Jump to content

The end of DCC, or just a nice idea?

Rate this topic


gph2000
 Share

Recommended Posts

See, the date in the article. They expect to have the first products ready in spring 2013. Looks as if it didn't take off at all, and anything that needs batteries has red flashing lights all over it for me. Battery tech has a long long way to go. Nice idea and from the looks of it way cheaper than a full DCC setup.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.... A demo was presented to the MERG East Midland Area Group on 27/07/13...

 

If I was to go for it, I think I would want to replace / recharge battery power with power from the rails. But apparently those present that day with the idea of a loco taking off over paving slabs.

Edited by gph2000
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good chat about this sort of thing a few months back.

http://irishrailwaymodeller.com/showthread.php/2255-Wi-Fi-running-of-locomotives

As a DC modeller, it's a more natural progression to "real running" - swapping a programming track for a recharging track. Fitting mil grade batteries into old lima's shouldn't be much hassle, plenty room. Little shunters, 141's etc? That's the engineering challenge.

Thanks Ger for the post. Richie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Big advantages over DCC- much faster data transmission, inherently bidirectional, every module inherently has its own unique address, no dedicated transmitter hardware needed, fewer dropped packets due to dirty wheels or track. DC power can be used so interworkable with non- chipped locos. DC also potentially means lower radiated interference. Processors like the STM32W series and some MSP430s have built-in wireless systems so implementation should be fairly easy and modern chips can come in very small packages (6mm square for the smallest STM32). 2.4GHz chip antennae are minute, probably smaller than the components required to extract the DCC signal from the power.

 

Downside: there could be problems with the signal with a receiver located in a metal loco body. Metal enclosures only block the signal when you don't want them to. Might make your internet access slower if you've got lots of locos and you use a wireless ADSL hub (probably not noticeably). The receiver needs an accurate crystal, though against this you can probably reduce the size of local smoothing capacitors. It may be expensive for do-it-youselfers to buy the protocol stack.

 

Yes, this is quite possibly the future, though not necessarily this particular implementation. I don't think battery power is really a key feature, as any realistic battery is quite bulky and we lovers of small (but, of course, perfectly formed) prototypes find it hard enough to cram the bare motor in, let alone anything else. What's REALLY essential is an open protocol like DCC is. You don't want to be tied to one manufacturer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really looks like the Holy Grail doesn't it?! No need to clean rails, or even to wire track at all. You could even go back to steel track and let it rust rather than weathering it!

 

But like was already said, this is all dependent on getting battery technology to the point that it can fit into existing RTR models.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One other thing, surely if WiFi control takes off in any way it will need the same NMRA guidelines to provide some small measure of standardisation across the different manufacturers?

 

 

I doubt that the DCC manufacturers would agree to a common standard for a Wi Fi interface with their control each manufacturer jealousy guards their own control interface, there is a lot of money in selling throttles.

 

Most RC systems are based on a thottle based transmitter and a fixed or loco based receiver. The Airwire system http://www.cvpusa.com/airwire_system.php is a DCC based system that uses a radio receiver to control a DCC receiver in the loco.

 

Visiting operators with DT 400 throttles and the large number of walk around layouts in the US with Digitrax systems is said to be the largest barrier to development of control systems.

 

Although Digitrax developed a Palm Pilot/Loconet interface about 10 years ago this appears to have been dropped with operators apparently preferring conventional throttles.

 

I suppose the big question whether anything is gained by interfacing RC with DCC as in the Airwire System or a simple RC system like Aristocraft or RCS is more effective.

Edited by Mayner
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose the big question whether anything is gained by interfacing RC with DCC as in the Airwire System or a simple RC system like Aristocraft or RCS is more effective.

 

I think it would be a big plus if you could adapt your existing DCC system to RC or WiFi control. I would imagine modellers would be very reluctant to abandon a standardised system like DCC for a "manufacturer specific" control system. American modellers I would think would be very slow to accept the change. I think the success of DCC is down to standardisation (as well as backwards-compatibility) and also the fact that IT WORKS!

Edited by irishthump
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I'm grateful to you for referring to our website and I would be grateful for the opportunity to reply to some of the discussions raised in this thread. Please let me know if, as a commercial venture, I should not be making comments here.

The development of Acc+Ess Protocab is very much alive and well! I see, to my horror, that the website still shows our prediction of availability for Spring 2013, and I'm grateful to you for pointing it out. This will be corrected as soon as possible. True, back in Spring 2012 when we first showed our prototype in operation at the Scalefour North expo in Wakefield, we thought that we could bring the product to market by that November. Two things: firstly we received very much feedback from modellers on features we should incorporate. Secondly, with the imperative to be able to fit the system including the batteries in small 4mm locos in particular (we demo'd the system inside a 7mm Terrier), miniaturisation was the order of the day and still is. As the company's Director, I take product quality and customer satisfaction extremely series, and our developments have been taken up with ensuring high reliability and service quality. We won't release our products, even for beta test, until I (as a modeller as well) am satisfied with them.

Releasing a predicted availability date makes us a hostage to fortune, but at last we are on the final furlong and I have high confidence that the initial products, which we are calling the Pilot Series, will be available in Spring this year. To answer some specific points in this thread:

Regarding battery performance, we reckon to get around 4 hours' running time from a full charge (the rechargeable batteries are charged in situ in the loco) and at the four exhibitions we attended in 2013, we ran our locos for the whole day without being recharged, with the exception of the 3 rail Hornby Dublo 'Duchess' which, having a much hungrier, 55 year old motor, ran for about two hours with a train of four coaches. An overnight charge (about 4 hours) provided power for the whole next day.

We have been lucky to have been invited to a number of club meetings, hence the MERG write up (I MUST stop demoing the loco running over carpets or paving slabs, Titfield Thunderbolt fashion!). We have been invited to the Scottish MERG group meeting in March, and to a number of clubs in England and Scotland in 2014. We are next exhibiting at Scalefour North in April.

Although power from the battery is the first product iteration, with charging from a plug inserted into a socket on the loco, it will be followed by wireless recharging from transmitters beneath the track in, say, sidings and a receiver in the loco. The batteries we use (currently lithium ion) do not have a memory effect of early chemistries and therefore can be 'topped up' at any time. A number of modellers, echoed in this thread, have asked for power from the rails with control wirelessly, and we plan this in the next product development series.

The Pilot Series is designed to fit into medium to large 4mm/HO and small O gauge locos with motor current up to 900mA. In design is a range of further units designed to fit into small locos in 4mm and smaller scales. It is a symbiotic relationship -small locos, small power motors, small batteries and small control circuits!

We have no problems with the system inside metal bodied locos or, for that matter, running through chicken wire tunnels (i.e. the Faraday cage).

We have installed the system inside a range of RTR models and, as expressed in the thread, the biggest issue is that RTR chassis tend to be bulky with little room for the battery and control units. However, although the density of the battery is a bit less than that of the metal chassis, and therefore you lose some adhesive weight, RTR models do, in our experience, have plenty of pulling power with the battery installed in the loco having removed the appropriate volume of chassis block.

We are at the beginning of what is possible, which was not the case nearly thirty years ago when we first laid down the plans for Protocab. It's only in the last five or so years that the battery density, component size and cost have been viable for the system and we already know where we want to take it, with new technologies that are emerging.

Thanks for this opportunity to reply and I'd be delighted to answer anyone's questions about the Protocab system.

 

Best regards

 

Tony Hagon

Director

Acc+Ess Ltd

Glenrhu

Bowermadden

KW1 4TW

UK

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Tony,

 

You are very welcome indeed to the site and we value your interaction and details! It's a fascinating area and one I think we're all keen to explore!

 

Imagine no more track cleaning, power bus worries, circuits, frogs, !! :) It's the way of the future!

 

Well. thanks very much for your kind comments and I can confirm that what you say is absolutely true! In fact, I have here two layouts, one 7mm, one P4 both work in progress and not a wire in sight! I can't claim that all the point tie bars are solid because on my 75A Brighton layout all the loco yard points are solid but the turnouts on the running lines have insulated tie bars to accommodate the track circuiting! By definition, therefore, all the wheelsets are solid. I have thrown away the carborundum track cleaner!

Being a bit more serious, the approach we are taking goes beyond the benefits you have identified. As an ex-railwayman myself, I am keen to create a system that enhances the whole modelling experience, so that running a train is as close to the prototype as possible.

But above all, as a company we are very keen to hear from modellers, and if I may advertise our Club Protocab, open to all and with no membership fees, it is a forum of several hundred modellers that we at Acc+Ess manage as a conduit to let interested modellers know of our developments. There's a contact form on the website, or simply send an email to club@protocab.com. We send out newsletters and we have run a couple of webinars which we intend to continue this year. We have a YouTube channel but being heads down in developments, there's only one video so far..

This is a very early prototype and still going strong. We've developed a long way since May 2012!

 

Thanks for the continuing opportunity to share our developments with you and do please contact me.

 

Best regards

Tony Hagon

Director

Acc+Ess Ltd

Glenrhu

KW1 4TW

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent as it is to have unpowered track, I think until battery technology goes through another cycle or two, it might be best to keep batteries minimal, just to keep the radio alive during track outages (so track cleaning still needed, if not quite so much), feeding the motor from the batteries only briefly and hopefully rarely. Big locos like O gauge standard gauge stuff are not so constrained, but a 4mm scale GSWR 90 or Schull and Skibbereen 4-4-0T will find it hard enough to stuff everything in.

 

For smaller scales, track feed - DC or DCC could both be used and you could interoperate- to get the DC, maybe Bluetooth rather than wifi for the wireless, a DCC type motor controller. a small battery or supercap, I think you should get the lot into 90's side tanks, and one of Nigel Lawton's tiny motors inbetween...

 

Bluetooth because you can get a one-to-one connection (HID or serial) so no address setup or resolution and easy connectivity to computers and tablets. Serial port communication means no fancy protocols to program, but plenty of bandwidth compared to DCC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guys, here's a couple of questions for anyone who feels they can answer them!

 

Is this system basically wireless DCC complete with CV's which are adjustable for motor control, lighting effects and/or sound? Or is it simply a wireless method of motor control?

Edited by irishthump
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guys, here's a couple of questions for anyone who feels they can answer them!

 

Is this system basically wireless DCC complete with CV's which are adjustable for motor control, lighting effects and/or sound? Or is it simply a wireless method of motor control?

 

Well, as the designer I can give it to you from the horse's mouth!

The Protocab Pilot Series is wireless control of motor speed and direction. It is not based on DCC for many reasons.

The system provides for an unlimited range of personalisations including acceleration and braking rates.

The ability to add lighting effects and sound are inherent to the design for later development and incorporation as are other auxiliary functions we have in plan.

I hope this helps.

 

Best regards

 

Tony Hagon

Director

Acc+Ess Ltd

Bowermadden

Scotland

KW1 4TW

tony@protocab.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...
This interesting system appears to be available now.

 

https://www.protocab.com/shop#!/Bundles/c/15656058/offset=0&sort=nameAsc

The biggest downside with this system is the need for a (presumably) fiddly physical connection to allow charging of EACH loco. If you have more than one or two, it would drive you (me) crazy. They are talking of an update with inductive charging which would be a huge advance; a few placed in a fiddle yard, platform end, storage areas, drive up and ready to go when you are...

Edited by DiveController
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use