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Protocab


DavidLong
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in practice the run line would be a good bit less as Nimh discharge is not linear, and varies also with discharge rate .

 

OK, so at the 1C rate we can assume a flat 1.2V output discharged to 80% capacity (from Energizer NiMH application data). When boosted to 12V that still gives a constant 400mA discharge for 48 minutes, considerably more with typical loco driving characteristics.

 

I am not  talking Hornby Dublo here, it would need to be a modern model with an efficient motor.

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Batteries are suitable for 00 scale. I am commissioning a radio controlled Bachmann 4MT 2-6-0 and today hauling a 25 wagon freight at a scale 30mph the 160mAh test battery

lasted 43minutes and 51 seconds before the receiver low voltage protection circuits cut the power. The battery was a single cell lipo delivering a nominal 3.7V to a voltage regulator that boosted the output to 9V. The loco can haul 8 coaches at scale 55mph using 9V. There is room in the tender for bigger batteries.

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For the battery discussion, you may want to refer to the Protocab website newsletters - he seems to have sourced an even smaller battery for the same output, and if charging on the move becomes practical, then battery duration becomes less relevant.

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Batteries are suitable for 00 scale. I am commissioning a radio controlled Bachmann 4MT 2-6-0 and today hauling a 25 wagon freight at a scale 30mph the 160mAh test battery

lasted 43minutes and 51 seconds before the receiver low voltage protection circuits cut the power. The battery was a single cell lipo delivering a nominal 3.7V to a voltage regulator that boosted the output to 9V. The loco can haul 8 coaches at scale 55mph using 9V. There is room in the tender for bigger batteries.

 

Thank you for the real world confirmation and refutation of the nay-sayers :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been using battery powered 00 locos in the garden for 20 plus years and there is a huge difference between the pairs or quadruple NiMH 2650 mAh 1.45 volt cells I use in my remotored Lima diesels  and the 160 mAh 9 volt cell used in the Bachmann 4MT

I actually needed 6 X NiCad 1.45 volt cells to run a standard Lima class 37 at a scale 45 mph, however I don't know how long they run on a charge, I must check some time. 

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...if charging on the move becomes practical, then battery duration becomes less relevant.

 I have posted this elsewhere: the excerpt above is a real necessity for general model railway application. The business that gets this right is the likely winner in wireless control.

 

The ideal solution is frequent recharging from (plain) track, for the significant benefits this brings:

Physically small battery for a few minutes run time only, essential for OO and smaller if a realistic range of equipped traction is to be offered. (It's the small stuff that potentially benefits most from independence from the necessity of continuous track supply.)

Recharging from the rails means no necessity to regularly handle the model which is when damage occurs. Nothing has to be done to keep charge topped up, so:

Everything ready to go from the moment the user switches on the system and picks up the controller. (That's been the de-facto standard since electric model railway started; I am not going backwards, and I doubt many others would care to either.)

Potential for full integration with existing track power systems and thus an easy entry for new adopters. (Most railway modellers are 'established', they have kit in use, and it is a conservative hobby.)

Construction of any future layout is simplified if the system is fully adopted, just wire power to plain track sections. All point work can be electrically dead, a major simplification. (Track power from the nearest live plain track can be used to supply the point motors, with a  decoder - potentially wireless - operating the motor.)

 

The simple fact is that for all folks bruit about the wondrous world of completely wireless by inductive recharging, thus no need to clean the rails and wheels, this simply isn't true. The track will still have to be carefully laid if it is to be mechanically reliable, wheels and running gear still have to be made to a matching standard. And dirt will still accumulate with no power on the rails; fail to clean running surfaces on rails and tyres, and the stock will derail. Might as well make use of the rails and wheels, with the considerable simplification of only needing power on the plain track, and possibly not that much plain track either, depending on the size of rechargeable battery chosen.

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The great thing about battery power is that you just switch on and the train goes. The reality is for DC and even more so DCC if you use track power you have to clean the track. I merely have to clear the twigs and debris off before running battery locos. Mine don't have the R/C refinements (yet) but there is something about the way a battery loco glides smoothly over awkward pointwork where the track power version stutters and the relentless way the plough on even when completely off the track. Or when the track is covered with snow, or flooded, or covered with a landslide...

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The great thing about battery power is that you just switch on and the train goes...

 Provided the battery has charge, adequate for the operating session. I want that 'automatically' with no maintenance, and believe this is necessary for any such system to win it widespread adoption.

 

The great thing about electric railway with track power is you just throw a switch and it runs for so long as the power is on. Not going backwards on that one!

 

The prospect of the option of recharging a battery from the plain track rails is that you get multiple benefits: always ready to go at power on,  a much smaller battery is required, no handling  or special action required for charging. And it is not necessarily the only option, as it in no way precludes choices such as inductive charging, or plugging in a recharger, or removing batteries for off vehicle charging. But I don't want any of those!

 

The reality is for DC and even more so DCC if you use track power you have to clean the track...

We have to clean the track, but it's actually less demanding for DCC than DC; don't have a definite explanation, but am sure of this effect. And we would still have to clean track and wheel tyres in small scales even if the rails are not part of the power supply, simply for adequate running reliability. Unpowered non-collecting wheelsets are where the tyre crud collects on my OO DCC set up. Don't see that changing if the locos were battery powered, the physical operating environment remains the same.

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I have posted this elsewhere: the excerpt above is a real necessity for general model railway application. The business that gets this right is the likely winner in wireless control.

 

The ideal solution is frequent recharging from (plain) track, for the significant benefits this brings:

Physically small battery for a few minutes run time only, essential for OO and smaller if a realistic range of equipped traction is to be offered. (It's the small stuff that potentially benefits most from independence from the necessity of continuous track supply.)

Recharging from the rails means no necessity to regularly handle the model which is when damage occurs. Nothing has to be done to keep charge topped up, so:

Everything ready to go from the moment the user switches on the system and picks up the controller. (That's been the de-facto standard since electric model railway started; I am not going backwards, and I doubt many others would care to either.)

Potential for full integration with existing track power systems and thus an easy entry for new adopters. (Most railway modellers are 'established', they have kit in use, and it is a conservative hobby.)

Construction of any future layout is simplified if the system is fully adopted, just wire power to plain track sections. All point work can be electrically dead, a major simplification. (Track power from the nearest live plain track can be used to supply the point motors, with a  decoder - potentially wireless - operating the motor.)

 

 One of the major attractions of battery power is to do away with bits of wire rubbing on wheels and acting as brakes. Also since the batteries are rated at either 3-4v (or double that for twin cell batteries) designers/modellers will have a much wider range of motors avail be to them, and not the products of just one company.

 

 

The simple fact is that for all folks bruit about the wondrous world of completely wireless by inductive recharging, thus no need to clean the rails and wheels, this simply isn't true. The track will still have to be carefully laid if it is to be mechanically reliable, wheels and running gear still have to be made to a matching standard. And dirt will still accumulate with no power on the rails; fail to clean running surfaces on rails and tyres, and the stock will derail. Might as well make use of the rails and wheels, with the considerable simplification of only needing power on the plain track, and possibly not that much plain track either, depending on the size of rechargeable battery chosen.

 

There are many people who they rarely need to clean their track, but then they invariably use steel rail.

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 One of the major attractions of battery power is to do away with bits of wire rubbing on wheels and acting as brakes.

 For battery recharge from the rails, you don't need much pick up, off the driven wheels alone will be quite sufficient. Wipers on wheel backs work perfectly in this location with no drag problem worth bothering about, as the motor has ample torque to directly overcome the small drag.

 

For those who want other forms of recharging, having the option of recharge from the rails does not preclude these alternatives. My preference though will always be for recharge from the rails, simply for the hands-off, 'no need to think about it' convenience aspects.

 

 

...There are many people who rarely need to clean their track, but then they invariably use steel rail.

 Many they may be, but their numbers are insignificant compared to the market comprising nickel-silver rail users.

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Could have had my Protocab order today but as I am in Aberdeen till Tuesday - for the Aberdeen Model Railway Show, and work - keenly anticipate delivery next Wednesday

Jim P

 

We will of course be very interested in your experience with it.

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They have a Facebook page which is active  - and they are currently despatching pre orders, so perhaps it is going to be updated but are too busy ATM. AFAIK it is a father and son operation so  it is probably a case of one job at a time.

thanks, I can see the logic of that

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  • 4 months later...

Ron Ron Ron wrote, earlier on...

 

"" I rather suspect the practical reality of battery powered model trains, gives it very limited appeal.
How many people would relish the prospect of going to their layout to play trains, only to find they'd have to put them on charge for an hour or two first; especially in the evening after work, or in a limited time frame?""

 

Really? If people were incapable of getting into the simple habit of plugging a loco in to re-charge after a operating session, cell phones would never have caught on, I think.

 

Jim

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I have been running on board battery powered 00 scale locos in the garden for 20 plus years and apart from my earliest experiments recharging locos has never been a problem. 

 

My locos are all diesels and the biggest difference between battery and track power is the way the battery locos plough relentlessly over even the roughest trackwork, no hint of hesitation whether they are in the goods yard, on the main line or on the kitchen floor.  Nothing track powered comes close.  

 

Added to this you can follow the loco with the controller, no leads to trip over, no busbars.  Brilliant!   

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I really want this to succeed, to the stage where I can insert the batteries and wotsits into a 00 loco, using all my nine thumbs. I think it is still for the 0 gauge fraternity and the few heroic pathfinders in 00, like you, who will help get it to that stage.

 

What will help considerably is a wealth of "how I did it" 00 examples on Protocab's website, for as many classes of loco as can be done eventually. There is/are (?) a paucity right now, which is only to be expected at this stage.

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It seems to me that as '34th........andd' says charging from the track is the easy option. Not all track would even need to be powered. Forget about points, reversing loops, track in tunnels...just power the straight, easy to access bits of track, and anywhere a loco stands. Platforms, sheds, sidings, all powered. Engines are not running continuously. Providing that their standing still time is on a powered a bit of track, and some of their running time as well, they should cope. With a bridge rectifier in the charging circuit it wouldn't matter which way round the dc supply was, or it could even be ac. Providing it was beefy enough and regulated this supply could feed anything around the layout, such as lighting, and save an awful lot of wiring.

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  • 10 months later...

I really want this to succeed, to the stage where I can insert the batteries and wotsits into a 00 loco, using all my nine thumbs. I think it is still for the 0 gauge fraternity and the few heroic pathfinders in 00, like you, who will help get it to that stage.

 

What will help considerably is a wealth of "how I did it" 00 examples on Protocab's website, for as many classes of loco as can be done eventually. There is/are (?) a paucity right now, which is only to be expected at this stage.

Thought I'd resurrect this thread after 10 months of inactivity. I spent an hour or so this morning browsing the Protocab site and getting very excited about the possibilities for me, a DC dinosaur unconvinced by DCC and looking to the future of control systems and hoping to avoid the black art of wiring. After considering purchasing a starter kit containing battery, loco control unit and charging jack, I watched the 'how to' video clips on converting your locos (Bachmann V2 and Class 25 shown in the videos) but I'm almost ashamed to say they put me off. I really think this technology is the future but it needs a few more years of development. At present most modellers who are quite happy to insert a chip in a DCC loco wouldn't have the inclination (or ability) to perform the necessary modifications to their loco fleet in order to fit the Protocab equipment within it. The videos mention the use of milling machines to take material from the chassis block - not strictly necessary but a time-saver in what would otherwise be a laborious task - which are not exactly standard modellers kit. The re-engineering of proprietary locos on order to fit the equipment is what, I suspect, puts many people off, myself included.

I am a huge fan of the idea and the concept; I really want it to work, but I think what is necessary, as others have suggested previously, is the facility to charge whilst on the track, and smaller batteries and LCUs. As for the Class 25 in the video, if the battery and a charging jack could be positioned underneath the motor/chassis block, ie in the fuel/water tanks, and if the LCU could be a simple swap over for the existing PCB, then I think that this technology should really take off, it deserves to.

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I received the latest newsletter (by email) from Protocab this morning.  Their new range looks extremely interesting to me, more provision for smaller locomotives such as tank locomotives, different options for recharging the locomotive batteries (contact-less option, and also, if I understood it correctly, the option of charging through the wheels, for instance, on a loco spur).  The new stuff also seems to let you have one train running round a continuous bit of the layout at constant speed while you do a bit of shunting with another loco, on the same controller.  Unfortunately, their website stopped working for me while I was browsing it.  (They might have been doing an update.)

 

At present, radio control is not a cheap option (although it has to be said that there are other firms doing stuff).  However, Protocab seem to be offering more facilities than they did before, and seem to be making things a bit easier for the radio-control novice.  Although radio control is probably beyond the reach of my pocket at the moment, I suspect that it will become the most significant way to control trains.   If I get a chance in the next few days I might take another peek at their website.

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