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1:20.3 Bachmann 2-8-0 Connie, currently installing quad smoke units, three decoders, and servos
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So longtime large scale enthusiast, just recently got back into trains with covid and time at home. Currently I'm modifying the internals on a basically stock connie 2-8-0. So far I have added in a heavy amount of sounds and such using the Tsunami TSU-4400 by Soundtraxx. Works and sounds great. Ive never seen (or heard) anything like it (in terms of realism.

My after christmas project is a teardown and cleanup of wiring as follows:

  • Adding 2 new ESU 54677 Dual smoke units
  • 4 total smoke outputs: generator, whistle, blowdown/cylinder steam, main stack puff/sync exhaust
  • Each ESU unit has a remote board so 2 boards will have to be squeezed in
  • A new ESU 54640 Lokpilot XL 4.0 to handle 3 servos, smoke, and additional function controls
  • Possibly adding the extra ESU Function decoder with servo control to the tender
  • Johnson bar direction controlled servo action, servo ringing bell, and a third fun animation

My current step is possibly removing those ridiculous weights if I have to to make a removable slide in tray from black styrene to hold the electronics. I have mapped it out dimensionally and it looks like I can squeeze the whistle/generator smoke unit in the backhead before the motor blocks me. Im torn on moving the TSU4400 sound motor controller to the backhead too. But, my thoughts are that if I had all four (Soundtraxx 4400, ESU 54640, and 2x smoke remote wiring chip) decoders stacked and wired neatly, I can use some cable looms to make it a pluggable affair and remove for maintenance and issues down the road without a complete teardown.

Space is tight in any locomotives, but I would rather skip the quick install of using the tender space and running looms and wiring to the loco. In laying it out and mocking uo each unit it appears space is not going to be an issue.

So for the front, I will be adding the second ESU dual smoke unit placed right under the stack, the same slideable styrene tray for maintenance, and running the blowdown steam chuff pipes somewhere to make an impression without an ugly hose install from the exterior.

Check out some of the photos attached and tell me your thoughts and any other ideas to make this a fun install to try to knock out of the park. I have spent my whole life always wanting to build and tinker and make a loco my way to reflect the fun for friends and family of those little surprise and magic, but Ill have to tip the hat to you guys and see where I can learn and improve so any feedback is welcomed.

Thanks!
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1:20.3 Bachmann 2-8-0 Connie, currently installing quad smoke units, three decoders, and servos
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Im thinking of routing the wiring something like this, and then I can pull each tray from the smokebox, or the backhead to access each chipset or smoke unit with the wiring looms still inside (removable by pluggable harnesses).
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While I think your efforts are amazing, and I look forward to the video, I do know of one other 'wizard' of DCC and the ESU smoke unit, Jerry Yeramian. He mostly posts on Facebook, but has a Youtube channel. Here's one of his older conversions.

 

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1:20.3 Bachmann 2-8-0 Connie, currently installing quad smoke units, three decoders, and servos
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So why do you have the Tsunami, and the Lokpilot XL? Why not a single board for sound/lighting/motor/servos?

Greg
Great question!

So after installing and running the Tsunami to handle motor, sound, functions, factory smoke, firebox, front/ lights, stack lighting- I ran out of outputs. The Lokpilot is a specific older unit of the ESU boards. No sound or anything so its basically another function board for the loco.

The ESU board I picked up was solely for controlling servos, powering accessories, and hopefully- as a bridge to run the dual smoke units.

I quickly ran out of Function outputs on my Tsunami so Im treating the ESU simply as a function board to make the new accessories, additional lighting, and servos independent (decoder wise) of the main locomotive board.

Practically, I enjoy the use and programming of the Tsunami, but just needed more extras, which didn't seem worth the 2-300 extra price tag for another sound unit with the ESU Loksound I wouldn't be using.

...Maybe on my LGB Uintah down the road. thats another day =)
 

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I do not know if the sound file is what was needed, but Zimo MX decoders had 15 driven functions, 4 servos.
The newer model MS990 coming soon has:

6 A Motor/total current with synchronous rectifier to avoid waste heat,
15 Function outputs, total current up to 2 A,
3 "Stay-alive" supercaps: 3 is not only 1.5 times 2, but results in multiple efficiency,
2 fixed and 1 variable low voltages (5 V, 10 V, adjustable by CV),
2 independent speaker outputs („stereo“),
2 x 10 W sound power (at 4 Ohm speakers each),
2 independent connections for smoke generators without their own electronics, each with its own fans,
6 3 pole servo connections,
1 gyroscopic (and acceleration) sensor for spectacular sound effects,
2 independent SUSI interfaces, also switchable to I2C protocol.
 

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1:20.3 Bachmann 2-8-0 Connie, currently installing quad smoke units, three decoders, and servos
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I do not know if the sound file is what was needed, but Zimo MX decoders had 15 driven functions, 4 servos.
The newer model MS990 coming soon has:

6 A Motor/total current with synchronous rectifier to avoid waste heat,
15 Function outputs, total current up to 2 A,
3 "Stay-alive" supercaps: 3 is not only 1.5 times 2, but results in multiple efficiency,
2 fixed and 1 variable low voltages (5 V, 10 V, adjustable by CV),
2 independent speaker outputs („stereo“),
2 x 10 W sound power (at 4 Ohm speakers each),
2 independent connections for smoke generators without their own electronics, each with its own fans,
6 3 pole servo connections,
1 gyroscopic (and acceleration) sensor for spectacular sound effects,
2 independent SUSI interfaces, also switchable to I2C protocol.

That sounds like the decoder of the century!

Im still struggling getting the correct info from ESU, as their stateside dept doesn't deal with the smoke units, and their german home base is intermittent on availability.

Still trying to find out how to wire and control correctly as many CV's are not contained in the manuals, for both the smoke units, and the decoder. Worst case I can hard wire and bypass the smoke unit decoder, but I would like to maximize the usability and options it is manufactured with.

the mystery continues...
 

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1:20.3 Bachmann 2-8-0 Connie, currently installing quad smoke units, three decoders, and servos
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Addressing is on the back burner for the moment. But in the end I am planning to lock the smoke decoder channels once settings have been decided. If it ends up getting complex with my chuff circuitry, pulses, etc... I have a few ideas I might implement. Some of which is running a "consisting" control to treat them as one loco digitally. But I will need to double check CV's and any that overlap.

The simplest idea I was brainstorming, was just a switch on the rail power input to bypass the decoder off, so I can program 1, 2, or both decoders on the main. My tsunami is already programmed, nothing is really changing so that can be locked. The smoke decoder will be programmed and locked one by one. But the function decoder still has to be programmed so I will have to be careful as I get to installing both together not to mistakenly overwrite any of the CV's on anything else.

Additionally this week, I have been having an extremely difficult time contacting ESU, or getting answers from USA, Europe, or by email. But the consensus to date is without me buying a Loksound 4-5XL, the 54677 smoke units will not work using their wired decoders and harnesses - as they still need the settings involved in the lokprogrammer and a sound decoder to generate the chuff signal through the sound file slots.

So on the 54677 dual units I have- I will be bypassing the module and now have about 6-9 wires on each unit to wire fans, heaters, temperature control, and function on/off through the ESU Lokpilpot 4XL outputs to control the simulated whistle, generator, and blowdown functions. Its not too big of a deal, but just the reality of ESU making smoke units that are proprietary to their sound file decoders. I would much rather have the 4 wire hookup and control through CV's, but here we are. In Scotland, and not being stateside during Covid, my hobbies are taking unexpected delays in simplification.

All that said. Im going to continue with the ESU 54677 smoke units wired into the Lokpilot 54640, and run the extra accessories, lights, servos, etc separate from the Tsunami. The tsunami will still control the automated accessories, like directional lights, smoke stack lighting, fireplace/smokebox circuits, and handle all the sound output.

The aux smoke will be hard wired to that and function assigned to match the triggering of blowdown sounds, the whistle, and the generator running. As the pulse will not be compatible- I'm looking into a small DCC piece from MD electronics out of germany that allows me to use screw terminal wire inputs, and it generates the clock/susi/pulses for the chuff to make the main stack work in tandem with the tsunami. SOOooooo, its turning into quite the triangle of tuning so to speak. The good news is that this small smoke unit chip is lockable once I set the CV's for my install.

Unnecessarily complicated- I HOPE not, but as you read its getting there. The main reason I didn't just buy the Loksound decoder to make a simple solution- was because it literally would cost me like 325 USD here in Scotland. So my new solution is about 30 dollars instead... With a little more hard wiring.
 

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1:20.3 Bachmann 2-8-0 Connie, currently installing quad smoke units, three decoders, and servos
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Okay, updates today, because its friday! So a few things went not as planned. But that is life. So long story short, I can't program the unit the way I want to with DCC and the ESU unit here without the loksound (I have the Lokpilot XL 4) and a lokprogrammer. I tried to cheat with the software and do it one by one, but the CV list isn't complete and I can't just copy and paste. SO....

I have cut the ESU dual smoke unit wiring from the included DCC chip and harness. And have now simply run the fans and elements direct to function outputs. This has allowed me to set the brightness, for fan speed, the element is at track power (21V Lenz DCC system). The factory PCB with the elements was quite small and slow to smoke and had little output even when red hot- SO, I made my own board. Sealed the chamber with two pinholes for the new plate/resistors top.

I used wire wound ceramic resistors with the ceramic casing removed. Specifically the 5W 22R, and they just clear the factory hole. I stapled fiberglass wick I wrapped the element with lightly, and that soaks up the fluid and burns on demand.

It really put on a show, and works great, but overall was getting too hot and slowly melting things. The whole unit warms up so quick, I think I'll change to a function controlled relay to start/stop the heating circuit in tandem with the fans. So that way its not constantly radiating loco melting heat. I might pair a startup power to the heat element specifically for 15 seconds with an auto timer shutoff as the ESU chip allows, then from there any press of the whistle functions would emit this level of smoke.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="
" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Smoke Test 1

As a precaution, I have some heat sinks coming in I will wire for each element and the casing to help dissipate any extra temperature, and make sure there's no chernobyl level events happening inside. And with that on a function controlled switch solely for the whistle- I'll be able to use it intermittently with no issue.

Another cool discovery is that I was able to use the second ESU dual chamber smoke unit (there's two in each smoke unit) for a cylinder cock effect. I was experimenting with using the dual strobe function parameter with a delayed flash burst and a med/ high output fan and it puffs very uniquely to the effect of cylinder cocks being activated in the cylinders up front.
 
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