European power supply

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by stanC, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. stanC

    stanC Member

    I woulod be grateful for some advise about using European power for DCC. I will use a transformer to give my the 18 AC volts but I was wondering if the different frequency would be a problem.

  2. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Are we talking about using a analog transformer?
  3. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    if its a 220 volt transformer the frequency will adjust to the 60 hertz of US , but the voltage would be half of the normal output
  4. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    What does the DCC manufacturer say regarding the voltage and frequency of the input power? You have to meet those requirements.

    Transformers do not convert frequency. They are, however, frequency sensitive, and should not be operated outside their specifications.
  5. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    This is the right question to ask. In general things that can use 60 Hz will use 50 Hz fine, but there could be exceptions. Here is an example, form the Digitrax Super Empire Builder Manual:

    TABLE I:​

    DB150 Transformer Requirements

    AC or DC........................... AC 50/60Hz ........DC

    Max Input ...........................20V RMS AC .......28V DC
    Min Input .......... ..........12V AC .............12V DC
    Optimal Input Current . ..5 Amps .............5 Amps

    Dots to get the columns to kind of line up...


  6. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    As a technician, I'm confused with your question.
    What do you want to do:
    1) Get some European made DCC controller and plug it in a North-American outlet
    2) Bring your US made DCC controller to Europe and plug it in an European outlet ?

    3) None of the above ?

    There is generally no problem with the frequency 50 or 60 HZ won't make much difference. The problem could be with the voltage ( 220 V in Europe vs 110 V in US and Canada ) AND with the plug style ( flat pins in US and round pins in Europe ).

    I purchased an N scale Fleischmann Digital starter set here in Canada. It came with the original German DCC controller that requires 220 V AC / 50 HZ and has 2 round style pins . I had to purchase a "special transformer " 110 V AC and a plug with flat pins on one side and a 220V with round pins receptacle on the other side.
  7. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Transformers designed for a 60 Hz that are operated on 50 Hz will have a lower input impedance when operating on 50 Hz power. Because of this, the transformer will run hotter and may overheat. Transformers designed for 50/60 Hz operation will have been designed to minimize the overheating. It costs money to do this, since more iron/and/or copper is required for operation at 50 Hz than operation at 60 Hz, which is why there are more 60 Hz only transformers on the market, and they cost the manufacturers less.

    Bottom line: Both the equipment and the step down transformer must be rated for 50 Hz operation, or you run the risk of damaging the equipment. It may not happen, but then again, it may. :cry:
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think Stan was asking if the output from a European transformer at 50 Hertz would be acceptable input to a DCC power unit.
    I've always wondered similar things, if a different hertz in the power supply would affect electronic circuits that work with high frequencies (or is the power converted to DC before it becomes megahertz?)
  9. stanC

    stanC Member

    Thanks for the reply. My answer is none of the above. I need to first connect to the power pack and the instructions call for a 16 v input
    Regards Stan
  10. stanC

    stanC Member

    Thanks for the reply. I followed your suggestion and checked the WEB site of a supplie. Now I need help with the reply which I have copied below.

    For HO scale smaller, a 15 or 16V AC or DC transformer is ideal. In order for the LV101 PowerStation to deliver its full rated capacity, the transformer also needs to be able to deliver a minimum of 65 VA. Use a suitable, UL listed transformer designed for model trains. The allowed maximum effective output voltage of the transformers must not exceed 18V AC or DC.
    Does that mean that it does not matter if AC or DC is used. It also seems that the question of frequency is not relevent
    Help with this would be much appreciated
    Regards to all Stan
  11. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    If both AC and DC are acceptable inputs, then whether an AC input is 50 or 60 Hz is not important. Most likely, the input is rectified, filtered, and regulated inside the device, hence the universal input.

    What is interesting to me is the relatively narrow voltage range allowed for the input. Desired input is 15-16 volts, but no more than 18 volts. And maintain that voltage while supplying 4-5 amps, please.

    What this says to me is that a cheap power supply (such as an unregulated wall wart) may cause problems due to lack of voltage regulation over the current range. A power supply with a real transformer (decent amount of iron and windings) or some voltage regulation is needed.

    just my thoughts
  12. stanC

    stanC Member

    Thanks as always. What are your thoughts about the 65 VA. Another company required 17VA and an electrician I spoke to said that the 65 VA is a high value and will be hard to locate
  13. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The 65VA (about 4 amps at 16 volts) is needed to provide the full capacity of the command station. If you don't need 4 amps available on the rails, you can get by with less. From what I've seen typical figures are about 0.3 amps per train (running), 0.6 amps if they have sound. Engines not running are less than 0.1 amps.

    So if your smaller power supply has enough amps for the trains you will be running simultaneously, than that is good enough.

    There is one "gotcha" to using a smaller power supply. You must be able to adjust the fast-acting circuit breaker in the command station to a value equal to or less than the output of the power supply. If the circuit breaker is not properly adjusted, it will not trip on short circuits. The power supply will go into meltdown mode as it tries to supply the 4-5 amp current required to trip the non-adjusted circuit breaker.

    enjoy your setup
  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You should be able to find a toy train transformer with at least 65 VA (or watts). Not sure what Europe had in this regard. A larger one should be OK if it's fused down to 4 amps.
    I used to operate a on DCC layout and we had intersting problems with the reset after a short circuit. We talked to Mr. Lenz about it and he thought it might be too small a power supply (my friend was using an old power pack of about 3 amps). We never managed to try it out before he moved.
  15. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    I would look for a "brick" style power supply. I think it was a deal but I just bought a 4.2 AMP 12VDC out brick that is 100>24o volt 50>60 hz input. It was a local surplus store. Asjed $5.00 but I talked him down to $4.00 without the cord. ( I have LOTS of those from old computers)

    Since this style power supply uses a computer style cord you could either use an adapter on the US cord or get a cord to match the country you are going it. I am sure it would not be very hard to find someone with an extra from an dead and burried computer.

    If you have a laptop take a look at the charger and you will see what I mean.

  16. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    stanC, I agree with BigJim who suggests a "brick" style power supply.
    Yesterday I purchased a Duracell battery charger ( for my digital camera ) and it included what could be The perfect adaptor for you: the input voltage is 110 VAC 50/60 Hz and the output is rated 16 VDC at 4 Amps. It comes with the charger unit and 4 AA rechargeable battery. The pert # ( here in Canada ) is CEF 15NC.
  17. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    50HZ is fine but it would have to work @ 240v in Europe. You said 110 but not if it would work with higher voltage.

  18. stanC

    stanC Member

    Really great help from all of you. After reading the information I went to check a old laptop computer and sure enough there was a 18volt 60watt DC transformer which I never knew I had.
    Can I ask you once again for help in suggestions where to look for a 12-18 volt AC transformer. It is for a hand throttle and the instructions require only AC 12-18 volts capable of supplying sufficient current for a model 850. I will have to contact the supplier to check the current but I suppose it will be around 3 amps
    Again thanks all of you for your help
  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Stan: I've seen them in radio/electronics parts stores, either Radio Shack or some special shops. I don't know what's available in Europe.
  20. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    A 110 volt in 6.3 volt out transformer will give you 12.6 volts when run on 220V. 3 AMPs (36 to 54 Watts?) sounds high for a hand throttle.

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