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@GVDobler posted:

Just curious if you use a fire-proof case to charge those LiPo batteries. We use them in RC airplanes and carry them in an ammo can and charge them in a fire-proof container. The have been known to catch fire during charging and have caught fire and burned up aircraft on the flight line. Never charge them unattended.

Being an RC guy too,  I do have a fire bag for charging and a metal box for storage.  That is why this battery setup is temporary.  They make much safer batteries now. 

There is a video of one company that purposely shorts their battery and a competitors battery to show the outcome.

I've been talking with the deadrailinstall people and they have recommended a li-ion battery/charger set that is safe, permanent and cost effective.

Thanks

Ron

This is the future. Some form of this is going to dominate our hobby 20 years from now. You're just an early adopter. Making me want to try it as well.. where did you source your Bluerail system?

Dead Rail Installs I believe sells them exclusively.

I recently converted a conventional Atlas engine with BlueRail board too.  That one runs on AC power and has a sound decoder from Soundtraxx.

I'm no longer concerned over PS3 failures and the future ability to obtain spares.  If my PS3's fail, I'm moving forward.

Thanks

Ron

Ron

Great video (along with your other AC powered BlueRail video). You definitely are at the cutting/bleeding edge.  I looked at the Dead Rail Installs site  for more info.  I could not find any install instructions.  Do they provide detailed instructions with the board?  You mentioned trial and error . . .

This is what I was able to glean from the site and your videos.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

1.  You are using the 5Amp board

2.  You can use the board on AC power to run motor and lights directly (no DCS or DCC)

3.  You can use it to run a PS3 (DCS/DCC equipped) engine with Battery power

4.  You can add a DCC sound board to option 2

They sell the 5Amp board for $140.  They sell "install kits" with a battery for $75.  I assume you can supply a battery and connectors from RC suppliers for much less.

Great job!

Bob

I took the easy route, I did an LC+ Camelback with NiMh battery packs.  Once I doubled them up and gave it full voltage, it has full function.  Based on the battery pack ratings and the current draw in operation with a load, I figure I should easily get three hours out of a charge.  Since the LC+ already runs on direct RF communications, all it really required was adding the battery pack!

LC+ Camelback Upgrade to Battery Power

@RRDOC posted:

Ron

Great video (along with your other AC powered BlueRail video). You definitely are at the cutting/bleeding edge.  I looked at the Dead Rail Installs site  for more info.  I could not find any install instructions.  Do they provide detailed instructions with the board?  You mentioned trial and error . . .

This is what I was able to glean from the site and your videos.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

1.  You are using the 5Amp board

2.  You can use the board on AC power to run motor and lights directly (no DCS or DCC)

3.  You can use it to run a PS3 (DCS/DCC equipped) engine with Battery power

4.  You can add a DCC sound board to option 2

They sell the 5Amp board for $140.  They sell "install kits" with a battery for $75.  I assume you can supply a battery and connectors from RC suppliers for much less.

Great job!

Bob

Bob,

This link might provide some better instruction. http://bluerailtrains.com/blueraildcc/userguide/

There is also a users group.  Everytime I ask a question I typically get a response the same day from either the BlueRail people, DeadRailInstalls, or the users themselves. 

https://groups.io/g/BlueRailDCC/topics

You are correct on all accounts... BR can run on AC, DCC or Battery.  With or without a sound board (PS3 or DCC Sound decoder of your choice)

Thank for the comments.

Ron

I took the easy route, I did an LC+ Camelback with NiMh battery packs.  Once I doubled them up and gave it full voltage, it has full function.  Based on the battery pack ratings and the current draw in operation with a load, I figure I should easily get three hours out of a charge.  Since the LC+ already runs on direct RF communications, all it really required was adding the battery pack!

LC+ Camelback Upgrade to Battery Power

I have to admit, you are 100% correct.  You already have everything you need in LC+ to go battery.  Adding or changing boards would not make much sense.

BTW... the PS3 board for inspection should arrive today. 

Ron

Ron,

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.
  • Follow all recommendation and precautions for battery charging and storage
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • You use BlueRails command system or App to control the engine in battery power.
  • Have you attempted to MU two battery power engines and can you share your experience?


Thanks in advance.



Stephen

Ron,

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.



Stephen

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.

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For batteries you may want to check out the MTO battery website out of Red Lion PA.

Click on the "Trains" button in the category line up.  All kinds of shapes, sizes and power.

The battery packs have a built in circuit breaker and a special battery charger.  Very safe.

I have been adding a bunch of industrial switching yards which normally would have many blocks, power feed drops, switchable S.P.D.T. frog leads, etc, etc.  No more.  I had an GP-9, an RS-11 and a GP-35 set up with battery power.  They are designated yard engines.   Normally I just operate one engine at a time so a dozen on board battery powered R/C locomotives would be more than sufficient.

Probably just sell some of the track powered locos, I find that I do not need them.

Had not gotten to powering up two of my commuter branch line tracks so there are now battery powered gas electrics, RDCs and a K-4 designated to run those routes.  Also, I have several large mainline battery powered engines which do some of the heavy lifting.

A side benefit is now seeing just how few engines really I "need" to run a large RR.   Me thinks that we folks go way overboard in our purchases.

As a former R/C oval car guy, I see a continuation of battery size coming down and battery power and run time going up. The key to running  model rains with battery power will be to eliminate the hassles of charging or disfiguration of engines or rolling stock with on-board charging ports.

The solution is a system that will allow charging through the track while the train is operational and/or charging through the rails on a separate siding to which the train can be moved. Both of these systems would result in no charging port necessary nor having to remove the battery from the engine/rolling stock in order to charge the battery. I believe there are companies working on these now.

Certain models have lift up cistern doors, flaps or removable dynamic brake blisters to facilitate charging & on/off/charging switch.  There are ways to angle mount charging ports and the use of a push button for indistinct availability.  Other ways to reduce the presence of a switch and port would be to mount them in fuel tanks or hang them from car floors.  A little flat black does wonders.

Sometimes you just need to mull your targets.  If your interest is model perfection then there will be limits.  if your interest is the fluid operation of trains irrespective of layout wires, dirty track, wiring complicated switches and diamonds then a bump or port here or there just becomes a real big "so what!"

Many locomotives today have hidden access which could be repurposed.

It is a subjective matter.  If it is a problem, then maybe the freedom of battery R/C is not for some folks.

I have a couple of Lionel's 2-6-6-2 engines in two rail as shown.  I just took some brass stock, calculated the space needed for the toggle switch, bent it into a pair of legs and feet then screwed it to the tender floor and presto, switch and port is hidden and serviceable.

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Where there is a will there is a way.  Bob Buck is a master at hiding switches and ports.

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Last edited by Tom Tee

Glad to see you’re having fun Ron!!!

I don’t even think about the value of an engine when I do my conversions, it’s what I want that counts.

All my steamers except one have the on/off switch and charging jack under a fake, foam rubber coal load that is easily removed. The one steamer happens to be the biggest one of all, my brass Willams N&W 611, not sure why I put the on/off switch underneath but it’s time I moved it to the coal bunker like the rest.

Ron - your conversion looks great -- the blue rail folks seemed to have disappeared for a while after releasing their first board (which, I believe, is no longer available).  But it looks like they are back (or maybe they never went away I just lost track...).  I had considered trying out a BR board for one of my Flyer locos (without going to battery power) but about the time I was going to try it out, it seemed like I couldn't find the BR board.  So maybe I should put this back on my list.  I assume that the board, anyway, would fit inside S-gauge locos.

One advantage for going to battery power for you Lionel/etc. types is you can now get rid of that pesky third rail

richs09,

They never went away, it's that they were in the design process of the new board plus negotiating with the DCC folks.  Took a while but now they've come out with the new board that, depending on the one you pick, is more suited for large-scale such as our O-scale engines.

Even with battery power, you don't "need" to do away with the 3rd rail, although there's no need to have it once the conversions are made to BPRC.  I ran my BPRC fleet for a while before I removed the middle rail, then eventually tore it all out and rebuilt using code 148 2-rail track and Mianne benchwork.  I still use 3-rail wheels, but on the engines and passenger cars I've removed the center rollers.

I'm playing with battery-power in my passenger cars now.  I know it works because I've done 2 cars, but finding a place to put the charging jack has slowed me down.  Using the track to charge would be wonderful, or better yet a conductive charging system (think cordless toothbrush) would be great.  I even drew up a water column design so the charging cord would coil up on a spool underneath it, but the drawing is as far as I've gotten.  Simply pull it out and plug it into the jack on the engine, when done it should retract on it's own:

charging column255

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Bob, instead of a recoil have you considered a long descending loop of wire much like that along the side of some elevator shafts?   A recoil  may work harden the wire after repeated use.

There are fine stranded wires like those for vehicle door / window control power but I always look for a kiss approach.

I used that principle in my antiquated lift up panel with drawer style circuit boards.  The panel wire bundles go through  the mounting board of the MTH blocks then come back up after a 12 inch "U".

IMG_8868Drawer closed, panel downIMG_8871Drawer out, panel up          Note the wire bundles go down through the drawer floor then loop around and come back up to connect to the terminal strips and MTH panels.

Every home run star feed is switchable on my layout.  All the visible wires connect a s.p.d.t. toggle to a block feed.

I am thinking this just may help get past the recoil development and go right into a charging application.

Your water spout is a great idea.  Also applicable to diesel oil fill.  I am using the diesel tank for a charging jack mount already so that is perfect.

Bob Buck drilled out my tank for both a switch button and a charging jack.  He was able to squeeze a Pico R/C battery system into a twin tower drive P&D platform geep.

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seems to me (without much expertise using battery power) that a charging track would solve a lot of problems, given that most locos/tenders are gonna start life with an electrical connection to the wheels.  So I'd think you'd need a switch somewhere on the loco/tender that would allow you to make that connection between the charging circuit and the track when you are ready to charge.  Perhaps something that is 'remote', like a reed switch that could be activated with an electromagnet, etc.  An alternative might be to have a receptacle/plug-in on the bottom of the loco/tender and then a section of bare track over a hole close to the edge of the layout where the 'big hand in the sky' can reach up and plug in the charging circuit (something self-aligning, like an audio mini-plug...).

I recall a recent posting here - might have been GRJ - about using one of the cheap, commercial RC 'key fob' devices to control on/off switches remotely.  Might be useful for battery-powered lighting for passenger cars/cabeese.

Thanks Tom!  The long loop  would probably work, but my over-engineering cap was on that day

richs09, you're probably right about charging from the rails, but when I first started the instructions said to make sure all electronics was isolated from the frame.  I tried to adhere to that but the motors are grounded to the frame via screws and such anyway, that I don't think it matters that much.

I mentioned "conductive" charging when I think I meant inductive.

@Tom Tee posted:
For batteries you may want to check out the MTO battery website out of Red Lion PA.
Bob Buck is a master at hiding switches and ports.

I have an appointment with Bob next week to look at some Li Ion batteries, a charger and wire harnesses.  I was on his website and decided to call him.  When he found out we lived so close he invited me over to take a look.

I was running my ABBA consist all day yesterday fooling with all the adjustments.  It was very fun.  These engines run so great now as BlueRail Battery.   I was VERY disappointed in the way they ran as a DCS lashup and almost sold them a few times.

I'm looking forward to the permanent battery install.  Bob Delbridge I love the water spout idea.  Maybe I will try to replicate that with a sand tower.

Have Fun!

Ron

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Well  a matter of fact the power did go out here awhile ago with a storm and I was able run trains all day as I was switching on and off various locos through out the black  out.  Really weird trying to find trains in hidden staging with a flash light.  

Much later when the power came back on it was like a meth clinic with a row of chargers, all the "patients" were hooked up on their drip line.

In all reality with the normal operation of a railroad no one engine gets run for 3 hours in a row anyway.  That could get as boring as a Christmas tree loop.



Ron, you will find Bob's workshop is BPRC heaven.  He has a ton of product and is loaded with knowledge and experience.  Like the battery R/C  version of GRJ.

O scale in the basement G scale in the backyard.

Know that most every aspect of his custom home he built himself.

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