Friday, June 14, 2013

10100011111 - In a Different Dimension

G'day Blog Readers,

I have seen the light! No longer am I an analogue DC supporter.

With the release of the Auscision 422 class I decided to venture out and buy a DCC Sounds Loksound decoder. About two years ago I bought a NCE Power Cab with the intention of running computer controlled analogue throttles with the hand piece. This bright idea didn't work as the communication set up was only one direction, but this is another whole story. Anyway I decided to pull the NCE set out of the cupboard and installed the Loksound chip in the 422. I was hooked! Not so much with the sound but with the way the loco ran. I have never seen anything like it. I realise I am not breaking any ground here and you may be thinking this bloke is about twenty years behind the game, but for me this was unreal. Place the 422 in speed step 1 and off it crawls, very very slowly.

Now I had a problem as my main modelling era does not include big 12 wheeled boxes. Rather I would need to convert small steam locomotives particularly the  Z13, a local Picton resident servicing the Loop Line.

Ray Pilgrim in one of his "Bylong" blog posts described that he had fitted sound into a Protype Z13. After a few e-mails to the very helpful Mr Pilgrim I was able to source an appropriate decoder, it being a Loksound Micro V4.

While up in Mittagong I stopped in at  All Aboard Modelbahn. Brendo "On the Goods Lines" Blog put me into some small sugar cube speakers. I chose the 15mm x 11mm x 8mm unit. I can't remember if they were made by Zimo or CT Electronik although looking at there websites they do seem to be the same item. The speaker is strange as it is completely enclosed in a box with a flexible membrane around the perimeter. I was a little sceptical at first but then started reading a few very positive reviews.

On to 1311,

I have three Trax brass Z13 class locos. I painted and lined 1311 a while ago. As I didn't want to destroy my painted running model I used one of the others that still required a paint job for all my prototyping work. I removed the brass plate and lead weight from the rear bunker. This was quite easy and was achieved by just scraping the solder away until the assembly came loose. I also removed the small round lead weight from the boiler by simply unscrewing it.

After the modifications required were successful and not really that drastic I moved on to modifying 1311. I have to say that one of the hardest aspects of a DCC install for me is not damaging the model your working on. You really have to take a great deal of care.

I added two extra pickups to the loco. One on the lead driving wheel and the other on the trailing set of wheels. I switched the wheels around in the lead pony truck. This was done to prevent the possibilities of short circuits occurring between lead truck and the loco body/

I decided that the sugar cube speaker would be installed in the boiler just behind the smoke box but clearing the gearbox. I cast a small lead weight matching the boiler diameter but with a flat on top. The speaker was then stuck to the top of the lead weight with double sided tape and the whole unit installed using the screw removed from the original lead weight.

As the 13 is a small loco I wanted to add a TCS stay alive. I went for the KA2 model which has five 1 farad capacitors on board. The stay alive was actually too long to fit anywhere in the loco so I ended up cutting the fifth capacitor off including the PCB. As the capacitors are simply wired in series I attached fly leads to appropriate positions on the PCB and remote mounted the fifth capacitor in the smoke box. Its all very tight ha ha.

The Loksound decoder is installed along with the stay alive in the rear bunker. This combination just fits in the bunker and there is hardly room for the wiring.

I wired all the body to chassis electrical connections through a four pin micro connector. I wanted to be able to separate the body from chassis easily.

The loco is still not complete. I need to remove the weight from the brass plate and refit the brass plate into the bottom of the bunker so the chassis will screw down. The wiring still needs tidying up in the cab and then the crew may be able to resume their positions.

I am quite happy with the sound although I need to sought out the whistle. Here is a small video of the Z13 in operation. The Stay Alive is brilliant. While filming the video the loco actually ran off the end of the rails and preceded down the piece of timber still chuffing away.

This project was a bit of a tester for myself. Decoder Pro has opened up a whole new world and I am amazed at how adjustable the Loksound decoder is. Just another dimension to Model Railways!

Looks like Picton 1955 will be swept into the digital age. Now another 2 Z13s to go and 40 odd others. Sounds like fun...maybe not so much ha.

Now on to finishing this and building some points.

All the best,



  1. Hi Linton

    Welcome to the dark side mate :) hopefully it will only be a couple of more weeks and you can come and have a run upstairs at the club.

    Cheers Jon

  2. Hey Jon,

    Looking forward to it mate. I was at the club room last night and could see that you have been very busy.


  3. Linton

    Well done, you attempted one of the hardest installs, there's not much room is there?

    Decoder Pro is good but if you get an ESU LokProgrammer you will find another new world in DCC and it will make it a lot easier to fix the whistle problem. I really must give Marcus Ammann back his programmer ;-)

    Ray P

  4. Thanks Ray. Thanks for all your help. Yeah if I couldn't do this one there was no point doing the others I suppose. I think I will buy the Loksound programmer. The price scared me off a little but if its as good as you say well then it will be worth the cost.

    Thanks again,


  5. Hey Linton, What is the decoder sound file to suit? its sounds pretty good. Nice job.