Dummies Guide To Convert A Track Powered G Scale Locomotive To Rc Battery Powered

Mobi

Mobi

Registered
21 Jul 2013
905
United Kingdom
I received immense help from forum members to assist me converting a loco to RC. I summarized my experience here so that it can help someone else in future :)

To have a good quality RC battery powered loco (at a reasonable price), the only available option is to buy a reasonably priced track powered locomotive and convert it to RC battery power yourself.

If you adopt this route, then your total cost would be, cost of loco + £100 to £150, which is considerably cheaper than buying Roundhouse RC loco for £900-£1000.

If you are not confident (although I believe you will become confident after reading this article) you can ask some experts to convert it for you for you (at an agreed cost if it is offered as a service).

Conversion steps

Step 1 - Find a suitable locomotive for conversion

You need a locomotive first! You can use your existing track powered loco if you have it. But the loco needs to satisfy following attributes before you plan conversion.


1. Enough space inside to keep battery pack (at least 8-10 AA size batteries). If you don't have enough space inside of loco to place battery pack, you can always put stuff in a separate wagon/tender. However, then you always need to pull the RC wagon whenever you want to run your loco. The loco should have a socket for connecting wire at the back (many LGB locos will have this connection but not all of them). This may also affect aesthetics of your train as reverse running may look awkward with a leading wagon. The RC receiver circuit boards are usually small - so as long as you can fit battery pack inside, the circuit board should not be a big problem.

2. One motor (if you can convert locos with 2 motors once you are experienced but I would not advise as a first project)

3. The procurement cost is reasonable (if the cost of loco + RC equipment costs in the region of of-the-shelf RC locos except Playmobil then not much point in conversion unless you want to do it for fun)



Step 2 - Open the Locomotive


Note: If you are planning to put RC equipment in a trailing wagon/tender, you can skip this step.


As a beginner, you may find it most daunting step. How to open your loco depends on your loco type. You need to download an exploded diagram of components of loco from manufacturer's website and observe which screws need to be removed to open up the loco.


Some screws may be difficult to access unless you remove the motor block as well. If you do so, you need to be able to re-assemble the loco afterwards.


You are most likely to need following types of screw drivers (usually for LGB locos) - PH0, PH1, PZ1.


It is up to you whether you want to remove all track pickup components. Removing pick up skates may improve hauling power of loco slightly (as it causes some drag). If you are not confident removing all track pick up components, you can leave them as it is.


However, what you must to is to make access to motor terminals. In most LGB locos (if not all) the motor block has 4 pins. The inner 2 pins are for carrying power from track to control board. The outer 2 pins are for carrying power from control board to motors. You should isolate the inner 2 pins. You can leave the pins protruded from motor block but make sure you don't connect anything to these pins.


Leave your loco open (i.e. don't attach screws again until you have converted it to RC battery power).


Step 3 - Choose your remote control electronics


Step 3a - Understanding the circuit


At a very high level, you need something to control the input voltage to motor so that loco speed (and direction) can be controlled. You will issue command from a handset (also known as RC transmitter) which will tell the RC receiver (inside loco) to adjust the voltage.


Strictly speaking, you need at least 2 items inside the loco - the RC receiver and electronic speed controller (ESC). The receiver receives the signal from transmitter and ESC controls the speed. The good news is that many circuit boards have built in receiver and ESC inside them.


This can be diagrammatically represented using following image.


http://riksrailway.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/getting-started-with-battery-power-and.html



Please note following points:


· Receiver + ESC can often be combined in single circuit board (if you choose in that fashion)

· Switch + Charing Socket can be dispensed with if you use standard rechargeable AA batteries


This will make your circuit very simple! All you need to do is to connect 2 wires from battery pack to circuit board (maintain polarity) and 2 wires from motor (polarity does not matter) to circuit board.


Step 3b - Procuring the RC equipment


You need to buy RC electronics components from market. There are several options and I list only few of them. Depending on where you leave in the world, some options may not be available to you.


This is not an exhaustive list in any way.


Also be aware that while buying these components, if you more likely to deal with individual persons rather than large corporations. So, adjust your expectation (purchase process, communication, payment, warranty etc.) accordingly.


upload_2015-10-17_15-9-58.png




Step 4 - Actual conversion process


Connect relevant terminals of receiver with battery and motor.


Depending on what type of equipment you are using, you can connect wires by


· Soldering

· JST/Tamiya/BEC connectors

· Screw terminals

· Wago connectors or similar


Usually you need to bind receiver and transmitter. For how to do that, refer to your circuit board maker's instruction manual.


Transmitter needs some batteries to power it. Depending on model chosen, it could be via 9 V PP3 or AA/AAA batteries.


Once you have tested the loco for RC, put screws back and enjoy your newly converted RC battery loco.


There is an example image of the conversion.

upload_2015-10-17_15-10-46.png


Locomotive: LGB 22620 Kof diesel 0-6-0
Receiver: Deltang Rx65
Transmitter: Tx21
Power source: 10x NiMH AA rechargeable batteries


The batteries are connected to receiver circuit board by a PP3 snap connector (red/black wires) which is screwed to circuit board. The green/yellow wires are connected to motor at one end (via crimp connectors) and to circuit board via screws.

upload_2015-10-17_15-11-3.png

Above diagram demonstrates the basic circuit. Please note that it does not show fuses but you advised to add them. One fuse should be just after snap connector and another one just before motor.
 
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ge_rik

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
Glad you got it sorted put, Mobi. This looks like a helpful guide.

Rik
 
trammayo

trammayo

Interested in vintage commercial vehicle, trams, t
24 Oct 2009
20,936
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I have bookmarked this page for when I get round tu-it:)
 
granddad gnome

granddad gnome

Registered
Madman

Madman

Registered
25 Oct 2009
13,777
Pennsylvania, USA
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Hi Mobi,
Not sure how I missed this little guide oy yours. Superb, sets things out very well. You have certainly climbed the Steep Learning Curve since that first visit last year. Good luck with your line and other projects in the Garden.
JonD
 
chris m01

chris m01

Registered
24 Oct 2009
4,462
Birmingham, UK
This is an excellent guide. Brilliant and really useful.

Just a few added thoughts:-
I use a dpdt switch to switch between charging and running but I can see that I don't need to.
I would say that even with standard AA one AAA rechargeable batteries it make sense to have a charging socket so you can recharge the batteries without removing them. Obviously you need a suitable charger with a suitable connector.
With Deltang receivers, and probably others, you can connect LEDs to the board to provide front and rear lights which will automatically change with direction.
I add a little tag by the switch so I know which way is off. I learnt this after leaving some of mine switched on when not in use and having flat batteries when I next came to use the some weeks later.
 
B

Bmr4life

Registered
7 Feb 2016
5
38
Tucker, GA
What sound card options are there if I choose to use a separate esc and rx? I have a lot of radio control car gear so I plan to re-purpose them in my locos.
 
Tony Walsham

Tony Walsham

Manufacturer of RCS Radio Control.
25 Oct 2009
2,160
Casino, NSW
The servo outputs of each channel cannot control the sound system itself.
You will need to add 2 Way R/X switches to be able to trigger sound systems. You can use any sound system that is not DCC based. There a lots of suppliers.
Like wise you will need an ESC that can read servo signals. Most do.
As to the R/C gear itself. You can use regular stick radios or even car controls.
OR provided the R/C you have is DSM2 compatible, you might consider the pocket sized TX hand pieces I make are getting more popular with both Live Steam and battery R/C. You can use the same TX handpiece for both.
 
ge_rik

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
If you're after a reasonably priced simulated soundcard, you could consider the Technobots card - http://www.technobotsonline.com/diesel-engine-sound-simulator-mk2.html . This uses the throttle output from the receiver directly so is very easy to wire-up. There's also a petrol unit and a steam unit - I think the diesel and the petrol are better sounding, though.
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,545
Tamworth, Staffs.
The Technobots card is just engine sound.. no horn option though..
 
Mobi

Mobi

Registered
21 Jul 2013
905
United Kingdom
I am now trying to convert my Stainz to battery power.

This Stainz does not have socket at the back. So that made life difficult.

Based on instruction here (http://shop.waltonsmodels.co.uk/Stainz.php) I have opened the top part of Stainz and then discovered 2 pins exposed in the green circuit board where other wires are welded.

I have attached 2 wires (yellow & white in attached picture) there but since there are no slots to take these wires out, they are just hanging out on the back of the loco. I had to slot them via 2 screw holes so that I could take them out of the loco. I could not find any way to slot them inside the cab :(

Anyway, now with these wires hanging (these are now performing the function of missing socket at the back) I could attach them with battery and wheels rotate fine.

I would be happy with a manual control for the time being. I now need a suitable trail car to place the battery box. The loco should work with track power as well.
 

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Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
17,029
North Essex
Mobi, just keep in mind that if you haven't isolated the track pickups on the Stainz (as I assume you haven't, as you mention being still able to run it on track power) then every time you run it, you are effectively connecting your battery pack directly to the whole of your track layout via the loco wheels! If you get any kind of short-circuit on the track, you'll also short your batteries, so do make sure you have them protected by a suitable fuse (which of course you should always do with battery packs anyway).....

Jon.
 
Mobi

Mobi

Registered
21 Jul 2013
905
United Kingdom
Correct, I have not removed track pickups.

Here is a video of running on battery.

Strangely enough, when I run the loco using track power, it struggles to pull the same rolling stocks - in fact it stalls often. With battery, it runs without any hiccups!
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
28,206
North West Norfolk
Strangely enough, when I run the loco using track power, it struggles to pull the same rolling stocks - in fact it stalls often. With battery, it runs without any hiccups!
Dirty track or a skate spring that isn't applying full pressure to the track?
 
Madman

Madman

Registered
25 Oct 2009
13,777
Pennsylvania, USA
Dirty track or a skate spring that isn't applying full pressure to the track?

I was thinking the same thing. Batteries supply uninterrupted power.
 
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stockers

stockers

Trains, aircraft, models, walking, beer, travel
24 Oct 2009
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dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
17,833
72
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Mobi, you can easily preserve the option to run on Ttack Power or Battery by utilising a DPDG (Double Pole Double Throw) Switch. These have 6 Contacts, the centre two should be wired to the Motor. The Left ones to the Track Wire the Right Ones from the Battery. Crude Dia below shows the setup. If you had a Centre Off (DPDTCO) switch this could save flashes as you swopped between Track and Battery.

image.jpg

JonD
 
4

400heavy

Registered
16 Dec 2019
22
67
Oceanside, California
This seems too complicated for a retired US Navy and commercial airline pilot! Isn't there an easier way? I'm just getting into Playmobil trains and I like the convenience and ease of their RC trains. I'd like to convert a Playmobil 4051 Small Locomotive to an RC train. If I get the 30 60 063 chassis (bottom frame), all I would have to do then is to swap the cab and the tender, correct? I have a spare RC engine, cab, and boiler.
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
17,833
72
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
This seems too complicated for a retired US Navy and commercial airline pilot! Isn't there an easier way? I'm just getting into Playmobil trains and I like the convenience and ease of their RC trains. I'd like to convert a Playmobil 4051 Small Locomotive to an RC train. If I get the 30 60 063 chassis (bottom frame), all I would have to do then is to swap the cab and the tender, correct? I have a spare RC engine, cab, and boiler.
Everything is complicated until you get to grips with it - the though of managing all that tech in a plane.

However back to Battery, have a look at some of my conversions using 3rd party parts and things may appear a little easier. Though I note in your other posts that you are going down the PM route. Fine but eventually you will see the limitations that does involve, no sound, poor control, loss of signal and most of all short battery life with conventional batteries. My conversions give me upwards of 5 hours battery life.
 
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