Thank you to everyone who joined the ProtoThrottle Q&A today. For those who missed it, or would like to go back and review the presentation, you can view the recording on YouTube:
The slides from the presentation are available here.
The demonstration videos can also be found on YouTube:
Your Old Power Pack Isn’t a DC Supply
Please don’t power electronics from your old “DC” power pack.
It’s a rare day when I see a layout that doesn’t have a cheap train set power pack powering some accessory somewhere in a corner. It makes me shudder every time I see it, because if it’s powering any electronics, that’s just asking for trouble. I understand it – most model railroaders aren’t electronics people, and we’re all a little cheap and like to get every possible decade of use out of something that we can. But it’s a bad, bad idea, and I’m here today to explain why.
The problem is that these old packs were designed to do one thing – apply track power and spin a motor – and weren’t even terribly good at that. The “DC” that they put out can only barely be called that. It’s full-wave rectified AC from the transformer that’s probably going through a primitive rheostat and sent straight to the output. There’s no filtering and no regulation at all. At low load (such as a modern piece of electronics), this means you get DC that cycles between near 0 volts and around 26-30 volts at 120 times per second, even with the “throttle” barely turned on. Often the electronics blow up from being pushed beyond their ratings, the customer doesn’t understand why, the manufacturer and product get blamed, and nobody’s happy. So I’m here today to explain it and tell you: throw that power pack away!
The Motorman – Automatic Reversing Train Shuttle Controller
New from Iowa Scaled Engineering, the Motorman is an automatic reversing train shuttle controller for both DC and DCC locomotives. Using TrainSpotter infrared proximity detectors at each end, the Motorman will continuously drive the train back and forth, automatically stopping and reversing at the end of track. With control of the speed, locomotive address, delay time, and many other settings, a fully customized experience can be created.
Ideal for train show demo layouts, museum displays, and home layout automation, the Motorman provides an easy, intuitive way to automate the movement of locomotives and trolleys. It comes complete with the control unit containing the display and interactive buttons, a faceplate for mounting the unit to the fascia, a 12V/3A power supply, and two TrainSpotter detectors with 8′ cables. Also available is a track power switch, with an expanded faceplate, to permit use with existing DC or DCC control systems. As with all of our model railroad electronics, the Motorman is open source.
Order yours today for $99, only from Iowa Scaled Engineering!