Thursday, August 8, 2013

High Flying, Adored

One thing I haven't talked about so far on this blog (other than a brief disparaging comment) is how I'm supplying power to the locomotives. I'm currently in possession of five controllers (two of which are the cheap and nasty Hornby starter controller) but I have a clear favourite; the Hammant and Morgan Flyer.

There are a number of reasons I really like this controller:
  • It's the controller I remember using with my first train set.
  • It's reassuringly well built. You could probably kill someone if you hit them with it!
  • It's a centre off controller
  • It uses a continuous speed dial
  • It isn't a PWM based controller
  • The illustration on the box is exceedingly dated!
I'm sure everyone will have their own preferences that may well not match with mine, but I think most would agree that they really don't make controllers like this anymore.

The problem is that PWM based controllers are cheap to build (I did experiment with using my Arduino to controller the locomotive which should give you an idea on cost) and so they dominate the market. The problem is that they tend to make the motors in modern models buzz loudly as they essentially turn it on and off rapidly. It is possible to tune the PWM frequency to reduce the noise but in doing so you lose some of the benefits (low speed control seems to suffers quite badly).

The Flyer, however, is based around a large rheostat that gets satisfyingly hot in use as it dumps a lot of the current as heat. The downside is that you wouldn't want to leave it plugged in unattended... just in case. Also it is quite large in comparison to more modern controllers. Of course, it's my layout and I'll cry if I want to I'll choose which controller is used.