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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone,

My friend and I recently installed an RC and Battery system in a Bachmann 3 truck shay locomotive. The locomotive has an Airwire CONVRTR paired with a Tam Valley Booster. The motor control and sound is a LOK Sound XL decoder with shay sounds. The locomotive runs great except for one quirk. Whenever the locomotive gets out of range, it comes to a dead stop. It especially likes to do this in our tunnel. I know on most decoders, such as an NCE D408SR, this can be rectified with programmin CV 11 to 0 so there is 0 timeout period, but this doesn't seem to be working with the Lok Sound decoder. Does anyone know how to program the timeout period on lok sound decoders?

The biggest and most annoying problem however is that the sound crackles pretty badly on this engine. We believe that this is a problem only found when the decoder is hooked up to the airwire board. We wired the engine for track power as well as battery power so the Lok Sound decoder could be programmed with the Lok Programmer. The track power provision bypasses the Airwire board and the booster and goes directly to the Lok decoder. When on track power with DCC, it does not make the crackling noise. My friend has another engine with a Lok Sound decoder paired with a Tam Valley Receiver and being controlled by an Airwire throttle and it has the same problem. Does anyone know how to get rid of the crackling noise when the engine is running under battery?

If you would like to see the engine running under battery on my Fern Creek and Western Railroad, you can find it here:
https://youtu.be/h0N6yt4_46k?t=26m57s
My friend and I did the conversion for a 2 part youtube series about converting an engine to battery for TSG Multimedia. Its worth watching.

Thank You,
Trevor
 

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I'd first try putting some physical distance between the decoder, the convrtr (I think that is the spelling) and the rest of the loco.

Strange, but my guess is RF from the convrtr is getting into the sound amp on the ESU, although the darn thing should be a class D amp, i.e. pretty resistant to interference.

Greg
 

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Does the LokSound decoder have a "stop on DC" feature where the decoder will simply slow down and stop if it encounters analog DC track power? I know that if the Convertr power is turned on prior to the transmitter power being turned on, it will send full battery voltage to the decoder instead. (Hence why you need to turn off analog DC operation on your decoders when using the Convertr to control it.) My guess is that when the receiver is out of range of the transmitter, it's reverting back to this analog DC signal output. If the decoder is programmed to stop when it sees analog DC, that would explain it stopping, especially in typical "out of range" areas like tunnels.

Since you have the ability to test the loco on track power in addition to Airwire, I'd suggest rigging something where you can toggle the track power from DCC to analog DC. Put the loco on the track under DCC, run it at half speed or so, then toggle it to straight DC. If it behaves the same under the analog DC operation as it does with the Airwire throttle (i.e., stops on DC), then it's likely something in the decoder programming that's causing it to do so. If it behaves differently, then there may be something incompatible between the Airwire and LokSound decoders.

One other thing to try, though it requires an additional purchase. Get a Tam Valley Depot transmitter--the small thing that essentially clips to the track output of your existing DCC command station. I'd be interested to see if there's a difference between running with your existing track power DCC set-up versus sending the signals over the air.

In terms of the crackling sound with the Airwire control, that's a new one. Was it evident in the video you posted? I was listening for something, but not being familiar enough with the specific sound file, I couldn't really tell if I was hearing something that shouldn't have been there or not. I've used Airwire with Zimo, Piko, Tsunami, TCS, LGB (Massoth), and QSI decoders, and have never had any sound quality issues as a result, so you've definitely piqued my curiosity with your installation.

Have you bounced any of this off of the LokSound tech guys yet?

Oh, and on the Climax, try a 14.8 v. Li-Ion pack in a flat 2x2 arrangement. I think that will fit in the boiler. I put a new (straight) boiler on mine, but the inside diameter is nearly identical to that of the stock boiler.

Later,

K
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Greg - We may try that. That could be part of the problem as the receiver and the Sound Decoder are right near eachother.

Kevin - I believe it does have that feature. I think that it is controlled by CV29 and if I remember correctly we have set it up so it does not have a DC mode and that it only responds to DCC signal. The CV I need to find is something to control the timeout period. Usually it is CV11, and maybe it is on the loksound decoder.
We may try you're suggestion on the DC and DCC control. We will have to change CV29 again but it may be worth a try.
As for the crackling, yes it was evident in the video. You can hear it especially as its crossing the trestle. I may describe it more as a static sort-of sound. Its hard to describe. We have not contacted anyone at Lok Sound. If you ever get the chance, do try a lok sound decoder. Other than the crackling, they sound really good! Only thing I would recommend is have a track power provision on the engine as that's the only way to change settings on it as you have to use the lok programmer.
As for the Climax, what manufacturer are you using for the battery. I had an extra Cordless Rennovations 14.8 3000 mah 2x2 lying around and it didn't seem to fit.

Trevor
 

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I get my batteries from all-battery.com. Just to be clear, I'm talking about a 2x2 flat array, not 2x2 square.



I dug my stock Climax boiler out of my scrap box, and it should fit right nicely in the stock boiler. Pull the smokebox front off and take a look. There may be a short bracket used to mount the smoke unit which you'll have to remove, but the inside diameter of the boiler is a bit larger than the width of two Li-Ion cells, so it should slide in fairly easily.

Incidentally, I put the power switch and charging jack behind the smokebox door.

Later,

K
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I get my batteries from all-battery.com. Just to be clear, I'm talking about a 2x2 flat array, not 2x2 square.



I dug my stock Climax boiler out of my scrap box, and it should fit right nicely in the stock boiler. Pull the smokebox front off and take a look. There may be a short bracket used to mount the smoke unit which you'll have to remove, but the inside diameter of the boiler is a bit larger than the width of two Li-Ion cells, so it should slide in fairly easily.

Incidentally, I put the power switch and charging jack behind the smokebox door.

Later,

K
Kevin-

I converted our Climax to battery operation using the battery you recommended. I cut the weight back significantly to fit it but it fits very nicely and the engine has good battery life. Even with some of the weight gone, it still pulls very well.

Here is a video of it running after the conversion.
https://www.facebook.com/trevor.park.71/videos/g.359214540921968/1683770381638068/?type=2&theater

Trevor
 

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Hi Kevin.
According to the Sanyo battery supplier in Australia, the battery pack you described and showed above is one thick, two wide and two long and usually called a "twin stick".
One long, two wide and two thick is a "Brick".
One thick, one long and four wide is referred to as a "Flat" pack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Greg- Yes we still have the sound problem. We've been able to improve on the engine not dying but its not perfect. The thing we figured out is that it is loosing signal. Unfortunately, I have not found anything that will keep the LOK sound board in continuous operation with signal interruptions. I've done the normal things like turn off analog mode and set the capacitor timeout period, but we can't seem to get it to a zero timeout period.

Mike- That may be something to try. However, I do not think it would help. Reason being is because my friend owns an engine with a Tam Valley receiver and he also owns one with the 2.5 amp convrtr tied into a Tam Valley booster to give it higher amperage. Both engines have the same story on sound and loosing signal. The engine with the 2.5 amp convrtr and booster is slightly better on signal since it is a plastic engine. The engine with the straight Tam Valley board is brass. The climax that I posted the Facebook video link to is actually using one of those new 6 amp convrtrs. Actually I ordered that one from you guys. It works beautifully!
 

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The problem is a fundamental issue in architectures, how the systems work.

DCC is still defined as track based technically, and was architected that way. Since a signal is always present, DCC systems continuously transmit information and when not giving a specific command like blow the horn, they usually transmit the speed information for all locos.

The idea is great, if you lost signal, you would get it again shortly with your speed command.

Wireless systems normally are trying to save batteries, so they don't want to transmit continuously. There are other technological reasons as well, but don't want to derail this too much.

Bottom line, DCC "modified" for wireless like only transmitting "changes" will have this issue. Making modifications like "cruise control" and "timeouts" so the loco will keep going when there is lack of signal are possible, but the DCC decoder manufacturers are not normally putting this into the decoders.

So normally you have to rely on "tweaks" from the wireless "adapters" or the rare capability in the decoder itself.

Greg
 

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To my understanding, wireless DCC systems transmit constantly. The Tam Valley Depot transmitter just piggy-backs on the track output of any generic DCC command center, so whatever the command center is sending through the rails, it's sending over the air. My Airwire throttle drinks batteries like crazy, so it's definitely broadcasting something constantly. The Tam Valley Depot receivers have an indicator light on them letting you know the strength of the packets it's receiving--not just that it's receiving something, but the strength of valid command packets within that signal. If I'm understanding Greg's thoughts correctly, a transmitter which only transmits when changes were being made would not be sending valid DCC packets any other time. As such, the light on the Tam Valley Depot receiver would presumably be off most of the time. It's not; it's on so long as the transmitter is on, in range, and on the correct frequency, so I'd interpret that as receiving valid DCC packets constantly.

The situations where a DCC decoder would not be receiving a valid signal are numerous. In a track-powered environment, though, if the loco loses a valid DCC signal, it's usually because of dirty track, and it will stop because it's also not getting voltage for the motor. The addition of super caps solves momentary track power glitches, and the decoder will--in that case--continue running as it was until it receives a valid DCC command again.

In the wireless DCC environment, the power doesn't go away when the DCC signal from the transmitter drops out, so they don't stop. Without exception, all of my locos (without doing any special programming) will continue running at whatever speed they've been running at when I turn the transmitter off, switch it to another frequency, or it otherwise loses contact with the transmitter. That includes QSI, Zimo, TCS, Soundtraxx, Massoth, Piko, and others. Alas, ESU is not among them, so I don't have a firsthand example to try to help Trevor with his loss-of-signal issues.

In reading the ESU manual, CV 11 (packet time-out) is not supported by the LokSound v4 decoder, so there's no way to adjust that. There is CV 113, which is the super cap bridge time. To my interpretation of the manual, that may serve a similar function, as it controls how long the decoder will run on super cap power should track power be interrupted. I'd maybe try setting CV 113 to 255 (maximum time) and having a go. You can do this on your workbench--get the loco running, turn off the transmitter, and see what happens.

Later,

K
 
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