My first ESU Loksound install

daniel_leavitt2000 Sep 18, 2018

  1. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

    I decided to try my hand at installing an ESU Loksound decoder and speaker into a custom painted B23-7.

    B23-7 with LoKSound
    I used the cab light deflector as a sound baffle and it worked quite well.
    The headlight still needs to be attached to the light shield and the cab light pipes modified. Then tape the speaker to the frame.

    And this is the result:


    The sound files are pretty good for the B23-7. Just Like I remember. Programing the decoder took a very long time - over an hour to upload the sound file. Well worth it though.

    I still Need to fine-tune the sounds.
  2. viperjim1

    viperjim1 TrainBoard Member

    I like the idea of the sound baffle, good thinking and it sounds excellent.
  3. jdcolombo

    jdcolombo TrainBoard Member

    Sounds great, and an ingenious use of the cab light deflector - one of those "why didn't I think of that!" moments . . .

    John C.
  4. Randy Clark

    Randy Clark TrainBoard Member

    Nice work. Can you get those files preloaded from LOKSOUND? I an considering a few F units but haven't stated really exploring it yet.
  5. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky November 18, 2022 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    Most dealers will preload a sound project for you.
  6. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

    Gosh that's a nice install! She sounds amazing. I LOVE N Scale Sound!! I remember my first DCC install in 1998, had an MRC chunky three-throttle DCC system and one LL GP18 with an MRC decoder. Fried that, fried another DC loco (or two) sitting too long on the DCC rails.... things sure have come a long way!
  7. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

    I haven't really thought about DCC much until I actually started looking at just how massive operations could get on the layout I'm designing. At full capacity of be operating: Framingham Nevins yard, North Yard, South Yard/vehicle distribution, Saxonville branch, a road freight, two commuter trains and a Westboro local.

    Since I'm going to be doing most of this alone, I'll just be working some local in Framingham, but these were timed around commuter trains. Those need to be automated and thus the need for DCC.

    I have about 200 engines that need conversion. Most Atlas, Kato and IM units will get drop in decoders from NCE. LL/MTL switchers get drop in Digitrax. Bachman Spectrum C40-8s are using Digitrax DZ series decoders. Any older split frame engines get the TCS decoders designed for that type of installation.

    Eventually,I want about 1/3 of my engines running sound. These will mostly be Broadway and ESU.

    All decoders are being programmed for 28 speed steps where 1 starts the engine rolling as slow as possible, 14 = 30 SMPH and 28 runs at 60 scale miles per hour. I'm using a linear speed table to ensure compatibility between decoders and engines. "Qualified" engines receive a red sticker dot on the fuel tank to denote fully programmed. Sound units use a blue dot.

    My two next sound projects are Briggs M420s painted in P&W. These are going to be interesting because I was able to mount the second chassis backwards leaving enough room for a 8x15 speaker and much larger baffle than in this B23-7 (the kit uses the same chassis). I'll be able to compare directly the Sobertron 8x12 and 8x15 speakers.

    After this, my attention will turn to sound equipping a pair of C40-8Ws. These use the same basic board as the B23-7 but the cab light deflector is almost twice as large.

    I would love to sound equip my kit bashed F40PH-2C because it had an unusual sound - both a 645E and a small (6 cylinder?) Cummins for HEP generation. Obviously ESU doesn't have this on their site. I am thinking about building a custom sound file using a 645 engine with a 44 tonner in notch 5 or 6 for the auxiliary unit.
  8. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

    It was brought to my attention that I didn't mention any frame modifications in this post.


    If you do not, the frame can contact the components of the decoder and cause damage. This is very minor surgery, in fact I think I did mine with a can opener on my swiss army knife.
  9. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

    You will be better off sticking to one brand of decoder, all Digitrax or all NCE. Much easier to make them run better together and a lot less hassles. ESU is a great choice too! You may want to use a LokPilot if you have any non-drop in locomotives.
  10. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

    I use NCE decoders where possible. There are certain engines I need to use Digitrax (MTL SW1500) or TCS (pre-dcc split frame engines). I use ESU for sound equipped engines, though I also have a few BLI.

    So far, the only issues I have run into running different decoders is remapping the functions to get them all behave the same. On the ESU engines, I need to disable the drive-hold feature. None of my engines feature momentum or braking - that is all done manually though throttle. All engines are synced to a 3 point speed curve on a 28 step throttle - Step 1 = slowest the engine can move reliably. Step 14 = 30 SMPH. Step 28 = 60 SMPH. This eliminates most incompatibilities between manufacturers.

    While I like TCS programing better, NCE has better boards, with solder connections for ditch lights right out in front adjacent to the front LED. It's a great design and I wish others would do it. While programing is a bit trickier, NCE decoders allows for controlling voltage and amplitude of the kick start. You can get VERY good control (like 5 minutes tie to tie). 3 seconds tie to tie is usually what I stick with.
  11. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    TCS decoders are about $10 more than Digitrax. And I think NCE is slightly cheaper than Digitrax though I'm not sure now a days as I haven't bought a NCE in a while.
  12. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

    I prefer NCE and TCS. I have an NCE system, and I find that digitrax decoders don't much care for it.
  13. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

    I have never had an NCE decoder that really worked, I have many Atlas locomotives with dead NCE decoders from the factory. Isn't worth the time and hassles to send them back under warranty. Never had much luck with Atlas warranty service either. Right now, I have found Zimo and ESU decoders to be the most reliable and the best motor control.

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