I posted this on lugnet but didn't get any response, so I figured I would try here too. :-P
There seems to be a difference between the voltage outputs of battery boxes and wall powered sources like the train speed regulators. From just listening to the sounds that motors make, a battery box puts out the same voltage as a speed regulator on the second to last setting, but the regulator on maximum speed runs motors a bit faster than anything a battery box can do, even on a fresh new set of (alkaline) batteries. I have one of the newer control centers (with an AC jack) which also runs motors at the faster speed, and similar comments apply to light pieces which look brighter. Do the Lego wall powered sources actually output slightly more than 9V? The Lego AC adapters are labeled as having 12V output, and the control center’s port says “9V-12V” above it.
I also find batteries to be cumbersome in general. Their voltage drops over time and even when they’re at about 75% capacity, the motors seem to slow down by a fairly significant amount. I also have to avoid leaving them in battery boxes indefinitely to avoid leaking, which I’ve had trouble with in the past. I have many battery boxes around but they’re not that useful due to these issues and I rarely use them in practice, so my models tend to all hog that control center. :-P
In light of this, I was thinking that a set of fake batteries that are powered off a wall outlet would be very useful. These should basically be battery-shaped objects that will fit into various things that run on batteries, but are connected to an external transformer with an adjustable output voltage. This page shows the kind of thing I’m talking about, near the bottom. Have you seen anything like this that is commercially available?
Some questions on batteries and AC power for lego
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