Atlas N VO-1000 DCC Decoder Option

Mark Ricci Aug 29, 2022

  1. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Seeking to install a DCC decoder in an Atlas N VO-1000. Have looked at the drop-in NCE 5240137 NAVO and the TCS 1031 decoders. Think the TCS is a much better decoder and was about to order until viewing the video below where an ESU LokSound 5 NANO, 603 LEDs and a 8x12mm sugar cube speaker was installed in an N VO-1000.

    1-The creator does not have any pictures or video posted with the shell removed. Wondering how the Nano and the 8x12mm sugar cube speaker is mounted. Also curious on the prewired 603 LED's install for the headlights. Any on ideas on where the Nano and speaker are located?

    2-The presenter commented that some minor frame modification(cutting) is needed but the shell does not require modification. Thoughts-guess ties into #1?

    3-Any recommendations for one or company who can install?

    Thank you

     
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  2. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

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    i was waiting for a black cloud of smoke coming from the exhaust :D wouldn't that be nice(y)
     
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  3. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    See if this helps ( HERE ).

    I've done two non-sound VO-1000's.

    [​IMG]

    The one above was with a TCS decoder and ................

    [​IMG]

    ................ the one above here was with a Digitrax DZ123. More info on those installs ( HERE ).

    I'm not home but ....

    [​IMG]

    I'd think for the speaker you would need to mill one end of the frame or the other above the frame screw. In that area get rid of the lightboard I used for the LED and go with maybe a 0402 LED using magnet wire or another very thin wire above the speaker. The decoder would go on the other end with a small light board there. Get rid of both of the old light boards that I used for track pickup and the LED's. There was room to use them above but one doesn't need to use them if the space is needed.

    I can't tell from just the pictures but the other possible location, which I used on another loco might be where the fuel tank is. If you don't find an answer I'll check when I'm home but that will be in about 6 days.

    Also looks like the Ron who did the YouTube video does installs,

    Sumner
     
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  4. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for the insights. Knowing you have done many installs, would be very interested in your opinion when convenient.

    Assuming all other variables the same, and outside the cost difference between the TCS 1031 and the Digitrax, how would you compare overall performance, features and "creep" ability?
     
  5. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Since I've only had my test track to this point I haven't ran either very much to make a comparison so sorry can't help you on that. Two things that I have noticed though overall is I think electrical pickup, lube, and other factors might play into slow speed performance maybe as much or more than the decoder. After cleaning the wheels (Cheap, easy wheel cleaning), contacts and careful lube I've gotten some engines to ......

    [​IMG]

    ...... creep as slow as 6 seconds tie to tie before an install and after even with Digitrax's cheapest decoder (the MX123). Saying that though you can get an ESU LokPilot 5 Micro DCC for as little as $28. With it you have 4 functions available along with 2 logic ones if needed and they are noted for their motor control. Also they are one of the smallest decoders you can get. I'm starting to use them for anything (non-sound) that I think I will run a lot and want a really good decoder in. At only $8 more than say a MX123 that is about the least expensive you can have a really nice decoder. The TCS of course would be the easiest to install if you were going non-sound. I've used some of the drop-ins, as I did with one of those above, but don't mind doing a hard-wired install. If one doesn't have to do any milling it really doesn't take that much time to hard wire one in.

    If you were going sound I'd go ESU. I did one cheap non-ESU sound decoder install and got hooked enough on sound for some engines (didn't think I would) that I have 4 LokSound decoders to install when I get back to doing decoder installs. I like that I can get the right sound file and not a generic one in most cases, not that I can probably tell the difference.

    Sumner
     
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  6. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    The wheel cleaner you built looks great. Bought a Trix 66623 Wheel Cleaning Brush and it seems to do the job nicely.

    Figured a drop in would be the best option because it appears to require only a jewelers screwdriver and some Kapton tape to install. Don't want to unpack stuff either but have read about some who claim "drop in" isn't always as "drop in" easy. Milling definitely to be avoided at this time, especially for first decoder install. Any suggestions for sources for cost effective low quantity kapton tape. TCS sells for 1/4" for about $12?

    Have some skills in wiring and soldering, so if no milling, cutting or sawing is reqd. something to consider. Will have to look into the ESU non-sound.

    Thanks for the info. Safe Journey....
     
  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    If you do Amazon that is probably the least expensive at the moment. If you don't I could send you a link to a supplier that is about $8 delivered for a roll of 3/8".

    Milling can be intimidating but doesn't need to be. I have two larger mills but hardly use them.

    [​IMG]

    I use the flex drive shown above most of the time.



    Not as pretty results as the mill but quicker, easier and gets the job done and once the shell is back on who sees it. Also way cheaper than having to buy a mill or get someone to do it. More on the inexpensive milling option ( HERE ).

    I enjoy the harder installs and want to get back to them. Problem with this hobby is I enjoy too many different aspects of it ;)

    Sumner
     
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  8. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Alot to weigh here... Need more input... "Short Circuit"

    Guess a bit intimidating for one who has never done. Think my lack of loco mechanical skills contributes to it. Wondering if the high tpi zona razor saw could help with straight cuts. Bought a rechargeable 3.7V 15000 RPM light duty rotary for wood, cutting Kato rails and styrene. Seemed ok on the test pieces, but it may be too light duty for milling chassis?

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098JXDHHN?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

    Maybe the only true advantage with the drop in decoder is the ease to restore loco back to original?

    Going to continue to learn more about options. Just too many aspects in this hobby.. Or too many hobbies rolled into one. lol
     
  9. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I haven't tried a razor saw for cutting the frame. The frames are soft, not sure if those blades are for metal or not. I have one that I've use on other things, might work.

    I use a jewelry's saw for frame work. Same one I use to cut gaps in handlaid turnouts. Works great

    [​IMG]

    More on using it ( HERE ). Some use a hacksaw blade for some of the cuts.

    The rotary tool you have might work. Want to take light cuts anyway. I bought small carbide bits like those ( HERE ).

    True but I'm guessing you would find a buyer for one with any decoder in it over DC the further we go into the future. The drop-in is easier but generally will cost more. I have both.

    Sumner
     
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  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    You can look for fret saws commonly used in marquetry, and some use them for wasting out dovetails (tails or pins) in woodworking, because they can make a tighter turn, meaning less cleaning up with a chisel afterwards, than with a coping saw. Sometimes the ability to make very small radius cuts is useful, sometimes problematic (e.g. when you want to saw a straight line.)

    You might also try one of Zona's various razor saws, that would be better for straight cuts. But they have a reinforcing back on the blade, so they cannot cut infinitely deep (might be an issue in HO and larger scale locos).

    At least with a coping or fret saw, you can rotate the blade in the frame, to swing the frame out to the side of the cut.
     
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  11. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Oh, yeah; Zona saws and miter boxes are made in USA!
     
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  12. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    I bought the Zona 35-140 4 in 1 last year and it comes with a 52 tpi blade. Thought yesterday after looking at the pics that the 52 tpi blade could do metal chassis but having no milling experience(only a little taste in 1978), it was just a guess.

    Can the Zona and LD Rotary can decently satisfy milling-mod needs? Link below describes included blades.

    https://www.zonatool.net/shop/razor-saws-miter-boxes/razor-saw-sets/4-in-1-razor-saw-set/

    See where having one of those jewelry, coping or fret saw is optimal...

    Good news. Heard back from both ESU LokSound 5 decoder VO-1000 installers so considering that option as well. The highly recommended person here on Trainboard could turn it around in about a week after receipt. In time to get back, use it a little and then pack it up for the move...

    At this point, other than having it installed or just biting the bullet and buying the TCS. That won't require mods and gets over the immediate need while also learning more about the options. Not having experience so unsure how a mod-mill for a non-sound decoder impacts, if any, the future install of a sound decoder most likely requiring some mod-mill??

    One way or the other though, I'd want to ultimately have sound in the VO.

    Also considering the fact that most likely, all future loco purchases will have sound. The long term goal is 6 locos max and now have 4 including the VO. Possibly a 7th to match 1 of the 6 for consist. The VO is probably the last DC loco purchased though I'm a bit intrigued by decoder installation so who knows regardless of the VO. Maybe pick an expensive dc loco when life returns to normal to learn installation??

    Or, delay all this till after move as suggested by Jerry, pack everything else and go on a MRR break. :-(

    Its kinda of ironic that I found a VO after 2 years of searching and after finally getting one, have no time left. Cruel and unusual punishment. lol
     
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