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Recently, for the first time in a long while, I ran two of my favorite older MTH Railking locomotives, a New York Central 0-8-0 steam switcher with PS1 and a New York Central EMD SW-1500 diesel with 5-volt PS2. I ran them long enough to charge the batteries but the shutdown sounds indicated that the batteries were not well charged, so I ordered BCRs and installed them today. The battery in the tender of the steamer was accessible and easy to replace – sorry but no photo. The diesel was another story because the battery was a tight fit and wedged beneath the circuit boards, with a strap secured by two very small screws over one end of the battery. I also had to loosen one of the trucks and move its motor to get the battery out and the BCR in. I eventually got the BCR fully into place and got the strap screws, truck and shell screws tightened down, and the handrails reinstalled. Both locomotives ran well and now have excellent operation and sounds. To me, the BCRs are worth the price. Battery problems cannot damage the locomotives and I hope to avoid having to repeat this process in the future.

MELGAR

MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_01MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_02MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_03MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_04

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  • MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_01: MTH Railking SW-1500 with PS2 5-Volt
  • MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_02: Battery and BCR
  • MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_03: BCR in Place
  • MELGAR_2018_0315_BATTERY_TO_BCR_04: Battery Strap Screws Tightened
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MELGAR - I've read several Posts about 'fried MTH boards' (particularly the 5 volt boards) in PS1 and PS2 equipped engines, and it's usually associated with the MTH batteries, but could you (or someone else reading this) please explain what actually happens to cause the boards to be ruined - in layman's English please.  Thanks very much. 

GRJ - Thanks to you too.

In my case I'd been running a PS 2 steamer for approximately 0.5 hr, then put it in neutral (and left it idling) while I answered the phone, and after no more than 2 or 3 minutes I heard the power down sounds start (without me touching the remote) and that was it.  I assumed it might be the battery so I popped in a brand new MTH battery the next day (after properly charging it overnight) and tried to power it up but nothing - no sign of life at all. 

For PS-1 if the battery is dead enough the processor does not write to memory.  It knows it does not have sufficient power.  It is usually the partially charged battery that causes issues in that it does start writing, but can not finish.

THAT CAN HAPPEN with BCR too.  If BCR only allowed to half charge and turned off same happens.  Or an attempted direction change with insufficient charge.  I have had to do resets on BCR engines.  So let them fully charge.  Normally the newer 1997 up PS-1 stuff is less effected.  G

@GGG posted:

For PS-1 if the battery is dead enough the processor does not write to memory.  It knows it does not have sufficient power.  It is usually the partially charged battery that causes issues in that it does start writing, but can not finish.

THAT CAN HAPPEN with BCR too.  If BCR only allowed to half charge and turned off same happens.  Or an attempted direction change with insufficient charge.  I have had to do resets on BCR engines.  So let them fully charge.  Normally the newer 1997 up PS-1 stuff is less effected.  G

I know of a well-known O-gauge guy who owns a LOT of engines - he swears by using cheap rechargeable batteries from Harbor Freight ($5 each) instead of BCRs.  Personally, I feel more comfortable with the BCR.  Just wondering if you have any thoughts on his practice?

I know a guy that owns a lot of guns, and he never checks to see if one is loaded before handling it, probably the same kind of guy.   Just because someone does something foolish, that doesn't make it a good idea.

@Alan Mancus posted:

John I have to agree with you 100 % in your analogy of the gun always loaded and the bcr's or cheap batteries. just because someone says its's great to jump off a bridge don't mean I would do it !

Alan

Don't hold back - let me know how you really feel!   I'm with you - I think BCRs are cheap insurance.

Not going to name him, but you might be surprised.  Or maybe not...

And re the loaded gun reference, it's called Rule #1 for good reason.  Unfortunately, some folks can't count that high.

Last edited by Mallard4468

So you intelligent gentleman are equating a battery with a loaded gun.....wow.  So are the harbor freight batteries known to be bad, or is everyone just jumping on the BCR band wagon now?   How long ago was there a concern that BCR might harm the charge circuit and ruin a board?

6 batteries at $5 is about 6 x 5 years of service or 30 years.   1 BCR is $30 and X years?  Will those capacitors last 30 years?  Maybe the gentleman figures he only has 20 years left running trains.

It is economics and easy of maintenance otherwise 6 or a half dozen.  G

@GGG posted:

So you intelligent gentleman are equating a battery with a loaded gun.....wow.  So are the harbor freight batteries known to be bad, or is everyone just jumping on the BCR band wagon now?   How long ago was there a concern that BCR might harm the charge circuit and ruin a board?

6 batteries at $5 is about 6 x 5 years of service or 30 years.   1 BCR is $30 and X years?  Will those capacitors last 30 years?  Maybe the gentleman figures he only has 20 years left running trains.

It is economics and easy of maintenance otherwise 6 or a half dozen.  G

Well there is the extra hassle of replacing the battery periodically which is not always easy.  

The BCR is a capacitor.  Measure the capacitance.  A 24 to 30v capacitor is probably $3 maybe even $1 depending on the capacitance.  Solder the cap in making sure the terminal are insulated and you have saved yourself some real cash.

Has everyone forgotten high school electronics?

@swrr posted:

The BCR is a capacitor.  Measure the capacitance.  A 24 to 30v capacitor is probably $3 maybe even $1 depending on the capacitance.  Solder the cap in making sure the terminal are insulated and you have saved yourself some real cash.

Has everyone forgotten high school electronics?

Nope, I actually still remember some of the stuff well beyond high school electronics.   We also haven't forgotten how to read the labels on a capacitor either.

The BCR for 5V engines is four 1.5F 2.7 volt capacitors in series with a Zener diode across each cap to equalize the charge voltages.  The cost will be a bit more than $1.

@GGG posted:

So you intelligent gentleman are equating a battery with a loaded gun.....wow.

Don't they look the same?

  

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  • mceclip1

Did not have electronics in high school.  Took circuits and power engineering courses in college - barely remember anything relevant. Somehow I do not think it is as easy as popping in a cap. Isn't there concern about dropping the voltage down to meet the board's requirements?  Don't you have to limit the discharge rate? Seems to me this involves resistors and inductors and maybe diodes in addition to the cap. Don't you have to figure out how much energy storage is needed in the cap ???

After blowing a PS2 board with a bad battery, everything gets a BCR except PS3s.  Pop it in, lube everything up, and I never need to open it up again and never need to worry about a leaking battery.  For $20 or less - cheap insurance.  Given my EE skill set or lack thereof, why would I risk a $500 and up engine to save $10 or $15 bucks?  Ok to fix the board $200 new board, $100 technician and $75 for RT shipping - assuming you can get the board. 

@ScoutingDad posted:

Did not have electronics in high school.  Took circuits and power engineering courses in college - barely remember anything relevant. Somehow I do not think it is as easy as popping in a cap. Isn't there concern about dropping the voltage down to meet the board's requirements?  Don't you have to limit the discharge rate? Seems to me this involves resistors and inductors and maybe diodes in addition to the cap. Don't you have to figure out how much energy storage is needed in the cap ???

After blowing a PS2 board with a bad battery, everything gets a BCR except PS3s.  Pop it in, lube everything up, and I never need to open it up again and never need to worry about a leaking battery.  For $20 or less - cheap insurance.  Given my EE skill set or lack thereof, why would I risk a $500 and up engine to save $10 or $15 bucks?  Ok to fix the board $200 new board, $100 technician and $75 for RT shipping - assuming you can get the board.

Where are you getting a BCR for $20.  Every place I have seen is $30?  No one will really know what is in there unless you dissect one.  Not a lot volume for caps and other discrete components.  My feeling is that the resistors and inductors are on the ps2 board.

Nope, I actually still remember some of the stuff well beyond high school electronics.   We also haven't forgotten how to read the labels on a capacitor either.

The BCR for 5V engines is four 1.5F 2.7 volt capacitors in series with a Zener diode across each cap to equalize the charge voltages.  The cost will be a bit more than $1.

Don't they look the same?

  

Agreed the cost will be more than $1 with Zenars.  The Bcr for 5volt is actually pretty reasonably priced when you take into account time.  Not so convinced on the 9v version at $30.  Have you dissected a 9 volt BCR?

@swrr posted:

Where are you getting a BCR for $20.  Every place I have seen is $30?  No one will really know what is in there unless you dissect one.  Not a lot volume for caps and other discrete components.  My feeling is that the resistors and inductors are on the ps2 board.

Not that $30 vs. $20 is a big deal when we're dealing with $400-$2000 locomotives, but you can get them for $20 or less each from the source:   https://www.jandwelectronics.com/  Buy 10, get 2 free.  12 BCRs for $250 or 12 BCR2s for $200.  It's a drop-in replacement that requires no soldering, and it supports a cottage industry that has saved many of us a lot of headaches.

Last edited by Mallard4468

@gunrunnerjohn  is that all the BCR2 is?  a single cap and connector plug?  I never thought about taking one apart to see. [I believe you - just stunned that's all there is.]  For what its worth, I am working with a professor who has developed a supercapacitor based on graphene. He prints them with an "ink-jet" to any size and shape needed - all solid state.  When he demo-ed it to me. They touched the leads to a battery to charge, them on to an LED which stayed lit. Nearly as thin as a sheet of paper.  Really interesting.   

CT McCormick Hardware has the BCR2 for $19.95 plus shipping. A bunch of sponsors are close to the same price within a couple of bucks. Like everything - order more than one item and the shipping per unit falls. I thought about going direct to JandW with their great holiday sale, but i will never use that many.

Wow another resurrected post from a year ago, wonder why my inbox was blowing up with alerts?  One failure is not much of a data point.  Certainly BCR are convenient for not having to change, but don't equate a dead battery killing a board and a BCR won't do it.  I have repaired plenty of PS-2 5V and 3V board that are damaged/dead.  And they had BCRs installed.  I certainly continue to get perfectly fine PS-1 engines to upgrade with dead white batteries installed.  They still run if they are the early PS-1 boards.  New boards will start up just not move with a dead battery.  Around christmas I always get some old PS-2 5V christmas layout only trains with orig and dead batteries.  Slap a new  battery in and off they go.

I don't think anyone has ever did a scientific failure analysis on PS-2 5V  boards.  Just assumptions by folks.  G

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