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Power Functions in old 9V trains


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#1 Staszek

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 03:20 PM

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The reason for this perhaps strange question is that I am one of those AFOLs who decided to return to the hobby just in time when TLG decided to confuse everybody about the future of the train system.

So, once we know that the PF system is about to rule for some time at least, I will be investing in the full plastic tracks :) Naturally I would love to see some of the old sets running on them, BUT before I start auctioning for old locomotives I need to clarify some issues.

Question:

Do you have any experience / idea on potential fit of PF sollution from Emerald Night to some previous locomotives?

Potential candidates for discussion:

- Santa Fe
- BNSF
- Metroliner
- High Speed Train (World City)
- Holiday Train

Any feedback highly appreciated.

#2 Freddie

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 04:31 PM

With the exception of the BNSF, which is too narrow to fit the battery box, all the trains you mentioned should be readily compatible without any major work. On the BNSF you'll need to have the battery in a tender, or some other type of car to carry the battery, but the other trains really shouldn't be a problem. I dare say the Metroliner and Santa Fe even would be easy, since both trains actually hide the battery if you gut the engines, and the receivers can be placed inside the drivers' cabins. On the High Speed train, it would be visible, but still be easy, while on the Holiday Train its a matter of how you package it.

And there's an up-side too: You can even use the old 9V motors and lights, since the PF extension cable is backwards compatible. :thumbup:

Edit: A quick clarification: none of the above mentioned possibilites includes use of the M or XL motors, but dedicated train motors. That, and the Li-Poly battery, and not the huge, chunky AA-box.

Edited by Freddie, 22 April 2009 - 07:00 PM.


#3 Mark Bellis

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 07:20 PM

And if you have only plastic track on your layout, you can use the same 9V train motor(s) in the trains without needing any 8866 train motors.

Any train with two or more 9V train motors on plastic tracks will need all motors to be connected together.

If you go for the PF rechargeable battery (e.g. if you will use 500 charge/discharge cycles in 3 years by exhibiting trains) then mount the battery high up, so that it is easy to plug the charger in through the roof of the train.  Lower down would be better for the centre of gravity (faster cornering) but you'd have to make a larger roof piece removable to get to the charging socket.

If instead you go for the normal PF battery box, you might need to make a new carriage base out of plates, to let the battery box take up space under the base as well as above it.  A 9V 14x4x3 battery box would fit more easily without carriage base replacement, but you'd need to modify a PF lead in order to power the IR receiver, either by connecting C1 and C2 to 9V and 0V or by putting 12V plugs on half a 9V lead and half a PF lead (9V and 0V pins) and connecting the two halves together.

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#4 TheBrickster

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:50 AM

Rather than buy new plastic track, I plan to use my old 9V metal track.  That way, I can still have all my old 9V engines and run the new battery-powered Emerald Night.  I think this should work okay.

#5 Captain Zuloo

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 06:19 AM

With the exception of the BNSF, you could just use a PF train motor and battery box + ir reciever etc. inside the trains. Although the holiday train would be a little trickier. I would imagine with a little bit more lenght on the tender could house a rechargable battery box with a train motor underneath.

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#6 TaltosVT

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 12:56 PM

 Staszek, on Apr 22 2009, 11:20 AM, said:

Do you have any experience / idea on potential fit of PF sollution from Emerald Night to some previous locomotives?
Just over a month ago, I put a PF battery box, motor, and IR receiver in my Santa Fe Super Chief:



Overall, it worked fairly well.  Now that I have the PF train remote and the rechargable battery box, I'll try moving things around a bit to see how it'll work.

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#7 Staszek

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 09:18 PM

Thank you. I managed to buy a reasonably priced Santa Fe, so I am on the right track....

Now I have to get hold of new PF set.

I am currently more into using PF train motor in any combination rather than Emerald Night type of PF. Including on Emerald Night to preserve the interior and playability. Not sure though how PF train motor can handle longer trains, but as you can see it is not my problem... yet...

I will report with results, but it may take some time.

Please put any examples of your implementations of PF functions into 9V trains.

#8 Mark Bellis

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 12:02 AM

 Staszek, on Apr 29 2009, 10:18 PM, said:

Thank you. I managed to buy a reasonably priced Santa Fe, so I am on the right track....

Now I have to get hold of new PF set.

I am currently more into using PF train motor in any combination rather than Emerald Night type of PF. Including on Emerald Night to preserve the interior and playability. Not sure though how PF train motor can handle longer trains, but as you can see it is not my problem... yet...

I will report with results, but it may take some time.

Please put any examples of your implementations of PF functions into 9V trains.

I would put two 9V or PF train motors under the Santa Fe engine, perhaps even do the same with a second loco for a really long train.  I know some US AFOLs used multiple 9V train motors in loco sets up to A-B-B-A.  There have previously been threads on several sites about Santa Fe coach drag.  When using multiple motors, connect them with wires to share the load better, and so that one does not push another if one loses power.  This was an issue with 9V motors but it will be automatically solved for PF because a wire is the only connection.

So far I have three PF-compatible trains:

The first is a Class 14 shunter.  The real one has a design speed of 40mph, so it was not necessary to gear it to go fast.  There is a Technic gearmotor in the cab, driving BBB wheels.
There is so much SNOT in the bodywork that a more powerful PF motor could not be fitted :sceptic: Only the wires can fit through the gaps.
Electrical connection can be made to either end of the loco.  It would connect with a 9V lead to an adjacent coach containing the Power Functions elements and train motors.
The train motors pull the train whilst the Technic gearmotor has enough power to move the loco as a light engine.

The second train is a Class 35 "Hymek" loco.
This one has all the PF elements onboard:
PF Battery box (not shown).
Two IR receivers, which are cascaded with a modified PF lead for exhibition-standard robustness to interference.
Two receivers shown in this latest photo.
Two light bricks, with a custom electronic circuit to set them in the right direction and keep them on in the previous direction when the train stops.
Two 9V train motors.  PF motors could equally be used.
The loco can run in PF mode on plastic track, or in 9V mode with the PF battery doing the lights.  The latter is achieved by turning on the first PF IR receiver but not the second one, such that the light circuit gets 9V and 0V power but the motors do not get C1 and C2 power.  The motor power from the track feeds through to the input of the light direction circuit.

The third is a rail crane, a scale model of a Cowans Sheldon 76T rail crane.
The yellow one in this picture.  The 9V battery box is used as a counterweight when lifting heavy stuff.  It is not permanently attached.  The plan is tha the crane will lift a scale 76 tonnes at the correct scale radius, which amounts to 6 sets of 6 AA batteries at about 16M from the turntable centre.
The crane has one PF IR receiver that controls two motors:
Motor 1 moves a worm gear selecttor for the gearbox, which switches between turntable, jib and two hook functions.
Motor 2 moves whichever function(s) are selected.  Some combinations of two can be selected at once.
Crane functional and prototype photos here.
A small panel at the back can be removed in order to change the PF channel on the receiver.
Power for the IR receiver will come in on a 9V lead from an adjacent coach, the same one as for the Class 14.  The coach pulls the train as well as providing space for the track workers' equipment.  A second IF receiver in the coach will enable the crane.  This is so it can be switched off and not inadvertently or maliciously activated when the train is in motion (e.g. turning the turntable when approaching a tunnel!!!)
The turntable function is deliberately highly geared, without a worm gear, so that it can turn passively as track curvature changes.
The other three functions, jib raising and two hooks, all use worms to prevent lowering when they are not selected.

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#9 Piranha

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:46 AM

Has anyone tried to do the BNSF in PF?

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#10 mrblue

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:17 AM

 Macoco, on 01 June 2011 - 08:46 AM, said:

Has anyone tried to do the BNSF in PF?
I did an LDD test, but with heavy mod to hide the battery box! but the result is a larger part of the loco, making the engine looks really different! another option is using custom decals. unfortunately, even if I ordered all the needed parts, everything is boxed, ready to move, so I have no chance to try the brick built final result, but I can see in the future that after this attempt, I'll surely try with the sticker option for a better result!

have a nice train lego day
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#11 ZueriHB

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 11:39 AM

For most old designs, it's not that hard to hide rechargeable battery pack, IR-receiver in it and use the 9V or a PF motor.

I successfully modded Cargo Railway and Metroliner to work with PF.
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#12 kyphur

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 06:12 PM

 Macoco, on 01 June 2011 - 08:46 AM, said:

Has anyone tried to do the BNSF in PF?
I've been thinking on that one...

When I'm ready I think I'll follow how they did the Maersk, hollow engine compartment for the battery with panels/plates on edge to cover the sides. Then make stickers for the stripes.

Edited by kyphur, 01 June 2011 - 06:52 PM.

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#13 Piranha

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 11:27 PM

Not even possible to hide the box in the drivers area?

maybe it could be in the next car, as a cargo pallet or so?

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#14 Tearloch

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 11:48 PM

 kyphur, on 01 June 2011 - 06:12 PM, said:

I've been thinking on that one...

When I'm ready I think I'll follow how they did the Maersk, hollow engine compartment for the battery with panels/plates on edge to cover the sides. Then make stickers for the stripes.
Here is my attempt at adding PF to the BNSF.  I still need to make decals to cover the battery and IR receiver.  I even have room inside between the battery and IR receiver for the polarity switch to run 2 motors on this one.  I have several other modifications that are also going on with this one, but for just adding PF to this, very few additional parts are needed.  I even have an on/off switch built into the rear fan blade like the one on the 7939 cargo train.

As you can see, I changed the roof of the cab (lowered its height slightly and got rid of black roof), I changed the rear panel, I am adding steps front and back, I tiled up the roof, and changed fan blades over to the train wheels that actually work well as fan blades.  Still waiting on a few parts from BL, then its decal time.

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#15 legoboy3998

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:37 AM

I have come up with a way to eliminate the battery box from the PF setup.  I have created electrical picups out of brass strips from the local hobby shop.  Bent them in an L shape and soldered wires from a PF cable cut in half.  Allows the use of the PF system while picking up power from 9V tracks.  Ill post pics and a more detailed explination once I re solder the wires (I soldered the outside two when I should have soldered the inside two).

Sal
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#16 hoeij

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:37 AM

You can also make a custom battery "box" that will fit in the 2-studs wide area.  Take a PF cable, cut it, and wire it together to 4 AAA batteries (make sure to get the polarity right). The advantage of using 4 instead of 6 AAA batteries is that this way, the train won't derail at the top speed setting  (I don't like having a top-speed that can make the train fall from the table to the floor).

Four AAA batteries is enough to reach a speed that is higher than what you'd want for a cargo train  (I've tested that, I'm using only 4 AAA batteries (plus a few wires) in the battery box of my 7939 cargo train.  The pulling power is the same as with 6 batteries.  The top speed is of course lower, but I think it's better that way, and in my view the top speed with 4 AAA batteries is still higher than the speed I want to run this train at).  These 4 batteries (without the battery box) would also fit in the BNSF engine, but you'll have to be a bit creative to wire them in series.

The PF controller, that may be trickier.

By the way, if someone manages to produce a sticker that accurately matches the BNSF colors, then that would be very nice and I'm sure several people would want to have those stickers.

#17 Tearloch33

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:09 PM

 legoboy3998, on 02 June 2011 - 01:37 AM, said:

I have come up with a way to eliminate the battery box from the PF setup.  I have created electrical picups out of brass strips from the local hobby shop.  Bent them in an L shape and soldered wires from a PF cable cut in half.  Allows the use of the PF system while picking up power from 9V tracks.  Ill post pics and a more detailed explination once I re solder the wires (I soldered the outside two when I should have soldered the inside two).

Sal
WFB, WI
I don't really understand the point of that.  Doesn't that completely defeat the purpose of the PF system?  You still have to have the 9V tracks.  You still have to apply power to the 9V track from an AC wall outlet.  You still have to deal with track polarity issues at cross-overs and swithches.  Granted, you can use the remote control instead of the 9V controller (which is still required to energize the tracks).  So to me it makes more sense just to stick with the 9V setup completely, instead of buying an IR receiver, the remote control, and essentially destroying the PF motor.  Just buy a 9V motor and be done with it.  Please explain how this is a useful solution?

The true utility of the PF system is that you do not need an AC wall outlet, meaning you could set up your track anywhere, if you so choose.
You do not need to buy 9V tracks on the resale market, which are expensive and hard to come by, at times.
You do not need to worry about complex wiring to deal with track polarity if your setup is anything other than a single loop.
If you have a big enough set up, you could run multiple trains on the same track at different speed settings (say a long train and a short one) such that the actual speed of the two trains are matched.

#18 kyphur

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:55 PM

 Tearloch33, on 02 June 2011 - 02:09 PM, said:

I don't really understand the point of that.  Doesn't that completely defeat the purpose of the PF system?

Actually I can see two practical applications for this:

First would be to remove the IR Receiver and use PF Train Motors in place of the 9v Motors controlling speed with the 9v Speed Controller..

Second is the ability to run multiple engines on powered track independently using the PF IR Receivers as speed controllers.

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#19 Tearloch33

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:12 PM

 kyphur, on 02 June 2011 - 02:55 PM, said:

Actually I can see two practical applications for this:

First would be to remove the IR Receiver and use PF Train Motors in place of the 9v Motors controlling speed with the 9v Speed Controller..

Second is the ability to run multiple engines on powered track independently using the PF IR Receivers as speed controllers.
I recognize your points, but what is the benefit of using the PF motor in place of a 9V motor?  It takes custom modification to accomplish, and still does not solve the polarity issues with the 9V system.  Is the 9V motor that much more expensive?  I don't have any 9V motors, so I do not know how much they cost or how available they are currently.

Your second point still has the polarity issues of 9V tracks.  I get the benefit of running multiple trains on the same track, but you don't need the 9V pick up modification to do that.  Just use the PF system as is.  Sure, you are limited by the battery life, but that still gives you 3-4 hours of fun time.

I read somewhere a story about using a 9V motor with the PF system.  What that does is allow powered sections of 9V track to actually charge the battery up as it runs, allowing for almost unlimited run time.  By only powering small sections of the track, instead of powering the whole thing, you no longer have the polarity concerns for cross-overs and switche, and still get all the benefits of the PF system.

#20 kyphur

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:50 PM

I didn't even mention the polarity issue of the 9v system, that's going to be a constant issue with it.

 Tearloch33, on 02 June 2011 - 03:12 PM, said:

I recognize your points, but what is the benefit of using the PF motor in place of a 9V motor?  It takes custom modification to accomplish, and still does not solve the polarity issues with the 9V system.  Is the 9V motor that much more expensive?  I don't have any 9V motors, so I do not know how much they cost or how available they are currently.
Um, yeah used 9v Train Motors are two or three times the price of a new PF Train Motor.

 Tearloch33, on 02 June 2011 - 03:12 PM, said:

Your second point still has the polarity issues of 9V tracks.  I get the benefit of running multiple trains on the same track, but you don't need the 9V pick up modification to do that.  Just use the PF system as is.  Sure, you are limited by the battery life, but that still gives you 3-4 hours of fun time.
Agreed, I wasn't saying which was better just that it's one of the reasons why someone might want to tackle the issue.

 Tearloch33, on 02 June 2011 - 03:12 PM, said:

I read somewhere a story about using a 9V motor with the PF system.  What that does is allow powered sections of 9V track to actually charge the battery up as it runs, allowing for almost unlimited run time.  By only powering small sections of the track, instead of powering the whole thing, you no longer have the polarity concerns for cross-overs and switche, and still get all the benefits of the PF system.
Really? I would love to see that article. I assume that one would have to be using the Rechargeable Battery Boxes (of course). Honestly that would help to justify the expense if I could just hide a stretch of 9v or ME-Models Rail on a long straight away and keep my batteries charging while running that would be great.

Some of the trains are easier to remove the battery box for swap-out but the Maersk has to be partially disassembled and I hate that.

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#21 Tearloch33

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 04:10 PM

 hoeij, on 02 June 2011 - 02:37 AM, said:

You can also make a custom battery "box" that will fit in the 2-studs wide area.  Take a PF cable, cut it, and wire it together to 4 AAA batteries (make sure to get the polarity right). The advantage of using 4 instead of 6 AAA batteries is that this way, the train won't derail at the top speed setting  (I don't like having a top-speed that can make the train fall from the table to the floor).

Four AAA batteries is enough to reach a speed that is higher than what you'd want for a cargo train  (I've tested that, I'm using only 4 AAA batteries (plus a few wires) in the battery box of my 7939 cargo train.  The pulling power is the same as with 6 batteries.  The top speed is of course lower, but I think it's better that way, and in my view the top speed with 4 AAA batteries is still higher than the speed I want to run this train at).  These 4 batteries (without the battery box) would also fit in the BNSF engine, but you'll have to be a bit creative to wire them in series.

The PF controller, that may be trickier.

By the way, if someone manages to produce a sticker that accurately matches the BNSF colors, then that would be very nice and I'm sure several people would want to have those stickers.
If you really want to get fancy, you can use an RC LiPO power pack in place of the LEGO LiPO battery or the 6 cell version.  I found several options that were roughly equivalent to the LiPO battery in terms of Voltage and AH ratings, and that would fit inside the BNSF train without modification.  The real caution to this approach is the LiPO packs themselves.  The LEGO version has a circuit built in that prevents fulling draining the battery, which can result in a fire or explosion.  The RC reversions require a seperate means to prevent this, in some cases.

#22 Tearloch33

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 04:25 PM

 kyphur, on 02 June 2011 - 03:50 PM, said:

Really? I would love to see that article. I assume that one would have to be using the Rechargeable Battery Boxes (of course). Honestly that would help to justify the expense if I could just hide a stretch of 9v or ME-Models Rail on a long straight away and keep my batteries charging while running that would be great.

Some of the trains are easier to remove the battery box for swap-out but the Maersk has to be partially disassembled and I hate that.
I cannot find the original story on this, so I posted a new topic on the subject to see if anyone else has tried this or knows of the article I mentioned.

#23 kyphur

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 05:37 PM

 hoeij, on 02 June 2011 - 02:37 AM, said:

You can also make a custom battery "box" that will fit in the 2-studs wide area.  Take a PF cable, cut it, and wire it together to 4 AAA batteries (make sure to get the polarity right). The advantage of using 4 instead of 6 AAA batteries is that this way, the train won't derail at the top speed setting  (I don't like having a top-speed that can make the train fall from the table to the floor).
Or you could use this. I know you'll get less run time but it will still work.

 hoeij, on 02 June 2011 - 02:37 AM, said:

The PF controller, that may be trickier.
Since it has a 2 x 4 footprint, mount it sideways, then use this part to allow room for the wires.

 hoeij, on 02 June 2011 - 02:37 AM, said:

By the way, if someone manages to produce a sticker that accurately matches the BNSF colors, then that would be very nice and I'm sure several people would want to have those stickers.
Agreed!!!

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#24 kyphur

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 05:57 PM

 Tearloch33, on 02 June 2011 - 04:25 PM, said:

I cannot find the original story on this, so I posted a new topic on the subject to see if anyone else has tried this or knows of the article I mentioned.
Someone found it, RailBricks Issue #7...

I've skimmed the article and it requires modification of the 9v train Motor which isn't an option is my opinion.

Now if someone could take that article and redesign the solution to only require you connect to an unmodified 9v Train Motor then I would be happy with that.

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#25 Tearloch33

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 06:02 PM

 kyphur, on 02 June 2011 - 05:37 PM, said:

Or you could use this. I know you'll get less run time but it will still work.


Since it has a 2 x 4 footprint, mount it sideways, then use this part to allow room for the wires.


Agreed!!!
The PF controller (assume you mean IR receiver) as a 4x4 footprint.



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