Author Topic: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive  (Read 409 times)

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Ed Kapuscinski

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Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« on: October 18, 2019, 09:40:46 AM »
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Talking about decoder installations for N scale MDC steamers and I realized I'm not up on the state of the art.

What's the smallest non-sound decoder that can be stuffed in a small steam tender?

What's the smallest SOUND decoder that can be stuffed in a small steam tender? Likewise, what's the smallest speaker?

RBrodzinsky

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2019, 10:34:58 AM »
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The LokPilot Nano Standard is the smallest ESU non-sound decoder (8mm x 7mm x 2.8mm).  But, being a "standard", it doesn't support all the features needed for consisting with their LokSounds.  The LokPilot Micro is 10.5mm x 8.1mm x 2.8mm, and supports almost all of their new Full Throttle motor control features (does not support Independent Brake).

Zimo's Nano is 8mm x 8mm x 2.4mm.   Also provides excellent motor control (becomes a religious argument between adherents of ESU vs Zimo).  I believe these two "nanos" are the smallest by the major decoder manufacturers.

I believe the LokSound V5 Micro is the smallest sound available, but it has gotten thicker, with the connection board, since the V4/Select models.  10.5mm x 25mm.   See the thread on the new decoder for all the details.

I use the Soberton 12mm x 8mm speakers.  Have not seen any speakers smaller than that.
Rick Brodzinsky
Chief Engineer - JACALAR Railroad
Silicon Valley FreeMo-N

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2019, 10:40:24 AM »
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Thanks Rick!

@Lemosteam , there's your answer!

davefoxx

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2019, 11:40:58 AM »
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The LokPilot Nano Standard is the smallest ESU non-sound decoder (8mm x 7mm x 2.8mm).  But, being a "standard", it doesn't support all the features needed for consisting with their LokSounds.  The LokPilot Micro is 10.5mm x 8.1mm x 2.8mm, and supports almost all of their new Full Throttle motor control features (does not support Independent Brake).

If any decoder doesn't support Independent Brake, then it won't be useful on a ProtoThrottle.  That said, the ProtoThrottle is really designed as a control stand for diesels.

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peteski

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2019, 12:09:26 PM »
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For non-sound decoders, there also are TCS Z2 (0.51 x 0.26 x 0.011") and Digitrax DZ126T (0.49 x 0.27 x  0.10"). T for tiny..  They have more rectangular than square shape for those installs which need that.  And of course IMO, their motor control is not as good as the European decoders.  The smallest is CT Elektronik decoder DCX76zD/F, Size: 0.27 x 0.24 x 0.07 Inch (6.9 x 6.1 x 1.7 mm ).

When considering sound, remember to take into account the space needed for speaker and an enclosure. It is not just a sound decoder.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 01:53:55 PM by peteski »
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tehachapifan

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2019, 12:45:14 PM »
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For sound decoders, there's also the Zimo MX649 (might actually be the smallest sound decoder available) and the Zimo MX660 (which is 9.6mm wide and 2.5mm high). American sound files are still lacking but they have a bigger catalog than most people probably realize.

Russ

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2019, 02:08:01 PM »
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A tip if you are considering th Digitrax or TCS decoders,  you can remove the wrapper and make them a tad smaller. Sometimes it's just enough. Just be careful to insulate as needed with Kapt9n tape
George

NKPH&TS #3628

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Lemosteam

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2019, 02:13:11 PM »
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Thanks Rick!

@Lemosteam , there's your answer!

@Ed Kapuscinski , Well that would be up to a certain someone, right?

Thanks for asking here.

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2019, 06:02:12 PM »
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For non-sound decoders, there also are TCS Z2 (0.51 x 0.26 x 0.011") and Digitrax DZ126T (0.49 x 0.27 x  0.10"). T for tiny..  They have more rectangular than square shape for those installs which need that.  And of course IMO, their motor control is not as good as the European decoders.  The smallest is CT Elektronik decoder DCX76zD/F, Size: 0.27 x 0.24 x 0.07 Inch (6.9 x 6.1 x 1.7 mm ).

When considering sound, remember to take into account the space needed for speaker and an enclosure. It is not just a sound decoder.

Is there anywhere in the US to get Zimo or CT Elektronik decoders?
Thanks much,
Mairi Dulaney, RHCE
Member, Free Software Foundation and Norfolk Southern Historical Society

http://jdulaney.com

peteski

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2019, 06:19:06 PM »
+1
Is there anywhere in the US to get Zimo or CT Elektronik decoders?

ZIMO yes:
https://store.sbs4dcc.com/ZIMODCC-3.aspx
There are other dealers too - I like dealing with Bryan though.

Not sure about CT Elektronik.
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jdcolombo

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2019, 09:29:50 AM »
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Hi Ed.

I've installed the LokSound Micro and a 9x16 speaker in the tenders of a Bachmann 2-8-0 and Kato Mike without any space problems.  As Rick pointed out, the LokSound V5 DCC is a tiny bit thicker overall than the old Select Micro, but in a tender installation, it won't matter.  And as between ESU and Zimo for sound files, I think ESU wins (although see my caveat below).

If you are going to double-head these engines EVER, then I strongly recommend sticking with the same decoder manufacturer - it just makes everything MUCH easier.  If you're going to use an ESU Loksound for sound, use an ESU LokPilot (not the Nano, because of its limitations) for non-sound.

CAVEAT: ESU's switch from LokSound Select to a single-platform LokSound 5 DCC decoder has created a few issues, particularly with steam sound files.  Right now, there are ZERO LokSound 5-native sound files for steam locos.  Fortunately, you can use any LokSound V4 file (NOT a Select file - only a V4 file), but these are all for pretty big steam locos - there is a file for a DRGW K-27 and a Hunslett (Australian), but for "regular" (non-geared) American steam, you've got the Soo 2-8-2 (a very nice file that I use in my NKP Kato Mikes), the SP Daylight 4-8-4, and the UP FEF, Challenger and Big Boy.  That's a pretty limited lineup.  And the biggest problem is that the V4 files come with a single whistle.  You can't pick and choose from a dozen or so, like you can with a Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder or the old LokSound Select.  You can SUBSTITUTE whistles using ESU's LokProgrammer and your own whistle sound (or the whistle from a different ESU file), but that takes a bit of a learning curve.

Fortunately, I like big steam, so I use the Daylight sound file in my Berks; the Soo file in my Mike's, and the Challenger file in my B&O EM-1's (and my Clinchfield Challenger).  But if you wanted a more-or-less accurate file for small steam, your choices are limited.  Then again, I don't think there is an ACCURATE sound file for any small steam - the Soundtraxx Tsunami just uses a generic "small steam" file; and Zimo doesn't have any US small steam files that are free (there are a few that are "coded" - that is, an extra charge - done by Heinz Dappen, whose work is ususally excellent; but there are other quirks with Zimo's sound decoders that we could discuss off-line).

Nothing is easy . . .

John C.

 

peteski

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2019, 11:26:32 AM »
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Hi Ed.

I've installed the LokSound Micro and a 9x16 speaker in the tenders of a Bachmann 2-8-0 and Kato Mike without any space problems. 

The problem is that the MDC loco Ed wants to "decodorize" has a giant motor taking up most of the tender's inside space.
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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Smallest Decoder for installation in a steam locomotive
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2019, 12:58:03 PM »
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@Lemosteam , at brunch today it was confirmed that DCC is strongly preferred.