Good evening all:

I would like to preface this post by saying that I have done a reasonable amount of research on the OGR forum, and the internet at large, prior to asking the following questions.  However, it is entirely possible I missed an applicable post.  If so, please feel free to point me in the right direction.

I have 2 MTH PS3 TRAXX European electric locomotives.  They are excellent models, and enjoyable to run.  The PS3 sound suite for TRAXX motors are not entirely accurate, but it is nonetheless acceptable.  Recently however, I came across the ESU Loksound decoders and sound files, and was extremely impressed with the sound quality and apparent loudness, such that I thought it sure would be neat to have.  Naturally, it seemed like an interesting new project to convert those 2 motors (plus an Atlas motor) to Loksound DCC.  As such, I have a few questions I would like to pose to the group.  I am only on a fact-finding mission at this time.

Before I offer these questions, I would like to address 2 potential 'tangents', and kindly ask that they not be discussed to any great extent here.  Firstly, the fact that DCC is completely incompatible with DCS, and cannot be run on the same track at the same time.  I am aware of this, and would not attempt it.  Secondly, the apparent financial (and practical) imprudence of installing a second control system to run 2 or 3 locomotives some of the time.  I do not expect to undertake this anytime soon (if at all), and am more curious than anything else, so the imprudence of the idea is not a consideration at the moment.  With that in mind, I pose the following:

  1. Has anyone actually replaced PS3 electronics with Loksound decoders?  It seems fairly clear that the Loksound 4.0 Select decoder is the inherent choice for O scale locomotives, so I am aware that such a replacement should be possible on paper.  Reality can differ significantly from theory, so I am curious if anyone has made the switch and can offer advice, tips, potential pitfalls, etc.  I would only be concerned with basic operation, sound and lights.  I would not be so concerned with operating pantographs or even certain lighting features.
  2. Is anyone using the Loksound DCC system?  It is not entirely clear to me what is needed for a basic control setup.  For DCS, we have a TIU that controls and can program, and a remote/smartphone for user input.  For DCC, it seems that control surface is needed (remote or console), a control box (a rough TIU equivalent), and a separate programmer for decoders as well, (I recall this also from my HO days).  It would then seem to me that either the CabControl or 50210 box, with a power supply and the Lok Programmer would constitute a basic DCC enabled system.  I would appreciate input from someone who actually runs the system, (as opposed to second-hand info) and can confirm that this is true or if other components are required, (note the layout in question is small, so boosters would not be required).
  3. Where are ESU components available?  The decoders seem relatively easy to find, but the control systems not so much.  Tony's DCC can order controls on back-order, and obviously I can look up the dealer list.  However, the ESU Facebook page (and other comments I have seen elswhere) suggest that some of the ESU control systems are not readily available at the moment.  I am curious if anyone has a 'preferred' dealer for ESU products.

 

Again, this is only for information's sake to satisfy my curiosity.  I do not expect to pursue any of this in the immediate future, (perhaps fall).  Thank you in advance for any helpful input.

Nate Murry

Heavy Electric Ferroequinologist

Original Post

That is what I do. I just have the ESU ECoS command station that I use to run the MTH PS3 locomotives. I liked ESU because I only needed 1 device, the command station. At the time I was shopping for new DCC systems, the high-end choices from other more –popular systems like Digitrax & NCE, had multiple devices, you needed to purchase, like a separate power supply, separate throttle & more separate devices if you wanted wireless, which I didn’t need, since I didn’t have a permanent layout. ECoS had everything I needed in running a DCC equipped locomotive, right out of the box.

But I assume you are looking at DCC or Loksound to get some custom sound files that MTH doesn’t currently provide. I have never done any DCC installation but I am interested in learning more about this project & I will be following this topic.

Also, I always assumed that you were into 3-rail, scale trains. Are you considering DCC because you are switching to 2-rail?

These are just my opinion,

Thanks,

Naveen

Casey Jones2 posted:

Why not just set the PS3 decoder to DCC and run it?

See paragraph 2 of my OP.   

It is merely to run a more realistically sounding locomotive.  Note paragraph 3 details the apparent absurdity of such an idea. 

Nate Murry

Heavy Electric Ferroequinologist

naveenrajan posted:

That is what I do. I just have the ESU ECoS command station that I use to run the MTH PS3 locomotives. I liked ESU because I only needed 1 device, the command station. At the time I was shopping for new DCC systems, the high-end choices from other more –popular systems like Digitrax & NCE, had multiple devices, you needed to purchase, like a separate power supply, separate throttle & more separate devices if you wanted wireless, which I didn’t need, since I didn’t have a permanent layout. ECoS had everything I needed in running a DCC equipped locomotive, right out of the box.

But I assume you are looking at DCC or Loksound to get some custom sound files that MTH doesn’t currently provide. I have never done any DCC installation but I am interested in learning more about this project & I will be following this topic.

Also, I always assumed that you were into 3-rail, scale trains. Are you considering DCC because you are switching to 2-rail?

These are just my opinion,

Thanks,

Naveen

Hi Naveen:

Thanks for responding.  I am not making a switch to 2 rail, I am just enthralled with the LokSound files and wanted to trains that use them.  I happen to have 3 locomotives that would be good candidates for LokSound decoders.  Like I said in my OP, it is absurd to add another command system to a layout just for better sounding locomotives, and I can't really afford to do it right now anyway.  However, I wanted to gather some info on the ESU system from someone who used it.

Where did you end up purchasing your ECoS?

Nate Murry

Heavy Electric Ferroequinologist

I don't think your idea is at all out of line. I want to do the same thing as you do someday, but I have spent so much on my layout (which has both DCS and Legacy) and buying trains the last few years my budget needs a break. I have been looking at the NCE system, but the one you mention is pretty cool too. I watched some youtube videos on it a while back. I will probably just use some of my MTH PS3 engines to get started, however adding some Loksound and/or other brands of decoders to some engines someday is another thing I would like to try as well. I find DCC very interesting, not so much for the realistic sounds, but for the excellent sounds I have heard and the endless possibilities of settings to fiddle with. Who knows we may even up switching completely to DCC one day? 

As far as I know about the NCE system you need a remote, a booster and a power source. THe booster has a separate output for a 'programming track'. I have also read that the separate DCC programming devices are better to use and allow easier setups and changes and they also add more power than the Booster 'prog track' output which they say is especially helpful for decoders with sound. I have no first hand experience though, just info from DCC websites, youtube and reading about it. Sorry, I don't have much else to add to your questions, just wanted to let you know you weren't the only one interested in trying DCC like this.

One of the things I enjoy the most about O scale (and model railroading in general) is the technical challenge.  I am not always about practicality, and there is certainly nothing practical or sensible about adding DCC to a reasonably stable DCS layout.  However, the itch of the challenge will always win, and it would seem a lot of fun to take on the challenge of installing LokSound in a few motors and see how it all works as compared to DCS.  The primary motivation (beyond said challenge) is the awesome sound files that are available for Euro motors, of which I have two, plus an Atlas AEM7.

I used to use DCC in my HO days, and it drove me batty.  I didn't get along that well with HO in any case, but the frustration with DCC was the 'last straw' before I went with 3R scale for good.  However, ESU's system appears quite friendly and highly thought of, and their sound files are fantastic.  The more I read up on it, the more I want to try it!  I registered as a member of the ESU forum, which is closed; an ESU employee has to clear your registration, (or so the website says).  I have also reached out to the US distributor of ESU products in Montoursville, PA, which is only a few hours away from me.

Assuming my contact with them is satisfactory, I think I am going to get a design together and undertake a slow but steady addition of ESU Loksound to the 300 Loft RR.  It just so happens that I have an 'open space' on my homebrew control surface for another control system, such that I can switch what feeds the catenary on the fly.  I had worked this feature in when I designed the board with the idea of adding a conventional transformer to the mix for visiting trains.  Sadly, I have yet to host a single visitor who models 3R scale, much less bring equipment to run.  As such, I think I will ditch the conventional idea, and insert LokSound in its place.  That way, the back end is already set, I just need to add the system itself to the front end.  DC+ to the overhead wire, DC- to the outer two rails, and a separate programming track.

Perhaps I should start a GoFundMe and see if anyone wants to subsidize my control additions. 

Nate Murry

Heavy Electric Ferroequinologist

Pantenary posted:

Hi Naveen:

Thanks for responding.  I am not making a switch to 2 rail, I am just enthralled with the LokSound files and wanted to trains that use them.  I happen to have 3 locomotives that would be good candidates for LokSound decoders.  Like I said in my OP, it is absurd to add another command system to a layout just for better sounding locomotives, and I can't really afford to do it right now anyway.  However, I wanted to gather some info on the ESU system from someone who used it.

Where did you end up purchasing your ECoS?

I got my ECoS from Eurolokshop (www.tee-usa.com) & I highly recommend them. 2 years ago, when I bought mine, they had it for the lowest price. Apparently, they drop-shipped it to the customer directly from ESU’s US facility & were able to offer it at least $50 cheaper than the next online merchant. I used to buy models of European trains from them when I dabbled in HO-Scale & always had positive shopping experiences with them.

These are just my opinion,

Thanks,

Naveen

Good afternoon Dave:

Thank you for responding.  I know that Google is (and has) been my friend, but sometimes it is nice to hear from actual warm bodies about their direct experience as well.  I believe I have adequate skill to install DCC in locomotives, (most days anyway).  I also joined the ESU forum; it seems that there would be no better information than from those who make/use all their products.  There isn't anyone around who has a LP, and I would not want to have to rely on anyone else's equipment anyway.

Your response above raises a few other questions.

1.  Which MTH locomotive did you convert?  Morbid curiosity.

2.  Did you use the stock MTH speaker(s) or add new one(s)?

3.  Did you use the MTH-supplied lighting or add you own, (not knowing the locomotive in question)?

4.  Digitrax used to be my nemesis when I was in HO.  Are you happy with their system?  (Obviously you have to be at least somewhat content with Digitrax or you would not have it.  The point of the question is if you would get it again if you had the choice, or look elsewhere).

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond, I appreciate it.

Nate Murry

Heavy Electric Ferroequinologist

I'd start a new thread instead of hijacking this old one.  But I have on an old Lionel conventional locomotive.  Also, there is a forum member that has posted a couple threads in the DCC forum of locomotives he has converted to LokSound decoders.  I run mine on 3R with NCE command.

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