Electronic control systems

I want to unbury a discussion several of you were having in the "next Flyer Cheif [sic]" topic currently posted.  Ray noted that one could use an ERR Minicommander 2 board to convert the American Models diesels to TMCC - and that the board sells for $35.  As suggested by Ray, I looked up the details on the Electricrr.com website (err.com won't get you there).  It looks like the board will handle 2 amps continuous and 4 amps peak -- I presume that the AM diesels will all fall under 2 amps (?) -- and you also get directional lighting (LED) and either incandescent light control or coil coupler control.  There's also serial data for a separate sound card.  It looks like there is another ERR card - the AC/DC commander - that can handle up to 8 amps (and sells for $70).  Could that board be used with older Flyer open-frame AC motors?

Speaking of control systems, there has also been some discussion on OGR about a system called Bluerail, which, as the name suggests, allows one to use a tablet/phone to control the loco (again with an apparent 2 amp limit) via a bluetooth app you download.  Anyone have any experience with this system?  How similar is it to TMCC in terms of functionality?

Finally, I note that Lionel now has a bluetooth capability in their new 'chief' control systems, but I presume that one cannot retrofit that system??

- Rich

 

Original Post

I'd bet the bluetooth becomes an add on sooner or later. New to Lionel, so I wouldn't expect it real soon, but I expect it.

Bluerail had a larger board "near ready" for production a year or more ago,, but I never heard more about it. Could be the big names finally playing their Bluetooth hands has them moving more cautiously. 

  I'm not a Flyer guy enough to know the average AF amp draw is a match to the little board, it "seems" like it would be fine for most AF, especially smaller ones; but that's a guess based on open frame motor draws in general. Now the 8amp board; it should handle about anything you could throw at it. At 8amp, standard gauge likely wouldn't make it sweat.

Easy to figure out what you need if you have a multi meter and the loco. Just put the meter in series on the transformer power to the track to read the amps the loco uses. (To compare, my largest draws on Lionels are about 3.5-4a continuous (with a long train) and 5.5-6a peak (both on start up) for an open framed GG-1 and Hudson.)

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





The Mini Commander 2 is fine for AM products. I have one on an SD60.  All my other AM locos have the Cruise Lite board.

Presumably the AC Commander would be fine for ACG open frame amperage as ERR products are designed for O gauge. I don't know of anyone who has done it as most folks seem to convert theirs to DC can motors and then install the Mini Commander 2 or Cruise Lite. 

Chuck - thanks for the additional insight.  I have an SD-60 I just converted from DC to AC high rail (with a board supplied by Ray P from one of his SD-60s) - so I take it that the mini commander 2 board would 'simply' replace that board?  I say 'simply' because I'm not sure I want to try to take that shell off again - or, more to the point, put it back on again (which took me several attempts, finally getting all the wires pushed into place).

What is the advantage or comparison between the Cruise Lite and AC/DC Commander?  I assume its the feedback control on the motor giving it a 'cruise' feature for motors without a flywheel.  It looks to me like that feedback requires a DC can motor in any event.

The Cruise Commander and the Cruise Commander Lite both have cruise control, they require no flywheel on the motors.  The Mini Commander 2 and the DC Commander do not have cruise.  The AC Commander doesn't have cruise and is obviously for AC motors.

I currently have eight OGauge locos converted to bluetooth control using BlueRail boards. Five use track power and three have on-board  LiPO battery power. All eight work fine and have from time to time been demonstrated at various divisional club meets. In addition to speed and direction, there is also app based control over lights and sounds. Several locos can be run simultaneously with individual control. A number of these locos have appeared in several train magazine articles, including OGR. On balance, it works.  

 

I have done several ERR TMCC conversions and am now looking at BlueRail. The looks to be a lot more options for control. 

Bob,

I have a question about the BlueRail boards. Do they only run from the app or will it also run in a conventional mode if needed?

Thansk,

Mike

 

 

richs09 posted:

Chuck - thanks for the additional insight.  I have an SD-60 I just converted from DC to AC high rail (with a board supplied by Ray P from one of his SD-60s) - so I take it that the mini commander 2 board would 'simply' replace that board?  I say 'simply' because I'm not sure I want to try to take that shell off again - or, more to the point, put it back on again (which took me several attempts, finally getting all the wires pushed into place).

What is the advantage or comparison between the Cruise Lite and AC/DC Commander?  I assume its the feedback control on the motor giving it a 'cruise' feature for motors without a flywheel.  It looks to me like that feedback requires a DC can motor in any event.

Correct, you would remove the board Ray sent you as the Mini Commander 2 will connect directly to the can motors.

The advantage of the Cruise Lite is constant speed around turns, up inclines and down declines. For me this is a needed feature given my many grades.  However, the Cruise Lite is big and does not fit in several diesel models.  I have it in an E8, a Trainmaster (barely), a dummy B unit of an FP7 (tethered to the A unit), and soon a GG1.

Chuck K posted

Presumably the AC Commander would be fine for ACG open frame amperage as ERR products are designed for O gauge. I don't know of anyone who has done it as most folks seem to convert theirs to DC can motors and then install the Mini Commander 2 or Cruise Lite. 

Chuck, when I first found TMCC I did use the AC Commander board, these are quite large boards, but I did installations in a couple of twin motored PAs and also in a 336  Northern and in a 343 0-8-0 switcher. All of these had sound boards installed also. At the time I found it a way to get my feet wet in TMCC. I still run the Rocket and now a Thomas which is a converted CJ with the AC commander. The main drawback with the open frame motors is the high amperage that these motors draw.

The can motored engines draw fractional amps where the twin open frames will draw3.0 + amps

Chuck, I would love to see a photo of one of your AM locos, Shell off,  with the Cruise Lite installed, maybe the Trainmaster?

Ray

Rich, I have joined on this thread, it was requested, and rightly so, that we take our conversation away from the FlyerChief thread.

Chuck, or others on this thread, I am running on the original A.C. Gilbert track and do have grades also. Have any here use the A.M. "Low speed worm on shaft" which they have listed on their site.  I would like to know what the difference in total gear ratio is. I wonder if that might be a help on grades and sharp curves with locomotives that do not have space to use the Cruise Lite? I don't know if anyone from A.M. monitors the OGR, maybe they might answer.

|5.00|1||Low Speed Worm on Shaft" /> Low speed worm on shaft$5.00GBWSLS

Ray

Chuck,

I did the low gear installation on a TMCC mimi AM Trainmaster to help with a loop that has steep grades. It is pulling 12+ cars and one of them is a home made cleaning car dragging a scotchbright pad underneath it.  It helped a lot with the speed difference but is obviously nothing like my SD70. 

Rayin"S" posted:

Chuck, I would love to see a photo of one of your AM locos, Shell off,  with the Cruise Lite installed, maybe the Trainmaster?

 

Ray

I bought this second hand from someone else who had Ed Goldin convert it using a Mini 2.  I then modified it to put in the larger Cruise Lite and a larger speaker from Railmaster Hobbies  You will see in the 1st photo that I am not able to screw down the shell completely because of the height of the Cruise Lite.  Bottom of shell sits at basically same elevation as top of chassis.  You will also see that I did some hollowing out inside the shell with a Dremel.  Basically I am suspending the Cruise Lite above the shaft using the metal plate Ed installed rather than sitting along side it as the Mini 2 could.

IMG_0587IMG_0599IMG_0601IMG_0602IMG_0605IMG_0607

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Photos (6)

Wow Chuck!, What a job, you be the man! Thank you so much for posting that group of pictures. You maybe should forward the pics of that install to Ed, of course he may be monitoring these threads. I don't know if I have enough testosterone to try that one, I imagine it was a lot of trial and error fitting. I know getting the CL and sound into one of my Flyonel GPs was a lot of back and forth but this looks even more involved.

Thank you again for the pics, gives me more to think about.

LOGCRUISER, The low speed worm assembly does it reduce the speed by half, and does the locomotive still slow down noticeably on curves and grades?

Ray

I wouldn't recommend doing what I did to the Trainmaster to others. I don't like that the shell has to sit higher.  Also, if I ever have to take the shell off it takes me a long time to get it back into a position where the board doesn't rub against the drive shaft.  The E8 and GG1 are far easier. Because of the width of the shells, you can place the Cruise Lite horizontally. 

I just did my GG1 yesterday.  It was all working beautifully while testing without the shell on. Then my blunder killed it all. I screwed on the shell, placed it on the track, buzz, pop, and apparently fried the Cruise Lite board. Couldn't figure out what went wrong, so I walked away in deep frustration. 

 Then it came to me (I think).  This is the chrome version and the shell is chromed inside and out.  I am guessing the shell made contact with the CL board and shorted it out. I think I need to do 3 things, 1) call Ken and see if it is worth repairing or just buy a new one, 2) electrically isolate the chassis from the shell somehow, 3) cover any part of the Railsounds or CL boards that could make contact with the shell with electrical tape.

 

 

Ray, yes it is much slower. It does not slow down on the corners but changes speed on the grades just not as bad. I actually liked the low speed control for switching better before the TMCC since the start voltage was much lower on the AM board vs the ERR board. I think I am going to try a BlueRail board next. The BR boards look to have a bunch of features you can access in the app to fine tune and is sized for HO. 

 

 

BOB WALKER posted:

Electrically, the switch to conventional is possible. The wiring would be complex and space would be a problem with most locos. Hard to justify the case for dual operation.

Not really.

  A dpdt where the fwd lock WAS and a 6a bridge rectifier or diode bundle is clean, tight, and simple.  6 wires involved and switch with one of those wires being rectified is not complex. 

 Seems you might have another switch opening available with BT vs average command also; I dont know if they have any program switcheswith BT or not. I think BT might need at least one momentary on button to reboot it for various resons... ???

Squeezing another board or e-unit might be too tight? I'll give you that.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





LOGCRUISER,

Hey, thank you for the info on the slow speed gear, think I may go that way where I can't fit the CL.   I   do not mind to much the slow down up the grade but the racehorse speed down grade is a problem, maybe to much proto-typical for operators.   

As for the slower start speed with the Mini-2, do you have a Powermaster in that circuit, you may get a  slower  speed start if you have the Powermaster in conventional mode and lower it's output for switching operations.

Ray

 

I called Ron / AM today and ordered a pair of the slow speed worm gears.  He said these will have a top speed of approx. 55mph.  I have a leftover Mini 2 and an F40PH that I picked up for a steal recently. So I am going to try installing the Mini 2 with these gears and see how it performs on my grades. Thanks for the idea Ray and for the info Logcruiser.

Hi guys, I have tried to fit the cruise lite in many AM diesels but the problem comes to securing the shell to the chassis. For me everything needs to be secured including the shell and until they come out with a smaller electronic board I will continue to use the Mini II.

As for the reduced speed, I believe Carl has it on his web site how he has used the AM gears and it does work.

Chuck if you want to isolate the chassis from the shell use a polymer tape and you can find it on Mouser or Digikey.

Ed Goldin

Authorized Lionel Repair Station

www.goldinhands.com

 

Ed Goldin

Lionel Authorized Repair Station

Specializing in American Flyer, S-Helper and

American Models TMCC Installations

Authorized ERR Dealer

Member TCA & NASG 





 

 

Here is the proper name of the tape and links to Mouser and Digikey.

The proper name is Polyimide Tape and here are the links.

https://www.digikey.com/produc...8?k=polyimide%20tape

https://www.mouser.com/Search/...yword=polyimide+tape

Ed Goldin

Lionel Authorized Repair Station

Specializing in American Flyer, S-Helper and

American Models TMCC Installations

Authorized ERR Dealer

Member TCA & NASG 





 

 

Chuck K posted:

I called Ron / AM today and ordered a pair of the slow speed worm gears.  He said these will have a top speed of approx. 55mph.  I have a leftover Mini 2 and an F40PH that I picked up for a steal recently. So I am going to try installing the Mini 2 with these gears and see how it performs on my grades. Thanks for the idea Ray and for the info Logcruiser.

I finally got round to trying this out. Completed the install of the Mini Commander II and the slow speed worm gears. I had lots of grinding sound coming from the worm gear.  I ran out of time, but when I get back to it, I'll see what I can do. Perhaps these worm gears do no not universally fit al AM diesels from all eras. This FP40 has a 1996 date written on the chassis.

Chuck,

I was wondering about this very thing, I have locomotives with three different axle brgs and there is quite a difference in the gear boxes. Might it be that the worms have to be ordered by the type of brgs on the axle? 

Ray

Chuck, is the noise coming from both of the trucks? If you can't determine if it is one or the other, disconnect one of the drive shafts and run it on rollers or holding it up and listening for the noise. Do the same thing with the other truck and you can then isolate which one or if it is both of them.  

Ed Goldin

Lionel Authorized Repair Station

Specializing in American Flyer, S-Helper and

American Models TMCC Installations

Authorized ERR Dealer

Member TCA & NASG 





 

 

Rayin"S" posted:

Chuck,

I was wondering about this very thing, I have locomotives with three different axle brgs and there is quite a difference in the gear boxes. Might it be that the worms have to be ordered by the type of brgs on the axle? 

Ray

 

A bushing won't change a gear to worm relationship unless a bushings I.D. is offset from the o.d..  Even customizing with a lager/smaller axle, all holes reference the same center point. Resize a gears axle hole? Same center point so the o.d. is still at the same height.

  It would more likely be the gear offset left or right from ideal. A machinist's method to check would be blue the gears , run the gears, and the contacting surfaces will have the blue worn off. A clean line up the middle means your good. Off to one side, move the gear accordingly.

  Checking the worm & shaft is 90° to the gear teeth is also important (gear axle is easier to use, parallel to the gear teeth if correct (though an angle of a beveled gear would have the worm shaft at 90° to that angle) The contact on the worm is similar, but the adjustment not as critical and just fore and aft along the worm shaft. The seating depth shouldn't have pressure, but either no play or a very slight play. Brass gears however are often in need of running and breaking in because they ARE installed under a slight pressure to help with a break in of the easy to wear brass, achieving the very minimal play possible in a short time.

The type of worm&gear is also important. Even with the right tooth count and o.d.s, tooth face type must be matched right, to mesh right. e.g. some gears are not beveled, but the teeth are at an angle to the axle while others are parallel to the axle. Though each worm may seem identical at first glance, they are not the same. 

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





ADRIATIC posted

The type of worm&gear is also important. Even with the right tooth count and o.d.s, tooth face type must be matched right, to mesh right. e.g. some gears are not beveled, but the teeth are at an angle to the axle while others are parallel to the axle. Though each worm may seem identical at first glance, they are not the same. 

This is the reason I mentioned about the gear boxes being different with different types of bearings, the possibility of the worms being different.

Ray

In the absence of taking apart all my AM engines, I'd suggest giving American Models a call and explaining your predicament and asking if there really IS a difference in the gears on the axles.  Especially since you have a 1996 date on the chassis.  My F40s are about that year too, but I'm pretty happy with the way they perform just like they are, especially since they pull a long string of Superliner cars.   Now that I think about it, I have an RS3 that needs an axle gear since it's missing a tooth.

I just thought of something.  I once had a U-joint shaft ball that wasn't seated correctly in the socket.  Maybe...?

 

 

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