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All deadrail systems can be operated without any problems on existing DC or DCC layouts. As a pure deadrail loco does not have any pickup contacts there is no electrical contact with the track so there is no interference with the layout control system. So you can happily go on using your DCC layout. You can also use different radio control systems at the same time, I have used Deltang/Blurail combinations without problems, not consisting, you need the same system to consist 2 locos. BPRC (Battery Power Radio Control) locos can run on any layout if the track gauge is correct. You could even run them on plastic track!

Techie stuff - The systems I have mentioned. Deltang, Bluerail and Protocab, all use the 2.4Ghz band and use standard industry protocols to ensure that any interference is reduced or eliminated altogether. The systems are very robust, they need to be if the model plane people use them.
 

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What do I put here!?!
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Hi Dave,
I know you just said that the three makers use 2.4Ghz and industry standard protocols (which sounds positive) but are they all completely compatible with each other, please?
I should hate to see, especially at an early stage, divergence in standards such as MTH practice (DCS vs DCC!) which means certain products in the hobby are non compatible with each other.
I would hope some kind of governing body could be set up early on (NEM, NMRA etc) to ensure future compatibility.
Cheers,
John.
 

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With something like 100 locos running on DCC, and literally no trouble with power pick up (I am a good engineer and have developed a methodology that works) the appeal of an r/c system is limited to one thing: operating a couple of locos on a modelled section of little used track, rails rusted over, weed growth etc.. Power pick up essentially impossible if the rails are modelled with the appearance I want.

For this purpose the Tam Valley kit looks like the current winner, as it has a capability to be subordinated to a DCC system. When I call up either of the small bettery powered locos permitted onto this section of little used track on the DCC handset, the control will be via the r/c system. That's very attractive to me, it happens in background, no need to even think about the control method or swapping to a different handset. Nowhere near ready to go building this layout element yet, and there may be more potentially suitable r/c systems available by the time I get there.

I'll have these two locos battery powered with continuous recharge from live rails. I don't hold at all to the idea of 'doing something' to recharge on board batteries, I want it fully automatic so that the loco is ready to go at any time. This is what track powered systems have delivered for near 100 years, no going back to a clunkfest of charging routines; we left that behind in model railway with the abandonment of clockwork!

These are aspects that are underappreciated by designers coming to model rail r/c systems from the plane/boat/road 'free vehicle' control environment. We run more than one at a time, often many more simultaneously; from a choice of locos which can easily number 100+, half or more of which may run in any operating session. They should all run from a single control interface, 'any throttle runs any'. Having to 'do something' to get this number of locos ready to run is not practical, that's your operating session time used up! Having to remember that 60007 is on this handset and 60825 is on another is no good. It's actually a far more demanding spec. than that for free vehicle radio control in some respects...
 

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Sorry to say the systems are not compatible although Deltang is somewhat compatible with radio controlled planes/cars/boats because it uses the same system, in fact you can use model plane controllers to control trains!.. It is possible to use different systems at the same time so that helps somewhat. Bluerail are working toward DCC compatibility and apparently anyone can program a control app, given the ability.

It will take a few years for a winner to appear, my money is on bluerail at the moment. This does not lessen the usefulness of my Deltang kit, it will go on controlling locos anyway. The beauty of these systems is you don't have to commit yourself to one manufacturers product. The main exception is in consisting a loco. You can dip your toe in BPRC with full confidence that your existing control system will work as well as it always has.
 

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If I had your requirements 34C I would not be thinking of changing either. BPRC will be an alternative for others though, initially with more modest needs than 50 or 100 locos in steam. I have over 30 locos converted with about a dozen more to go. There is only enough room for about 16 on the layout and my running experience is tending to show I will probably only use about half of them in a session.

As for changing batteries, I don't find it a problem as you have to charge a lot of your consumer devices. Swopping the batteries for pre charged ones takes less than a minute and depending on use that can be after several operating sessions.

The way I see it BPRC is not a rival for other systems, just another alternative with the advantage that if you want to try it you don't have to junk your existing DC/DCC system.

The choice was easy for me, I had decommissioned an extensive DC n scale layout and had all those bare baseboards. I had dabbled in n scale BPRC and the concept worked. I was changing scale to 00, did not like layout wiring and have somewhat dodgy sight and hands so it was a no brainer.
 

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Using BPRC with lots of locos and multiple users - BlueRail already allows this. You can name the locos whatever you want and when the app is switched on all powered locos are listed.

This from the bluerail site

RUNNING BLUETOOTH IN A GROUP ENVIRONMENT
When operating bluetooth trains in a group environment, please turn off "Auto-Connect" from the home screen of your app. Auto-Connect is a handy feature for use at home, enabling your device to automatically connect to all trains (saving you from having to hit the "Connect" button). When operating in a group, turn this off and manually connect to trains using the "Connect" button. To make a train or board available to another user.......(use the disconnect button)
 

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I currently run the Faller Car System and the Wiking Control87 car systems. The first uses the Gamesontrack system which they describe as wireless DCC and can be used in trains, The vehicle control can also be computerised with signals to the "points" and stop sections. The second system is more traditional radio control with internal vehicle steering. Both systems have remote lights and sound if applicable. The point is that all the vehicle are HO scale so it should not be difficult to employ similar in trains already.
 

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Thinking I might dip my toe in. I have a Hornby railroad 4-6-0 County. Plenty of space in the tender. The Bluerail looks good but the size of the chip is a worry, and with that chip where does the battery go? Th e Stanton S cab system seems on the surface smaller and more compatable with a normal tender loco.
How do you manage a tank loco. Do you permanently attach a wagon or coach with battery and chip?
 

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QUOTE (Maz066 @ 17 Apr 2017, 22:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...How do you manage a tank loco. Do you permanently attach a wagon or coach with battery and chip?
This is one of the notable issues, especially for European steam era modelling in HO or OO - and still applicable in the post steam era as there were very small diesel and electric types produced for shunting - the very models that would benefit the most, are those least able to take advantage of battery powered r/c.

I suspect that this needs redesign from the ground up rather than attempting a graft onto established practise. An integrated product design of low current motor (probably coreless) and compact drive train and flexibly configurable compact battery and receiver/decoder options to enable all the necessary pieces to be packed into small and awkwardly configured spaces. When a RTR manufacturer takes this up and introduces successful product, that will be the marker for me that this technology is maturing for small scale model railway purposes. It will come, initially doubtless at a price...
 

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You can convert small shunting locos, I have done 3, a Hornby RR Jinty 0-6-0, a Hornby 'Smokey Joe' 0-4-0 and a Lima class 08. I chose the 2nd hand Jinty because it was cheap and there was lots of empty space in the tanks, the Smokey Joe because someone said it could not be done and the Lima 08 because it was cheap, had free space in the body and outside frames.. None of these is the latest thing in superb detailing etc but as I model for effect, if it looks like Jinty it's fine, and they were cheap I went ahead.

It also depends on how much run time you need before the battery is flat, that is hauling wagons around the layout, not sitting in a siding looking bored. Some people have demanded that the battery should last several hours or even a full day. Now for me a loco running around for hours is only marginally more interesting than watching paint dry so I am willing to accept run times that are long enough to cover the probable use during an operating session. I have gradually settled on a use per session of up to 20 minutes for small locos.

I converted the Jinty first with the receiver in the boiler and the batteries in the tanks. One or two batteries can be fitted. The test was 10 wagons plus brake van at a scale 20mph. A single battery lasted 37 minutes and two 74 minutes.

Next came the Smokey Joe with the receiver in the boiler and the little 70mAh battery resting in front of the motor. Endurance test was 10 wagons at 15mph giving 30 minutes. As this locos intended role is shunting on some gypsum wagons from the off layout mine and taking away the empties 30 minutes is more than enough.

The Lima class 08 came about because I decided to extend my 1950's modelling period into the 60' so needed some diesels. I was not going to spend lots of money on a posh Bachmann or Hornby one and the Railroad one did not have outside frames. Enter the second hand Lima, with outside frames! I fitted a replacement motor from diesel- trains.co.uk with much improved running characteristics. The test was again 12 wagons at about 20mph and a 130mAh battery gives at least 70 minutes of use.

It is obvious the battery is the limiting factor, incidentally why 'old' Lima diesels and Hornby Railroad ones with large volumes of space are excellent candidates.

There will be a problem with a manufacturer introducing a BPRC ready to run loco. they will want to have a high sales item like Thomas and that will have an awful motor because of the requirement for 'racing'. I don't like onboard charging either, I prefer to pop in a fresh battery pack in less than a minute rather than wait hours for the batteries to recharge. RTR BPRC locos will be produced, probably when the long promised improvements in battery technology finally arrive, who knows when. My latest conversions are using consumer standard rechargeable AAA batteries with good results.

Now how do you add images here?
 

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I hope I was not being too negative but I was lost after a page or so of the instructions. Perhaps I will have to spend time reading the pages.
 

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I am a firm believer in anything battery powered never being as good as mains powered items, be it tools, garden tools, toys, etc.
Yes, I see the positives (Ha Ha), but this battery system would not suit the likes of me that have 12 to 15 locos on the layout at any time and would get into the problem of forgetting to charge the loco or not having time to charge them in between uses. I like to use several locos in one session, and it would seriously annoy me if I went to use one and then realise, oh, it's not charged!!!
 

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What makes sense to me is to use the rail/wheel interface to power the loco, but with a rechargable battery on board that powers the loco in the brief instances when the rail contact is broken.
Isn't that what stay alive capacitors do?
Haven't not had any experience with these, I can't comment on third usefulness.
 

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Yes this is what stay alive does however you need the correct size capacitor for this to be effective.
 

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Knew we had a thread on this topic 'somewhere'.

No real progress since the last posting is my perception, but then I haven't been looking hard 'all around the world' (as life became significantly more busy coping with elder's care needs). However, if a real 'category killer' system had emerged, then one wouldn't need to look, as it would be 'self propelling' into notice, as the successor to DCC!

The underlying problem appears to be the investment required to develop a fully fit for purpose rail oriented wireless control system that doesn't borrow obsolete tech specifically developed for control of 'free' vehicles that fly, float or run on unguided wheels. The rails take care of the potential catastrophe that awaits 'free' vehicles if control communication is lost. Our stuff cannot go out of range in the layout environment, but should be as simply controllable as methods based on DC or DCC.

My base spec requirement, matching what is available from DCC (no regression!):
No fiddling about to get the layout running, power up the control system and all the powered units on the layout are immediately ready to run.
Unlimited endurance, no need for operator action to charge anything because whatever charging method is utilised it happens automatically when the system is on.
Any of the controllers operates any powered unit by addressed commands (to match or exceed DCC's 9,999 address availability).

Additional features required to make the system a clear step forward (vital to obtain mass sales):
An integrated layout mapping capability.
Full real time position information for all locomotives (minimum) and ideally all rolling stock.
Automated layout operation support using the mapping and location capability.
 

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While I personally think that “dead rail” is a dead end, IF some or all of 34C’s ideas could be brought into production, maybe it could take off.
Things against it;
1. Market reluctance.
There are still (after 50+ years) many folks around the world who stay with analog control because they’re happy with it, they understand it and they don’t want to invest any further into it.
Similarly, those of us who did take the plunge into DCC, will largely be satisfied with what we have and having spent considerable sums of money, are not about to repeat this.
We railway modellers are relatively’tight’.
2. Incompatible systems.
When digital control was in its infancy, there were numerous competing systems - certainly in the USA where folks built their own systems, either bespoke proprietary or handmade. None of these are still going, same in the UK with Hornby Zero-1, Airfix and at least one other, H&M, perhaps?
What did it for DCC was the NMRA adopting the system developed by one Herr Bernard Lenz with his proprietary system sold by Marklin.
The point is that once an influential organisation adopted one system and recommended it to all manufacturers (& the original manufacturer was willing!), everyone won.
See: https://dccwiki.com/DCC_History
Only a fool tries to turn against this and a very expensive court case proves my point here.
3. Immature technology.
What!?! But batteries have been around way longer than DCC! Yes but not batteries capable of being miniaturised sufficiently to power our models.

As pointed out above, the models that would most benefit from onboard batteries are the ones least suitable to fit said batteries in.
What if, in the future, the main components of such a small loco, the chassis and the body, could be made of a metallic material that is heavy and stores power?
All you need then is the readily available (in DCC!) control gear and some kind of antenna. DCC already has this of course, the track and once you have signal passing through the track, you may as well go back to powering it all through the rails!

Therefore in my ‘umble ’orrible opinion, dead rail is no more than a solution looking for a problem and I fail to see the point.
 

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... As pointed out above, the models that would most benefit from onboard batteries are the ones least suitable to fit said batteries in.
What if, in the future, the main components of such a small loco, the chassis and the body, could be made of a metallic material that is heavy and stores power?
All you need then is the readily available (in DCC!) control gear and some kind of antenna. DCC already has this of course, the track and once you have signal passing through the track, you may as well go back to powering it all through the rails!

Therefore in my ‘umble ’orrible opinion, dead rail is no more than a solution looking for a problem and I fail to see the point.
Let's just tackle this piece. What I wrote above doesn't seek to define the 'how', but only the requirements. Now some thoughts on how the power supply aspect might be achieved, and more.

We have to have accurately laid rails for a model railway to work at all well. Seems silly to neglect the pair of wires these provide. Wiring and current collection from plain track is simple, especially in the context of an onboard battery which can be thought of as a much enlarged capacity 'stay alive'. All the pointwork is left 'dead rail', no wiring to worry about (and there could be a yet further benefit in a well designed track system, see below).

A rechargeable battery, which is recharged all the time the vehicle is on plain track, need only be large enough to keep the loco moving over the largest continuous run of pointwork. Supply for 1 minute would be sufficient in OO.

Properly integrated loco design: low current consumption motor; and the compact battery and electronics placed where best for adhesive weight and signal reception. Collection from the rails may require wipers in small subjects, larger vehicles can collect from wheels live to the frames, one side only in the case of twin bogie traction and loco and tender; the long established American system.

(None of this need preclude alternative power arrangements being offered within a system, larger battery for inductive or remove the battery pack recharging, with absolutely no drawing power from track, for those that really have to wear this particular hair shirt.)

The matching track system: there has to be power to operate point motors, and wiring up these is a PITA at present. But if the plain track has supply for recharging, that can also power the dead rail point's motor. Every point would have an integrated motor, and the rail connectors would isolate the dead rail of the point from the live plain track, those same rail joiners having a connection to a through bus wire in the points independent of the running rails, connected to the point motors alone. The motor then has power, and on command whether in the track supply or by R/C can switch the route and report status.

This is all so simple that no original invention is required, so there should be no obstacle to making these aspects of the design 'open standard' which is where the Lenz DCC design scored and promptly won the day. (Except for a few with Brunellian 'gotta be different' positions.) I believe the track system piece would be the USP: remote control motorised points with no additional wiring beyond the live plain track connections.
 
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