Author Topic: BLI Loco Power Use  (Read 930 times)

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mecgp7

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BLI Loco Power Use
« on: September 25, 2021, 01:24:00 PM »
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I have a couple of BLI locos (E7 and SW7/9). I run DC and it takes a lot of power to run these. Easily the upper 1/4 of the throttle. Is this normal and is it different in DCC?
They operate great, but they call for so much power that anything else on the layout that is lighted like BLI passenger cars go supernova! Can't be good for them. I use MRCs as power sources.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2021, 10:20:33 PM by GaryHinshaw »

CBQ Fan

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2021, 01:33:02 PM »
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I have a feet of E units and an SW, plus a couple of steam locos. All of the diesel locos need about 50% throttle to fire up and 75% throttle to move at a reasonable road speed. I try to stay away from full throttle do to frying one decoder years ago. Get rid of the traction tires and replace them with regular axles. You won’t want to run them with any other DC locos.
Brian

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daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2021, 02:03:59 PM »
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The electronics for sound only start at about 5-8 volts. Then there needs to be a dead area for startup and idle sounds before leaving the last 20/25% of the throttle for movement. All DC/DCC sound equipped engines are like that.

Since DCC operates at 12-14v power is always available and the entire throttle is used to move the train.
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mecgp7

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2021, 02:11:13 PM »
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Thanks for the information. What do folks do about lighted cars with these locos? My BLI passenger cars all but glow when run with these locos. Not complaining, just looking for  a solution.

mmagliaro

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2021, 02:33:03 PM »
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And remember, these engines aren't "taking a lot of power". 
I assume the BLI passenger car lighting is LED, not incandescent bulbs.  In that case, I wouldn't worry about the high throttle setting being "bad for them", but I can see how it might be annoyingly bright.
There ain't a lot you can do that would be "simple" if you want to run these cars with the DCC equipped and non-DCC equipped engines.  If you're willing to do some minor soldering, I'm sure you could get in there and find one main lead to the LED lighting and cut in a resistor there to reduce the brightness.  But then they probably won't be bright enough for your taste when you run them with a non-DCC equipped engine on only, say, 1/3 throttle.

The cars should have a constant brightness circuit in them if you really want to solve this problem. 
How adept are you at electronics and soldering?

And curiously, there was just a thread about a commercial little board that would do the trick if you can hide it in the car somewhere:
https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=52700.0

You'd want to measure the current the car draws when the brightness suits your taste, and then use a constant-current circuit that's close to that.

I'd really want to see what wiring is already in those cars.  If they are LED, they probably already have a recitifier somewhere to allow them to work on any track polarity, in which case one of these simple modules would do the trick and you wouldn't even need the ones with the rectifiers.

peteski

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2021, 02:50:06 PM »
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As other mentioned DCC sound decoders (from all manufacturers) need at least 5-8V to even initialize, so your DC throttle will not even move them until you reach that voltage.  Thus unfortunately is normal and expected behavior.  They are really designed for DCC.

Non-sound decoders operating on DC work much better (most start running around 3V).

As for the lighting of the BLI cars, IMO it is totally messed up.  Duel to needlessly overcomplicated design, it needs over 6V to even start glowing, and then the LEDs are constant brightens, but at a "nuclear brightness" level. When these cars first came out I reverse engineered the circuit and came up with a solution (eliminating about 3/4 of the circuit) to control the brightness and make them work at a broader voltage range, and have better anti-flicker circuit.  I started writing an article about it, but like all my other projects, it got lost in a shuffle.  But there is hope!
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CBQ Fan

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2021, 03:18:27 PM »
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What about the battery powered lighting strips in place of rail powered lighting.
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CodyO

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2021, 12:06:08 PM »
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What about the battery powered lighting strips in place of rail powered lighting.

I went into mine and replaced the resistors to get rid of the nuclear glow
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Mike C

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2021, 06:43:12 PM »
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  @CBQ Fan So you now have several DCC locos . The easiest  and most expensive fix is to give in and just buy a DCC station and wire the DCC and DC power to a DPDTCO switch so you can switch between both power sources .   This will give much better control for the DCC locos ......Mike


PS it won't cure the nuke like brightness though . But as @peteski said you could wire a resister into the car lighting . But the lights will then be dim when running on DC . I ran my layout ltke that for a few years untill I bit the bullit and went full DCC .
« Last Edit: September 26, 2021, 06:51:37 PM by Mike C »

CBQ Fan

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2021, 07:05:44 PM »
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  @CBQ Fan So you now have several DCC locos . The easiest  and most expensive fix is to give in and just buy a DCC station and wire the DCC and DC power to a DPDTCO switch so you can switch between both power sources .   This will give much better control for the DCC locos ......Mike


PS it won't cure the nuke like brightness though . But as @peteski said you could wire a resister into the car lighting . But the lights will then be dim when running on DC . I ran my layout ltke that for a few years untill I bit the bullit and went full DCC .

I would have to have some sort of way to change between straight DC & DCC. My DCC locos are a small percentage of my overall engine fleet. I have the Broadway Limited module that allows you to control some of the digital functions in DC.  My layout has 72 blocks on it now, and more planned. It is intriguing to have way to run digital locos on my mainlines.
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Mike C

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2021, 07:17:16 PM »
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    The DPDT CO switch is the key . Double pole double throw center off switch . You wire the DC to the 2 poles on 1 end and the 2 poles from the DCC go to the to the other end . Then the track power is wired to the center 2 studs . That makes it possible to switch between power systems ........Mike

EL3632

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2021, 08:35:22 PM »
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The BLI "Paragon" decoders are notoriously power hungry on DC and DCC. BLI essentially put HO decoders in N Scale engines. I have had nothing but trouble with BLI decoders, to the point I replace them immediately upon purchase. I put in ESU decoders, but if you are running DC, you could straight-wire it so no decoders are involved, or you could replace the sound decoder with a non-sound decoder if that is more your speed. It sucks, but I have found no better solutions as of yet.
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CBQ Fan

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2021, 08:58:44 PM »
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    The DPDT CO switch is the key . Double pole double throw center off switch . You wire the DC to the 2 poles on 1 end and the 2 poles from the DCC go to the to the other end . Then the track power is wired to the center 2 studs . That makes it possible to switch between power systems ........Mike

I will have to give this some thought.  Any suggestions on a simple system to power up a DCC system?
Brian

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peteski

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2021, 09:15:08 PM »
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The BLI "Paragon" decoders are notoriously power hungry on DC and DCC. BLI essentially put HO decoders in N Scale engines. I have had nothing but trouble with BLI decoders, to the point I replace them immediately upon purchase. I put in ESU decoders, but if you are running DC, you could straight-wire it so no decoders are involved, or you could replace the sound decoder with a non-sound decoder if that is more your speed. It sucks, but I have found no better solutions as of yet.

The "scale" of a sound decoder does not play much of a role in how much current (power) it consumes.  Motor is the major consumer of current in mode locos.
That statement doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Decoders "scale" is usually based on how much current they can pass to the motor.  It is only a recommendation from the manufacturer. Decoders with higher power rating (read: H0 and larger scales) simply have "beefier" components for the rectifier diodes and the H-bridge which supplies power to the motor.  But while those "beefier" components have ability to supply more current, they themselves do not consume any extra current (compared to their lower-amperage counter parts in decoders recommended for smaller scales).  What consumes power in the decoder itself is the microcontroller (the brain of the decoder), its ancillary circuitry, and the audio amplifier (current consumption varies with how loud is the sound being played).

Have you measured the current draw of the N scale BLI decoder when the loco is stopped and all the functions are turned off (except for sounds)?  How does it compare to other brands sound decoders (measured under the same conditions as BLI)?

Looking at other brand decoders, most of the decoder's circuitry is the same, regardless of what scale the decoder is recommended for.  For example, in the same scenario as I described above, ESU brand sound decoders recommended for H0 and N will consume similar amount of current. If BLI does in fact consume more current than other brands, that is due to its design in general, not to "scale".
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Maletrain

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Re: BLI Loco Power Use
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2021, 09:30:46 PM »
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I will have to give this some thought.  Any suggestions on a simple system to power up a DCC system?

The usual answer to a quick and simple DCC system is the NCE PowerCab system, which is essentially a tethered throttle that has the command station  inside it, and it plugs into a panel that has track wires coming out the back. 

But, you posted that your layout already has "72 blocks" and I really don't know what that means in the way of power requirements to run what number of trains, lights, etc.  The PowerCab really only supports about 1.5 amps.

There are other NCE systems that are more powerful, more expensive, have more capabilities, and are still pretty simple to install, understand and use.  And, it is possible to use boosters with the PowerCab system if all you need is more power, but not more throttles (than 4).  And, even with the PowerCab, you can add a WFC-30 by simply plugging it into the PowerCab panel and that lets you run WiFi throttles such as the new TCS throttle and those WiThrottle/EngineDiver apps on cell phones.

Digitrax is a more complicated DCC system that has some more capabilities, but it has been having some severe problems lately with a switch to duplex throttles that did not go well.  Digitrax has many more devices that are very frequently having compatibility issues that require firmware updating through a computer.  By way of contrast, NCE needs a new chip to do updates, and those have been very few in number over the decades.