Beginners to on board and trail car battery R/C often do not know where to start.
The following is a brief summary of what types of equipment are available, & what is involved converting to battery R/C.
GLOSSARY OF TECHNICAL TERMS. See below.
Each RCS R/C product has a downloadable PDF file elsewhere on this website explaining how to use it.
RCS R/C makes our own 2.4 GHz DSM2 R/C systems using Deltang Tx2 modules.
These new transmitters have VERY GOOD RANGE when compared to our original small proprietary handset due to the much higher radio frequency employed.
RCS places the Deltang Tx2 module high in the case so the hand of the operator cannot impede the signal.
No need to worry about poking anyone in the eye. They no longer have the long telescoping antennas of the older AM and FM systems.
|DSM2 TX handpieces||DSM2 RX's||OMEGA-10 & COBRA-260 Hi Power|
RCS DSM2 Handpieces. Although RCS R/C DSM2 R/C handpieces are not officially approved, they are compliant to EU and FCC rules and are legal Worldwide for ground and air use. Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) is completely ignored. There are many frequencies available and the systems are self selecting for an available frequency. Each TX handpiece is discrete. No more crystal swapping for system separation.
DSM2 protocol TX handpieces are compatible with Spektrum, Lemon R/C Orange R/C and Deltang R/C.
RCS DSM2 Auto-Bind Rx's, We have three different DSM2 Auto-Bind Rx's
BASIC. Standard Off The Shelf 6 channel Auto Bind Rx's. Not adjustable or programmable. Ideal for battery R/C. Can be used for Live Steam with an optional extra servo channel reverser if needed.
INTERMEDIATE. Same Rx as ADVANCED but not adjustable.
ADVANCED. Fully Tx settable for servo default direction of rotation and servo end points.
There two types of RCS battery R/C system.
Replicates how a Live Steam engine is actually operated using battery power instead of steam.
The direction is set with a Johnson Bar Reverser knob.
Admission of steam to the cylinders is controlled by a Regulator knob.
The RCS Tx handpiece uses the channel # 3 small knob as the Reverser for setting the direction.
This small Reverser knob also controls the variable rate inertia.
The larger channel # 1 with a 300º knob is the Regulator and is used for speed control.
The benefit is finer speed control than the 150º each way Centre OFF type.
These are only available as HI-POWER.
This is how you control a real model steam engine using just the Johnson bar.
Just one channel, (ie one knob) is used to control both speed and direction. This is how most ESC's sold for Trains, Boats and Cars work.
That leaves one channel unused which can either control another loco or two more sound triggers.
All RCS Tx handpieces can operate locos with both types of ESC's
RCS R/C ESC's come fitted with a Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC) for the receiver. No extra RX battery needed. The BEC has enough power to drive add on servo controls such as the Kadee servo uncouplers.
RCS ESC's are designed primarily for battery power.
There is one 6 - 24 volt 100 Watt ESC that comes either as "Low OFF" control or "Centre OFF" control. They have directional lighting, add on sound triggers, programmable default direction set and system reset capability.
RCS ESC's are compatible with Phoenix®, SIERRA®, Dallee® and MyLocosound® sound systems.
There is a Plug'n'Play installaion kit for AristoCraft® and Bachmann® locos that will permit any brand of R/C to be used.
INSTALLING BATTERY R/C
Firstly you need to determine whether you want all the equipment on board the loco or tagging along in a trail car.
Each has advantages and disadvantages.
These are commonly used for Plug'n'Play assembly of battery R/C components in a locomotive.
All RCS supplied Batteries, ESC's & installation kits are fitted with JST connectors at no extra cost.
they can be safely used up to 3 amps and 20 volts. 4 amps at 15 volts or 5 amps at 12 volts.
Heavier duty connectors are available at extra cost where needed.
A trail car set up is by far the simplest method and has the advantage of much more room for the batteries and equipment. Another advantage over an in the loco installation is, that, you can simply plug one trail car from loco to loco. With some steam outline locos the tender is big enough to carry everything and is after all, a sort of trail car. In a trail car, access to the battery pack is also much easier if you need to change the pack. If switching on and running is your thing then trail car installations are ideal.
Any of the RCS R/C Battery R/C systems can be installed in a trail car. If the trains you intend to haul are heavy, naturally you will need to choose one of the higher volt/amp (va) rated systems.
The biggest disadvantage is you have this "thing" always being lugged around behind the loco. That sure makes life difficult when switching. Also, having proper control of the loco lights and on board sound becomes a lot more complicated with a lot of wires running between the loco and the trail car.
Installing everything in the loco allows for far more operating flexibility. R/C equipment and battery technology is so advanced nowadays it is possible to fit some RCS R/C systems inside many "0" scale locos and even some "0n3" rolling stock.
The trade off is generally a more difficult installation as most locos have to be dismantled. This may be a daunting task for a novice. Creativity in antenna placement is not required.
No more lugging a trail car around. Switching becomes a breeze.Interfacing with sound systems is greatly simplified, as is wiring constant brightness lighting to remain on when stationary, and automatically change direction.
Although NiCd chemistry is just about dead and buried, some NiMh batteries are still useful. RCS still uses and recommends LSD AA hybrid size. We also use the 4 x cell packs normally used for Rx and servo control, wired in series to provide the lowest cost way of getting 14.4 volts. They provide decent run times at the lowest possible cost.
Lithium Ion batteries are now commonly in use. They have many advantages over both NiCd and NiMh.
We do not recommend Li-Poly cells for Large Scale use as they require very special charging procedures such as removal from a model and placement in a ceramic container. Rather inconvenient.
A very simple circuit is also available that allows the operator to plug in auxiliary batteries when running on the mainline and saving the on board battery pack for switching & light engine running.
There is a third category that is quite popular.
TRAIL CAR WITH BATTERIES ONLY.
This is where only the batteries are carried in the trail car. Generally this method is used with AristoCraft locos that have the pigtail at the front and rear. The receiver, controller and sound system are installed on board and powered by the trail car batteries. This greatly simplifies installation but the penalty is you will always have a "THING" trailing behind.
RCS R/C also has published a number of HOW TO articles at various LS websites. These are listed with convenient clickable links elsewhere on this website.
RCS R/C suggests potential battery R/C converts read up on the subject at LS Internet forums.
RCS R/C provides comprehensive installation instructions and wiring diagrams.
Apart from various Installation kits for On Board and Trail Car systems, RCS also has R/C SWITCHES plus BATTERIES & CHARGERS.
Click HERE for a list of pdf instruction booklets for the brand of R/C being used and brand specific sound system wiring instructions.
All battery packs state a NOMINAL voltage on the pack.
When freshly charged the actual voltage can exceed the NOMINALvoltage.
eg. An 18 volt Ni-Cd pack can read 24 volts when fully charged.
RCS takes into account the excess voltage when batteries are freshly charged when listing what is the maximum voltage you can use.
Likewise the NOMINAL voltage also takes into account the likely voltage drop when discharging.
It is the NOMINAL voltage on the battery pack that is the maximum & minimum voltage you can use.
Here is a brief glossary of abbreviations used by this and other websites when referring to radio control equipment. We would appreciate feedback as to abbreviations we may have left out.
|Remote Control Systems. Using our own multi channel 2.4 GHz DP R/C equipment to control our Large Scale model trains. Both Live Steam and Battery powered.|
|Tx||Transmitter. Used by an operator to send the signals to the:|
|Rx||Receiver. Either sitting trackside or onboard in a loco or trail car.|
|JST||Brand of in line connectors designed to assemble parts into locos for easy installation.|
|BINDING||The process during set up whereby the 2.4 Ghz Rx is "wedded" to the Tx handpiece.|
|LINKING||Once BINDING has taken place, LINKING is what happens automatically when switching the TX & loco on each time. This can sometimes take a few seconds.
|MD||Motor Driver. Which interprets these commands and drives the motor(s). When used with DP systems also known as:|
|ESC||Electronic Speed Controller. Does the same thing as an MD.|
|PWM||A type of DC voltage that is often used to power the motor(s).|
|DC||Direct Current. As distinct from:|
|AC||Alternating Current. This is the type of voltage at the mains supply which is reduced and rectified to produce DC.|
|DP||Digital Proportional R/C that can set the speed output of an ESC so that is relative to the position on the TX stick or knob.|
|AM||Amplitude Modulation. Used with low cost DP systems to transmit the commands. Very susceptible to RFI.|
|FM||Frequency Modulation. Also used with DP systems. Suffers less from RFI.|
|DSSS||Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum. 2.4 GHz DSSS systems transmit on a single selected frequency but on a very wide band. Only a small portion of that band is used for specially encoded information.|
|FHSS||Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum. With a 2.4 GHz FHSS system, the transmitter transmits a narrow band signal and rapidly jumps from one frequency to the next, spending a few milliseconds on each frequency. This how RCS DSM2 works.
|DSM2||The protocol (computer language) used to communicate RCS control commmands.
Standard used by Spektrum R/C (Horizon Hobbies), Orange (Hobby King) & Xenon.
|PCB||Printed Circuit Board. The fiberglass cards upon which are mounted the components that make the R/C systems work.|
|PCM||Pulse Code Modulation. Until the advent of 2.4 GHz, the least affected by RFI of the majority of DP systems.|
|RFI||Radio Frequency Interference. Can, and often does affect how the R/C systems work. Can be atmospheric, reflective or generated by the PCB motor driver and/or the motor(s). Usually requires some type of suppression. Does not affect 2.4 Ghz R/C.|
|IC||Integrated Circuit. Usually a small multi pin component that is often the brains behind how a particular system works.|
|Volt Amps is simply another way of saying WATTS. i.e. the amount of power required to do a particular job. Either term gives a true reflection of what power the output circuit is capable of. Eg 100 WATTS is = to 10 amps at 10 volts. Or, 5 amps at 20 volts. Assuming of course the equipment can handle the higher voltage. RCS equipment is nowadays rated in WATTS..|
|LED||Light Emitting Diode. A small device that uses low voltage and current to provide a long lasting light source. Can be very high powered for locomotive lighting. RCS uses them on the PCB’s to indicate direction and acknowledgement of programming changes.|
|MAH||Milli Ampere Hours. The capacity of a battery. 1200 MAH means the battery can give 1.2 amps for 1 hour.|
|NiCd||Nickel Cadmium. A type of battery Chemistry. Now banned in many countries.|
|NiMh||Nickle Metal Hydride. Another type of battery Chemistry. OK but rapidly self discharges.|
|Hybrid||Nickle Metal Hydride & Alkaline. Also known as Low Self Discharge. Availablle in both AAA & AA sizes. Made by Sanyo-Panasonic and guaranteed to hold 85% charge for one year.|
|Li-Ion||Lithium Ion. Yet another type of battery chemistry. After rapidly gaining popularity is now the dominant chemistry used in battery R/C locos. When fitted with suitable protection/balance pcb's, enables on board loco charging.
|Li-Po||Lithium Ion Polymer. Battery chemistry that should be treated with studied CAUTION!!!
Not usually fitted with protection/balance pcb's so requires the battery pack be removed from the model for charging.