First, thanks for sharing. This has really inspired me to take that first step into battery power. I think I have a good understanding of your conversion but would welcome any comments on my understanding below? My first target is an MTH Diesel engine so assume all the statement below are for an MTH engine with PS3 or PS2 with optional DCC.
- Battery power is targeted toward providing between 14-18volts DC, the more mAH, the longer the engine will run on one charge. CORRECT. I have used 11.1v (3 cells) without a problem but like 14.8v (4 cells) better. I see plenty of speed and run time with 4 cells and see no reason to jump to 18.5v (5 cells). That would just be overkill.
- Follow all recommendation and precautions for battery charging and storage TRUE. My setup is temporary using RC Lipo batteries. I have been doing a lot of research and will be installing Lithium Ion batteries with PCB protection. These are safer than RC Lipo's and can support a permanent install with power switch and charging jack. They also do not require balancing like Lipo's do.
- The battery is connected as input put to the BlueRail 5amp board with the output of the board becoming the power input to the engine and DCS board in DCC mode. CORRECT
- If this above is correct, then it should be possible to add a switch for the power source, i.e. battery or 3rd rail, enabling the engine to be run either from battery power or track power; Battery w/DCC and Track w/DCS. Isolation of the power source is critical to not send unintended power to the battery, with a good practice being to disconnect or remove battery if running with rail power. I will be installing a switch to turn battery power on/off. I suppose you could use the existing 2 Rail / 3 Rail switch on the engine and the existing wires to toggle between Battery and Track Power. In the beginning I lamented with "restoring the engine to original configuration" someday. I'm over that now. I love battery power. I'm only keeping track power for existing engines until they die and/or are converted. My battery trains run so smoothly.
- All DCC functions are available via DCC using Battery power that are listed in BOTH MTH's DCC command list AND BlueRails DCC command lists. If not in both lists, it will not be available. From what I have seen in the manual, there are 29 MTH DCC functions (F0-F28). The BlueRail App has 28 functions (F1-F28). However in MTH, F0 is the Headlight. The Bluerail app does not have F0 but it does have a button for the headlight. So all functions are supported. Maybe I'm a simpleton, but I have not found a function yet in DCS that I could not also do in DCC.
- You use BlueRails command system or App to control the engine in battery power. YES. Simple and FUN.
- Have you attempted to MU two battery power engines and can you share your experience? YES... Video coming soon but I just did my 2nd F7 to make an ABBA. They run great. The Consisting function works really well to speed match your trains. I considered one battery/BlueRail card in a single B unit to run both powered A's. But the current fluctuations under load appeared too high... 7 amps. I did not want to damage anything so I decided on one battery and BlueRail board per engine. So, now I can run independently or as a Consist.
Thanks in advance.
Here is a sneak peak. Still waiting on my Li Ion batts to arrive, so the temporary Lipo's will have to do for now. I left the 2 B's uncoupled to show how well the speed matching works. I love it. I'm all in.
I have 18 MTH engines and am not worried one bit about the company or technology going away or becoming obsolete. If these PS3 boards fail and cannot be repaired economically by GRJ or GGG, then I can pick up a DCC sound decoder for under $100 to work with the BlueRail board and I'm back in business.