R/C railroad locomotive?

Hi,
I am looking at control options for my 1/8 scale locomotive. I am interested in the possibility of controlling it by R/C. It isn't your
typical locomotive, though, in that it is ten feet long and weighs nine hundred pounds <g>. In other words, it is a "ride on" locomotive.
I have looked at some of the conventional R/C systems like Futaba, etc. and they are simply much more sophisticated than I need, with the exception of eight or nine channels.
What I need is a simple system, preferably one that I can mount the transmitter in a sturdy handheld case and install the necessary controls myself. The system would require four high torque servos, one or two on/off switches, a couple of variable pot equivalents and one off/on/momentary on switch for the ignition.
Is there a manufacturer that produces something that might work or a couple of manufacturers whose products I could cobble together? The electrical source is a twelve volt automobile battery.
Regards,
Britt Harrington Miami, Florida
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Britt, The model rr folks already have R/C some communications is through the tracks. Others are through a RF link. I would think that unless you desire to reinvent the wheel I would focus my efforts there. If you do adapt a Model airplane system Make sure you use a ground frequency in the 75 MHZ range not on an Airplane freq in the 72MHZ. Sparky
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Sparky,
I am also model HO and N scale locos and am very familiar with DCC and radio control for these. These locos have electric powered track, though. My 1/8 scale is powered by a 14HP gasoline motor.
In my case, there is no wheel to recreate <g>. There isn't a rec.models.rc.locomotive newsgroup, so I had hoped to get some insight here.
Regards,
Britt

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (FBritt) wrote in message

There is rec.models.railroad.
DCC (which is remote control via signals in the rails) is discussed frequently.
Good luck
Greg
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Ummm,,, You have a 900 pound locomotive, and you want to go cheap on the controls system,??????????????? What's wrong with this picture?
On 28 Dec 2003 14:35:13 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (FBritt) wrote:

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Bob,
I think you are looking at the wrong picture <g>.
Adding RC will probably add $500-$1,000 to the cost of the loco. It is a matter of convenience and aesthetics. For the most part, large scale locos simply use cables and valves for control that mar the appearance of the locos.
Britt

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Hi Marty,
Thanks for the reply. I am familiar with the Train Engineer. It really won't work in my case. I have found a product made by an Austrailian firm called Silvertone.
http://www.silvertone.com.au/mark22tx.htm
Something like this might work. All I have been able to learn about the system is on the website, though.
You bring up a good point about safety. Typically, I will be sitting on a gondola directly behind the locomotive, say a foot, controlling the loco. The exception would be if I needed a tool or something from the car barn a quarter a mile way by foot. In that case, I would just send the train for someone to put the tool in the gondola.
The speed and direction of the loco is controlled by an hydraulic valve. I would need a servo that would self center to neutral if there were a loss of signal or power. Most of the servos will have to be high torque, but I think some of the 240s might work. Is that feature available?
Again, thanks for the reply.
Regards,
Britt

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On 28 Dec 2003 18:42:37 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (FBritt) wrote:

It's clearly a flexible system, but I don't see that it has digitally-signed encoding. That's what you need to protect you from someone running a car or dune buggy next door or down the street.

If you could bring yourself to give up the dream of standing and watching your pride and joy from the field, you could hard-wire a control system that used the logic of RC without the TX/RX interface. That also cuts out the problems with battery reliability and RF interference from the engine ignition.

If the train is running OK, you can ride it to the barn and back. If it's not running OK, your RC setup isn't gonna get it to the car barn. :o)

PCM receivers can deal with loss of signal. You can set the defaults for how that situation is to be dealt with. Loss of power is a different kettle of fish. You might need a dead-man's switch elsewhere in the vehicle that would open in the event of a power-failure.

So far as I know, the fail-safe features are in the receiver, not in the servo. And the servos with which I'm familiar require power to center. They don't have a mechanical self-centering function that would take over when power failed. There may be actuators like that in other industries, of course.
Here is a two-channel RC garden train system:
<http://www.rctrains.com/
Maybe you could contact Tony Stillman at Radio South. He knows radios inside out. He may be able to cobble together the components you need:
<http://www.radiosouthrc.com/
He would certainly how to get you set up with the basics.
                    Marty
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All of the current RC transmitters than have 8+ channels are computerized. Once you look at them they are not hard to understand and the flexibility they provide more than makes up for the initial learning curve. Futaba, JR, Hitec and Multiplex all make super high torque servos that would work. What is important is that you use PCM encoding to provide a failsave (drive off, brake on etc) in case of RF signal loss. Also 75Mhz is the preferred ground frequency in the US. Don't use 27Mhz, too much garbage in that band. A Futaba 9C, JR9X or a Multiplex Cockpit with 75Mhz module would do the trick. If you want to mount it in a ruggetized case, the Multiplex or the Futaba / JR european models would work much better since all the controls are located on top. The euro models are also customizable with your choice of switch, pot or slider for controls. If you don't want the hobby RF systems then you could look into industrial RF controllers which, of course, run into serious $$.
-- 'Fritz the Cat' Blackburn VP-94 Techrep NAS New Orleans http://www.fritzthecat.info
FBritt wrote:

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Hi Fritz,
Thanks for the reply and information.
The reason I would prefer a simple, custom case is to reduce the learning curve for others that may wish to operate the locomotive.
Large scale miniature railroading is a very expensive hobby. A nice diesel loco will cost you $8-$14K and a live steam loco will be $15 to $30K or more. Eighty percent of the members of my local club don't have locomotives. They do other things, though, like track repair, loco maintenance, PR, and just help in general when we offer rides to the public. In turn, they get to operate the locos. I would like for them to simply be handed a RC transmitter and some brief instruction, and then just send them on their way. These things only go about 5 MPH under normal conditions.
I looked at some of the European RC transmitter cases. I do see that you can substitute various controls. What about the control stick channels, though? One control stick for forward and reverse would be fine. Most of the other channels will be used for electrical and sound functions e.g horn, bell, lights, volume, simulated engine RPM sound etc. Basically these are on/off or momentary functions. Can the control stick channels be remapped?.
Regards,
Britt

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Contact Tony Stilman at Radio South he will hook you up. Sparky
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Just 'go fast'. It's more fun.

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Dear Boris,
You see, you just have to keep things in perspective <g>. I don't have a RC airplane because I have a real one in my hangar and I don't have a RC sports car because I have a real one in my garage. Now trains, that is a different story. I don't have a real TGV yet because there just isn't any place I can keep and operate it<vbg>.
Regards,
Britt

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I was passing through a switching yard at a large papermill one day and was held at a crossing as an engine was working back and forth. I was surprised to see that the gentleman riding on the front steps of the engine to couple and uncouple the cars was also using what appeared to be a conventional RC transmitter to control the engine on which he was riding.

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I guess they're hard to lose in the sun, but there's one time you don't want to hear "I DON'T HAVE IT!"
DC3
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Yes, this is very common in South Florida.
Regards,
Britt

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Just curious, what do you need to control? All i can think of is throttle/brake and maybe a whistle. Anyway, if you need 4 channels, thats easy. Something like : http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXBCP2 **&P=7 note that it comes with a SURFACE frequency - exactly what you need... and two 3003 servos - very whimpy, but they can control on/off switches or the whistle or something. for higher torque servos try: http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXAAD4&P=7 for solid state switches try: http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXCJD6&P=7 or http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXCJD8&P=7
good luck, mike

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Mike,
Thanks for the e-mail. I need one channel each for a throttle, choke and transmission using a high torgue servos. I also need two channels for the ignition, and one each for the horn, bell and sound board volume using solid state electronic switches. That's eight.
I have found suitable servos and electronic switches for all functions except the sound control (variable potentiometer). Any idea where I can find that?
Regards,
Britt

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Mike,
I forgot to mention that I have also found a suitable eight channel 75 MHz transmitter and receiver. It is only that pesky solid state potentiometer that I can't locate <g>
Regards,
Britt

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i never got much past the radio shack electronic toy sets when i was a kid, but Im sure that sort of thing could be homebuilt easily. Having said that, i personally would probably just rig up a cheap servo to a cheap pot and be done with it. *or* rig up the servo driven pot for now while you research the solid state unit.

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