Where and what to buy for batteries

rpiboy01

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I'm sure there a million opinions on this, which is one reason I didn't bother doing a search, as I would rather just see what people reply with here. Now that I've got my loco operational using the antique Locolinc control system, I need to consider either a battery pack, or pulling apart the 4-4-0 Bachman to reconnect the track pick-ups as I'm fairly certain the Locolinc installer "clipped" them (though I'm not 100% confident either, more testing tomorrow night).

Regardless, while I continue to asess need to carry on with research.

The Locolinc control board is a 2amp board from what I can tell, and on the bench it happily ran with about 17v being applied from a power pack. Board is rated for 12v - 18v. Suggestions on where to procure an appropriate battery pack? Is Li-ion the rage now? For now we won't be doing much but running around in a loop "under the Christmas tree". Long term hope to construct a small outdoor layout that includes operations and not just running in circles, but that is likely a few years away yet.

Thanks in advance & cheers!
 

Paul M

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25 Oct 2016
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You can get cusom made packs from electronic stores that will fit your loco. Just be aware of the dangers of rechargeable batteries, the risk is small but needs to be considered
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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As Paul says some batteries have risks. Please watch these vids and perhaps search how to use these types safely, all available on youtube.
Personally I would not touch Lipo or Lion though I know phones etc make extensive use batteries that can and sometimes do spontaneously combust. But the charging regime of good quality phones tends to be pretty safe.

But to be ballanced here is a link to being safe with LiPo.

HOWEVER NOT ALL IS LOST.
Personally and my Garden trains are now exclusively Battery Powered, I use NiMh as the risks with these particularly whilst charging in situ are as near to zero as makes any difference . Others on here do use Lipo and possibly Lion as well and will report no problems. That is fine I just explain my preference and show some of the possible risks.

Where you may be tempted to certainly use LiPo would be if there is a lack of space in your loco and that could well be a deciding factor. However if you are the sort of person that wants to put a Loco on charge, leave it and forget it till you think of checking if it has charged up then NiMh is the safest way to go with a Smart Charger that switches itself off when charging completed. Good quality Lipo and Lion Chargers should do the same thing.
 
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Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
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I'm sure there a million opinions on this, which is one reason I didn't bother doing a search, as I would rather just see what people reply with here. Now that I've got my loco operational using the antique Locolinc control system, I need to consider either a battery pack, or pulling apart the 4-4-0 Bachman to reconnect the track pick-ups as I'm fairly certain the Locolinc installer "clipped" them (though I'm not 100% confident either, more testing tomorrow night).

Regardless, while I continue to asess need to carry on with research.

The Locolinc control board is a 2amp board from what I can tell, and on the bench it happily ran with about 17v being applied from a power pack. Board is rated for 12v - 18v. Suggestions on where to procure an appropriate battery pack? Is Li-ion the rage now? For now we won't be doing much but running around in a loop "under the Christmas tree". Long term hope to construct a small outdoor layout that includes operations and not just running in circles, but that is likely a few years away yet.

Thanks in advance & cheers!
Whichever way you jump, the charger and the charging technology are as important as the battery / battery pack :nod::nod:
 

JimmyB

Semi-Retired; more time for trains.
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Where you may be tempted to certainly use LiPo would be if there is a lack of space in your loco and that could well be a deciding factor. However if you are the sort of person that wants to put a Loco on charge, leave it and forget it till you think of checking if it has charged up then NiMh is the safest way to go with a Smart Charger that switches itself off when charging completed. Good quality Lipo and Lion Chargers should do the same thing.
I use both LiPo and Li Ion, I think that Li Ion is probably the more safer due to construction, and protection systems, however if used and handled correctly including charging then both are reasonably safe, if they weren't they wouldn't be allowed (or used) on aircraft.
 

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
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I've been using both pouch type lipos and cylindrical li-ions successfully since 2013. Their great advantage over NiMh is their size. Whereas each NiMh cell provides 1.2v, a lithium cell provides 3.7v, so you need far fewer of them to give you the power you need. Really helpful if you run small locos on your railway.

You need to handle lithium cells carefully and protect them from being overly discharged but, in my experience, they are no more risky than NiMh cells. I've only had a thermal runaway once with one lithium cell, and that was when I accidentally short circuited it before adding battery protection to the pack. It hissed and fizzed and got a bit hot but that was all. I've also had a NiMh pack which almost caught fire when that was short circuited. It melted all its wiring. So, you need to take care with all forms of rechargeable battery packs.

Take a look at my beginner's guide


Rik
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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I had a bit of trouble with my Kamel in battery power this year. The batteries would not hold a good charge for vary long. The loco had been working just fine but then duration was almost non-existant. I have put it down to the fact that I had the battery pack in stock for a long time without charging before fitting in the loco, not sure if this was a factor but all I can think of. Anyhow I bit the bullet and bought some new slightly larger cells from Amazon:-

ANSMANN 5035391 2850 mAh 1.2 V Sub-C NiMH LSD Flat-Top Battery with Z-Tags - Blue

Fitting in the Kamel of these larger batteries is fine as the Kamel is not space starved. Here is a pic showing the original 12 pack of AA’s and where they fit. The 2 x 6 cell replacements will fit 6 each side over the weight and be secured with a strip of Butyl Pond Liner the same way.
589A2DAB-AF57-49BF-82BA-133E4165800B.jpeg
As plan was to make 2 x 6 packs to fit on top of the weight either side of the cab. Here is my planning for how the packs would go together.
A02BA708-88C3-4B50-9EA5-6914C715C5F4.jpeg But I then needed to get the packs together. There was some talk recently about the mini welding devices and their power abilities. So I got one and found it worked just fine on these tabbed batteries. But I needed to hold the batteries together securely to do this, thus I knocked up a small wooden cradle out of scrap ply left over from the recently build Wisbech Tram Coach. Here you can see the set up with welding gear, I bent the tabs over and pushed them together for 4 or more welds per pair of tabs.
60A348A0-603F-4580-90D9-72B3903A5DB3.jpeg
The 2 packs were joined with wire leading to a Fosworks plug. Then of course I needed to keep the cells together, this was achieved by heat shrink and again I resorted to Amazon for some 60 and 66mm size clear heat shrink, not knowing quite what size would be needed prompted both sizes. As it turned out the 60mm was fine but a tight fit before the shrink. Here you can see the 2 packs soldered together with heat shrink of smaller size on the tabs. The cells are under charge here via a spare Fisworks wiring loom and Smart Charger.
EA5ED0CC-921C-4378-A8D8-33AFC933DB8E.jpeg
My next job was to enlarge the central screw hole in the other weight so that I could use the Pond Liner to hold the packs in place the same as I had done on the other side. I measured the depth required on the originally adapted weight with the vernier depth gauge.
211AA81D-A8C7-49B9-8E39-E32B7D2BC622.jpeg
Then used that to put some tape on the drill for the correct depth before drilling to depth on my trusty vertical drill.
46EF11C6-EDF5-4B8C-9E5B-151E0C608106.jpeg
I forgot to take a pic of all installed before screwing the Kamel together again, but I am sure you will get the gist of what I have done.

Hopefully the new pack (2850 mAh) will give extended running time and last much longer than the 6 recharges that the original cells had. To be honest I now have some 30 or so battery packs for locomotives, a couple going back as far as 2009 so I must have just been unlucky with these originals (2100mAh) that caused this upgrade.