Help Newbie Choose/setup Digital!

A

AMuller396

Registered
29 Oct 2017
8
1
Los Angeles, CA
I have a pretty large collection (complete) of Playmobil trains, that have come out of storage (will post on the Playmobil forum in the future). I have two kids (ages 3 and 5) who loves playing with them. For the mean time I’ve removed the motors of each train and placed dummy units so that they can push them. During some weekends I replace the dummy motors with the LGB ones and run it analogue. My kids like it a lot!

My current indoor layout approximately 8’x15’ which is oval with 2 sidings I’d like to maintain, for my kids to play with. I would also like to build a new layout in my backyard (3’ x 60’ horseshoe along the back Fence with dog bone). To run not only Playmobil but LGB and or Piko Trains. I really love the look of HSB trains such as the LGB 26814 and the Piko 37230. Im thinking of buying one of these with a new digital system.

1.) Anyone have both the 26814 and 37230 and can tell me what the difference are, is the higher LGB price point (double in price) worth the extra money?

With that said, I’ve read a few things on here as well as on the net and need some help to get to my goal. My goal is to be able to run both indoor and outdoor in Digital, with the same system if possible, and able to have either 3 controllers (Me and my 2 sons) and or able to use a tablet/phone to operate my system. Obviously cost and simplicity are also factors.

DIGITAL SYSTEM

PIKO

Ive looked at some of the video’s that Piko-America have on Youtube, which by the way are Great! they helped a lot in figuring out what one needs. Too bad not all manufacturers do that. The Digital Central Station looks nice with the Navigator. Ive also noticed they have the Smart Control which can be upped to 5.3 amps to run G scale trains.

2.)Smart Control (5.3 Amps) has a lower price point than the Central Station ($475.99 @ Onlytrain), can this systems be used on two separate layouts (especially to the size I’ve listed above for my garden Assuming I can run 2 or 3 trains)? Can you hook up more than one of the hand held devices? Can one still program decoders for use with this system?

3.)The central Station ($709.99 full system @ Onlytrain), can these be hooked up with a smart phone / tablet? Or does one need to buy extra navigators for each person? Any other things you might want to add that is relevant for me using this system?

Märklin / LGB

4.) CS3+ what does one need in equipment to run this system? Is it simple to use/install? Product details say you can use your smart phone or Tablet. Onlytrain has these for about $880 USD. There is not much video’s and or tutorials to use this system so don’t know much about it other than the fact that some people on here like it and some hate it. Any one can elaborate a bit on the this system for my usage?

OTHERS

5.) Any other systems that you would recommend over the others mentioned above. I know of the Massoth, but I think that might be too big for my needs?

DECODERS

Massoth has a nice tutorial of how to transform ones Playmobil LGB motor to digital. I’d like to see if I can convert maybe 2 or 3 of my Playmobil trains with sound and smoke. The cost of doing so is great, a eMotion LS sound decoder runs $229 USD (AllaboutLGB).

6.) Are there any highly recommended other manufacturers out there that give sound and smoke and be able to run on the Digital system recommended above that wont break the bank? Or is Massoth decoders really worth it?

SITES

7.) Any other great US sites out there that sell these stuff at a good discount?

I know this is long, and id like to thank you guys ahead of time for helping out.

Andrew
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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You are here in the USA... NCE is great outdoors with the highly visible display. You can connect their systems to JMRI (free software) and run tablets and phones with apps (free again)...

I would not purchase Massoth here in the US, support is limited, and the decoders are arcane, many other decoder manufacturers are available, Zimo has great support in the US and many sound files, and will drive smoke units directly and inexpensively.

You could look at the Roco Z21 here also, runs on apps...

Really depends on budget, how many bells and whistles you want. Also if you go DCC (which would be my recommendation) as opposed to battery (kids don't remember to recharge batteries and track power is easy in California), you might see what local clubs use, and join the local garden railroad club. If you are real computer literate, then DCC won't be a mystery. Some people get it and some don't but the widest variety of products that work with each other is DCC.

Greg
 
P

phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
369
153
Ann Arbor, Michigan
With regard to the Märklin CS3 system - The only real difference between the CS3 and CS3+ is that the CS3+ has a built-in S88 bus controller. The S88 bus is primarily used in Märklin's and other European manufacturer's smaller scale (HO and N) indoor layouts to control turnouts and accessories. The S88 bus and S88 bus devices are not at all practical in the garden. You will be using DCC turnout decoders for large scale applications if you want digital control of your turnouts and other accessories. Save the $160 and get the CS3 if you decide to go with the Märklin system. In either case you will also need a 60195 power supply which will cost a bit more that $100. Neither the CS3 nor the CS3+ have built-in power supplies and an external power supply is required.

As to extra controllers - the current iteration of CS3 operating system comes with a web browser based controller server. You connect the CS3 to your wireless router with a standard 10baseT twisted pair internet cable. You can then wirelessly connect phones, tablets, etc. to the CS3 and use the phone or tablet web browser to control the complete layout. No additional software or apps are needed.

The only real limitation of either Märklin system is that their output limited to 5 amps. If you want more current capability you need to divide your layout into zones and add an external booster (and power supply) for each extra zone. But, each individual zone will still be limited to 5 amps. This has not been a problem for me. I almost exclusively run LGB locomotives which are not power hogs. I can run three trains with my CS3 without any problem. (Except keeping them from crashing into each other! ;););) )
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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I personally have gone all Battery which saves much hassle. However having said that you are going DCC I would caution about setups using Smart Phones or Tablets, noting that you are located in LA you will likely find that the Sunlight is a barrier to happy operation, much as it will be when trying to use the phone normally.

So what is the solution as the Phone / Tablet option is OK indoors? Well if there is such a system I would look for one that can use a dedicated Handset with a twiddly knob and push buttons to operate with but that also uses Phone / Tablet option as well. That way you can set up things where Light is suitable but use the twiddly knob with push buttons to happily drive your trains. The kids will probably manage with the Phone / Tablet ok.
 
P

playmofire

Registered
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North Yorks
A word of warning, the Playmobil motors are not LGB ones but Playmobil's own and are designed for up to 14v.
 
A

AMuller396

Registered
29 Oct 2017
8
1
Los Angeles, CA
You could look at the Roco Z21 here also, runs on apps...
Greg
Thanks for that suggestion. I looked and this system is cheaper @ $392 USD. However, its only 3 amps, will this be able to run big engines in the garden? Will this system work with new LGB trains? How about decoders, can it use any decoder like Zimo, NCE, etc.

With regard to the Märklin CS3 system - The only real difference between the CS3 and CS3+ is that the CS3+ has a built-in S88 bus controller. The S88 bus is primarily used in Märklin's and other European manufacturer's smaller scale (HO and N) indoor layouts to control turnouts and accessories. The S88 bus and S88 bus devices are not at all practical in the garden. You will be using DCC turnout decoders for large scale applications if you want digital control of your turnouts and other accessories. Save the $160 and get the CS3 if you decide to go with the Märklin system. In either case you will also need a 60195 power supply which will cost a bit more that $100. Neither the CS3 nor the CS3+ have built-in power supplies and an external power supply is required.

As to extra controllers - the current iteration of CS3 operating system comes with a web browser based controller server. You connect the CS3 to your wireless router with a standard 10baseT twisted pair internet cable. You can then wirelessly connect phones, tablets, etc. to the CS3 and use the phone or tablet web browser to control the complete layout. No additional software or apps are needed.

The only real limitation of either Märklin system is that their output limited to 5 amps. If you want more current capability you need to divide your layout into zones and add an external booster (and power supply) for each extra zone. But, each individual zone will still be limited to 5 amps. This has not been a problem for me. I almost exclusively run LGB locomotives which are not power hogs. I can run three trains with my CS3 without any problem. (Except keeping them from crashing into each other! ;););) )
Thanks for letting me know the difference between the two. This system might be a bit too expensive at over $800 when all said and done.

A word of warning, the Playmobil motors are not LGB ones but Playmobil's own and are designed for up to 14v.
I've seen people here that have chipped them. Is there something one can do to limit 14v to the motors itself?
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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You can buy inexpensive boosters that will run the voltage you need.

I built a 5 amp NCE system for under $200 with a wired throttle, and the addition of a cheap router and cheap laptop gave me JMRI and support for phones as well.

There's many ways to do this, lots of options, give us a budget please for the system with throttles.

you could make an inexpensive diode dropper to lower the voltage to the motor, a bridge rectifier and a few more diodes.

 
A

AMuller396

Registered
29 Oct 2017
8
1
Los Angeles, CA
There's many ways to do this, lots of options, give us a budget please for the system with throttles.
Thank you for the tips. Unfortunately, im very new with regards to electronics. I have no experience whatsoever with it, but am willing to learn. The above posted pic is like Chinese to me.

So after doing some research ive got it down to 2 systems which is within my budget (~ less than $500 all in).

The Piko Smart Control basic Set 55040 + 55048 (5.3 Amp transformer) which goes for $409.50 combined or the Roco Z21 for $399 + "transformer" (unknown cost + type). I like the Roco Z21 because of the ability to use Tablets/smartphones, however, Im not sure yet what transformer will work to boost it to at least 5 amps or more. It also costs more. The Piko Smart Control is well priced, but lacks smartphone/tablet Capability and if I add another hand held controller it will cost money. Forgetting the Tablet/smart phone capability, and cost, which of the two is better?

Which Decoder from Zimo with sound would be good match for a 14v playmobil. The MX699KS is $220. I would have thought it would be cheaper than that. Could I use a smaller sound decoder for smaller scale?
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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Transformer part is easy, you can google "meanwell" and you will find all kinds of stuff, about $60 for a 10 amp power supply (regulated DC) and less for a 5 amp one... just add $50 to the cost for the Roco for your planning.

Either system will be fine for you in my opinion.

Yes, one of the benefits of Zimo, is their smaller "HO" decoders will handle the higher voltages that are standard with G scale DCC (usually 24 volts), so you can find a 2 amp Zimo like the MX645 series...

Have you measured the max current draw of these motors?

By the way, the voltage dropper schematic is pretty simple to make (and inexpensive):

 
A

AMuller396

Registered
29 Oct 2017
8
1
Los Angeles, CA
Yes, one of the benefits of Zimo, is their smaller "HO" decoders will handle the higher voltages that are standard with G scale DCC (usually 24 volts), so you can find a 2 amp Zimo like the MX645 series...

Have you measured the max current draw of these motors?
Zimo MX645 is priced great. Can one install a pulsed smoke Generator to this decoder? It doesn't look like it, but there are some reports on the web that it is possible. What brand pulsed generator would it be, zimo I dont think offers smoke generators?

How do I measure the max current? Do I put multi-meter on tracks while train is full speed on oval? or run train and multi-meter at the same time stationary somehow?
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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I believe that the 645 and other of the similar series will produce an output to trigger a pulsed smoke generator, but those are expensive. You will want to balance the cost in a couple of ways,.

1. less expensive decoder, and massoth (for example) pulsed smoke unit
2. more expensive decoder, but directly driving fan and heater in simple smoke unit.

I think you may find that the cost is almost the same either way.

max current should be measuring current with loco stalled or wheels in full slip (max load). Measuring current is different than measuring voltage, the voltmeter needs to be in amperage mode, and put in series with power supply and loco...

wire from transformer to meter, other meter wire to track, other track lead to transformer

Greg
 
-bbbb

-bbbb

Registered
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Idaho
A word of warning, the Playmobil motors are not LGB ones but Playmobil's own and are designed for up to 14v.
Are you sure about the 14v? I've seen playmobil power supplies which look like they might be providing 16v:
'
Or am I reading it wrong?

I have run some on 18 before with no problems, but what are the dangers of using a little too much voltage aside from burning out lights?
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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burning up the motor? remember you will be going from analog to digital/PWM.

When you have a 14v motor, and run the loco on "analog DC" at half speed you have 7v to the motor.

When you have a 14v motor and are running DCC, the motor control is PWM, pulses of full track voltage... these pulses can and do heat the motor windings.

motors can develop shorts in the windings by overheating the insulating coating on the wire in the coils.

So don't run the motors over voltage on PWM

Remember for a time LGB invalidated warranties on any loco run on "pulse power"

Greg
 
Last edited:
-bbbb

-bbbb

Registered
21 Dec 2017
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Idaho
burning up the motor? remember you will be going from analog to digital/PWM.

When you have a 14v motor, and run the loco at half speed you have 7v to the motor.

When you have a 14v motor and are running DCC, the motor control is PWM, pulses of full track voltage... these pulses can and do heat the motor windings.

motors can develop shorts in the windings by overheating the insulating coating on the wire in the coils.

So don't run the motors over voltage on PWM

Remember for a time LGB invalidated warranties on any loco run on "pulse power"

Greg
Ahh. I'm not using DCC, I just butt into the conversation questioning the max voltage of playmobil electric trains.
 
wandgrudd

wandgrudd

Registered
24 Oct 2009
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Are you sure about the 14v? I've seen playmobil power supplies which look like they might be providing 16v:
'
Or am I reading it wrong?

I have run some on 18 before with no problems, but what are the dangers of using a little too much voltage aside from burning out lights?
Correct that shows track at 16 volts max (which would be 0-16max in realty) unless you are running at max speed which doesn't normally happen, over volting the motor shouldn't be a problem unless doing it for long periods (by over volting i mean a max of 4-5 volts if you were to put 100 volts to it i would die a very quick death)
 
-bbbb

-bbbb

Registered
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48
Idaho
Correct that shows track at 16 volts max (which would be 0-16max in realty) unless you are running at max speed which doesn't normally happen, over volting the motor shouldn't be a problem unless doing it for long periods (by over volting i mean a max of 4-5 volts if you were to put 100 volts to it i would die a very quick death)
Good to know. I also appreciated what Greg had to say about DCC pulses. I run mine on two 9 volt batteries in series, but the batteries are only really 9 volts when freshly charged. Most of the time they're around 7v each, and I've only briefly run them at top speed, most of the time at mid to slow range. It's nice that I haven't had problems, but what is more suprising is that the receiver's/ESC's I use were only designed for maybe 6v and it seems to be fine with 18v.
 
P

playmofire

Registered
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North Yorks
Are you sure about the 14v? I've seen playmobil power supplies which look like they might be providing 16v:
'
Or am I reading it wrong?

I have run some on 18 before with no problems, but what are the dangers of using a little too much voltage aside from burning out lights?
I've just had a close look at my controllers, of which I have five There are two 4350 ones marked 14v (made 1981/82-19990/91), two 4359s (the one in the photo) marked as 16v (made 1980-1990/91), and one 4375 marked 14v (made 1991/92-1996/97).
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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I would not worry about it, these are unregulated supplies, and as you probably never run flat out, the top voltage does not matter.

Also, quite often manufacturers will use a 12v rated motor at a higher or lower voltage.

You can only get a ballpark idea of what the motor was designed for, but it certainly is not a high cost, rugged, voltage tolerant motor, so we are back to the voltage dropper I presented to protect the motors, and prevent unnecessary high speed.

Greg
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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Transformer part is easy, you can google "meanwell" and you will find all kinds of stuff, about $60 for a 10 amp power supply (regulated DC) and less for a 5 amp one... just add $50 to the cost for the Roco for your planning.

Either system will be fine for you in my opinion.

Yes, one of the benefits of Zimo, is their smaller "HO" decoders will handle the higher voltages that are standard with G scale DCC (usually 24 volts), so you can find a 2 amp Zimo like the MX645 series...

Have you measured the max current draw of these motors?

By the way, the voltage dropper schematic is pretty simple to make (and inexpensive):

Greg that looks interesting I could even make one of them, presume the Bridge Rectifier is the round blob with 524 on it. Also where the Middle Lower Wire comes out of it is there a join to the centre of the 4 Diodes or should it be isolated. That is not too clear from the Picture.