Thursday, October 13, 2016

Down the Rabbit Hole..... (LokProgrammer)

One of the best - and sometimes worst - parts of this great hobby of ours is that there are So Many Different Things To Do, so many skills to develop. Right off, carpentry, electrical, photography, artistry/scenery, and - of course - model building come to mind. But what about historical research (towns, freightcars, operations), home remodeling (if you have to finish your basement for the layout), project management (especially helpful for a large layout), and web development/computer skills (blog writing, etc)? The list is just about endless and it's Oh So Easy to find yourself going down a rabbit hole and having your otherwise-laser-focus (um, well, if you're not me) diverted from making progress on your layout.

The advent of sound decoders - and the tweaking of same - has added to the ever-growing list of rabbit holes. can usually just plop a standard sound decoder into your engine, set it and forget it. All you have to do is get the right prime mover and change the address. But ESU/LokSound has raised the ante. Substantially. Their decoders allow you to upgrade the firmware using their LokProgrammer - and to make so many adjustments to the sounds (including adding your own) that it's truly mind-boggling.

The photo above shows the extent of the rabbit hole I've gone down: ESU manuals in the 3-ring binder, LokProgrammer hardware at the back, LokProgrammer software on the laptop, paper for notetaking, 0510 on the programming track, old-time radio show on the iPad.

I've been trying for a few days now to get this RS-2 running & sounding the way I want, but I'm still not quite there. The decoder install and initial programming was done (quite well, I might add) by Mike Rose Hobbies. I got a LokSound Select/direct/micro decoder, power pack (capacitor) and special "Confaloned" settings. Then ESU came out with Full Throttle and an independent brake.

  • Good news: I can upgrade the ESU decoder to the latest Full Throttle version very easily.
  • Bad news: I thereby lose all the cool settings I had.
I did get some information on how to "backfill" the old/cool settings into the upgraded decoder, but I'll be dipped if I can get that to work successfully. Every time, the old settings just overwrite the new ones and I'm back to where I started.

So, I decided to just start from scratch, learn to fish a bit, and try and set up the decoder myself. And here I am, a bunch of evenings later, and I'm still not where I want to be.

Hellooooo Rabbit Hole!

I have a Tsunami in my K-1 mogul that I love - it has an independent brake on F7 and momentum/sound settings that causes the stack to really talk when you crank up the throttle, but all you hear is rod clank when you shut off. And it'll coast for miles feet until you apply the brake (which is accompanied by an audible brake squeal). That's the experience I want to replicate, albeit on a diesel (heh - no rod clank expected). I just haven't yet figured out how to do it.

So, if any of you have a LokSound decoder with Full Throttle and have it set up in a way you like, I'd love to hear about your experience. And if, like me, you also have a Tsunami setup with the brake and sound settings I describe and have been able to replicate the same behavior/sound on your Full Throttle decoder, I'd be especially interested in learning how you did it.

In the meantime, I'll try and claw my way back up the sides of this hole I've found myself in.


  1. Oh the joys, eh?
    Have you reached out to Matt Herman at ESU-Loksound in the USA? He's amazingly responsive - I'm sure he'd help you out.
    - Trevor

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  3. Hi Chris,
    I am out of the office today,(Thursday) but call my office tomorrow and I'll give you a little clinic over the phone! 570-980-1980 Best regards, Matt Herman

    1. Thanks very much Matt! Really appreciate the help. Let me know offline what time(s) would be best for you. Looking forward to chatting with you!

  4. In the meantime, this might help:

    1. Heh - Before I started using the LokProgrammer I watched all your videos. But now that I've gotten more familiar with things, I find it helpful to REwatch the videos since I notice things I didn't the first time around. This video is no exception. The decoder is still not where I'd like it to be, but I'm learning a lot as I go - and look forward to learning more when we're able to get together. Thanks again!

  5. Replies
    1. Truly amazing and impressive - though not *totally* surprising since Matt's accessibility is legendary!