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> Hornby Live Steam Controller, How does it work?
r5gordini
post 1 Jul 2009, 14:20
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Hi All,

I've recently purchased a live steam loco and can't wait to get it running!

However, I baulk at paying another hundred quid on a specialised controller, particularly as I may eventually want to run multiple locos simultaneously. As far as I understand it the control method is fairly simple - 17v DC is applied to the track to heat the water (this may drop once the water is heated, not sure). Then the voltage is dropped below 9v to trigger the motor to operate the regulator one step. Switching the track polarity reverses the direction the regulator is moved.

Can anyone confirm this? Would such a controller be easy to build? Has anyone built their own? I've got a 16v SMPS that's capable of supplying the current (think it needs up to 5A). Would 16v be enough?

If anyone is willing to measure the volts for me or tell me what the voltmeter does when they operate the controls on their live steam controller, I would be very grateful.

Any thoughts would be most welcome.

Thanks,

Andrew
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poliss
post 1 Jul 2009, 16:52
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I don't think it's as simple as that. I believe the control unit uses a pulsed DC signal and some sort of feedback to the controller.


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Get off the line Bobby!
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wiggy25
post 1 Jul 2009, 17:36
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From the Hornby Website:-

QUOTE
The control equipment used with Hornby Live Steam locomotives consists of a Regulator Console and a separate mains transformer. The console houses the Steam Regulator that controls the electric immersion heater which is located in the locomotive's tender.

The Speed Regulator sends instruction signals down the track which control the locomotive's speed and direction. Each locomotive requires its own individual track and control equipment for full functioning operation.

No smoke units or special effects - this is real Live Steam, brought to you for the first time commercially in '00' gauge by Hornby. Such a revolutionary model has never been seen in so much detail, but thanks to the latest technology from Hornby, these nostalgic memories of real steam engines can be replicated with your own model.


Reading further it does mention about sending pulses to the loco, I would invest in a dedicated controller, no point in killing your loco.

For anybody who already has one of these, could you run an end to end layout with one(after much practice on a rolling road to get to grips with the control), or is it really only for a loop?


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mossdp
post 2 Jul 2009, 12:46
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You can see diagrammatic and text description with some details of the control mechanism in the patent at:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/patent/p-os/p-...find-number.htm

- Enter GB2251192 in publication number
- Search for Full details
- With the results choose "View on Esp@cenet "
- Choose the link Improvements in or relating to steam driven vehicles
- Choose "Original document"
- You can then see the details as a pdf file

Damian M.
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r5gordini
post 2 Jul 2009, 21:55
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Very interesting All!

My eventual aim is to succeed where others haven't, or maybe even haven't tried, and that is to make the Live Steam model controllable via DCC.

I have some ideas, but I just want to get the model working initially.

If I do go the DCC route, it will be the hardest conversion yet. The last one I did was the hardest to date - it involved modifying a motor - a Fleishmann. I cut its back plate and re-joined it with epoxy.

Anyway, that's a story for another day. This month's project is Live Steam!

It does seem strange that Hornby charge such a lot for the controller - I would have thought that the high price might have put more people off than it made them profit through the profit margin... Oh well ;-)

Let's hope Hornby continues to make the Live Steam stuff and does extend the range. I think it's fantastic!

Thanks,

Andrew
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34C
post 8 Jul 2009, 21:40
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Andrew,

Hornby missed a trick by not making their live steamer DCC compatible. I looked over the technical spec when it came out, and suspect DCC operation would probably make it a better unit in terms of fine control, since the regulator motor could be driven over a continuous range rather than in fixed increments. DCC systems offer more than adequate power, a 5A booster per live steamer on my Lenz 100 and that's the power requirement dealt with; and it would be possible to operate more than one live steamer per track by adding more boosters, and operate with regular electric locos on the same track: subject to a heavy gauge copper bus and frequent feeds to avoid track meltdown. Having already decided that DCC was my future control system, the Hornby system's incompatibility made me rule out the live steam product, and this from someone who is a fan of the Gresley locos that Hornby have chosen for this system.

The significant challenge is likely finding a suitable decoder and a location on board which will permit the decoder to survive a hot and possibly humid environment. But succeed in this, and you might have a little business sideline...

QUOTE (wiggy25 @ 1 Jul 2009, 18:36) *
.. is it really only for a loop?

Based on what I have seen of the present item, that is what it excels at: preferably outdoors on a bright frosty morning for the full effect from condensing exhaust.
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r5gordini
post 9 Jul 2009, 09:10
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34C - thanks for your reply. I agree entirely with your sentiments, and I know that there are many others out there that feel the same.

I have a custom built DCC booster that I think can supply at least 5A, but I'm not sure of its exact spec (I can't remember the spec of the output MOSFETs and I can't remember the "short circuit" current overload spec). The good thing is that I can modify it if necessary to supply more current!

I have some definite ideas about how to do it and will probably start off with a decoder in a trailing vehicle as a prototype.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil it all by divulging my exact thoughts - but I'll let you know how I get on!

Thanks,

Andrew
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rgmichel
post 26 May 2012, 14:52
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r5gordini: I saw your youTube video on dcc control of a live steam loco. Do you have circuit diagrams for what you did? The fine control of the regulator using the dcc control is fantastic. I think we need to talk more about integrating this with dcc layouts, or dc layouts.


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Bob
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