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Fitting Loksound Decoders - Members Projects - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sat Feb 14th, 2009 10:15 pm
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MaxSouthOz
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General Motors Electro-motive Division introduced the General Purpose loco in 1949 (I was 3 at the time).  As the name implies, the Geep was versatile and could be used for passenger or freight.  A simple, no frills unit, the Geep was priced below EMD's mainline loco offerings.  Both reliable and functional, it provided a better view of the road and allowed access to either side of the loco for easy maintenance.  Geeps were made until 1954; over 70 railroad companies purchased more than 4000 units.  One of the most long lived locos, they can still be seen on railroads today.  They were equipped with 1750 hp 16 cylinder "V" type 567C diesels.  Custom features included dynamic brakes, sunshades,winterization hatches and all weather cabin windows.

I wanted to double head these mighty 4 axle road switchers, so I purchased 2 GP-7s and 2 GP-9's.  They were ex display stock and I landed them for A$65 each.  Before you fit a decoder, it's important to make sure the loco is a good runner. The best decoder in the world won't make a pig run like a horse.   Proto 2000 (Lifelike) were the only maker offering NKP livery.  They run pretty well, but I had to replace several of the axle drive gears to get them right.  P2k are well known for splitting these gears and replacements are readily available.



Here is one of my locos, ready for installation of a Loksound decoder.  GP-7 road number NKP 402.



I removed the shell and took out the DC circuit board.  This one came out with the lamps attached, but I would take them out anyway.  I strip the loco down to just 4 wires; the two from the pickups and the two motor wires.



Here you can see that the space vacated by the circuit board leaves ample room for the Loksound decoder and also for a bit of gratuitous lead for extra weight.  I used a Dremel motor tool to ream out the space inside the cabin to take the round speaker and enclosure, which drops straight in.  A snug fit allows the body frame to resonate a bit with the sounds.  Hi intensity 1.6k mcd tower LEDs have replaced the bulbs and should give close to a million hours of life.  Wiring is simpler as in this case I don't have any aux lighting, e.g. ditch lights or beacons.



Here she is with the shell back on after testing.  The decoder and other bits are secured with sticky tape to hold them in place while you slide it on.



Now launch the ESU website (http://www.esu.eu) Click on the Union Jack to get English and work your way to the downloads.  You can click on any you fancy and listen to the sounds.  The speaker on my laptop closely approximates the speaker in the loco, so I get a pretty good idea what they will sound like.

As I am doing four locos today, I downloaded the files for GP-7 with dynamic brake and Wabcoe horn and for GP-9 with dynamic brake and Nathan horn.  My units have dynamic brake fans on top and three chime horns.

Once the zipped files arrive in my "Downloads" folder, I unzip the GP-7 file and with the Lokprogrammer, I customise it to my needs.  I turned up the volume on the horn to 200% and the on the brakes squeal to 150%.  I put an air release sound file in where it will play as the loco comes to a stop and removed the annoying track report and rail clack.

When I finished with the sound schedule, I changed the speed table to linear and set it at around 50% as the loco runs at scale 120 m.p.h. out of the box.  I set the trims at 101% and 105% for forward and reverse respectively.  I activated the acceleration and braking times.  I switched off the analogue for safety reasons.  I re-mapped the function keys so that 8 starts the engine, 7 is a mute in 4 steps and moved the coupler clash to button 3.

With NKP 402 on the Lokprogram track, I uploaded the project into the decoder.



I launched the decoder on the Lokprogrammer and test ran the loco through the speed trap, adjusting the trims until it would travel in both directions at exactly the same speed.

Now, if the acceleration times and braking times are exactly the same and the top speeds are exactly the same; and the speed table is linear, each loco will behave in exactly the same way for each throttle notch.



The loco can then be given some personal adjustments.  For example, this loco will be at the front, so the rear light is switched off.  The remaining locos in the consist will have all of their lights off.  The bell is switched off in all trailing locos as well.  The horns on all locos are left on to boost the volume.  I believe that in real life, horns are deafening; Wendy says she can hear mine at the other end of the house!



ESU are now so far ahead of the competition, that their decoders can upload any wav file and play any sequence.  I had a diesel with steam sounds in it once - hilarious!



Having fitted up all four locos, I put them on the Lenz program track and give them all the same address.  You can consist them with the Lenz, but I just find it easier to drive four in hand, if they all respond together.

If you completely stuff it up, you just go back to the zipped file, launch another project and begin again.  You can make general changes and upload them, or make specific changes and tweak each loco.

I'm hoping to do a video of the whole juggernaut in action this week.  To quote my grandson, "It's awesome!"

 





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 Posted: Sat Feb 14th, 2009 10:49 pm
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Sol
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I am waiting, holding my breath , for the video with full stereophonic sounds :exclam  ( Will I need earmuffs :question)

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 Posted: Sat Feb 14th, 2009 10:56 pm
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MaxSouthOz
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I accidentally hit SEND halfway through. I hope it all make sense!

Wear what you like darling, the fish net stockings and patent leather pumps always look good on you . . .



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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 12:15 am
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henryparrot
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Great thread Max gives members a good insight into fitting sound decoders plus blowing your own sounds on aswell.

At present Here in the UK there arent any freely downloadable sounds available yet but i am sure in time there will be. I have read elwhere there are a number of US or european sounds which are very similar to some UK steam and diesal sounds that only an expert would tell the differance.

I think once you have a few sound locos it does make you realise it is a good addition to the hobby.

I actually sometimes just have a engine switched on idling as a background sound

I have a Class37 doing that at the moment

cheers Brian

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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 05:28 am
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MaxSouthOz
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You are right, Brian.  I though I was the only one who does that.  My Berkshire is sitting here chuffing and panting away.  The ESU site has some euro sounds.  The Sulzer? is it engine in the Class 24 is there.  It might be worth a look for others.



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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 08:25 am
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henryparrot
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Max i am not alone then in having a model engine as background noise instead of music then:lol::lol:

Thats interesting about the sulxer class 24 i have also read elsewhwere that some 3 cylinder european steam sounds on the ESU  site are more or less exctly the same as a Westcountry or Spam can as some call them.

I think one of the drawbacks still with sound decoders is price i know they have to covere there original and ongoing research and development but if you look at a sound decoder component wise there is not a breat deal more than a ordinary decoder So if a good quality decoder is say £30 i still find it hard to see why the loksounds are roughly 3 times that price

If you compare their price against a budget decoder around £10-12 they do seem very expensive.

Perhaps in time they may reduce in price then i think many will take them up.

cheers Brian

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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 08:29 am
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Iansa
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I sometimes have a diesel and a steam loco panting and idling away on my test track above my work bench.
From somewhere in the house comes " it is like being in a railway yard" to which I reply " yes light of my darkness, that is the whole idea and after all you bought the sound decoders for me, you don't want me to not use them do you."      :mutley

 Ian



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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 09:37 am
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MaxSouthOz
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There are as I understand it, Brian, two main brands of reprogrammable sound decoders on the market, QSI and Loksound.  Depending on where you buy them, they are roughly the same price.  I don't think it has anything to do with the cost to make them, it's more likely to be the lack of competition.  I guess as more brands become available the price will settle.  A sound decoder has more parts to it, but they are about 4 times the price of the non-sound varieties - I don't think they cost 4 times as much to produce.  I have said as much to ESU, but so far I can only hear a stoney silence.  I am still getting my money's worth of fun out of them, though.  Can't complain . . .



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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 12:29 pm
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henryparrot
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Max

I think you are 100% right about the pricing there is probably a understanding between QSI and ESU of denyable price fixing it will take another company like TCS or someone to suddenly enter the sound market and sell them cheaper which will overnight produce a price drop from ESU QSI to be fair to them they are probably trying to milk as much as possible while they can as they know at some point the profit margins will drop.

I think a price of around £35-55 will open up the market a great deal more

cheers Brian

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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 11:14 pm
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Iansa
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The price of Loksound decoders have come down considerably. 4yrs ago price  was $295 here in Oz. The Loksound settled arround $185-195 a couple yrs ago and seems to have stayed there. The economic down turn may change it now.

 Tony's train xchange in USA at the moment $us109 + postage/insurance etc., + exchange rate = aprox $239 +1% to 1.5% bank charges.

 I am led to believe the cost of sound decoders is not so much the actual production cost but in the technology.

 In the technology market the sound decoder is a very small player.On another forum the cost of sound chips was compared to that of I pods. The answer was ,I pods are sold in their multi millions, sound chips in thousands.

I think Zimo has released their sound chip and from my observation a little cheaper than Loksound in England. How good they are I don't know.

 Ian



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 Posted: Mon Feb 16th, 2009 10:36 pm
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Neil Wood
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The Zimo ones are meant to be good from what I have heard although I haven't seen any yet over here.  They use different speakers from Loksound 8ohm insteaqd of 100 ohm.

 

I have used a few German steam sounds in my UK locos.  Most people have no idea.  Unless you actually tell people they wouldn't know.



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 Posted: Mon Feb 16th, 2009 11:20 pm
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Iansa
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Neil Wood wrote: The Zimo ones are meant to be good from what I have heard although I haven't seen any yet over here.  They use different speakers from Loksound 8ohm insteaqd of 100 ohm.

 

I have used a few German steam sounds in my UK locos.  Most people have no idea.  Unless you actually tell people they wouldn't know.

You are right Neil, generally speaking a chuff is a chuff is a chuff.
 The only noticeable difference would possibly be the number of cylinders. A three cylinder steam loco sounds different to a two cylinder etc.

 Ian



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 Posted: Mon Feb 16th, 2009 11:32 pm
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And for me, as long as the chuff-chuff is in sequence with valve gear , so it looks & sounds right, I am happy but that said, I would not want a Big Boy sound in  a little 0-4-0 shunter.

I may not be a big picker of nits but somethings have to be reasonably correct.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 17th, 2009 01:38 am
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Neil Wood
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Iansa wrote: Neil Wood wrote: The Zimo ones are meant to be good from what I have heard although I haven't seen any yet over here.  They use different speakers from Loksound 8ohm insteaqd of 100 ohm.

 

I have used a few German steam sounds in my UK locos.  Most people have no idea.  Unless you actually tell people they wouldn't know.

You are right Neil, generally speaking a chuff is a chuff is a chuff.
 The only noticeable difference would possibly be the number of cylinders. A three cylinder steam loco sounds different to a two cylinder etc.

 Ian


Yes that's right Ian.  I always make sure that the number of cylinders and wheel configuration are the same.  Sorry I didn't state that, I thought that was a given.

 

e.g. I use a BR44 sound for 9F



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 Posted: Tue Feb 17th, 2009 05:49 am
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MaxSouthOz
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. . . the trouble is the Loks are so darn good . . .



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 Posted: Tue Feb 17th, 2009 08:02 pm
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henryparrot
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Max

Does the lokprogrammer you use come with its own software or do you use it with another package?

I presume the lokprammer just plugs into the usb port or something?

chees brian

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 Posted: Tue Feb 17th, 2009 08:28 pm
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MaxSouthOz
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Hi Brian.  I'm trying to think back, now.  It came with a driver and then I have updated it on the ESU website, to version 2.7.3  The J box connects between a piece of track and, via a USB lead, the laptop.  The piece of track is integrated by way of a DPDT switch, so when not in Lok mode, it is part of the main line.  Does that make sense?  Cheers  Max



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 Posted: Sun Mar 29th, 2009 06:44 am
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MaxSouthOz
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Having partially sorted the challenges of my JVC camcorder, I have managed to put together a video of the 4 loco consist.  I had a play with the editing on Moviemaker and added some flourishes.  I have plans to add some music later, but this is what I have so far.  Ulead is more sophisticated, but a bit harder to learn.  That's my next challenge.

Because the JVC format isn't compatible with the editing software, there is a bit of a loss of sound and picture quality in the conversion process, so you might need to EQ the bottom end up a bit on your player.

Make sure you click the HQ (high quality) button.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6nA5kgvgpg

This is some of the stuff you can do with Loksound.     enjoy . . .  :pedal



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 Posted: Sun Mar 29th, 2009 08:43 am
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henryparrot
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Max

The video is superb i watched it full screen in HQ very clear indeed and the sound came through extremely well.

Your editing skills are very good too it was a seamless video that must have taken you some time.

Great to hear sound locos they add another dimention to a model railway you need to add diesal smoke units now.

cheers Brian

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 Posted: Sun Mar 29th, 2009 08:53 am
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Well considering you had suggested that there may be some lack in quality ! I was very impressed the quality, looked FINE to me, compared to some of the dire videos I have given up watching on youtube previously.

In fact I would say thats one of the best model train youtube clips I have watched.

Quality 5*

Compilation 5*

Watchability 5*

Whens the next video out ??

 

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