There are still costs to be incurred though and it won't be a cheap option, even if popularised by a well known DCC brand.

Edited by Ron Ron Ron
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When a different control system is introduced, there has to be a basic starting point. DCC did not start at the level it is today, and basic systems remain available for those who want them. The overall impression I get from this thread is that R/C would be unacceptable if it does not do everything immediately. There also seems uncertainty if the products are already available or not and at what cost.

 

It is probably a safe bet that many people who are considering R/C want independent loco control, anywhere on the layout, no track or wheel cleaning and no layout wiring, and are not the least bit bothered about lights, whistles, sound, let alone bi-directional comms and 2-way protocol. I for one do not even know what the last two mean,let alone what they do or how they enhance the enjoyment of my models. Equally, when I look at R/C equipment on the net, I cannot understand if it will do what I want it to do or not.

 

Even though the basic equipment may all be available at a reasonable price, the problem may be the lack of dedicated railway package as a starting point. By this I mean, from what little I can understand, current car/aeroplane/ boat systems seem to be one transmitter controlling one receiver in one model doing a number of different things. A basic railway system would be one transmitter controlling several receivers each in its own loco, each of which has to simply accelerate and decelerate forwards and backwards. I would like a 2.4GHz R/C railway one day, but I still cannot work out if it can be done.

 

In the meantime, the 0-gauge industrial shunting layout I am building is controlled by the Lego "Power Functions" infra red system.  Though it only has 7 speed steps in each direction, it controls 8 locos independently. From the lego online shop, the transmitter (8879) costs £10.99 and a combined receiver and speed controller costs £11.49, all plus P&P.

 

http://search2.lego.com/?q=power+functions&lang=2057&cc=UK

 

If one day a 2.4GHz R/C railway package is provided which can do what Power Functions does (with more speed steps!),  I feel we will start to see R/C in model railways. A lot of young people come to this hobby via a basic starter train set. We saw them for DCC, so why not the equivalent for R/C?

 

As for Power Functions "going back to clockwork", well, yes, they are both unaffected by a bit of dirt on the track, but on the whole, I disagree .........you try getting a new clockwork loco that cheap!

Edited by Tiptonian
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Tiptonian said

"It is probably a safe bet that many people who are considering R/C want independent loco control, anywhere on the layout, no track or wheel cleaning and no layout wiring, and are not the least bit bothered about lights, whistles, sound, let alone bi-directional comms and 2-way protocol. I for one do not even know what the last two mean,let alone what they do or how they enhance the enjoyment of my models. Equally, when I look at R/C equipment on the net, I cannot understand if it will do what I want it to do or not."

 

I would expect a battery powered/RC layout to work just like a dcc layout does now, except all the instructions are being supplied to each loco via the radio link rather than through the rails, so all the bells and whistles that are available with dcc would still be available with a battery powered/RC loco.

Power from the battery, control from the RC.

 

bi-directional comms and 2-way protocol.

Means that there is a two way communication between the controller and the loco;

bi-directional means both ways and 2-way protocol means two radio channels one for sending data in one direction and the other for sending data in the opposite direction.

 

The hand held wifi dcc controllers we have today could be used, with a rewrite of the software

All that is required is an on-board rechargeable battery in the loco or in the case of nguage the loco chassis being replaced with a rechargeable battery and a suitable decoder with a radio receiver/transmitter.

Non of this is beyond the manufactures ability and the fact that we still continue to collect current through the rails in 2013 is akin to a payphone to make a phone call when everyone else is using a mobile or smart phone.

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That transformer is absolutely brilliant!

 

Personally, I think that it's quite inevitable that RC will eventually take a very significant proportion of the market. It's only logical that we will do away with the weak link of the track as a means of power conduction and data transmission.

Already sophisticated 4ch receivers are smaller and as cheap as their DCC counterparts (the receivers I use in my lorries are 10mm x 10mm and cost £28)

 

It may not be to everyone's taste, and of course many people may choose not to go down the RC route - but that is not to deny its present and potential practicality.

 

A reminder... http://www.deltang.co.uk./video.htm

 

This manufacturer also hooks his receivers up to DCC sound chips to enable full sound capability.......

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Giles, I'm not sure why you seem to be impressed with that sort of relatively primitive RC technology with, to be quite frank, a rubbish user interface?

 

Completely wireless operation is already commercially available in a more sophisticated form using modern wireless data technologies.

There are also examples using multi-way data transmission and user interfaces more suited to model railway use.

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Well,

a. perhaps I'm easily impressed (-:

And

b. I wasn't limiting my comments to how things are now..... You'll notice I did say 'will eventually'.... Of course these things will improve.... By leaps and bounds.... Just like DC and DCC have - it would be naive to think anything else!

 

I have already experienced significant advances in RC in 18 months and I'm ignorant in these matters!

 

Like or not, RC already has attributes that some people value. There is a very interesting thread on Freerails on the subject that you may have already read.

Edited by Giles
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Thank you, Stuart, for the definitions. I think I need a duffers guide though, as I cannot figure out why two-way communiction is needed to simply control the speed and direction of a train.

 

I did once upon a time go to a shop which sold R/C and model railways, thinking they would be best qualified to advise. After a series of grunts, they offered me a transmitter, receiver and speed controller, total cost £420 for one loco. On further pressing, it wasn't even 2.4Ghz, ("we only have the transmitters"), and he couldn't understand me wanting to control more than one receiver/ speed controller from one transmitter, even though the shop sold model railways! That was my cue to leave. During more recent quests for knowledge (the net), I have just become confused by the tech and jargon.

 

So my basic question remains, can I buy a 2.4Ghz transmitter that will control four separate receivers/speed controllers, (i.e., locos),  one at a time, without needing an on/off switch on each loco?

 

While I appreciate the desire for sophistication, 12v DC didn't start with inertia or electronic feedback control, and DCC didn't start with plug-in chips and "stay alive", so even though it may be crude, commercial model railway R/C will probably start with simple direction and speed control, and a 2-loco starter set, similar to what Bachmann did with DCC. Once that hurdle is cleared, I feel it will advance very rapidly indeed. 

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If you look at the bottom of this page

 

http://www.deltang.co.uk/

 

You'll see a 'transmitter' for controlling three locos simultaneously - including inertia. I recollect that some conventional 2.4GHz transmitters can 'bind' to multiple receivers (locos) whereupon you could then select them sequentially..... But you'd best ask David T. from DelTang about that. He's extremely helpful.

 

My RC experience has been limited to the 1:43 lorries, thus far.

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Thank you, Stuart, for the definitions. I think I need a duffers guide though, as I cannot figure out why two-way communiction is needed to simply control the speed and direction of a train.

 

I did once upon a time go to a shop which sold R/C and model railways, thinking they would be best qualified to advise. After a series of grunts, they offered me a transmitter, receiver and speed controller, total cost £420 for one loco. On further pressing, it wasn't even 2.4Ghz, ("we only have the transmitters"), and he couldn't understand me wanting to control more than one receiver/ speed controller from one transmitter, even though the shop sold model railways! That was my cue to leave. During more recent quests for knowledge (the net), I have just become confused by the tech and jargon.

 

So my basic question remains, can I buy a 2.4Ghz transmitter that will control four separate receivers/speed controllers, (i.e., locos),  one at a time, without needing an on/off switch on each loco?

 

While I appreciate the desire for sophistication, 12v DC didn't start with inertia or electronic feedback control, and DCC didn't start with plug-in chips and "stay alive", so even though it may be crude, commercial model railway R/C will probably start with simple direction and speed control, and a 2-loco starter set, similar to what Bachmann did with DCC. Once that hurdle is cleared, I feel it will advance very rapidly indeed. 

Two way communication between the controller and the loco is not 'needed' if you just want to make a locomotive move in either direction, speed up or slow down, but if you want feedback from the loco, then two way communication is recommended. DCC works by pulsing current to the motor for a % of a second, eg: a 50% pulse = half power, a 100% pulse =full power. When the motor is not being pulsed it acts a a generator and creates current, the decoder can measure this current and adjust its speed accordingly, it can also send this information back to the controller.

 

Regards the controlling four locos question, this is a matter of software, just like DCC can control 999 locos by giving each one a unique address, you would need a system that does the same.

Just think DCC but instead of the control commands going through the rails, they would be going via a radio signal instead.

 

The changeover from control by rail to control by radio just requires an upgrade of controllers and decoders that have the wireless hardware/software built in and, rechargeable battery in the loco.

In the case of older 00 locos a battery and rc receiver could be wired into the loco just like people convert older locos to DCC at the moment.

Ngauge (my preferred gauge) would be a bit harder and this is where I see the chassis becoming the battery.

 

This is the future and, I think your right, once it hits the shelf's it would sell like hot cakes, as long as it was priced right. All other forms of control would be obsolete pretty quickly imho

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So my basic question remains, can I buy a 2.4Ghz transmitter that will control four separate receivers/speed controllers, (i.e., locos),  one at a time, without needing an on/off switch on each loco?

With modern wireless technology, you could run lots of locos all at the same time using one control device.

Not only that, but several operators could all join in using their own controllers to operate other locos.

There are no channels to select.

 

For example, the S-Cab system allows up to 8 controllers, each running up to 15 locos each.

The NCE GWire can have up to 4 locos in the recall stack, from up to 9999 loco addresses.

RailPro, which uses wireless for data transmission, but still takes power (full voltage) from the track, can accept more than 40 controllers, each running up to 12 locos at a time (out of 9999).

Of course it is easy to simply select or deselect other locos immediately (in most cases from a list of up to 9999 locos).

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Thank you gentlemen for spelling it all out in language I can understand! The DT equipment looks excellent and a very reasonable price, together with a little flexibility for accessories; in fact the dedicated railway package to which I earlier refered.

 

Unless I am very much mistaken, few people who have not looked in depth into radio control will have heard of this equipment. There may be people who, if they saw an article or advert for this range in the model railway press, will consider it just what they want. True, it does not have the styling of Spektrums etc. which may be desirable to add to the popular appeal of a train set, but the retrofit buyer will probably be less concerned in that aspect. It needs a collaboration between DT and a forward-thinking model manufacturer to put a starter set together, and who knows? 

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.....t needs a collaboration between DT and a forward-thinking model manufacturer to put a starter set together, and who knows? 

 

(Sorry to say this), ........ not really, because it is crude, dated and frankly rubbish.

Edited by Ron Ron Ron
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(Sorry to say this), ........ not really, because it is crude, dated and frankly rubbish.

 

 

In technological terms, you, being experienced in the field, are probably right on the first two, but as no other manufacturer makes a dedicated model railway r/c system, I think the third is harsh. DT has spent money and put its toe in the water, and it is more than likely perfectly good at the starter level. Those interested in this thread would like to see r/c available from an exhibition stall as a system the same as DC and DCC is today. We will probably have to agree to disagree on this, but I feel this is unlikely to happen if the start is at the pinnacle of the technology. The cost alone would put people off. Starter sets are a necessity.

One great beauty of r/c, and infrared for that matter, is there are no compatibility issues, forward or backward (we have had so many of these with track powered model railways). When one wishes to progress, none of the old stuff has to be converted or scrapped, simply added to.

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(Sorry to say this), ........ and frankly rubbish.

I'm sorry to see good honest equipment, that is reliable and 'does what it says on the packet' labeled in this way..... You may perceive it as such, from your expert view point - but there are many, with a great deal more knowledge than myself that do appear to hold this stuff in much higher regard. Non-the-less, given that the range is constantly developing and improving, as a matter of principle, it should be encouraged rather than damned, unless you are specifically an unhappy customer.

 

I am a customer, and although my application has been in the two lorries used on The End of The Line, rather than in locos, I have found the equipment excellent, and the service first class.

 

There will always be people who prefer DCC and it's future progressions, and there will always be people who want the attributes that RC offers

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The R/C technology is no problem, there is an 8mm sq IC which is a complete computer on a single chip including RF transciever and USB (and more). Batteries could stand to be smaller. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination, not the hardware or software. It took me literally a weekend to put together a prototype using hobbyist components and perhaps 200 lines of code to drive a v12 motor in a loco controlled by software on a PC via RF. It really isn't difficult. Sure the UI is nothing to write home about but implementing a gateway which understands the iThrottle protocol doesn't look like rocket science.

 

The big problem I see is competing systems using different protocols between the controller and loco modules, so investment in those that don't make it is, if not wasted, not useful after a standard is arrived at, at which point you have to stick with what you have which might be out of production, or re-invest in the standard system. This is a disincentive for manufacturers and customers.

 

At least some people are giving it a go. I am staggered anyone thinks power through the rails is a good idea these days, but it's going to cost a lot of people a lot of money to make it change. DCC took off eventually, I'm sure this will too. I think DCC decoders are an excellent choice for a gateway system, where the RF module drives the DCC decoder. This limits the RF module software to sending and receiving RF info and translating to DCC commands, which must be easier than replicating all the existing, debugged, paid for DCC features.

 

Regards,

David.

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