ESU Decoder in Bachmann Doodlebug...

Sumner Sep 25, 2021

  1. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    Bachmann N scale Doodlebug with ESU 53661 LokPilot Nano Standard.

    My first ESU decoder install and really like the decoder. Small and 4 functions. I'll probably stay with a Digitrax 126T or 123 for installs in locos I won't run much but otherwise I'll go with an ESU sound or no sound after my experience with this one.

    I set the 4 functions to all be light functions. The headlight can be turned on or off in forward only and goes off automatically in reverse as is normal. I also installed a 'cab' light that can be turned on/off at any time. Also two LEDs in the passenger area. You can toggle them on/off either a bright intensity or a dimmer mode for say past 10 pm for passengers that would like to get some sleep.

    The lights are all set up as dimmable via the decoder options. The headlight, cab and interior on bright are all 1K resistors with warm white LEDs. When the interion LEDs are on dim the current flows through an addition 1K SMD resistor for 2 K total. I'm also using the dimmer decoder function in addition to the resistors before the LEDs.

    When dimmed to lower values they appear to shimmer more but that is more noticeable in the video vs. real life. I might play with the resistors some but overall I'm really happy with the install.

    I didn't run the loco at its slowest speed except in the very last few seconds of the video. For an older loco I'm impressed though with how well it runs. Also it has the 'infamous' white gears that can crack but these don't seem to be as it runs quietly and smoothly. I did order a Tomytec chassis the I might use if the gears break. There is info on the internet on how to do that. Google 'repowering a doodlebug'.

    I'll try and get the decoder install up soon.

    freddy_fo, BNSF FAN and eposte12 like this.
  2. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

    For the money and available sound files I think ESU is the best bargain out there. Largest "free" sound file database out there and it's growing all the time. I've installed over 60 mostly sound and never had a problem with any except one that was all my fault (crappy solder joint that shorted to a place that was not good.) If one plans to do a few installs with them the lokprogrammer is highly recommended as it makes setup real easy.

    I recently swapped out the factory decoder on a Bachmann S4 switcher with a lokpilot and that really cleaned up/smoothed out the slow running characteristics that I was unable to accomplish with the original decoder.

    I've been tinkering around with a few Zimo decoders but not to the same extent as ESU. I really like those too but without the lokprogammer they make for a bit more setup work. Those are all pre-installed so with anything being retrofitted I'll stick with ESU for the time being.

    I'm getting close to the end now... I've got 8 analog locos left to convert but am awaiting ESU's upcoming release of their LokSound nano as space is an issue for some of these. If it takes too much longer though (their release has been way delayed here in the US) I might go the zimo route.

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