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NixTrainz "Decoder Buddy"

Application Notes


 
Last Updated 191026

Hi Bryan,

 

Hope your summer is going well!

 

A couple of new developments.  I’ve got 0 ohm resistor boards for those who have resistors in line already.  Still the same board.  I also added 750 ohm boards for those who still want lamps or bulbs.  The other option is a board that has no output resistors at all that can be custom built to resistance specs with 0603 resistors.  I’ve learned how to be fairly efficient doing a small batch the custom resistor boards at a time.  The 0 ohm and the 750 ohm ones are machine made.  I haven’t packaged any of these for retail yet but are offering them to you for installation versatility.  Same price and can be added together with the rest in the order.  I don’t plan on discounting the custom boards.

 

My supplier has received the connectors for the V5 boards.  I expect to see a circuit diagram and test boards this month.  He is in the process of restarting after a move from Virginia to Arizona.  Needless to say I haven’t pushed him!  V5s will have some more neat features, I think.

 

Here is a picture of an Athearn blue box GP40 with the “decoder holder” in the shell cut out and a Scale Sound Systems speaker tacked in with two sided carpet tape.  It is a demonstrator so I want the speaker back.  I have attached the speaker connector to the motherboard left of the LokSound 4 decoder.  It’s all ready to solder up and test the motor direction.  This should be a boon to those who have older DC locomotives waiting for a DCC upgrade.  The ScaleSound Speakers come in all shapes and sizes.  JT is also very active on YouTube showing off his work.  I’ve used a lot of Tony’s TDS speakers and enclosures in the past.  The TDSs should work here too.  It will be interesting to compare.  This board has the 0 ohm resistors.  I plan on soldering 380 ohm 1/4 watt resistors to the small connector board then out to the Miniatronics lamps for the head lights, front and rear.  Definitely a Kapton tape install.

 

Hi Bryan,

 

The V5 Decoder Buddy is ready to ship.  It mates up with the LokSound 5 nice and gives the 12 available lighting functions on the small connector board and pairs Aux 11 and Aux 12 on the motherboard for frame related lighting.  Aux 8 and Aux 9 were not made available on the 21-pin connector so the three wire Power Pack has to be connected directly to the Decoder.  A two wire Power Pack can be attached to the motherboard on U+ and GND or the decoder.  I slipped up on the packaging and didn’t remember to label the U+ and GND as the connections for the two wire stay alives on the motherboard.  Grumble, grumble.  It does show up on the website pictures.

 

I’m going to keep the original DB on for the time being.  I am getting a call for them.  They are slightly simpler and the guys that don’t want their locomotives lit up like Christmas trees seem to gyrate in that direction.  If you or your installers want versions with other than 2.2K resistors, shout.  Right now I have a bunch with 0 ohms for guys with inline resistors and 14 volt lamps in stock.  If you get a run on any particular one when we go into manufacturing again they come out in panels of 21 at a time.  The only issue might be waiting for the next batch to be manufactured.

 

Hope this all helps.

 

Nothing else to add at the moment.  Have a good.  Thanks.

 

Later,

 

Nick

Thank you for your order.  I packed the 24 V5 Decoder Buddys and 12 Test Boards.  I meant to take a picture of the Test Board but they got packed then I remembered....  I did include a picture of the V5 Decoder Buddy.  

 

The Decoder Buddys were 24 @ $9 and the Test Boards were 12 @ $9.  The total was $324.  If you prefer a formal invoice I can make those now too.  If I’m not careful this might start looking like a business....

 

The test boards will fit and be useful on both versions of the Decoder Buddys.  The first place I would recommend them is on ScaleTrains conversions.  ScaleTrains and ESU must have made an agreement.  I’m tempted to mention the test board to Josh and George at SoundTraxx as a method for changing the decoders with a little less trauma....



No white wire connection on Pin 1 or Pin 3 above. Just shown for position.



V5 top and V original with white wire position shown.

 

Hope this helps.

Hi,

 

I’m broadcasting this because people have asked about it more than once.  If something sounds wrong please let me know.    

I’d like to pass on some information that I got today regarding three wire ESU Power Packs and the V5 Decoder Buddy.  Alec Herman showed me a picture of a V5 Decoder Buddy and a LokSound 5 21 MTC installation into an Overland brass CN SD60F.  In the pictures of the installation below I noticed the white wire of the three wire Power Pack was not going where I expected.  I asked Alec where it went.  He told me that he connected it to pin 1 on the 21-pin connector and it activates the Power Pack.  Alec also found out that the Power Pack needs an unpowered output to activate. The output for Aux 10 is appropriate where it comes out of the 21 pin connector on pin 1 and is tied to the Power Pack Control function in the decoder program.  



This all means that if you desire, by soldering the Power Pack white wire to pin 1 of the V5 21-pin connector, the red wire to the U+, black wire to GND on the V5 Decoder Buddy and programming the output of Aux 10 on the programmer to Power Pack Control or by changing the appropriate CV, that you can have a connection of the Power Pack completely to the frame (V5 Decoder Buddy) without soldering directly to the 21 pin decoder!

The same procedure can be used with the original 8 output Decoder Buddy and the LokSound 5 21 MTC decoder.

A similar procedure may be used with a LokSound 4 decoder either Decoder Buddy May be used.  The differences are that the white wire is connected the Aux 6 on pin 3 of the 21-pin connector and the Aux 6 function must be disabled to program the decoder then enabled to use the Power Pack.

The pictures below show Alec’s installation.

 

There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about adding "Keep-Alive" capacitors to sound decoders to improve performance on dirty rails or area with poor continuity like frogs and dead rail sections.


ESU LokSound decoders tend to be less sensitive to these problems but can be affected by poor continuity none the less.


All LokSound 5 models of ESU LokPilot and LokSound decoders can have a "Keep-Alive" capacitor installed to improve performance.


 
ESU LokPilot & LokSound Connection Diagrams
 

The manuals for ESU decoders include a wealth of information about installing the decoders and adding ancillary components like external chuff sensors, headlights, speakers as well as capacitors.

These illustrations are taken from the respective manuals and show the appropriate pads on the decoder where the capacitors are connected.


 


You may notice they specify a 2200uF capacitor.  Is that too much or not enough?  It just depends...


A good rule of thumb is to add as much as you can fit in the model.  Anything more than zero is better than nothing and currently the TCS KA-series Keep-Alives are the most powerful units available.


The bottom line here is the more capacitance you add, the better the unit will perform as continuity degrades.


You may also notice that ESU recommends including a resistor-diode pair in the positive leg of the capacitor.


This design is also referred to as an Inrush Current Protection circuit.  It is included to prevent false short-circuit detection by DCC circuit breakers and command stations.


Is it required?  It just depends on your application.


Do you or will you ever use a DCC circuit breaker?  If yes, you should probably include it.


Do you have one or one hundred units equipped with "Keep-Alives"?  


How much total capacitance do you have installed in all of your locos and rolling stock?  If you have big caps in every loco and lighted passenger car on your layout, you should probably include it.


It is not required for all applications however.  The TCS KA's and ESU Power-Packs include Inrush Current Protection on-board the device.


 
ESU LokSound 5 "Keep-Alive"
 

These photos show the actual connections described in the wiring diagram on the decoder.

ESU LokSound V4.0 Micro and Select Micro "Keep-Alive" Solder Pad Connections

 
ESU LokSound V4.0 and Select "Keep-Alive" Solder Pad Connections
 
Application Notes and Programming Tips
 

 
You will notice I installed a Soundtraxx 810058 Mini Micro Connector on one leg of the Keep-Alive Device connection.  

I have had some installations where the addition of the Keep-Alive Device made it difficult to read and write to the decoder.  A connector or switch is a convenient was to remove the Keep-Alive Device from the circuit for programming.

The switch or connector only needs to be added to one leg of the Keep-Alive Device connection and it doesn't matter which side.

Another trick I found is to allow the Keep-Alive Device to fully charge on full track power before reading or writing CV's.  The programming signal gets sucked up as charging power if the capacitors are not charged and makes programming nearly impossible.




The PowerPack only operates in digital mode. It automatically turns off on Analog layouts.





It may take up to two minutes to fully charge the capacitor. Therefore, the time bridged with the energy buffer depends on the current draw of your locomotive and the chargeup time.
 
 
The ESU 58821 LokSound 5 Direct 
 


The ESU 58821 LokSound 5 Direct is really just the ESU 58828 LokSound 5 Micro NMRA DCC Sound Decoder - NEM662 Next18 Integral Connector with a Next18 connector and adapter board.  The small decoder unplugs from the main board to reveal additional solder pads on the bottom side. 


To add a Keep-Alive Device, simply use the board layout in the manual for the LokSound Micro.  

U+ is rectified 12VDC same as the blue wire.  GND is the ground pad and is typically the black or black with white stripe wire.
 
The 73700 Select Direct is really just a 73800 Select Micro with a 
> Next18 connector and adapter board.  The small decoder unplugs from 
> the main board to reveal additional solder pads on the bottom side.  
> To add a keep alive, use the board layout in the manual for the Select Micro

The 73700 Select Direct is really just a 73800 Select Micro with a 
> Next18 connector and adapter board.  The small decoder unplugs from 
> the main board to reveal additional solder pads on the bottom side.  
> To add a keep alive, use the board layout in the manual for the Select Micro
  
When you connect an external capacitor or PowerPack, you are
able to make the decoder switch off after a certain time. CV113 is
responsible for that, since you are able to determine at what time
the decoder is to switch off (as a multiple of 0.0328 seconds). You
should set a time between 0.3 and 1.0 seconds to prevent your
locos from driving too far during an emergency.
For the PowerPack to work, the function output responsible for
the charge (typically AUX9 for LokSound, AUX7 for LokSound
micro) must be configured to the »PowerPackControl« function.
Set CV 31 = 16, CV 32 = 0 first.
Then set CV339 = 31 for LokSound (AUX9)
Then set CV323 = 31 for LokSound micro (AUX7).

Setting CVs - Enable Power Pack Control
 
 
It is necessary to enable Power Pack Control in LokSound 5 model decoders in order to use the Keep-Alive function.

If Power Pack Control is not enabled, the keep-alive will be effectively turned off.

In LokProgrammer, LokSound 5 projects display a warning and link that when clicked, automatically sets CV315 = 0, thereby disabling Aux6.

Select projects do not display the warning or link but the CV value and results are the same.

For the PowerPack to work, the function output responsible for the charge (typically AUX9 for LokSound 5, AUX7 for LokSound 5 Micro) must be configured to the »PowerPackControl« function.

Set CV339 = 31 for LokSound 5 (AUX9).

Set CV323 = 31 for LokSound 5 Micro (AUX7). 


Setting CV113 - The Keep-Alive Timer

Hi Nick, I don't normally do ST business here but I will for this questions to make it simpler. I am including a couple documents to help. The decoders are NEM660 compliant, not NMRA. While we do use the same main board in our locos, the outputs on the board are used in different ways to achieve the lighting effects for the model....  Above is an SD40-2 diagram.

 

You probably have this information from ScaleTrains.

 

Have a good and thanks again!


All ESU LokSound 5 models incorporate a timer to determine the maximum amount of time a Keep-Alive Device can supply power to the circuit.

Essentially, the timer limits the amount of time a Keep-Alive Device can supply power to the circuit without receiving a packet of data from the command station.

I won't pretend to know every reason for needing the timer but the most obvious to me is so that the locomotive won't continue endlessly in a true power outage event.

The default setting in most files is about .25 seconds.  The available range is 0 to 4 seconds.

CV113 = (0 - 255) where 0 is no keep-alive power and 255 is about 4 seconds of keep-alive power (as a multiple of 0.0328 seconds).

Be sure to test this to determine the value that works best for your application.

Here is a brief video demonstration of how CV113 works.



The ESU 58821 LokSound 5 Direct Aux 3-4

 
Just a quick note about this product.

The 73700 LokSound Select Direct uses a LokSound Micro decoder that is manufactured as a four function decoder plus two additional logic level functions.  

The standard functions are F0F, F0R, AUX1, AUX2.  

AUX3 and AUX4 are logic level outputs that require transistors to amplify the output current in order for them to be used to power LEDs.

The adapter board for the 73700 LokSound Select Direct includes the necessary components to amplify the AUX3 and AUX4 outputs and not the decoder.  

Products like my AUX 3-4 Function Board should not be used with the 73700 decoder.  

Additionally, the 51955 Adapter Board should be used with other decoders with caution since AUX3 and AUX4 are amplified.

 

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