Author Topic: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation  (Read 2703 times)

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jdcolombo

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Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« on: January 23, 2015, 11:25:55 PM »
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Hi everyone.

I finally decided to tackle a sound installation in my Atlas Alco C420, and I thought I would share the details since I think this install can easily be adapted to other low-hood diesels.  I'm not going to repeat the basic techniques I use in this post; you can refer to my post in The Best of the Wire section of the forum here for more information about how I make my speaker enclosures and other information:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31981.0

The installation uses an ESU LokSound Select Micro with the Alco 251 prime mover sound file and an 8 x 12mm speaker in one of my custom sealed enclosures.  Here is a short video of the end result:

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And here is how I did it.

Because this is a low-hood unit, both the sound decoder and speaker needed to be mounted in the rear of the unit.  So the first step was to mill the frame just a bit to make room for the decoder and speaker.   This photo is a side view of the milled frame, showing how I sliced off a bit of the top of the center portion of the frame so that the LokSound would fit with a speaker behind it (I also "rounded off" all the sharp edges after making the cut):



To provide for power pickup for the decoder, I used a small piece of the REAR portion of the standard DC circuit board; this piece has one of the surface-mount resistors on it that I will use as a dropping resistor for the front headlight.  Though it is cut from the rear portion of the DC board, I am using it in the front of the engine.  Notice that I've scraped the traces clean; the left and right traces are where the black and red wires connect; the center trace will be for the white wire to feed the SMT resistor, which in turn will be connected to the negative lead of a 3mm LED for the front headlight:



Now it is time to start wiring the LokSound.  One new technique I adopted for this installation was to completely remove the plastic wrap from the LokSound to save some width.  I still sanded down the inside of the shell just a tad, but removing the heavy plastic wrap saves about .2mm of width and makes the installation much easier.  But because the plastic wrap is gone, you have to be very careful to insulate the LokSound from the frame.

First, I soldered the gray and orange wires to the motor brush leads (the orange goes to the bottom brush) and then put a piece of Kapton tape over this to make sure the LokSound would be insulated from the frame. You will also note that I have added a 3mm sunny white LED at the front; the negative lead of the LED is soldered to the SMT resistor on the piece of circuit board I salvaged for power pickup; the positive lead of the LED will be used for the blue wire connection:



Next, I solder the black, red and white wires to the piece of circuit board.   The white wire will go to the circuit board trace leading to the SMT resistor where the LED negative lead is soldered:



The above photo also shows the speaker connected to the brown wires of the decoder.  For the rear headlight, I used a surface-mount sunny-white LED that I glued to the rear of the speaker enclosure.  You can see the magnet wire running from the rear SMT LED.

The next photo shows the final placement of the LokSound and the speaker.  The magnet wire for the rear LED is routed underneath the speaker and then (along with the speaker wires) underneath the LokSound into the "channel" in the center of the frame.  I have also installed a 16v, 220uf tantalum cap under the front LED as a "keeper" cap for this unit.  The green wire you see coming from the front and going to the back is a piece of scrap wire soldered to the negative end of the tantalum cap and then to the keeper pad on the LokSound.  The blue wire from the decoder is soldered to the positive lead of the front LED, along with the positive lead from the keeper cap (which has to be connected to the blue decoder wire some way) and the positive lead for the rear LED (I twisted the ends of these three wires together, tinned them, and then soldered them to the positive lead of the LED).  The yellow wire is soldered to a 1/8-watt 1K resistor, which in turn is soldered to the negative lead for the rear LED.  Then I taped down all the wires in the center channel with a piece of Kapton tape:



The next photo is a close-up of the SMT LED for the rear headlight glued to the rear of the speaker enclosure:



The next photo shows the completed chassis sitting on my layout.  The rear LED is lit:



Everything worked, so it was time to put the shell back on.  The two photos following show the front and rear headlights with the shell on:





And that's pretty much it.

John C.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2015, 09:35:11 AM by jdcolombo »

reinhardtjh

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2015, 03:49:39 PM »
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Love it!!!  You must be reading my mind. You keep doing the locomotives I need to do (one of these days... ) I have a low-nose C420 I want to do for a friend plus I've got LAL 420 and she needs some sound!  Some MLW RS18u's are also in the "I want" list.
John H. Reinhardt
PRRT&HS #8909
C&O HS #11530
N-Trak #7566

sirenwerks

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2015, 07:08:51 AM »
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Did you do any mods to the shell itself?  I imagine etched fan grates would help with clarity of sound?
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.

Mark5

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2015, 09:26:39 AM »
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Awesome. I was thinking about sound in the C420 the other day. I wonder if the Leslie S-5-TR is available in sound ...

jdcolombo

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2015, 09:52:22 AM »
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Did you do any mods to the shell itself?  I imagine etched fan grates would help with clarity of sound?

I sanded down the inside of the rear of the shell about one-tenth of a mm on each side to accommodate the LokSound.  No other changes; I have in the past drilled holes in the fans to see if that sounded better, and it really didn't.  So I doubt etched fan grates would make much of a difference.

John C.

jdcolombo

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2015, 09:56:43 AM »
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Awesome. I was thinking about sound in the C420 the other day. I wonder if the Leslie S-5-TR is available in sound ...

Here's a list of the horns available with this file:
Nathan K5LA
Nathan K3
Nathan M5
Nathan P3
Nathan P5A
Leslie S-2B
Leslie A200
Leslie S3
Leslie S5
Leslie M2
Leslie A2
Wabco E2
Holden K5H
Hancock Air Whistle
FM Trainmaster
Baldwin 3 chime

John C.

Mark5

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2015, 04:54:50 PM »
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Thanks John, the S5 is probably close enough - will look online for samples. 8)

Mark

bdennis

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2015, 04:56:28 AM »
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Nice work John. Have you looked at doing a LifeLike C424?
Brendan Dennis
N scale - Delaware & Hudson Champlain Division

jdcolombo

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2015, 09:27:56 AM »
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Nice work John. Have you looked at doing a LifeLike C424?

No.  My sound conversions largely have been limited to my own NKP fleet.   The C420 was the last diesel purchased by the NKP, as a replacement unit just before the merger with the N&W in 1964.   The NKP's diesel fleet consisted mostly of GP7's, RS3's, GP9's, RS11's, GP18's, RS18's, GP30's, SD9's, RSD12's, a lone GP35 and a lone C420.  I've converted at least one of all these to sound (usually several).  I did do a conversion on a VO1000 that I use in my steel mill scene, and I also converted a FVM GEVO (the NS Heritage NKP unit, naturally!).   But I don't do this as a business - just a hobby, and I've now completed all the diesels I'm going to convert for my own use. 

The basic techniques I use, however, should be applicable to any split-frame diesel.   If it is a "decoder-ready" model that uses a PC board in the center of the frame, the conversion is usually pretty easy, fitting everything in the rear of the unit with a little frame modification like I've done with the C420.   If it's not a split-frame design, things can get harder, because you have to figure out where to mount everything.  I have a couple of LL PA-1's that are not split-frame.   They use a plastic frame with hulking lead weights at each end, and after taking one apart to see what might be possible, I decided it was too much trouble, particularly given that I have BLI PA's with factory sound that is pretty good (not as good as my own installations, but good enough).

John C.

bdennis

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 09:50:02 PM »
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John. Thanks for that..
The LifeLike C424 is a split frame but it is like the Atlas and Kato of old.. I have dont a few hundred decoder installs in the past so Im comfortable with conversions, I was just curious to see if you had done or were planing on doing a C424..
I will pull one apart and see if it is viable.
Thanks.
Brendan Dennis
N scale - Delaware & Hudson Champlain Division

jdcolombo

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Re: Atlas C420 ESU LokSound Installation
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2015, 09:20:58 AM »
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If it's an older split frame, then you should look at my RS3 sound install thread, which shows how to mill out the center of the frame halves to create a channel for the various wires, similar to what you would have in a new decoder-ready design:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31953.0

It's a little more effort, but not that hard.

John C.