Trade Acc+Ess Protocab

Discussion in 'Resources' started by Tony Hagon Acc+Ess Ltd, 25 November 2012.

  1. May I please be permitted to introduce our company to you on this Forum?
    We are developing a wireless model railway control system for availability in early 2013 -details at protocab.com.
    Please complete the Contact Us form to receive updates and a regular free newsletter.
    We will be updating this thread from time to time and we welcome comments and suggestions.
    Here is an early video we made of an O gauge LBSCR Terrier on my 'Tregorran' Cornish GWR branch line under construction:


    Tony Hagon
    Director
    Acc+Ess Limited
    tony@protocab.com
     
  2. A few notes on the 'Lady Emily' video....
    The loco is powered by a lithium ion battery located in the boiler which connects to a Locomotive Control Unit (LCU) in the side tanks. This was an early prototype and the LCU was split into two, one piece in each sidetank. Our latest LCU designs are much smaller and on a single board. The LCU enable a stall current of 1Amp to be drawn. Different current variants is a key part of the design so catering for up to 10amps is not a problem.
    The charging point and on/off switch were located on the long edge of one of the LCU boards and a slot cut in the footplate behind the valence to plug in the microUSB charging lead. This experience showed that this was an inflexible arrangement and thus we have taken the charging point and on/off switch off the main LCU into a small (20mm x 12mm) board (the LCU Interface board=LIU) that can be located at a convenient point in the loco with the LCU proper fixed wherever space for the 52mm x 22mm LCU can be accommodated. This arrangement is installed in our demo 4mm/ft SR Q class, GWR 'Grange' and the two 4mm Heljan locos (Hymek and Crompton), with the LCU in the water tank space of the steam loco tenders and the LIU in the coal space disguised in service by a dummy removable coal load. The LCUs are fitted in what was the motor space of the diesels with the LIUs in the underfloor fuel tanks. The battery is fitted in the boiler of the steam locos and in the body of the diesels.
    The Protocab system features a Concentrator (located under the layout and thus not visible in the video) that handles messaging between the controllers and LCUs, and in the early releases of the product, the controller is an application on an Android powered smartphone or tablet. Soon after we will provide support for iPhones, followed later by our own range of controllers with a physical knob and/or slider for modellers who do not like touch screens.



    IMAG1516.jpg

    We have demonstrated the system at Scalefour North in April and Scaleforum in September (photo above) where we had all 6 locos working all day on a single overnight battery charge. Admittedly, the locos were not under trailing load, but we ran the Terrier continuously on the second day of Scaleforum on a rolling road and it ran for just over 5 hours.
    The batteries are all charged in situ and we can charge 4 simultaneously through a USB hub. Charging time is under 4 hours from 'empty'.
    The LIU contains a protection circuit to prevent overcharging and the LCU prevents the battery over-discharging. Li-Ion batteries should ideally be stored with a 40% charge where they can be kept for several months with very little loss of charge.
    Earlier this month we were kindly invited to present to the Model Electronic Railway Group (MERG) at Keen House in London, and I am preparing an edited audio visual of the presentation which I hope to post on our website this coming week.
    Do please contact me if you have any questions or observations/comments/criticisms/suggestions, all of which are always welcomed!

    Best regards

    Tony Hagon
    Director
    Acc+Ess Ltd
    protocab.com
    tony@protocab.com
     
  3. A word on sound, lights and any other auxiliary devices on the loco. Battery technology requires a different approach to power management which is a major reason why we created our own standards (Acc+Ess) rather than adopting or piggybacking on existing control standards. One of the issues is the demands that the various auxiliary devices will put on the battery over and above the motor and the small amount of power that the LCU takes. If you have a diesel loco with a dozen coaches pulling hard up a 1 in 50 at night then you can imagine that the loudspeaker, smoke generator, coach lights etc are going to put quite a load on the battery. For that reason we are working on the development of the battery management circuit to handle auxiliary devices effectively. Thus sound and lights are not part of the initial product range (the Pilot Series) but are in plan for soon after. We'd be grateful to know what features you would like us to incorporate.

    Best regards

    Tony Hagon
    Acc+Ess Protocab
    protocab.com
    tony@protocab.com
     
  4. lancer1027

    lancer1027 Western Thunderer

    Hi Tony,

    I can only speak for myself but from comments made before i think as regards sound all that i would like is loco starting up ( twice if it has two engines ) , loco horn , loco shutting down. With possibly brake squeel as it comes to a halt.:thumbs:

    Lights.... basically so they could be switched on/off seperately to the loco sound but being able to leave on without too much drainage of the battery.:thumbs:

    Well thats my thoughts:confused:. I willgo and lie down now:))

    Rob:)
     
  5. dennis-rs

    dennis-rs Western Thunderer

    LOL:thumbs:
    Not much then Rob
     
  6. BrushType4

    BrushType4 Western Thunderer

    I'd like a couple of dozen functions that could be programmed to either play sounds, or switch things. This would allow user to programme whatever they want for any given loco.

    On the sound side, I'd use the existing DCC atributes to save reventing the wheel in that respect.
     
  7. I have been in email contact with Tony about various attributes, and I would say that he fully understands the needs for any new system to offer a similar level of flexibility as the best of the current range of DCC systems. Also that he is in contact with some very clever people (not me, then!) about this sort of thing. As he has said, it won't be immediately available, but when it comes, I reckon it will be a winner.

    If I read things correctly, the battery management circuit would effectively switch off the auxilliaries, such as as sound, smoke and lights, when the charge fell below a certain point. This is neat, but I would like to be able to keep the headlight(s) on, if they are low in their power consumption.

    I love the idea that I could put the software for the "concentrator" on a smartphone - I hope I will be able to use my increasingly out-of-date iPhone 3 for this purpose.
     
  8. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    I'd go with Robs requirments and hope for a good stepless throttle up and down.

    Regarding auxillaries, is it possible to run them from a seperate battery so that if it fails then you can still run?.

    The technology looks good but will your contollers support higher currents that 7mm will demand? I will read through all the blurb later but these are first impression questions so to speak.

    Kindest
     
  9. Jordan

    Jordan Mid-Western Thunderer

    Having read the very informative email and Newsletter #1 Tony has sent me, I'd like to concur with a few things -
    Sound - just a diesel engine, and choice of a few horns would do me.
    Lights - As US locos often have an amber rotary beacon, at least one light output with the ability to flash would be nice, as well as just on/off and possibly brightness settings.
    Most important - I'd like a 'traditional' type of throttle - a box with a knob on it for want of a better description!! I'm not into smartphones, iPads iPods and who-knows-what...
    Prices - the proposed prices are £175 for the "Concentrator" and £100 per loco control unit and battery. No prices for throttle as yet. Compared to DCC the Concentrator can be likened to a Booster or whatever, and as only one is needed that's okay I think; £100 per loco sounds quite a lot to me, although of course with DCC sound and smoke etc I know it's possible to spend far more that way!! Spreading the cost would have to be the way to go.
    I like the look of it so far!!
     
  10. Many thanks for the feedback and suggestions which we will carefully consider and update you on our developments in due course.
    Batteries
    A number of contributors have asked about batteries and their use. We have an answer on the batteries used in Protocab on our FAQs page at
    www.protocab.com
    Do please contact me tony@protocab.com if you have any specific questions about Protocab batteries.
     
  11. 28ten

    28ten Guv'nor

    I like the look of this, bottom line for me would be comparable cost to DCC and a similar range of sound projects.
    As someone who is not heavily committed to DCC and with a general loathing of layout wiring I can see many advantages.
    Controllers via iOS as well as a hand held would be a good idea, although i see why you have started with android.
     
  12. lancer1027

    lancer1027 Western Thunderer

    Another question for Tony:oops::rolleyes:

    I have spoken to a mate who already has Radio Control, and he has told me he doesnt think that there would be a suitable battery supply that would fit into a Heljan 7mm class 47 without major surgery.

    Now im only going on what he tells me as im no nothing really about R/C. He also said that with the rechargable batteries available that looking at the space (even after surgery ) there would only be room for two banks of 4 cells which with the motors (2x ) in a heljan would only give about 15-20 mins.

    Im basically asking if any variation in batteries is available ?. Are they all AA size ?.
    My main concern is that i dont really want to do MAJOR surgery on my 47's just to get only about 20mins worth of running:confused:.

    Any thoughts/help on this:thumbs:

    Rob:)
     
  13. iploffy

    iploffy OC Blue Brigade

    Rob this is why I originally mooted the idea that the trains use a power pick up from the track to continuously charge the batteries
     
  14. Phill Dyson

    Phill Dyson Western Thunderer

    Those Heljans do use a heck of a LOT of power:eek: ..........I'm also wondering about running times with twin motored Diesel kits?
     
  15. Hi Rob
    Without major surgery on your Heljan class 47, your friend is probably right. You could have a continuous charge from the rails as suggested above, but even then I suspect that there is not enough room to put batteries of sufficient power in the available space of an unmodified RTR diesel. The same goes really for an RTR steam profile.

    I have not yet fitted a 7mm RTR diesel with Acc+Ess Protocab components, but I have converted two 4mm locos, the Hymek (35) and Crompton (33) and we get several hours running off each. I can't give you more accurate times as it depends on the loads and how much time the loco is actually running. I can only say that the locos run for several hours on a typical running session.

    RTR models tend to include a very substantial mazak chassis for adhesive weight and in the case of the 4mm Heljan diesels there is a large central Buhler(?) motor connected to the two bogies via a pair of cardan shafts.


    There was no room for the size of battery that would give sufficient power to drive the loco for a satisfactory length of time and pulling reasonable loads, therefore I had two options: retain the chassis and make provision for the battery and LCU or discard the chassis completely. I decided on the former, but recognised that this would need some surgery on the mazak block and discarding the motor in favour of using the space to contain the battery. The LCU would fit on top of the battery and the on.off switch and charging socket taken off the LCU on what we now have as the LCU Interface Unit (LIU) - a small component that would fit in the fuel tanks of the locos, for ease of access.

    I discarded one bogie and replaced it with a Branchlines motor bogie,using the Heljan sideframes. The other bogie was retained but was now a dummy bogie without the cardan drive. I took out all the white gear wheels to reduce friction.

    The mazak block had to be milled - slowly and carefully - to fit the power bogie and the 18650 battery that gives 2200milliamp/hours. The Mashima 1620 motor draws a stall current of around 500mA and this proved to be more than powerful enough to draw six coaches. The stall current is important as this determines the model of LCU to employ.

    I should say that the decision to perform major surgery on a loco that has cost several hundred pounds would be a brave one but my own experience with the 4mm locos has been good and the result worth it. It all depends on what you want the loco to do in terms of running time and loads to pull, as well as auxiliary features such as sound that will also put a load on the battery, reducing its capacity.

    We are at the cusp of battery technology that is sufficiently powerful to mount in model locomotives to provide effective running time AND be cost effective. This technology is developing all the time and Acc+Ess Limited is well aware of developments and will introduce new battery technology when it becomes available and affordable.

    We don't claim that Acc+Ess Protocab is for everyone - yet! If you are running your Class 47 with a scale 1,000 tonnes behind continuously for the whole of an exhibition day, Protocab is not yet a realistic option. However, for the time being, our market is the modeller with a reasonable running session, a few hours, running the loco, say between the engine shed and station, pick up a train, run it to the fiddle yard and back again a few times.

    We will introduce a range of battery capacities and shapes (cylinder, flat form) to ensure that our customers can choose the right battery for the sort of work that the loco is to be put to and for a reasonable running time of a few hours. Certainly the range extends WELL beyond AA! The message is to make enough space in the loco to fit the largest battery you can from the range and if the range needs a new battery size and shape - please tell me!
    I hope this answers your points, Rob, if not, do please come back to me.
    Best regards

    Tony Hagon
    Director
    Acc+Ess Limited
    tony@protocab.com
     
  16. iploffy

    iploffy OC Blue Brigade

    Could you not permanently couple something behind like a GUV with sufficient batteries in where you cannot get them into the loco
     
  17. Phill Dyson

    Phill Dyson Western Thunderer

    With a terminus station, that would be more faff than track power IMO.
     
  18. SteveO

    SteveO Guest

    Surely there are higher capacity batteries than 2200mah? I'm sure I've seen some that are 4000+. This would significantly increase run time and add support for accessories?

    Personally, I can't really see this working to any degree of efficiency with Heljan locos - they draw so much amperage so make run times quite low. This system would be ideal for kit-builds so you can plan battery and electronics positions from the start - and generally would give you much more room (depending on prototype). For a large, and mostly empty, diesel kit shell, you could have a couple packs for an hour or more running time, with lights and sound.
     
  19. Phill Dyson

    Phill Dyson Western Thunderer

    I'm inclined to agree with you about 7mm Heljan's, would be nice to be proved wrong though :)
     
  20. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Steve,

    Maybe part of the thought process in contemplating battery powering is to consider changing the motor in a locomotive to a coreless design to get more efficiency and lower power consumption. It could be expensive depending on the type you have to get, but might be a cost trade off against the prices of some of the high capacity batteries becoming available. You might also have to provide some method of protecting the coreless motor from end thrust depending on the transmission of the locomotive.

    Jim.