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@Dave Funk posted:

Are blue rail conversions able to run slowly and not slow down on grades and curves?

The DCC decoders have CV speed steps.  Mine are set at factory default and I'm happy with it.

1st engine is Atlas O, BlueRail, Tsunami TSU 2200 sound running on AC track power.

2nd Engine is MTH, BlueRail, MTH DCC running on a 11.1 LiIon battery.

3rd engine is an MTH running in DCS mode.  Obviously track power.  40 SMPH.  Just for reference.

The engines come up a grade, hit the curve and go down the grade.  The Atlas engine slows a little up the grade and speeds a little down.  The MTH engines are very close considering their difference.

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Ok I'm going all in then. I'm be getting a Tsunami2 2200 "Big Steam" version, a 5 amp Bluerail board with the external antenna and a basic 12V LiIon battery and charger from Amazon. If this all goes well, I'll probably invest in a 14.8V battery from MTO, but the price tag is a bit steep for a "try deadrail" experiment.

Worst case I'll just switch to AC track power. The battery pack I'm getting is large, but I measured the (Giant) tender and it should work.

I didn't opt for the big 4 amp Tsunami decoder, I just couldn't stomach almost a hundred dollars more. But the 2200 is rated for 2 amps, and I measured the stalled amps on my other big steam S1 with a similar motor at less than 2.

I'll start a new thread showing my progress, thanks for the advice you guys! Excited about getting into battery and remote!

20210402_23150720210402_23151020210402_23152320210402_231533

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I didn't opt for the big 4 amp Tsunami decoder, I just couldn't stomach almost a hundred dollars more. But the 2200 is rated for 2 amps, and I measured the stalled amps on my other big steam S1 with a similar motor at less than 2.

I have to ask how you measure stalled current!  That large Pittman for sure has a LOT more than 2 amps of current at a stall!  Here's a typical Pittman motor specification, this is one that I've used as a replacement and is very similar in size and specification to most of the ones used in O-gauge model steamers.

Note at 12V across the motor the stall current is over 14 amps!

Click on graphic to expand

___pittman

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@gunrunnerjohn: Maybe my method wasn't the best. I had my fluke connected between my transformer common post and the return that feeds my dad's layout. We let the big engine run straight up the incline (it won't make it around the 063 curves) and kept adding more cars until it didn't want to climb anymore with applying 12 or 13 volts. (it was a really long train, and we did this exercise for several different trains and got similar results for almost all of them except for an old PW AC motor that I modified to work with a PS1 board that took almost 5 amps) .

The motor in the S1 was a Pittman 9234 series like your chart shows:

Screenshot_20210403-122214_Photos

Maybe my configuration wasn't good, but I'm 90 percent sure I never saw above 2A. But now you've got me worried. I put some breakers in on each of my power districts (5A) and none of them ever popped even after several seconds of the loco sitting there, so I really don't think it could have been pulling 14A.

Is there that much of a difference between the AC amps going to the board and the resulting DC amps actually feeding the motor?

If the big motors can stall at 14A, then I assume that none of the Tsunami decoders could work with it? The 4400 lists 4 amps, I assume that means continuous but the Soundtrack user manual definitely says stall current:

Screenshot_20210403-123105_Chrome

..Did I order the decoder too early LOL...

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Stall current is stall current.  That means the motor has voltage applied and it's not rotating because it's stalled!  You were measuring current under load, that's a totally different kettle of fish.

Hmm, but I was watching as the loco was actually stalled on the hill and not moving (pulling a train that wrapped three quarters of the way around the layout) so if the loco wasn't moving and the wheels weren't slipping, I figured the motor was stalled.

Which brings me back to the question about the encoder... If the manufacturer says max 4 amp stall current, and these big steam can stall at 14 amps, then does that rule out the Tsunami for any of the big steam? Is there an encoder that can handle that kind of current?

Last edited by Jeff_the_Coaster_Guy

I have no idea what your test proved, but I suspect if the geartrain wasn't slipping then whatever electronics was driving was limiting it's current instead of cooking.

That's possible.  It's the engine that you helped me figure out the Proto-2 install for, does the PS2 card limit current to the motor?  And I'm guessing that the Tsunami DCC encoder does NOT limit motor current, or it's likely they wouldn't include an amp rating on?

Also, it's entirely possible that I didn't set the test up properly and was not generating good data.

Given the data above, would you guys be hesitant to install a 2A Tsunami2 2200?  Or even the 4amp 4400? It's not a cheap device and I don't feel like cooking it right off the bat, but I'm guessing that there's something about the specs that I'm misinterpreting since others have been putting  a Tsunami into O gauge engines with luck (like Ron has).

Jeff

Yeah, I'm definitely pressing pause and emailed Soundtraxx to see if they have any suggestions for that motor. But I may be out of their reach

Also makes me wonder about the Bluerail board itself, which is rated at 5 amps... Gotta go back and see if that's continuous or peak. It may just be that this big guy won't get DCC or battery at all.

Edit: checked the Bluerail specs, the 5 amp boards is rated for 3 amps continuous. Which I don't think it'd exceed, but if I lock up the engine I don't want to deal the BR board. I'm emailing them and will update with their response.

Last edited by Jeff_the_Coaster_Guy

Ok so you run your locomotive using battery power and you've ripped up the center rail.

How do you lite your AC passenger cars?   

How do you operate the AC accessories that are located trackside?

Do you only have AC power to your switches?

What track would you recommend that doesn't have the 3 rail to begin with but can handle our 3 rail wheel flanges?

Last edited by Allegheny
@Allegheny posted:

Ok so you run your locomotive using battery power and you've ripped up the center rail.

How do you lite your AC passenger cars?   

How do you operate the AC accessories that are located trackside?

Do you only have AC power to your switches?

What track would you recommend that doesn't have the 3 rail to begin with but can handle our 3 rail wheel flanges?

I still have 3 rail powered engines.  I have not ripped up anything yet.

But I know some deadrailers that use battery or tethers for LED passenger cars.

@gunrunnerjohn: I re-ran the test by hooking up directly to my KW transformer and connecting directly through a bridge into the DC inputs of the motor.

I started out at 8VAC to let the chassis cruise across the track for a "baseline"...got about 1.5 amps for this part.

Then I let it roll into a bumper and gradually I cranked the voltage up to 12VAC.  The wheels slipped and grabbed a bit, giving me around 3.5amps for that period, until they finally locked up and I was at full stall with around 4.5amps.

So My previous "ramp" test was obviously flawed, but even here I'm only peaking at 4.5 amps or so.  However, I realized that the equivalent DC Voltage is only around 0.7 times AC voltage (or something like that, for a full wave bridge), so maybe I need to re-run the test with 17 or 18VAC to really simulate 12VDC at the motor during stall.  I will do that later this evening, but I'm still thinking I wont get anywhere near 14 amps.

EDIT (Everything below): After brushing up a bit more, I'm pretty sure I got the AC-DC voltage conversion backwards.  Assuming the bridge as 1.4volt drop across the diodes, I believe the Vdc=1.4*(VAC-2*0.7). So to get around 12.8V DC to the motor leads, I should set my transformer 10.5V (subject to things like the actual forward voltage drop of the diodes being 0.7V, the efficiency of the bridge, etc.) 

But in the end, after all the calculations and assumptions, I realized that I *actually have a tool to measure the DC current and DC amps across the bridge legs!* (Duh!)

So I simply set my transformer to an AC voltage that resulted in measurement of 12.8VDC across the bridge.  Interestingly, this voltage was 14.9VAC, not the 10 or so I expected.

Then I measured the current across the DC leads of the bridge attached to the motor leads at stall.  And that current was right at 3 amps. 

So I'm fairly confident that I can make the 4amp Tsunami decoder work.

(YMMV!)

Original video trying to measure AC amps (wrong way):



Updated video measuring DC amps directly (the right way I think):

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Last edited by Jeff_the_Coaster_Guy
@Allegheny posted:

Thanks Ron,

What is the total cost for this system for one complete conversion A-Z from 3 rail AC to DC Battery power and control system?

As and example take any steamer like a scale sized Hudson.

It would be difficult to quote a cost that is consistent across the board.  There are many variables.

BlueRail board is a consistent cost as for now it's only available from one source.

Sound decoders are a big variable.  $50-$200 depending on brand, type, features. Or are you using the existing PS3 DCC decoder?  Then no cost.

Same with batteries.  Lots of types brands voltages and sizes.

Then there is the ancillary stuff.  Do you need a speaker or do you already have one?  Switch?  Charge jack?  Wire?

Don't forget the battery charger?  Do you already have one?  How many do you want if you plan to have multiple battery engines? Again all sorts of types too depending on the battery chemistry you select.

I've done 4 installs and each one was a different cost.

Ron

@Allegheny posted:

Ok so you run your locomotive using battery power and you've ripped up the center rail.

How do you lite your AC passenger cars?   

How do you operate the AC accessories that are located trackside?

Do you only have AC power to your switches?

What track would you recommend that doesn't have the 3 rail to begin with but can handle our 3 rail wheel flanges?

I'm using 3-rail wheels on code 148 2-rail track made by Atlas, Micro-Engineering, and Signature Switch.  So far ZERO derailments that weren't operator error.

Here's a circuit I have for using MTH batteries in GGD 3-rail passenger cars:

Passenger Car Battery Circuit

The existing switch and light strip were the ones that came with the GGD cars.  I hid the battery and voltage regulator inside the GGD underbody cluster piece where the on/off switch is located.  I have since removed them but it does work.  I removed them to tidy the circuit a bit and to make it easier to get to the battery jack for charging, which I have yet to do.

Problem with most of these PBRC conversions is you have to make provisions for charging and mounting of things like jacks and connectors.  I reused the 10-pin plug on the MTH steamers, but on my Williams brass engines I used both 10-pin and 4-pin, depending on what I had available.  If I used a MTH 10-pin plug on a Williams engine I had to Dremel a place to put it (enlarge the spot already there for the 4-pin plug).  What I'm saying is, at least on steamers, it's not a "pull the old system out and put the new system in" type of thing.  Not hard, simply something that had to be done.

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I'm using 3-rail wheels on code 148 2-rail track made by Atlas, Micro-Engineering, and Signature Switch.  So far ZERO derailments that weren't operator error.

Here's a circuit I have for using MTH batteries in GGD 3-rail passenger cars:

Passenger Car Battery Circuit

The existing switch and light strip were the ones that came with the GGD cars.  I hid the battery and voltage regulator inside the GGD underbody cluster piece where the on/off switch is located.  I have since removed them but it does work.  I removed them to tidy the circuit a bit and to make it easier to get to the battery jack for charging, which I have yet to do.

Problem with most of these PBRC conversions is you have to make provisions for charging and mounting of things like jacks and connectors.  I reused the 10-pin plug on the MTH steamers, but on my Williams brass engines I used both 10-pin and 4-pin, depending on what I had available.  If I used a MTH 10-pin plug on a Williams engine I had to Dremel a place to put it (enlarge the spot already there for the 4-pin plug).  What I'm saying is, at least on steamers, it's not a "pull the old system out and put the new system in" type of thing.  Not hard, simply something that had to be done.

Thank you very much Bob for your detailed explanation and neatly drawn sketch as it is greatly appreciated.

This helps a lot in answering my questions and concerns. 

From what I gather, converting an engine to BlueRail can be very expensive depending on what's needed.  But if the manufacturers were to make engines with this system built-in the pricing would be less and I can see many individuals going this route.   

Why would you want to fool around with all kinds of wiring, control systems and phasing of transformers, and dreadful electrical shorts that can kill wipe out your engines electronics if you don't have too? 

This system simplifies the hobby by removing the need to crawl around under tables and having to purchase expensive transformers.   

Switches setup with battery power, with auto derailing feature and wireless control would even further simplify the hobby. 

This system has a huge potential - but it needs to be economical for it to take off.

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