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I was given a box of locos.  One in the box (N&W J Class) appears to be an MTH kit that is incomplete.  The loco / tender pair appear to have been wired for Proto Sound 2.0, however there are no boards.

It __appears__ that I can take the hot & common from the pickups, run them through a bridge rectifier and wire up the motor, smoke unit and light.  This would convert the loco to BASIC conventional + smoke.

I would really like to put an e-unit into it so I can put it in reverse.  Alternatively if possible, I would like a source for control / e-unit / sound cards that I could install.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated, as this will determine the path I pursue for my 1 last "dead" locomotive -- one with a blown PS2 card.

Thanks!

Bill

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@Alan Mancus I apologize. I thought I had replied, but don’t see my reply here.

I don’t know what budget I’m working with or targeting, because I’m brand new to the digital sound space. A friend gave me the remnants of his dad’s MTH collection, and these 2 problematic locos were in the pile.

Please tell me your options. I need to become more informed of what I have and what I’m into.

Thanks!

Bill

@Mosin posted:


...

I would really like to put an e-unit into it so I can put it in reverse.  Alternatively if possible, I would like a source for control / e-unit / sound cards that I could install.

If options are what you're after, MTH LocoSound steam boards came out in the PS2 timeframe and is essentially an E-unit with rudimentary sounds (NO DCS command capability).  An OGR search will no doubt show many threads about upgrading LocoSound to PS2 or PS3; the point being the displaced LocoSound boards are probably sitting in a box and perhaps can be had for little cost.  

I'm pretty sure the LocoSound board had the electronics to control smoke so that would be a consideration if comparing to a E-unit from another vendor.

LocoSound does have chuffing smoke control, tach controlled cruise control, lighting outputs, and as you say, basic sounds.

Are there any basic E-units out there that have cruise control?

With all the DCS "fanfare" when PS2 was introduced, cruise/speed control for conventional operation might have been an overlooked feature.  For conventional operators, the ability to run at relatively slow speeds without constantly messing with the throttle going around curves or up/down grades is a handy feature.

Interesting.  So if it also controls lighting, that's yet another reason to consider the LocoSound steam board as an E-unit option.  You'd have to check some of the upgrade threads but I'd think the MTH LocoSound engines would have used the same lights (6V incandescent bulbs) as the PS2 engines (?).  So like the earlier warning not to directly power the N&W J smoke unit from track power, I'd think the same applies to directly powering the light(s) from track power!

I suppose one thing to check is if the J has a striped-flywheel AND a tiny tach board.  That is, if this was part of an incomplete or abandoned PS2 upgrade, these are needed to get cruise control.  If not familiar with the MTH flywheel/tach  wiring, your last "dead" locomotive with blown PS2 boards should have the striped flywheel and tach board mounted to the motor.

Clearly there are i's to dot and t's to cross, but I'm beginning to intrigue myself with the notion of "re-branding" the apparently obsolete LocoSound board as a generic E-unit.    If you don't like the sounds, then don't hook up the speaker!  I'm pretty certain you won't find another E-unit out there that has cruise/speed control. directly controls an MTH smoke unit, and lighting (directional?).

It hinges on the ability to scrounge up a LocoSound board from someone's attic or junk drawer.  If I understand the MTH site, the board itself was $100 MSRP and could only be purchased thru an MTH Service Center.

AE-0000003

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I'm sure any purchase of LocoSound boards from MTH has long since passed. They also seem to want the old board back.

The LocoSound are wired very similar to the PS/2 boards, just with fewer options.  They use the same tach sensor as PS/2, but there's an added 180 ohm resistor for some LocoSound steam, presumably for limiting current to the opto sensor LED.  They do indeed use 6V incandescent bulbs and the standard PS/2 smoke unit configuration.

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  • mceclip0

"Are there any basic E-units out there that have cruise control?"

@stan2004 An ERR Cruise Commander makes a pretty darn good electronic E-unit.  And yes, the cruise control is somewhat functional in conventional mode.  Obviously at low, variable track voltages there isn't as much "reserve" as there would be in an 18V command environment.  But it's still somewhat functional, and unlike Locosound and PS2/PS3, you don't need a tach sensor.

What I don't know (but I bet GRJ does!) is how to neuter the antenna circuit, so when you're at a train show and the guy in the next aisle is running TMCC, it doesn't stop working because it detects the "carrier" signal.

@Ted S posted:

"Are there any basic E-units out there that have cruise control?"

@stan2004 An ERR Cruise Commander makes a pretty darn good electronic E-unit.  And yes, the cruise control is somewhat functional in conventional mode.  Obviously at low, variable track voltages there isn't as much "reserve" as there would be in an 18V command environment.  But it's still somewhat functional, and unlike Locosound and PS2/PS3, you don't need a tach sensor.

Can you elaborate on what "somewhat functional" means?  I could not find much if anything on the web specific to conventional cruise control performance or user experience/comments.  To be sure, tach-less is a key feature albeit the  OP's engines apparently have the flywheel and tach installed.

ERR Cruise Commander

I just find it interesting that the smaller baby-step of upgrading basic E-units to provide speed/cruise control was bypassed in the leap to command control.  Perhaps it's a marketing thing where the price point of a conventional-only E-unit with speed control would put it in no-man's land...i.e., not enough bang-for-the-buck for the conventional operator.

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  • ERR Cruise Commander
@Mosin posted:

I like this intriguing idea.  The unit that has no boards does have the stripes on the flywheel and the tach sensor.

So, my friends, who has a loco-sound board sitting around, abandoned, sad, and looking for a new home?

If the tach system is already installed, it does seem to tip the scales toward the LocoSound E-unit method...not to mention direct compatibility with the smoke unit and lights.  If you search OGR for "Locosound" you will find a few threads on guys upgrading from LocoSound to PS2/PS3.  Perhaps you could inquire in those threads, "What did you do with the LocoSound board?"

"Can you elaborate on what "somewhat functional" means?"

@stan2004 By "somewhat functional," what I meant is that in conventional mode, all of these robotically-controlled trains use some kind of programmed-in "lookup table" to correlate input voltage to a target speed.

Generally the train won't begin moving until some fairly high minimum voltage, say 8-10 volts, is on the track.  This creates a "reserve" of motor supply voltage for the on-board computer to use.  For each increase above this minimum voltage, the train will TRY to maintain a specific target speed, regardless of load or grade.  Obviously if the grade is very steep, at low voltages and slow speeds there might not be enough reserve voltage to climb the grade without slowing down.

ERR and PS2 work okay in this fashion.  For example they'll prevent a "runaway" downhill if you're using a Lionel graduated trestle set.  But compared to locos without closed-loop feedback speed control, I find the response a bit laggy and vague.  It's hard to describe... they just lack the direct connectedness of a conventional e-unit.  To some extent this is unavoidable-- the system has to include some hysteresis; a "sampling period" to determine whether the target speed is being maintained, or the motor voltage should be changed.  If it's done poorly, you end up with surging like the Odyssey Lurch (remember that!?)

One advantage PS2 has over LocoSound is that the max acceleration and deceleration rates (in terms of scale mph per second) can be set using DCS and stored in the loco.  I would presume that for Locosound these are permanently set at the factory defaults of '4' and '2'.  @gunrunnerjohn is it also possible to "neuter" the incoming antenna signal on PS2?  If so, this would give you all of the advantages of LocoSound AND allow you to customize the Accel / Decel.

PS3 in conventional has its own issues.  Upon its introduction folks quickly discovered that PS3 locos won't "coast" when power is cut in conventional mode.  Coasting ability isn't ONLY conferred mechanically by the flywheel.  In many of these locos the flywheel(s) are pretty small and can't contribute much.  The gears themselves are self-locking.  Perhaps through capacitors, anti-reverse commutation diodes, etc., it's the circuitry  that keeps the motor turning longer than it otherwise would.  If I recall, MTH never publicly acknowledged that the lack of coasting was a "problem." As  far as I know they never did anything to fix it.  Bottom line: PS3 would be my last choice for cruise control in conventional!  Good topic here!

Stan, PS/2 has positive closed loop feedback speed control, and they generally run very well in conventional mode.  PS/3 does until you slap the reverse button, as you say, it stops on a dime when you do that!  In order to get smooth running in PS/3 in conventional mode, you need to slowly lower the throttle until you stop and then hit the direction button to reverse directions.

I don't know about easy, but if I wanted to disable PS/2, I'd probably lift the leg of the little inductor that couples the DCS signal into the board, that would turn it into a conventional locomotive.

Of course, if you're running conventional with no DCS, you don't have to do anything, there is no WD signal.  If you're running on a DCS layout, why in the world would you want to run a DCS locomotive in conventional mode?

The PS2/PS3 boards operating in conventional provide insight but I don't think a practical (cost) alternative for the matter at hand.  Granted, if the OP cannot find a LocoSound board gathering dust at a reasonable price, then the intrigue vanishes.

I don't know about easy, but if I wanted to disable PS/2, I'd probably lift the leg of the little inductor that couples the DCS signal into the board, that would turn it into a conventional locomotive.

Of course, if you're running conventional with no DCS, you don't have to do anything, there is no WD signal.  If you're running on a DCS layout, why in the world would you want to run a DCS locomotive in conventional mode?

GRJ's last comment got me thinking - a dangerous thing!    Again, my tunnel-vision is on the conventional-only operator and what options are out there for an E-unit that has cruise/speed control.  Of course one logical "feature" of an E-unit with cruise/speed control would be ability to turn it on/off.  Another would be traditional direction lock (e.g., forward only).

The LocoSound manual suggests you can use conventional Whistle/Bell controls on the transformer to turn speed control on/off...likewise for directional lock.   Of course this means you need a train transformer with Whistle and Bell or some ability to generate both conventional control signals.

Locosound conventional control options

OTOH, if I understand the ERR Cruise Commander instructions, you need command-control capability to turn conventional speed control on/off.  I'd think this could be sort of a chicken-egg situation.

ERR setup via Lionel command control

The above manual snippets also suggest there is a selection of large vs. small motor which might have to do with the tach-less feature (?).  And there's a speed step selection which I'd think might affect speed control operation (?).  Both selections apparently also require command-control.

I still think there is cause to issue a BOLO (Be on the Lookout) for a LocoSound Steam board!

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  • Locosound conventional control options
  • ERR setup via Lionel command control
Last edited by stan2004

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