NOTE: This is all theory, as far as I know. If someone has already done this, I would love to hear about it.
For the sake of clarity, I'm going to refer to three different kinds of motors:
9V - the traditional 9V/electrified rail motor.
RC - the 9V battery operated motor that is similar in size and shape to the 9V motor.
PF - an XL or M power functions motor.
So, I'm one of these guys hanging on and beating a dead horse about the death of 9V. I'm not worried about the track, as I think the O-Scale track method (although I haven't tried it myself) solves that problem both for curves and straight sections of track - and also gives you the versatility of flexible track. The conductive metal (copper or silver) tape over plastic solution is interesting me but I have doubts about it's longevity.
I also don't worry about powering the rails; although I'd love to stick with LEGO, you can probably use without problem a number of other speed regulators available from other companies (being sure to cap off at 9V).
That leaves motors. The problem with the RC and PF motors is they seemingly need an on-board battery. Batteries are the whole reason I hate the idea of converting to PF, I simply don't want to deal with them, I don't want to stop my train to recharge my batteries, I want to be able to run them for hours at a time, and probably the most important issue - I want the flexibility of not having to design trains around the size of the battery packs, and I don't want to have to open up my trains just to change batteries.
But what if you could use the RC or PF motors with power from the rails? I know this has been discussed before, although I seem to see more people wanting to power their 9V motor from a battery (the worst of both worlds, if you ask me). The only sticking point is you need some way to pick up the power from the rails. Some people are gutting burned out 9V motors, which is probably the best solution, but then you are still stuck with the fact that there is a dearth of 9V engines... especially dead ones, and I know I'm not going to destroy a working one. Moreover, I don't have that many to begin with. But let's assume you use this method.
A recent Brick Journal article (that I've referenced in other posts) describes how to modify the connector on an 8886 conversion cable. Now, generally speaking, this conversion cable will allow you to control 9V motors using PF battery packs with either a switch or IR receiver, but it doesn't work the other way around (through in IR receiver). The article describes how to modify it to make it work... to power an IR receiver using a 9V source, be it an older battery pack or rails (which the article specifically mentions).
So here is the setup...
1. Speed/Voltage Regulator to power the tracks.
2. *** Gutted 9V motor to pick up voltage, connects to
3. Modified conversion cable connector, connects to
4. IR Receiver, connects to
5. Either a PF motor, or an RC motor using an unmodified 8886 conversion cable.
You would run the trains with the speed regulator turned all the way up (I would imagine). The train won't go until you use the remote, but the train is still getting full power.
- No batteries needed, no need to model around battery packs.
- Remote control.
- Non-motive functions get full power, even when train isn't moving... in other words, your lights remain on and bright even if the train is not moving.
- Here's the kicker... here's the "real" advantage PF had over 9V... you can control MULTIPLE TRAINS on the SAME TRACK.
- You can control OTHER PF functions you've added to your train (like a crane or operating doors).
and, AND, if you DON'T WANT RC, you can eliminate the modified connector and IR receiver and connect your pick-ups (dead 9V) directly to an RC or PF motor. You then control the train with the speed regulator (but your other powered functions would be affected also... i.e. dim or no lights when the train is stopped).
- If you're using a dead 9V and an RC motor to actually move the train, you need to incorporate both bogeys into your design.
- Dead 9V are not easy to come by.
I'm really busy this week (and spending far too much time here, but it's stuck in my head and I can't concentrate on other things, if you can believe it... if you're truly addicted to LEGO like me, you'll know what I mean when you get an idea stuck in your head that you can't test for some time!). Hopefully either Saturday night or Sunday I can try to set something up, but I don't have any dead 9V and refuse to mess up one of the few working ones I have.
*** I'm desperately trying to find a non-9V solution to picking up voltage from the rail. While I'm in the hobby shop picking up O-Gauge flex track, I will look into options, but I'm definitely open to ideas.
EDIT: I want to make it clear that I KNOW people have used gutted 9V motors to power RC and PF motors, and I know it works... the idea here is to use that modified converter connector in order to make your 9V train gain the advantages of the PF system.
Edited by TheBrickster, 19 March 2010 - 02:10 PM.