ESU sound decoders - recent failure trend?

freddy_fo Sep 30, 2023

  1. GGNInNScale

    GGNInNScale TrainBoard Member

    For my issues, the decoder was non-responsive so I cannot refresh- no detection by the LokProgrammer or my NCE PowerCab. Another latched up the sound chip- just made a high pitched whine.
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  2. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

    I had the one issue with a nano just yesterday, can't upload sounds, but programming works fine. Keeps telling me the sound project is too large. Switched to a second nano and it uploaded fine. I can't be 100% sure I damaged it myself, but I didn't know of the 2 year warranty thing, gonna send it in!
    GGNInNScale, BNSF FAN and BigJake like this.
  3. nightmare0331

    nightmare0331 TrainBoard Member

    my experience with failures in ESU decoders after installing thousands of them is that the failure rate is probably somewhere between one and two percent.

    I have noticed various batches (especially post covid) that have a higher failure rate...probably from sourcing alternative components when there were shortages. It seems to come in waves but don't last long.

    I don't even get frustrated anymore..I toss the decoder aside and grab another. Check it again afterwards and if it fails again, send it back to ESU. They've never denied a warranty claim from me. A bit annoying for sure, but these things happen and there are lots of variables at play.

    I've had a few that things were wonky that didn't have the typical failure signs that I hit with hot air from a rework station and everything seems to work fine if once components were placed the boards weren't heated enough to flow solder properly. I don't recommend this unless if you're really in a bind though.

    Hope this helps!

  4. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

    A new Atlas N scale SD9 with factory installed ESU sound will not give any motor control. After running for a few minutes I get sound and light control, just no motor control. I put it on the program track and only get one motor kick when I read the cv's from the set up screen on my DT602. It takes a reset, but no motor control.

    To bad, as these can be good runners in my opinion.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2024
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  5. GGNInNScale

    GGNInNScale TrainBoard Member

    The gang at ESU replaced the DOA unit. Good people.
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  6. RhB Michael

    RhB Michael TrainBoard Member

    Hi folks. I found this forum using a search for ESU decoder failures. I'm afraid I've been plagued by this problem as well.

    My Bemo ABe 8/12 Allegra just had its third Loksound 5 decoder fail today. The original decoder was purchased in 2022 and was replaced by ESU as I bought it separately from the Triebwagen set. The second decoder smoked on the track while unit was descending a grade.

    The replacement for the second decoder was taken from another Bemo Triebwagen, and that one quit today.

    These were all Next18 micro decoder models. They were not recognized by the Lokprogrammer or the ESU Cab Control after failure.

    In addition, I had a full size Loksound 5 fail after three months in a new SudExpress Br.159 Euro Dual. Although in was an OEM install, ESU graciously exchanged this decoder so I wouldn't have to send the locomotive back to Germany. That one is still wotking fine after four months. I'm holding my breath on that one.

    I had not read about the information concerning defective components on these decoders until stumbling upon this tgread. I appreciate the information. I've learned a lot about working on Bemo equipment since these failures started.

    All along I had always thought there must be a motor or gear train problem with my Allegra unit. I'm afraid to buy another decoder for fear of the same thing happening. The other decoders are past the warranty period, so I'm on my own now...until I buy the next one.

    Does ESU have an idea of the production dates where it would be a safe bet to buy a reliable decoder without the bad components? Sometime this year maybe?

    Thanks for having me.
    GGNInNScale and BNSF FAN like this.
  7. GGNInNScale

    GGNInNScale TrainBoard Member

    I do not know about production dates, but the ESU gang in PA are really good about replacements. I worked in semiconductors for almost 40 years. At my last company we made about 150 million parts per day, and had an overall failure rate of less than 1 part per million. So, not sure about the issues at ESU. I have had several failures (see other posts), with different symptoms, but ESU replaced the parts in a timely manner.
    MK and BNSF FAN like this.

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