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Thread: Keep-Alives for our scale

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    Default Keep-Alives for our scale

    I see where MRH is delving deeper into keep-alives, including an upcoming article next issue on rolling your own.

    That's got me intrigued, because next to clean track, a way to eliminate motor stalling seems to me to be of high interest to us N scalers. Our enjoyment of operations will benefit from every edge we can implement for our relatively light locos.

    So, is anyone use KA's, and more specifically, using them with plug and play decoders? Commercial KA's seemed geared to HO or larger, just due to the size of the components, but smaller super capacitors are available, so perhaps something more suitable for N scale is on the horizon.

    Thoughts? Ideas?

    I can make own (pretty simple, I wager), but the trick is fitting it into an Atlas diesel and locating suitable points for connecting it to the decoder.

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    I have been using these in a couple of my locomotives, they seem to do the trick.
    https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail...TAJD107K016SNJ

    Nice and tiny! It's time for me to outfit the rest of my locos with them since I have a double cross over that doesnt always provide great power.
    Will
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    I use a bunch of these (or similar ones) in parallel for my sound decoders - just make sure they are rated 25V or higher:

    https://www.mouser.de/ProductDetail/...21BR61E226ME4K

    Even smaller and you can make a "battery" of those fitting any shape you have available in the loco.

    Heiko

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    I see where MRH is delving deeper into keep-alives
    Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
    Even smaller and you can make a "battery" of those fitting any shape you have available in the loco.
    Sorry, but can you define/explain "keep-alives" to those of us that are slow with electronics?
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler..............Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life..............Web-Folio

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    It's a device based around a capacitor that keeps the decoder alive and the motor spinning for up to several seconds in the event that a dirty spot in the track or a dead frog causes a power/DCC signal interruption.

    The advent of small but high capacity electrolytic "super capacitors" in the tantalum family have made them practical for HO scale and larger. Some N scale locomotives as well. Depends on the amount of space under the hood.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    It's a device based around a capacitor that keeps the decoder alive and the motor spinning for up to several seconds in the event that a dirty spot in the track or a dead frog causes a power/DCC signal interruption.
    That, and there is also a "Keep-Alive light" (my term) which is also based around a capacitor, but only keeps the decoder operating on dead spots, so it doesn't go through it's power-up sequence again after the dead spot. Because the decoder needs way less power than the motor, this can be accomplished with smaller capacitors. And because sound decoders (especially the Digitrax variant) often go through an engine startup sound sequence before starting to move, they are much more finicky on dead spots than regular decoders.

    Heiko

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    Where do you wire them on a decoder?

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    Well, that's a topic in this month's Model Railroad Hobbyist e-zine, and it will hopefully be touched on in the June issue as well.

    But some decoders come equipped with pads for soldering KA leads to. Instructions with the decoder or the KA should point out where they are connected.

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    Here's a web page with general instructions for adding keep-alive to any decoder, along with some specific examples.
    http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/mainnorth/alive.htm

    - Jeff

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdetray View Post
    Here's a web page with general instructions for adding keep-alive to any decoder, along with some specific examples.
    http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/mainnorth/alive.htm

    - Jeff
    That's great. Very similar to what's in MRH this month.

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    Default Trouble with programming?

    I had read somewhere that Keep-Alives sometimes created issues setting CVs on your programming track. Is this still an issue or have new decoders resolved this? Or is the workaround to Program on Main?

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    Quote Originally Posted by idog View Post
    I had read somewhere that Keep-Alives sometimes created issues setting CVs on your programming track. Is this still an issue or have new decoders resolved this? Or is the workaround to Program on Main?
    According to the October 2019 issue of Model Railroader, this is still a problem when programming some keep-alive equipped decoders on a programming track (service mode programming). The author of the DCC Corner column suggests programming "on the main" to avoid the problem. Since I have no keep-alives, I don't have any personal experience with this problem.

    - Jeff

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    I think that these will become commonplace -if not a standard componant of future decoders- in the near future. How much heat is generated in your typical multi capacator setup?
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mosslake View Post
    How much heat is generated in your typical multi capacator setup?
    Far less than with the bad railroady words I mutter when a loco stalls -- which is almost never, but irritating nonetheless.

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    Ok, reason I ask is that these capacators can go inside external parts. I was thinking of using an airtank on a tender -DRGW style to carry the capacator used with sound decoders. There's other places, airtanks, tool boxes, battry boxes, that can disguise these parts, it's just fitting and wiring them that needs work on.

    http://www.rgusrail.com/album/cocrm/drgw_346_02.jpg
    The 'keep alive' capacator on a 1:1 scale narrow gauge engine, cleverly disguised as an air tank....
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    The true game changer will be "chargeable" locos with wireless or bluetooth capabilities. Plug them in with a micro or lighting connector and run for several hours. Think of all of the efficiencies one would gain building a layout if we didn't need perfect electrical pickups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dave68124 View Post
    The true game changer will be "chargeable" locos with wireless or bluetooth capabilities. Plug them in with a micro or lighting connector and run for several hours. Think of all of the efficiencies one would gain building a layout if we didn't need perfect electrical pickups.
    Remember the Hot Wheels "Sizzlers" cars of the early 1970s? Had a little battery inside them. Plugged them in to charge, then after a bit they were ready to race.

    I think were about nine to 10 years out from that "what's-old-is-new-again period in N scale, maybe five in HO. But I believe we're going to get there.

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    This would also be nice if an inductive charging system could be made use of.
    Just set the locos on a pad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen H. View Post
    This would also be nice if an inductive charging system could be made use of.
    Just set the locos on a pad.
    I think that's where we're headed. A pad for charging and programming, maybe even with a means for wheel cleaning.

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    Or a hidden inductive pad/track between the running track! No batteries needed until a higher density battery is developed.

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