Analogue controllers?

It's been a while, but I've been slowly building the layout nonetheless.
I'm now fixing and powering the track, and have the up/down lines
finished, and now working on the sidings/goods yard.
I made a control board up myself, using bits of wood and hardboard from
the shed, and mounted two of the late Hornby controllers onto it, which
power the two main line tracks (by way of my isolating switches).
Now I have the need to power the two sidings, which, being a small
layout, don't need to supply copious amounts of oomph. Budget is also a
consideration too, so I'm looking mostly at the s/h stuff on eBay.
So far I'm down to an old dual channel H&M, or another pair of late type
Hornby ones. I know how the Hornby ones work, and seem to work well
enough for my layout, but are a little bit inconsistent at low speeds. I
do have an old Airfix controller, which looks identical to the H&M
units, but it is useless at low speeds, as it bungs out far too much
power.
Recommendations? (and no, I can't afford the HM2000, or Gaugemaster
units at this time).
Cheers.
Reply to
Andy Hewitt
Loading thread data ...
"Andy Hewitt" wrote
Take a look at the Gaugemaster 'Combi' it's a Hornby style wall-mount transformer and separate controller, but these are much better quality, and not much more expensive than the Hornby transet efforts.
John.
Reply to
John Turner
The reason the ones you mention are poor at low speeds, is that they are simple variable resistance units.
Which means that when you turn the knob you increase both current and voltage.
But it takes more current to start than to keep it running, and the voltage controls the speed.
So that by the time you have reached enough current you already have a fairly high voltage, so the engine runs away like a scalded cat.
Modern electronic controllers use a voltage regulator chip, so you get full current at all voltages.
You can also get good control from a single transistor and a variable resistor. Obviously it needs a transformer, a rectifier and a smoothing capacitor as well. A friend of my father's made one for us when I was a boy. So if you know somebody who is an electronics nerd (not a computer nerd) he might be able to help. There are books and magazines on model railway electronics which give circuits like this, including the exact components.
It's the sort of thing Tandy (Radio Shack) shops were perfect for.
Alternatively, before the days of this kind of controller, they used variable transformers. Hammant and Morgan used to make one called the Safety Minor - I had one more than 40 years ago. They used the same system in the later versions of their Powermaster.
You might be able to get one of these at a swapmeet or on ebay. They are still very good but out of fashion.
These worked by sliding a wiper along the secondary winding of a transformer. So there wasn't a resistor involved to reduce current.
I believe they stressed the safety part because traditional variacs were auto-transformers having just one winding and weren't really safe enough for model railway use.
My O-gauge club (Kingston, in up-state New York) uses very ancient variable transformer controllers which give excellent low speed performance. It's a no-name setup built by a member decades ago and used on club night ever since.
If you see a Hammant and Morgan Powermaster for sale, make sure it's the variable transformer not the earlier resistance kind. But beware, unless the seller actually used it he might not know.
Reply to
Christopher A. Lee
Build your own ? The circuit diagram for one of the Gaugemasters is around publically somewhere and is pretty trivial to make.
Or there is the "cool crawler" which is a US design which can be found if you search the internet. I've made one, needs only vero board and a multi-meter to check continuity as you build it. Its a nice controller for OO and probably most N RTR stuff. I built a version with a base unit which remembers the last setting of the handset if the handset is unplugged and moved to another position on the layout, and the handsets were built with both a speed control and an "inertia" knob to give some acceleration and braking delay, probably cost under £20.
Both need about 16v AC which an old H&M will give on its auxillary output.
- Nigel
Reply to
Nigel Cliffe
I'd recommend a Gaugemaster Combi as John mentioned or if you are on a really tight budget, buy one of those controllers that Bachmann/Farish supply with their train sets as they are suprisingly good. You can buy them for about £10-15 on Ebay.
Fred X
Reply to
Fred X
I have one of the Farish controllers, but it seems to have died, but yes, it was much better for the low speed stuff, while it worked.
Thanks to all that responded, pretty much the answers I was expecting really - spend more!
Reply to
Andy Hewitt
one question, its for 2 sidings and if understand correctly you want 2 controllers or dual output. However if you only intend to run a train on one siding at a time then you only need one controller/output and switches.
Cheers, Simon
Reply to
simon
[..]
Well, if it's just me using the layout, then of course only one controller is needed. However, if someone wants to join in with the fun, then a second controller would be handy.
My current track plan has the ability to run trains simultaneously on the main lines, and on both sidings.
Of course I could easily run off one controller for now, and join the supplies, and add another controller later.
Reply to
Andy Hewitt
Or else welcome to Cab Control, whereby any controller can control any section of track. Juat need a few DPDT switches (or SPDT if you use common rail which I do not recommend :-) ).
Have a look at:
formatting link
to see what I mean.
Steve
Reply to
Steve Oz
Why don't you like common rail? It has always worked well for me, back in the days when I ran DC as opposed to DCC.
John
Reply to
John Dennis
Yes, I am using a common return too. I have looked at the crossover switching setup but it's far too elaborate for the layout I'm running. I have done some testing, and I find I can manage the crossovers using separate controllers quite well.
The only real issue seems to be if I accidentally switch them in opposite directions, but the joins are double insulated, so there's not too much worry.
My main lines are sorted really, it's just the sidings I need to control now. I think the suggestion that I may not need to bother with two controllers my be the best anyway, I can make the wiring so I can split them later if I need to.
Reply to
Andy Hewitt
Not saying that people with fancy or expensive controllers are doing anything wrong - each to his/her own. However the average punter is unlikely to notice or use the extra features. Best to stick with a basic guagemaster with fewer things to go wrong. There was a period last year when 2nd hand ones were flooding the market - perhaps as people converted to DCC. would suggest just get one for now and if you think a second would be handy then wait till see one at a good price. If you have 2 persons controlling then can be better to have 2 seperate controllers - all a question of space/convenience really.
Cheers, Simon
Reply to
simon
[..]
Absolutely, I find that's the whole fun in the hobby, there's not necessarily only one way to do things, and each of us has different priorities.
That's one of the reasons I went for analogue, the amount of s/h stuff available is pretty good. I also find I enjoy working out the circuits, building it all up, and manually controlling it all.
Space is OK, I can mount two small controllers, or a larger dual one, fairly easily at the side of the control hatch.
Reply to
Andy Hewitt
Firstly notice the smiley - tongue definitely in cheek, as normally any mention of common rail wiring starts a blizzard of replies, suggestions and rebuttals. The old saw about separate transformers is dragged out etc etc etc. Any competent or reasonably experienced modeller will have no difficulty with it, but I avoid all thqt stuff and have been DCC'd since 1994.
Steve
Reply to
Steve Oz
Ah, I missed the significance of the smiley. You were well ahead of me; I only converted to DCC in early 2000. But that was early enough so that when we exhibited at Easter that year we were the only layout running DCC.
John
Reply to
John Dennis

Site Timeline

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.