Varipulse 852B (My take on it.)

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chessie_system3

Well-Known Member
As some members on here know. I recently purchased a Varipulse 852B walk around throttle. I spent a better part of three days working with it. Finding out what I like and dont like. Let me start off by saying Ken Stapleton is on point. I havent had such good customer service. I sent email to him before bed and had a response before I even got out of bed to get the kid to school. Also I purchased a built one. I felt it may be a safer bet that way. So out of pocket cost $55 including shipping. Which with current events took longer than usual. Nevertheless it showed up. So here we go with hooking it up. I power mine with my MRC Tech 4 260. Everything connects good and with just four wires to hook up took me no time at all getting it connected. Directions were spot on and away we go. Start out with an Atlas model for my first test. Now keep in mind my previous walk around. Well previous current throttle is a Troller TRH-40. When using it my Atlas locomotives literally jumped to life and as run time goes they begin doing an off the wall surge while at speed. So with the Varipulse I found that they slowly come to life. Basically start out at a very slow crawl. Now it's worth mentioning that the Varipulse has a more aggressive voltage application. This application does create a hum. However in the Atlas model it was very low tone. Not much different than any other throttle I've used. So that's a plus. Now let's move on to an Athearn RTR model. Apply the throttle and yeah that was short lived. The open frame on an Athearn creates a lot of vibration which in turn causes the shell to resonate. But it had great slow speed as well for the short period I actually ran it. So a negative point for the Varipulse. However let's not rule it out entirely. Next up is a P2K locomotive. Apply the throttle to it. It has a slightly more noticeable hum to it but nowhere near as bad as the Athearn. It has good slow speed as well. It may be worth noting that the hum varies with the P2Ks. My P2K GP7 hums more than my P2K GP30s. The GP30s are like the Atlas models. It's not really a noticeable change. Next up is a Bachmann. It responds just like the Athearn. Its noisy from the get go. However all the locomotives have had an increase in slow speed performance. If one could find a way to absorb the vibration through the shell I would imagine the noise would become a non issue. It's all about the build quality of the locomotives manufacturer. So then I figure why not put as many cars on a locomotive as I can. Let's do some switching. For this test I used an Atlas GP38. Behind it are 18 cars. So let's break the cars up into multiple trains. This is where a hum actually plays to the advantage. Once the hum is heard get ready because this locomotive is about to move. Move it does at a snail's pace. With no surge just a good even flow. So in all moves performance was smooth with no jumps or jerks. Just smooth operation. Also found that the hum does down in the Atlas locomotive the longer it runs. Made the tail end switches a little hard but still smooth performance wise. Now I decided to not try this test with the Athearn locomotive as I didnt want the wife to come down and put a thumping on me for the noise. So let's try the P2K GP7. Ok so it hums but moves smoothly. It hums at the same pitch no matter throttle setting. However performance is still good. It performed just as good as the Atlas model. It just has a more audible hum that doesn't die down at all. I didnt attempt to try out the Bachmann either as it is like the Athearn. So no point in getting bruised up over loud locomotives. So in conclusion here. I would recommend this throttle to anyone running a higher end locomotive. Slow speed control is amazing with this. Like i said earlier the Atlas locomotives start out with a very slight audible hum but no different than any DC throttle i currently use. Now keep in mind I only tested what I currently have. So results may vary. At first I'll admit I was a little let down. The more i messed with it the more i learned. I learned the hum gets lessened if the throttle is applied in a more slow manner as to jumping straight to setting. The slower the application the less noise. So theres that. If you can get past Athearns shell rattle I'd would say this would work well for them. Possibly do away with the hard screw motor mounts in it. May possibly take some of the vibration out. So the only complaint is noise. Get past that this throttle is a solid performer. And with the price point it's going to be hard to beat. Especially if you run Atlas or the like. If you aren't running mid range equipment and you are running DC then this is the throttle to have. I'll keep my Varipulse just for my Atlas locomotives. The creeping slow speed is a huge plus for me. This will basically sum up my take on the Varipulse. Long winded but worth it. So just in case nobody reads the full thing:

PROS- Great slow speed. Easy connection to the layout. Hardly no audible noise in higher quality locomotives. Great customer service.

CONS- Noisy in mid range locomotives. Does get warm in your hand but not really a con.

For anyone interested. This is the website:
 

chessie_system3

Well-Known Member
Ken has his stuff set per scale. From what I have experienced they are worth it. In terms of getting a new throttle though and compared to what you currently now have you may be disappointed in it. It makes your locomotives run louder which is good and bad. I like it because I can expect the locomotive to start moving. Bad in that when running it's a constant. My Atlas locomotives seem to not be affected at all by it. So it may be worth a look.
 

MikeGTW

Signalman, ESQ
Hmm I have three of the 852B throttles and I went downstairs for the first time in months used all three with different engines and except for the normal noise from the Athearn they seemed fine to me Ran Athearn, walthers trainline, bachmann, atlas, and a old IHC steamer Not really hearing a lot of noise I wonder if it has something to do with the power supply ? They are great throttles like you say espiecallly slow speed

I also have two of the 821 for HO and love them I used network cable and plugs for the connection (cheap)
 

chessie_system3

Well-Known Member
Hmm I have three of the 852B throttles and I went downstairs for the first time in months used all three with different engines and except for the normal noise from the Athearn they seemed fine to me Ran Athearn, walthers trainline, bachmann, atlas, and a old IHC steamer Not really hearing a lot of noise I wonder if it has something to do with the power supply ? They are great throttles like you say espiecallly slow speed

I also have two of the 821 for HO and love them I used network cable and plugs for the connection (cheap)
I'd like to expand on this. Everywhere I've looked just in general on walk around throttles theres more than one mention of the varipulse throttles. And with quite a bit of fan fare. I'm using a tech 4 260 to power mine. If you dont mind me asking what do you use to power yours?
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
From the vendor website. It shows this pattern of output. Not what I expected to see. To me other than being mono-polar it looks like the output of a DCC for channel zero. To make the loco go faster the width gets wider. I would think this power input would be very hard on coreless and precision motors. Does any one with a throttle like this have an oscilloscope? I would be very interested in seeing what the resulting power looks like when the back EMF from the motor is included.



I expected something more like this.
1615314706319.png
 
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MikeGTW

Signalman, ESQ
OK I just went down there again and hooked up an old MRC and ran a athearn F unit then switched to the 852B and no noticable difference in sound
The only thing I need to do is adjust the starting voltage on the 852 it's a tad to high
I don't know what to tell you why the difference
 

chessie_system3

Well-Known Member
OK I just went down there again and hooked up an old MRC and ran a athearn F unit then switched to the 852B and no noticable difference in sound
The only thing I need to do is adjust the starting voltage on the 852 it's a tad to high
I don't know what to tell you why the difference
Well maybe I should voice my concerns to Ken about it. It is his throttle afterall. I couldn't understand the fanfare for these throttles when my locomotives are really loud. I had figured maybe everyone was just grew to get used to it. It's an amazing performer but the noise kills it for me.
 

MikeGTW

Signalman, ESQ
I have another mrc throttle the old copper colored ones and a Tech II 1400 so I'll go down in the morning and try 4 or 5 engines and see what happens
 

chessie_system3

Well-Known Member
So the Varipulse experience has come to an end for me. With any chance of me talking kindly about them. Attempted to fine tune it to see if it would make a difference. Following the directions that came included. Well I ended up stripping out the screw. Didnt know I was stripping it out. It didnt feel like it was stripping out. Well it stripped out at the full setting. Because you know which direction to turn it in isnt included in the directions. It about caused my GP7 to become a floor model which would have really sent me into a rage. It was at that moment I realized there was no screw left! So much for using a 3/32 screw driver. So according to my warranty I'll have to eat this cost. Given the experience I've had and after digging up a few more locomotives 13 of which were loud as all get out with it. That's 13 out 15 locomotives that really did not like the varipulse. So with this experience I learned that maybe it isnt a good thing to give in to the hype. I am an MRC fanboy anyway and with the loss of my Varipulse I gain back my MRC Tech 4 260. Albeit I'm stuck in one place but I have solid performance that I have had few quite some years now. 12 years in fact and it's not let me down. So for those who have had great luck with the Varipulse throttles I'm really glad that you do. Unfortunately I dont get to share in the same luck as you. My experience was bad enough that I'll keep my $55 and buy something I can count on. So I guess you can say the you win some and you lose some. This time I lost.
 

MikeGTW

Signalman, ESQ
Sorry about not getting back sooner had to move some boulders for daughter in law Anyway I only have three proto 2000 engines all gp18 none of the three sound like what's in your video they do have some growl but not as loud as your's
And I had that same problem with my first 852 had to take the speed knob and the nut on the toggle off to get to the other side So the next two I got kits and put those two trim pots on the back side of the board the front side of the pots is more robust and doesn't strip out
Wish I knew why your's make so much more noise then mine do but I have no answer I do have a couple of the old Troller hand held units they seem to work ok they have no momentum just plain AC in and DC out
 

chessie_system3

Well-Known Member
Sorry about not getting back sooner had to move some boulders for daughter in law Anyway I only have three proto 2000 engines all gp18 none of the three sound like what's in your video they do have some growl but not as loud as your's
And I had that same problem with my first 852 had to take the speed knob and the nut on the toggle off to get to the other side So the next two I got kits and put those two trim pots on the back side of the board the front side of the pots is more robust and doesn't strip out
Wish I knew why your's make so much more noise then mine do but I have no answer I do have a couple of the old Troller hand held units they seem to work ok they have no momentum just plain AC in and DC out
That seems to be the million dollar question. Why are they so noisy? I had hoped tonfine tune it to see if it would tone the buzz down some. Ofcourse I went the wrong direction with it. That's how I found out I had stripped it out. It wouldn't turn the other way. So I guess the world will never know why my locomotives respond like that as my Varipulse is junked. I too have a troller. It gives my locomotives a sort of surge when running. I can get away with it running my GP9. All the others kinda surge down the track. Surely they all cant be so loosely built?
 

chessie_system3

Well-Known Member
Shot Ken Stapleton an email to see if what happened is a normal occurrence. If there was even a fix for what I was experiencing. Still waiting on a reply that may never come. So with that I guess I may never know what was going on with my locomotives. Then again he may reach out to me. Who knows?
 




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