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Oxford Rail N7 loco - DCC - Sound - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Mon Aug 30th, 2021 12:00 pm
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Petermac
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I'm rather keen to add the Oxford Rail N7 loco to my stud.

I'm also keen on sound......


I have seen a factory fitted sound version at a reasonable price but it utilises an ESU chip rather than my preferred Zimo chip.

Hornby did a "how to" for fitting a Zimo MX648R chip into the loco but, as there's not too much spare space inside and my hands double as shovels, I'm wondering if anyone has experience of the ESU chipped version.

i.e.  Would I be disappointed with the sound and general performance compared with the Zimo chip ?



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 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2021 03:58 am
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peterm
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Well Peter; if you think the Zimo decoders are complicated, don't go near an ESU. I'm sure you'll get an MX648 in there (even though I haven't seen one in the flesh) and if not, there an MX659 that's even smaller. Unless you want lights and or smoke, I'd take the lid off and check the space. Hardwiring would probably be my choice.



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 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2021 07:21 am
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Petermac
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It's not the decoder that's complicated Pete - it's fitting it !
I can buy sound fitted or try to fit my own and I'm wondering if my skills are up to that.

Fitting it myself would work out more expensive but I'd fit a Zimo 648R whereas the "ready fitted" model has an ESU installed ........




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 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2021 11:46 am
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Colin W
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Peter,

I just looked on the Youchoos site

https://www.youchoos.co.uk/Index-Resource.php?L1=IG-LNERN7

full details with photos to install a ZIMO MX 648. Their installation guides have always been very helpful, if it's tight they'll tell you

Colin



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 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2021 12:45 pm
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Colin W
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BTW, I bought one factory fitted OR sound model, their Dean Goods.

The ESU sound package was very good indeed (Sound by Coastal), with a very impressive range of sounds. I enjoy using it but it now sits in my Collett Goods (which is another story). I had my usual bad luck with this purchase, the Dean was bought in 2018 and a year later the Sound chip failed because during assembly a small screw was left magnetised to the speaker during assembly, That shorted in the fullness of time and in turn blew the expensive DCC sound chip.

In all fairness, OR were very good and handled it very efficiently after some emails to and fro. They sent me a new Sound package even though it was out of warranty - they accepted that the cause was pre-purchase. Hopefully QA has improved since then.

Now I'm familiar with ZIMO I'd not get another brand as I find their quality, documentation and support to be top notch. In comparison the ESU technology was hard to penetrate,

Colin



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 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2021 05:26 pm
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Petermac
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Thanks Colin. :thumbs

I've seen the YouChoos fitting guide for the OR N7 and Zimo decoder - that's what put me off doing it myself !!  It looks very complicated and involves some cutting of the factory fitted PCB.  That would naturally mean that there could be no possibility of retreating from the project in the future.

I am a big fan of Zimo sound decoders but I'm no brain surgeon - more of a lumberjack - so wonder if I'd be pushing myself too far with an expensive chip.

Your experiences with ESU are interesting - hopefully, OR have sorted their initial teething problems with this loco but one never knows.  It always worries me shopping in UK from France post Brexit.  It's often not plain sailing returning faulty goods anymore plus, it does take time !

I have a couple of friends plus family coming out during September so plan to ask one of them to bring it out thus avoiding customs.



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 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2021 10:28 pm
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Colin W
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Hi Peter,

I'd not looked at the Youchoos guide last night but now it appears the reason for all the changes is to fit a larger Speaker + Stay alive kit on top of the decoder all in the bunker.

Maybe the ESU chip is better suited to the space but it's hard to visualise fitting a decent sized Speaker as well in that bunker space. Perhaps you can enquire at OR about which processor and speaker are installed so you know what you'd be getting and then can see if there might be a direct ZIMO equivalent.

Looking at the 3rd picture in the install guide I'm sure the SACC16 and tantalums would fit easily around the 8 pin socket and so be out of the way. Question then becomes will a thin speaker fit on top of an installed MX648 plugged into the socket. This would give you a way to fit the SA yet have a similar speaker to the factory fitted one.


Youchoos having pulled it all apart would have some idea about that or if there are other non-destructive install options. They're very helpful if you give them a call.

BTW unless you are scrupulous keeping wheels, contacts and track very clean a sound install tends to reset with even momentary disruption to power, even if the loco just stutters. That's why Stay Alives are considered essential with Sound for reliable operation. My Dean Goods ESU could not take a SA and so I know all about this!







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 Posted: Tue Aug 31st, 2021 11:06 pm
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Petermac
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I'd absolutely agree with you regarding stay-alives and sound Colin.  I have a fdew sound locos already and it's really annoying when they stall, just momentarily, but still long enough for the sound to reset.


The Hornby magazine install guide, published in January 2020, put the speaker(sugar cube) under the boiler between the side tanks.  It requires removing the wheels to get it in there.  Whilst the article doesn't mention it, I can imagine all sorts of fun with the quartering when refitting them .....................



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 Posted: Wed Sep 1st, 2021 03:05 am
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Colin W
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Hi Peter,
 
The conclusion I came to after buying the Dean goods and avoiding the Rails/ Dapol Terrier is that Manufacturers who build in a dedicated sound option are driven by commercial decisions which can be mis-aligned with modellers and best practice requirements.
For instance, the Rails Terrier had an embedded 18 pin socket yet had no provision for or ability to add a Stay Alive even though it is configured for sound to the point of having speaker wires pre-installed. If that's not a conflict I don't know what is!
 
For your N7 I still think it's worth exploring a middle ground solution with a bunker only installation including a Stay Alive.. Youchoos reasonably enough are not taking a half-way approach in their demo but that doesn't mean there isn't one!
 
Why not consider pulling out the coal load and building your own, placing it more prototypically up / above the bunker rails. I "bought" several useful mm that way in my old Hornby terrier.
 
By my measurements from a photo that would give ~20mm space above the floor level. Allowing 7-8mm for the 8 pin socket base, 5-6mm for the processor (potentially less - see my PM) leaves just enough for a 6mm deep speaker perhaps?
 

Colin



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 Posted: Wed Sep 1st, 2021 10:49 pm
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peterm
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Depending on the width of the bunker, the 870007 stay alive from Digitrains which measures 25x9x6mm and has built in circuitry, can be connected direct to blue and ground on the decoder. Worth a mention.



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 Posted: Thu Sep 2nd, 2021 10:23 pm
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Petermac
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An interesting little check tonight - I've just priced up a Zimo MX648R sound decoder in UK and from a German supplier I've used several times in the past.

In UK, this decoder, if available, costs around £99.  In Germany, it's available at €99.90 - that's somewhere around £86 .................... :hmm

Whilst there has usually been some Euro advantage, I don't remember seeing that much difference before.


I have reservations about the ESU factory fitted chip so I think I'm going to bite the bullet and try fitting the Zimo one myself ....................

Watch this space for expensive (very expensive) smoke ........... :shock: :shock: :shock:



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 Posted: Thu Sep 2nd, 2021 10:47 pm
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Colin W
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Peter,

Good decision.

As suggested, the SACC16 Stay Alive control is good because you can separate it from the capacitors and can dot them around for best fit in the available space. I'm updating my DCC in the Hornby 2019 Terrier to add the SACC16 kit so there'll be a photo posted later today to illustrate what I mean.

I hope your other supplier can add the extra wire on the MX 648 for you as that might just be the fiddliest bit of the whole job.

PS the cost equation might change if you don't have any Kapton tape and you're planning to do that wiring job plus the necessary replacement of the protective sheath. It's hard to access the solder point without cutting off and removing the original covering. I can take you thru the steps if you decide on DIY.



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 Posted: Thu Sep 2nd, 2021 11:09 pm
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peterm
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Petermac wrote: An interesting little check tonight - I've just priced up a Zimo MX648R sound decoder in UK and from a German supplier I've used several times in the past.

In UK, this decoder, if available, costs around £99.  In Germany, it's available at €99.90 - that's somewhere around £86 .................... :hmm

Whilst there has usually been some Euro advantage, I don't remember seeing that much difference before.


I have reservations about the ESU factory fitted chip so I think I'm going to bite the bullet and try fitting the Zimo one myself ....................

Watch this space for expensive (very expensive) smoke ........... :shock: :shock: :shock:
I don't know what the position is in France, but if I buy one from Digitrains, the vat comes off and makes it 82.50 for me in Australia.



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 Posted: Fri Sep 3rd, 2021 08:48 am
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Petermac
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Yes Pete, that should be the situation now but they don't always deduct the VAT.  Additionally, the chances are the French would add the VAT back plus, potentially, a handling/customs charge.

In any case, Digitrains don't have the decoder I want in stock although Youchoos do ................

It used to be easy but it's all gone belly up since Brexit.



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 Posted: Fri Sep 3rd, 2021 09:18 am
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peterm
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No win situation. :-(



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