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F501: Radio Equipment

I'd always intended F501 would be my first venture into radio control...
I used a budget priced 2 channel 27MHz Hitec Ranger outfit, together with an "anti-glitch module", from IP Engineering of Cranfield, UK.
Radio Installation Some UK garden railway enthusiasts prefer 40MHz FM radio control on the basis of 27MHz being too susceptible to the effects of interference and reception dead spots around the line. 27MHz is usually cheaper to buy and seems to work fine so long as you also fit a servo smoother ("anti-glitch") module.

It was quite a struggle to fit everything into the available bonnet space. I wanted to avoid installing control equipment in the same compartment as the motor, and didn't want to use any of the space in the driver's cab.

The Battery Loco RC Kit from IP Engineering included the transmitter, receiver, and a solid state speed/direction control module that is used in place of a servo. Speed and direction are controlled over one channel leaving the other channel spare to operate lights or a horn.

The anti-glitch module is wired between the radio receiver and the controller module. There was a small problem with the unit supplied in that its connector didn't fit the socket on the RX unit. This was solved by snipping the wires on the anti-glitch and controller modules to swap their connectors.

Control without the anti glitch module was poor. I tried all sorts of ways to improve it - longer antenna wire to the insulated cab roof, earth straps to the bogies, earthed foil around the motor. It seemed probable that the interference was external and not from the loco itself. The anti-glitch makes a world of difference. The unit causes a slight lag in response - but gives reliable running around the line even through radio dead spots. Smooth, slow running is an absolute joy.

The motor, lights and control gear all take their power from the same lead acid battery. I've installed a second on-board battery and rewired the switch in the cab to provide centre off and battery select. All on-board power is disabled when the plug from the charger is connected to the cab's isolating socket. This enables the switch to be used to select battery 1 or battery 2 as the on-board power source or to receive charging. A full charge gives about 50 minutes running, at which point I can switch over to the other battery for another 50 minutes!!

The photographs and text on this page are copyright (c) Paul Backhouse 2000 and may not be reproduced or distributed without the owner's permission.

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