Dead Rail Society

Discussion in 'Other Electronic Interfaces' started by SMR CHRIS, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Ooooo that title sounds a little Dark could even be a Movie Title.

    Dead Rail it’s the term used for running our models without power from the rails it gets kicked around as being the next great thing in Model Railways however it’s just another way to run you trains.
    For me having started to play trains out in the Garden the question of how to keep the track nice and clean for electrical pickup via the loco wheels comes along.
    With the nasties of bad weather, garden debris and little garden dwelling creatures comes along Dirty Track at a far quicker rate than a indoor model railway.
    One way of tackling this is go Dead rail and forget having to clean the rails to a nice shine.
    Going Dead Rail also introduces the need for some form of control that is also not conducting its business by the rail to wheel contact ie wireless “Radio” or “Bluetooth” are both now commonly in use plus some form of power supply that’s not a wind up spring:giggle:On board battery’s

    In this new topic I will out line the System I have chosen to use for my Dead Rail And I encourage anyone else who has tried or uses Dead Rail in whatever scale your modelling in to also post here about your experience and system used.

    So as an intro to the control system i have chosen it is called Revolution Train Engineer 2.4 and consist of a Transmitter hand set with a onboard Receiver, for power onboard battery’s are used to supply the jumpin electrons that motivate the locos movement.:avatar:
    The Scale of the Models are 1:20.3 Scale on 45mm Gauge track
    Below is a link to a video of some of my models running out in the Great Outdoors.

     
  2. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Revolution hand set and receiver
    The hand set allows programming of the loco’s running much the same way DCC dose with voltage start values
    Speed curves top speeds function buttons that turn on sounds or other options
    The current revolution receiver seen on the right of the photo come with a built in generic sound for Steam or Diesel as a bonus.

    Loco No40 a model of a Rio Grande C19 Class 2-8-0 that ran on the 3foot Narrow Gauge System
    Is the loco you will see in the description of the Dead Rail set up

     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  3. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    So what’s inside that makes No40 work out of the box via track power, lots more than the average OO model that’s for sure
    The tender has an interface circuit board called a NPB Non Propriety Board that has lots of connections and solder pads for other loco operating options, plus 3 switches for, 1 selecting track or Battery power, 2 seclecting between NMRA or large scale standard for rail pick up polarity and 3 a motor isolation switch on/off
    Also in the tender is a Speaker and a Cooling fan for the electronics.

    Inside the loco is also a circuit board another cooling fan this time set up over the motor and a smoke unit plus connections for the lights
     
  4. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    To go Dead Rail and RC
    I needed some form of battery on board to supply the power for the RC electronics and the motivation for the motor, basics a “Battery” power storage device
    There are so many battery options now that it can be confusing and then there is the specific and specialised charging systems for some of the battery systems these can get quite expensive and one battery system I came across whilst it would have been the perfect combination of small size with big power the price was more than than the cost of my model, to set it up a base system.
    It was a stroke of luck the the local Aldi store had there power tools on sale a couple of weeks before I needed a battery system and as happens the left over stock cascades to the bargain bin and what I found was a 20volt battery pack and electronic charging system with LiIon battery’s in the pack
    When I saw this I thought well it was worth a go at the price to get and pull it apart to see what was inside
    What was inside was was a set of 6 or 12 batteries depending if it was the 2 or 4 amp hour set monted on top of this pack was a electrical board with a charge remaining indicator in a % 0-100 displayed on a LED output.
    This looked promising the large scale electronics are designed to run up to 20+ volts, in most cases the motors are rated at 24volt etc plus if needed I could modify the battery and take power off at different voltage levels as required and best of all it was cheap so if it didn’t work would have been just a learning experience and not out $100’s of Dollars
    The C19 has a lot of electronics a great big pitman motor so I decided to use the 4amp hour pack.
    The strip down of the battery pack was just a matter of removing some screws and unsoldering the electronics from the battery assy and with the peices laid out it was a matter of coming up with a idea of how to best use the system then I though why not make a plug in connection between the battery pack in the model and the charger as it was the easiest, but then I would loose the charge level display :scratchchin: that indicator could be handy for seeing how long a charge would go, plus if I was going to be using the model the next day, did I need to charge the battery before taking it for a run in the garden.
    The answer I came up with was to reassemble the battery pack with the electronics less battery’s and install a tethered cable that could plug into the battery mounted in the model this could also be used to charge the battery the best bit was the system now connected to the charge station without having any other modifications

    Charging system

    Adding the battery to the locos tender was also nice and easy I had already decided to remove the speaker from the tender (a steam loco always sounds better when the sound comes from the right spot) and fit a speaker in the smoke box, the tender also had a large amount of weight in the form of steal plates surrounding the speaker
    This was more than the weight of the battery’s so it was a fair trade

    Steal plates from the tender.

    Speaker mounted in the Smoke box right under the chimney

    The Battery was then Mounted under the tender electronics the manufacturer must anticipate this as they supply a set of extra long stand offs for mounting the board has high as possible and still be able to install the tender top and clear the coal load

    Inside the tender with the battery pack installed

    The circuit board has a input on the board for the battery power to be injected
    With a screw terminal block it couldn’t be easier to do the manufacture has really put some thought into how these models would be used and catered for many options
    The Revolution RC receiver simply plugs straight into the plug set up on the board after removing the factory jumper board just like a DCC 8 or 21 pin plug it’s that simple
    Now to run it was a simple, Turn on the battery power switch turn on the transmitter press a link button on the Receiver and then do the same on the transmitter and it was operating with no track power in site.

    Circle in red ⭕️ Battery power in connection, yellow pairing link push button, blue RC receiver installed


    Bit of a long post more next time test running
     
  5. gormo

    gormo Staff Member Administrator

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    That`s great Chris.....:thumbs:,
    I`ve just recently made a comment on GCJ that I thought battery power was going to be the future.......even for OO/HO. I was watching a video demo of a HO loco that had been converted to battery and R/C. The guy took it off the tracks and ran it along the table to prove no rail power involved. It had sound and fine control like a DCC system and I was quite impressed. The system or battery gave about 2 hrs. running before a re-charge was required.
    Good one Chris...:thumbs::thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:
    :tophat:Gormo
     
  6. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks Gormo
    It’s been a bit of a learning curve going RC plus Dead Rail, more on the research side of things than the actually doing, the doing bit was easy once the decision on the system was made.

    As for time of run I have got to 6 hours now without having to recharge the battery indicator shows 83% remaining at the moment so guessing up to 8 hours will be possible with out loosing too much performance.
    I’m guessing at about 12-14 volts remaining the speed variation from full charge of 20 volt will be noticeable.

    There are so many options that you can go with, I spent a lot of time internet searching checking forums for what works best and the most suitable for out in the garden esp the range of the the transmitter receivers
    HO/OO has several options available as well from straight control of the motor to full DCC via radio control
    NCE dose a system as do CVP (Easy DCC) then there’s the Stanton Control system DC/DCC compatible.

    Next the choice of the New lithium battery’s wow I found about 100 options but the general consensus was these were a bit risky for failure especially when charging, with several reports of melted models due to battery failure (Fire) even when using the most expensive balanced charging units the consensus was it was important to remove them from the model and use a special charging enclosure.
    So I had already made the decision to go with Li-Iron before I found the Aldi battery’s and charger.

    Video of the First test run of No40 along a bit of track on the floor
     
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  7. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Now this is No40 out in a friends Garden running with sound on battery power with RC control

     
  8. gormo

    gormo Staff Member Administrator

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    Very nice Chris...:thumbs:
    How does the track go with UV.......does it last a good while..????
    :tophat:Gormo
     
  9. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks Gormo

    Re the track it seem to last a long time I have seen some bits that are well over 20+ years old, the plastic fades a little bit and the odd bit gets brittle but if not disturbed too much it is still serviceable.
     
  10. gormo

    gormo Staff Member Administrator

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    Wow !!!.....that`s surprising in this country...:scratchchin:

    :tophat:Gormo
     
  11. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes it is considering the age and UV stability wasn’t thought of as much 20-30 years ago, LGB track seems to be one of the best for longevity may have something to do with the European manufacturing to very high standards.
    Aristo-Craft or Rail express agency track is just about as good
     
  12. jakesdad13

    jakesdad13 Staff Member Moderator

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    I bought some Peco O gauge track a few years ago that had been outside for a few years and the only thing I noticed other than the slight fading, was the rail was a little loose in the chairs but not enough to be a problem.

    Cheer's, Pete.
     
  13. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Loco No40 had a run out in the garden again on a friends layout The “SPR”
    Here’s a link to a lap of the layout behind the loco filmed from the carriage veranda.

     
  14. Graeme

    Graeme Full Member

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    Good to see another G scale enthusiast posting on here.
    Bit about my locos.
    I run all my trains on "dead rail" and have since I started about 10 years ago.
    I use motor controllers/Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC) from HobbyKing (20A) and Pololu (robotics) controlled via 2.4GHz aircraft stick remote control transmitters and receivers (again HobbyKing).
    The HobbyKing ESCs are unidirectional so reverse is via a servo controlled DPDT toggle switch.
    The Pololu are bi directional and the centre neutral position is programmable using a PC and their free downloadable software.
    I have 2 LiPO graphene batteries from HobbyKing and have balanced chargers to charge them which prevents overcharging and ensures the cells are at the same charge.
    The Pololu ESCs have a low voltage cutoff setting plus I have audible low voltage alarms fitted to the balance leads when the batteries are installed in the locos.
    The rest of my batteries are NiMH that I made myself from individual tagged AA cells 2700mAHr capacity and are charged insitu.
    I charge the LiPO batteries in battery bags on a flame proof concrete area to be on the safe side but as I only charge at a rate of 1/10C ie one tenth of the rated capacity (5AHr charged at .5A) the risk is minimal. Most fires etc are from abusing the batteries mainly trying to fast charge them.
    I have installed Australian made "MyLocosound" cards into 2 locos (1:20.3 3 truck Shay and a 2-8-0 Consolidation) and recommend them.
    I use LEDs for lights and do not have any other features eg smoke.
     
  15. Sandbar

    Sandbar Full Member

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    Sounds like you had better come over and grab my old Aristocraft Revolution and reciever as I can't fit it into my locos.
    Andrew
    Sandbar & Mudcrab Railways
     
  16. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Hi Andrew I’ll have to look into the logistics of the old V New Revolution units is it that much bigger than the new one ???
    As the RC side with Revolution control in the Electrc Trains is all new for me, but I can’t see why they aren’t compatible, sounds like we may have to have a running session on the S&MR. Your down the south coast aren’t you.

    Hi Graeme
    Good to hear from you always interesting to know the other systems used to control for Dead Rail, it’s quite addictive once you start and knowing you don’t have any issues with pick up from the rails switch on and go.
    I was going to go with the Li-Po battery’s but have seen a couple of expensive models that have had issues with battery’s that put me off and your charging method described was the way everyone I spoke to advocated, safety bag, out side, sitting on concrete or a brick. A few have had battery’s go pop.

    I spent several hours on the Hobby king site trying to find a RX unit that had the specs that would work with the low output plus suitable for low speed with out much success, any chance you could post the part number or a link too the RX on the HK site.
     
  17. Sandbar

    Sandbar Full Member

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    Hello Chris, Graeme has inherited my Revolution gear to do with what he likes as he would have more use than myself.

    I was originally into garden railways with about 300 ft of line around the yard, in and out of my shed with sidings and even a bridge which is still in the yard over 6 metres long (double tracked).

    Graeme and Greg Hunter (Sandstone & Termite) had the hobbyking system and I installed it into my locos. The difference was amazing with the smooth power available and no track cleaning. Simple to install and run. About $50 per loco cost. http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/satr/2point4GHz.htm

    I am now into a smaller guage as I can no longer be a "mountain goat" to climb around the uneven ground with taking a tumble. My land is steep, when I look out of my shed window I see over the top of the roof of my house below.

    I started with ON30 in mind using the plan of Thunder Mesa [http://thundermesaminingco.blogspot.com.au/search/label/track plans] with a later addition of a 18 foot addition down one side.

    Now I enjoy ho/oo guage running NCE dcc powercab. I would like to go deadrail but cost and ease of converting are putting me off at the moment.

    Graeme has a great layout of garden rail, so you are welcome down this way at any time. Bomaderry is across the Shoalhaven River from Nowra.
    Regards Andrew
     
  18. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Hi Andrew
    Thanks for the update re the S&T
    It’s been a while since I had visited your web site I did sepnd hours one day going through the pages and watching the videos great stuff.
    I to am a Rubber Gauge Modellers stretching between several scales and enjoying them all, concentrated on O fine scale NSWGR with everything between from Z to 5inch Gauge featured. Yet to build out in the garden yet hopeful on a house move soon then will start on the Garden Railway, no point on starting then pulling back up, so I currently enjoy running on friends garden railways. This was part of the reason for going Dead Rail as I can run any where regardless of the style of control used by the railway.
     
  19. Graeme

    Graeme Full Member

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    My layout is earmarked for dismantling in preparation for a move to Bundaberg in about 15 months time.
    The new layout will use all the old layout plus a fair amount of Andrews old layout plus another 40+ metres of track.
    Going to have an indoor part for storage and rainy days made from Andrews layout (code 250) connecting to an elevated part which will have the old layout track plus the new 40M (code 332).
    The indoor part has to be squeezed into a 4.5x6M shed, the small one on the left, and the outdoor will run through the roller door via a lift up bridge.


    P1040829.jpg

    P1040833.jpg

    P1040834.jpg

    P1040377.jpg
     
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  20. SMR CHRIS

    SMR CHRIS Staff Member Moderator

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    Graeme best of luck with the Move and will look out for the layout updates as you rebuild looks like a nice shed you are moving into.
    We looked at a couple more houses this week with no success on finding the right one until then I’m postponing the out side Railway I don’t think it’s worth doing all the work then having to pull up and start again.
    So until then I’m content running on friends layouts.
     
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