Author Topic: The Future of Model Railroad Control  (Read 3223 times)

Alan

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The Future of Model Railroad Control
« on: January 18, 2017, 11:19:53 AM »
Most RailPro users have read numerous times how DCC users berate RP for not being compatible and thus requiring a complete change-over with the associated cost. It is a valid concern for someone heavily invested in DCC. Might this same situation one day apply to us RP users? Sadly, I think it will. Even more sad, I think it will come much faster for us than the 10+ years it took for DCC.

Take a look at the below email newsletter I received today from DigiKey. You don't need to know anything tech to realize the world of IOT (Internet of Things) is developing at breakneck speed. Most of the items featured in the newsletter are itsy bitsy little SMD (surface mount device) components that will fit in model trains. The basic building blocks for an advanced model railroad control system are being developed independently and without cost to the model railroad community. IOT offers one particularly significant  advantage over proprietary MRR control systems - programability. The very same lure the hobby has right now with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.

How long before some bright individual assembles these off-the-shelf IOT components into a workable MRR system and then posts the plans on the Internet for all to see? It would be like the next evolution of the Arduino rage. Free sketches for all! As the newsletter demonstrates, the IOT pieces needed already exist or will soon. All that's missing is ingenuity.

I am going to continue enjoying my RP controlled trains and not sweat the future. But, I am also going to keep my eye on IOT. Anyone want to buy a used RP system? Just kidding of course. For now.

http://info.digikey.com/index.php/email/emailWebview?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiT1RVM1pUaGpObUkxWVdOaCIsInQiOiJmbFJkMGptSjNxRkhFL2ZPWEVBZ213bit2K095VXMrNHVLREFQUk8yV2IzZDFnYUUySUF0Umh5eWgrZVNKMmRYOHJDVkVmWng1OFdFZzVzWTducldxVUFBWEZBMHBCbkhTZW4reGcvWm9zNmlSN28xWjZtNzMrUXdkc0pVSDdFaCJ9
Alan

LK&O Railroad website

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

Antoine L.

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2017, 01:28:14 PM »
The NMRA will slow things down as much as possible like they always do. "We've always done it that way, why do it any other way?"

Modeling a mix of CN / Wisconsin central on a 12x15 freelance area.

nodcc4me

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2017, 02:40:05 PM »
Alan, much of what you say is true. However, look how long it took for DCC to become outdated. Although the digital age is progressing faster now than it was twenty years ago, I doubt if most of us old timers have to worry about a replacement for RailPro. From my experience, most model railroaders that I have seen are old timers. One of the missions of my club is to get younger people interested in the hobby. That is easier said than done. For those who do, the future should hold some pretty interesting developments.
Al

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TwinStar

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2017, 11:56:59 PM »
My mission is to gravitate people away from DCC and to fixed DC. Whether they choose RailPro, BlueRail, IOT, or anything else that comes along is fine with me. However, what we must do is standardize the power supply and current detection and let each operator choose the system of their choice.
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
trmhs.org

Alan

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 07:38:02 AM »
Quote
However, what we must do is standardize the power supply

This part is already done - low cost 15V 5A switch mode power supplies available everywhere.

ps.PNG

And as the layout power demands grow simply swap in bigger power.

ps2.PNG
Alan

LK&O Railroad website

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

TwinStar

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2017, 09:08:53 AM »
Alan,

What's the difference between the two?

Jacob
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
trmhs.org

Alan

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2017, 09:14:15 AM »
Output current. Readily available power bricks top out at about 5A. Readily available standard enclosure units go all the way up to 100A.

http://www.meanwellusa.com/productSeries.aspx?i=16&c=6#tag-6-16
Alan

LK&O Railroad website

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

TwinStar

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2017, 10:53:10 AM »
What's the max amperage we would want to apply? I couldn't imagine shorting 100 amps.
Jacob Damron
Modeling late 1950's Dallas Union Terminal in Free-mo+ modules

Texas Railway Modeling and Historical Society trmhs.org
trmhs.org

Alan

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2017, 11:56:27 AM »
Quote
I couldn't imagine shorting 100 amps.

Yeah, they call that a welder! It would take an enormous layout to make use of a 100A power supply.

Any one loco is going to draw between 300mA (modern 5 pole) and 2A (old BB) at full load. Much less under normal operating conditions. Multiply by number of locos running at any given time. Then there are other potential loads such as car lighting. Add it all up and you have the required amperage.

To minimize the amount of current (short circuit melting ability) available while still providing enough current for the entire layout, power districts are used. Exactly the same way your house is wired except there they are called branch circuits. Your house may have 200A service but at any given plug only 15-20A is available due to a circuit breaker. Model railroad layouts are the same except the voltage and amperage is much lower. A typical power district circuit breaker is 4-5A. So regardless of the maximum output of the power supply, 4-5A is all that is available within that particular power district. This prevents massive high current short circuits. A 100A power supply would be able to power 20 fully loaded power districts which would be a huge number of trains.

Where big amperage power supplies do come into play are with LED lighting strips. I can run tons of trains on my layout with its little 7A power supply. But to light up that same layout with LED strips requires over 50A @12VDC. Since it is a really bad idea to operate power supplies at full rated output for extended periods, I use 3 units totaling 110A. This keeps the system running at roughly 50% so my power supplies will last a long time.

The unit on the far left is 30A for my accessory and control buses.
Second from the left is 30A for 1/2 of the upper deck LED strips.
Next over is 50A for powering all the lower deck LED strips.
On the right is another 30A for the other 1/2 of the upper deck LED strips.
The little one in the bottom right is 7A for running trains.



 
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 11:58:34 AM by Alan »
Alan

LK&O Railroad website

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

Blueleader

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Re: The Future of Model Railroad Control
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2017, 01:56:20 PM »
A little info to save some research time (see installation sheet below):  LM-3S module requires a Speaker with 4 to 16 ohms, and the 6 Pin LM-3S connector works directly with a 9 Pin DCC harness but needs an adapter to connect to the 8 or 21 Pin DCC harness.

RailPro LM3S module wiring guide n Speaker info 4 to 16 ohms.jpg