Power packs etc

Power packs etc

Postby ozman2009 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:47 pm

Given the size of my potential TT layout (240cm by 90cm or 8' by 3') it's unlikely I'd have more than two or at the most three locos active at any one time, hence I don't see any real need for digital control (subject to comments below). And yes, I do realise that digital gives you realistic acceleration and braking. Therefore, which are the good analogue power packs? I assume we're looking at 16V DC.

Would there be any real advantage in using digital for controlling signals and turnouts? Again, given the size of the layout, it's unlikely I'd be having more than four or five of the former and half a dozen or so of the latter.
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby ConducTTor » Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:02 pm

For DC I use a MRC Tech 4 (MRC280). It has dual throttles and accessory power.
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby ozman2009 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:51 pm

Thanks. Do MRC have 240V versions of their power pacls?
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby ConducTTor » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:32 pm

No idea - I would visit their site and look around http://www.modelrec.com/
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby dileTTante » Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:02 am

If you have access to train shows or swap meets you might get a second-hand power pack. Since many are changing to digital the power packs are not hard to find. That's where I got the one I have which cost about $5 here in Canada. Made by Troller, it has 18v output for accessories in addition to the track outlets. Standard DC control is fine and would be sufficient for your needs and mine. Pulse power helps with old motors at low speeds. But I hate it when the lights on the locomotive go out when the loco stops.

On the other hand while digital can cost more and is perhaps a luxury for a small layout, once you use DCC it's hard to go back. For a small layout you need only the Sprog II which is about $100 and decoders which cost $20 each. To control them you'd need a laptop or desktop PC which doesn't have to cost much. An old used one would do and the train controlling software is available free of charge. I like it when the lights stay on while the engine is at rest. It appears to be waiting instead of being dead.
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby ozman2009 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:47 am

Thanks for the suggestion. Here in The Land Down Under we get a mix of US, British and European kit. I'm probably better off sticking with gear made for 240V rather than a 120V unit and a transformer. The next exhibition that I know of near me is next month.
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby railtwister » Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:42 am

Most of the locos that might come with factory installed DCC or DCC with sound, will also run on analog power packs, and many of the DCC systems will allow you to run one DC/analog loco on address "00" using a feature called zero stretching. Some DCC systems such as MRC and NCE do not allow analog operation, but even most of their decoders will allow operation with a DC power pack. The new small sized mobile decoders from Soundtraxx however will not allow operation with DC power packs. Even a small layout benefits from DCC operation because with DCC, it is unnecessary to divide the layout into blocks with selector switches to choose power from multiple power packs. A larger DCC home layout may benefit from more than one booster or power zone, but even this id a lot easier than dividing the same layout up into blocks for operation. However, if you set your layout up to run DC, and at some time in the future purchase a DCC or sound equipped loco, you may have problems because not all power packs put out DC only, most also have some pulse added for finer low speed control. With some types of DC power pack, this pulsed signal at low speed can confuse a decoder trying to run in "Analog Enabled" mode, because the decoder will think that the pulse is some form of DCC signal. For example, I know from experience that an MRC Dual Power 2800 DC power pack will upset and N scale sound loco using a BLI Paragon sound unit, even though the BLI is touted as being DC compatible.

My point is that if you don't have any power at all at this point, and you want to purchase new equipment, the cost difference between DC and DCC may be pretty minimal, especially if you need to purchase more than one DC power pack. For instance, in the USA an MRC power pack will run $40 to $50 each, while a Bachmann EZ-DCC system can be had for under $100, and a Digitrax Zephyr Xtra will be about $150-$170. I think the Zephyr is the entry level DCC system with the most features for the money, but everyone I know who has one of the Bachmann units is happy with it.

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Re: Power packs etc

Postby ozman2009 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:33 pm

Thanks for the advice Bill. There's more to mull over in the analogue/DCC debate than I'd thought of before. As it turns out, MRC do not make power packs/controllers for 240V, so they're out of contention. I suspect other US makers are the same.
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby ConducTTor » Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:39 pm

I second the SPROG suggestion. For $100 bucks you get a programmer for any brand decoder, a control station and if you want, control via iPhone. It uses a simple 12v power supply so you can get one of whatever voltage you want (240 for example).
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Re: Power packs etc

Postby ozman2009 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:00 pm

"if you want, control via iPhone" :shock:

I am one of the three peope in Australia who does not have a mobile phone.

OK thanks, point taken that DCC does not need to be overly complicated or expensive, and there are a few more benfits than I originally thought.
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