Author Topic: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger  (Read 901 times)

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jdcolombo

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ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:05:48 PM »
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Hi folks.

A few years back, I bought one of the first Athearn Challengers (Clinchfield 670).  The original MRC decoder board in these was a complete disaster, and the sound was terrible.  I converted it to a heavy-steam Tsunami not long after I bought it, putting in a new 16 x 30mm speaker in a custom enclosure.  While the sound was great, the motor control of the TSU wasn't.  The Challenger did all sorts of weird things while under the TSU's control - it would speed up or slow down without warning, and I never could synchronize the chuffs to the driver rotation.  I pulled it out at N-Trak shows for the kids and the public, but at home I kept it in its box because the lack of driver sync and overall weirdness was too much to take on my home layout.

Last night I decided to try an ESU LokSound in place of the Tsunami.  This was my first use of a LokSound in a steam loco, and since they don't have a Challenger-specific file, I used the file for the Big Boy instead.   Overall, I'm pleased with the results.   I can't find a whistle that I really, really like; the UP "steamboat" included in the file just doesn't do it for me, and since this is a Clinchfield unit anyway, I just picked a whistle that I thought was the best of the bunch.   But the LokSound's motor control is rock-solid as you will see from the video linked below - the thing will literally creep along at tie-walking speed, and the chuffs are pretty much right-on even at this "barely moving" speed.   I need to adjust some sound volumes (I think the open-cocks hiss is a bit too loud), but I thought some of you might like to see what ESU's steam files are capable of.

So here's a link to short video of the result:

/>
John C.

jdcolombo

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Re: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 10:45:53 PM »
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Hmmm.

Seems to be some sort of glitch with this video on YouTube - I'll have to try to repost it tomorrow.  I'm not quite used to the newest version of iMovie, and I may have hit some wrong button.

Check back tomorrow!

John C.

wmcbride

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Re: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 11:12:40 PM »
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I just watched it and it seemed fine.

As always: quite impressive work!
Bill McBride

Mike Madonna

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Re: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 11:26:59 PM »
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John,
Glad you discovered the Loksound "Steam" file(s). I love the AC-12 file as it is spot on. I agree with the "blowdown" sound when you crack the throttle. All these volume levels can be adjusted. It's not difficult on my NCE system. Loksounds online manual has everything you need (as you may already know). On the Cab Ahead file, you can adjust chuff rates for both front AND rear "engines". I did this to my 3 AC's as well as adjust some of the individual sound volumes. Motor control... hard to beat.
Mike
SOUTHERN PACIFIC Coast Division 1953
Santa Margarita Sub

robert3985

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Re: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2014, 07:14:49 AM »
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John,

Sounds pretty good, but...I'd turn up the rod clank as it's pretty obvious when a real Challenger gets going.  I know.  I've done a lot of 3985 chasing and the Clinchfield/D&RGW Challengers were mechanically identical to the UP wartime order.

jdcolombo

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Re: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2014, 08:35:58 AM »
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John,

Sounds pretty good, but...I'd turn up the rod clank as it's pretty obvious when a real Challenger gets going.  I know.  I've done a lot of 3985 chasing and the Clinchfield/D&RGW Challengers were mechanically identical to the UP wartime order.

Hi Bob.

Agree.  I need to work some on the various sound levels - I'm still figuring out all the sound CV's for the ESU steam files.  I saw the 3985 in Villa Grove, IL several years ago, and I do remember the rod clank; I also remember the whistle, and frankly my one disappointment with ESU's file is that I don't think they have a really good whistle.   My earlier TSU installation had better whistles, but as between the better whistle and the terrible motor control I had with the Tsunami, I'll take the ESU - plus, ESU is supposed to come out with a dedicated Challenger sound file, and if that file is anything like their recent diesel files, it will be superb.

John

Joetrain59

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Re: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2014, 11:05:19 PM »
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Really cool! I used to have the CC Challenger in mid-80's. Ran pretty well, too. Was searching shops online for Atheran unit, no one seems to have them in stock. Even though I run DC, it's cool just to watch all the rods/valve gear. Eye candy.
 Joe D

nstars

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Re: ESU LokSound in Athearn Challenger
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 04:48:29 PM »
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I agree that the motor control of the Tsunami is not great, but where they really excel is the dynamic behavior of the the sound. Especially when using high inertia settings in combination with the F11 (Brake) function you really can hear the loud chuffs while accelerating, the easy chuffs while maintaining speed and the low chuff volume together with side rod clanks when slowing down. I would like to see this behavior also with the Loksound decoders, but I'm not sure if this is possible. I think we have to do some tests with a loksound decoder to find out.

Marc