Battery and R/C trains


I have reviewed the forums for previous discussion on using R/C with batteries instead of using track power and it appears most of these discussion are rather old.  So I thought I would start a new discussion and hopefully get the latest information on R/C with batteries.

  1. Are you using R/C with batteries to power your engines instead of using track power?
  2. If yes, are you using DCC decoders?
  3. If yes, are you using sound decoders?
  4. If yes to using R/C with batteries would you provide details to what system you are using including brand, where purchased, ease of installation, battery life, and other pertinent information.


I am fortunate enough that I am starting my Proto:48 layout from scratch, currently plan on having one operating engine (Red Caboose GP9 with P&D drive) working on the layout , and plan on building a portable layout thus the reason for wanting to move away from track power.  The nice thing about O scale is the ability to contain the batteries and control devices inside of the engine thus not requiring a box car to be permanently attached to the engine.  The portability is to take the layout to train shows to help inform others about Proto:48 as well as not having to take up a lot of room in the basement all the time since there are still 4 kids living at home.

Looking forward to hearing from you guys about this.

Michael Osweiler

Waseca, MN




Battery R/C

I've played around a little with it, homebrew, using NiCads and a cheap

board from an RC car in HO. I like it and will pursue it in the future.


You should go to the Free Rails group, where Woodie Greene has

been working on this for a long time. A lot of info there and Neil Stanton

is developing a good system.



O scale current draw...

Dear Michael,

O scale definitely lends itself to R/C in terms of space available within the shell. however, for the same reasons that there are "O scale decoders", you may find that the current draw of the O scale mech exceeds what a cheapo R/C car circuit can provide...

Just something to keep in mind...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

RC Forum

The best RC forum for model trains is

 They have a full section on train RC and a active following


joef's picture

NWSL Stanton Battery-powered Wireless DCC system for HO

Northwest Shortline Stanton battery-powered wireless DCC system

Northwest Shortline was showing what I consider to be the first really practical HO-scale Battery-Powered wireless DCC system at the National Train Show in Sacramento, CA last week.

Above is a photo of the system. They use a 3V lithium battery and then step up the voltage to 12V - the combination saves space over a much larger 12V battery. The system includes a wireless DCC throttle (not shown) and so there's also a receiver board for the system, along with a DCC decoder of your choice (this model shows an NCE D13SRJ decoder).

One of the keys to the system is the Stanton Power Trucks (previously known as the PDT power truck). The Stanton Power Trucks are DCC ready, coming with black, red, gray, and orange leads all set to wire to a decoder.

NWSL is coming out with a 6 wheel truck version of the Stanton drive this fall, which when combined with the Battery Powered Wireless DCC throttle system, makes for one of the first really practical commercial battery powered DCC systems.

The system shown above is for an Interurban car, and is built to leave the windows area with a clear view so the car has no obvious mechanism obscuring the view. This system will also fit inside an HO diesel loco hood (with room to spare) if you use the Stanton trucks to power the loco. There should also be plenty of room for sound speakers if you want to add sound to your loco.

NWSL said you can just power yard tracks and passing sidings, and otherwise leave all the complex trackwork dead. The NWSL battery system automatically recharges the battery from the track power, so they recommend you simply power the simple trackwork where equipment typically just sits when not running.

All-in-all, a pretty cool system. MRH will be following the developments of this system as it comes to market and will be keeping you informed on how it works.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line


Holy crap, Joe!!  IT'S HERE!!!!!!

I was discussing something of this order back on the Atlas boards back...2008?  Man, did it get a nice shower of slings and arrows!!!  But there it is...ha-hah!  But that's all it took - you have the electon tank [the battery; I was suggesting super caps], the circuitry to adapt the Tank to the operating voltage of the motor [the 12 volt circuitry], the decoder, and the Wireless module I said was absolutely vital to getting this thing to work in the first place...IT'S ALL THERE!!!


I do believe this wireless module is vital throughout DCC systems, if only because it allows the decoder instructions uninhibited access to the decoder.  Granted, you have interference and the issues of "what to do about tunnels [well, add repeaters!] and such, but that's an engineering issue and engineering problems are designed to be solved!!!

This is a good Day!

All we have to do now is get that system adaptable to other motor combinations, and we have the wireless locomotive in DCC...say GOODBYE to dirty track stalls and stutters!!

It seems to me this would be a good solution for steam locos.

Most plastic steam engines are too light weight to pull very much on a grade.  It would seem that this could be a way to power the tender on a steam loco without having it look obvious.  The tender then becomes a helper for the steam engine to pull a train over the hill.

Battery R/C

I have been developing an R/C battery powered HO locomotive for over 3 years and am now building a prototype.  Because this may be of commercial quality, I can only advise I am using high efficiency motors, 2.4 GHz technology and LiFePO4 batteries. 

The features I plan to incorporate include:

* Switch control from the locomotive

* Basic steam and diesel sounds

* Fiber-optic lighting

* Dynamic battery charging

* On-board camera / transmitter

Features will be consecutively introduced.

Thanks, Dan

Battery R/C - update

This is to update all interested in battery powered, radio controlled trains.

Prototype completed and tested with excellent results. Highly recommend a 2.4 GHz transmitter with DSM2 modulation for trouble free operation. Also using off-the-shelf pre-charged NiMH batteries which provide very good run times at very low operating cost. Prototype engine was run on a large layout with no problems. I'm proceeding with a second prototype which is smaller based on a new receiver-speed controller on a 10x12 mm board. This will double run time or increase load pulling capacity. Bottom line, radio control for HO works!




Peeking under the hood

With the current thinking for Radio control, how many transmitter and/or throttles are needed?

For example. Say 8 trains are running and 5 operators are controlling them with hand held throttles. With some operators running two or more trains simultaneously where they have sufficient clear track.

I can imagine RC systems that could handle this with just 1 transmitter, or a system with 5 transmitters, or a system that needs 8 transmitters. 

So far we have recent posts from NWSL, TAM and Railflyer that I have seen plus this prototype. What is the answer in each (and any others I've missed?


Dear Andy, If I understand

Dear Andy,

If I understand the question correctly,
and basing the answers off available info:
(Have personally played with an NWSL S-cab system, haven't see the rest in person here in Aust yet)

Problem conditions:
- 8 individual locos/trains in motion
- 5 human operators
- exclusively wireless control
(even if the system in question is capable of recieving "normal DCC" commands thru the rails,
this is not being considered in this exercise)

- there is always enough separation between trains to enable stress-free switching between locos by any given operator
- each operator requires at least 1 throttle to participate in the session
(no physical throttle-sharing between operators acceptable in this exercise)
- still relying on track power, battery power not a consideration for this exercise


TAM Valley
It is assumed/required that a functional DCC system is already owned/installed(?) by layout owner

- existing DCC Host system already in place
- existing 5x throttles + throttle-buss to match said DCC Host system already in place
(NB presumably existing wireless throttles such as ProCabR/DT400R could talk to their Host DCC unit)
- all 8 locos in question already have decoders of some form installed
(Note: as the existing throttles are still used under the new system, 
"Operator muscle memory" and familiarity should be maintained accross the migration).

Need to add
- min 1x TAM Valley radio transmission unit 
(piggybacks onto the DCC Track buss outputs from the existing DCC system Booster. Unsure of radio<>loco coverage limits/parameters???)
- 8x TAM Valley radio recievers (1 per loco)

All existing Host Control systems become redundant except as raw power source at the rails
(turn on the DCC Booster to provide track volts, put the existing DCC throttles in a cupboard)

Need to add
- 5x NWSL handheld transmitter/throttle units (1 per operator)
- 8x NWSL Reciever+DCC decoder assemblies (1 per loco)

Ring Eng
All existing Host Control systems become redundant except as raw power source at the rails
(turn on the DCC Booster to provide track volts, put the existing DCC throttles in a cupboard)

Need to add
- 5x RE Touchscreen handheld transmitter/throttle units (1 per operator)
- 8x RE Reciever+DCC decoder assemblies (1 per loco)

RailFlyer (Zigbee wireless)
All existing Host Control systems become redundant except as raw power source at the rails
(turn on the DCC Booster to provide track volts, put the existing DCC throttles in a cupboard)

Need to add
- 5x RF Zigbee handheld transmitter/throttle tablet (1 per operator)
- 8x RF "MCU" reciever/motor-control assemblies (1 per loco)
(Unsure if the MCU is only intended for use with RF style "axle-hung" traction systems,
or is also capable of installing in and driving "normal" single-motor "Athearn style" mechs/locos)

Hope this helps...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr



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