Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Fun: Layout Update Video & Name That Location

For those of you that aren't members of the Valley Local Facebook Group (and if not, what're you waiting for? 😏), I did a Facebook Live video last night that toured the layout as it currently stands (and since it's all still cleaned up from my NERPM layout tour). If you haven't been able to attend one of my open houses, this should give you a sense of the craziness in my basement. . . Hope it works, even if you're not on FB - click here to try . . .

Next up, for this edition of "Name That Location" I offer this:

Any ideas? I'm pretty sure this is a Valley Line location (note the distinctive "flat W" roof on the station, a hallmark of the line), but where? I'm thinking Cromwell, but wouldn't bet a million dollars on it...

Putchyer guesses in the comments! And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Programming a LokSound v5 Decoder for the ProtoThrottle

Ever since I decided to add an EMD SW-1 to the Valley Line (incongruously, as it happens), I knew I'd want to dial it in for the ProtoThrottle. If you're not familiar with the ProtoThrottle, be sure to click here. I also programmed and configured the throttle to work with the function mapping I use on my decoders. For more on how I did that, click here.

Note that my function map likely differs from yours, and certainly isn't the default mapping, but I starting setting up my ESU decoders this way so that the status of Drive Hold (mapped to F5) and the Brake (mapped to F6) would show up on the screen of my NCE dogbone throttle (which only indicates the status of F1 through F6). The other anomaly you may notice is that I have 4 (four!) separate functions for my headlights - Front & Rear, Bright & Dim. This allows me to take advantage of the light switches on the ProtoThrottle.

I've programmed ESU/LokSound Select & v4 decoders for the ProtoThrottle before (click here for an overview of how I did it), but after hearing the v5 in my New Haven DEY-7 (SW-1200), I knew I had to install one in the SW-1. Unfortunately, I couldn't just load my Select/v4 programming into a v5 decoder, so I had to relearn how to do it. And I wrote down all the steps so I could refer back to this in the future. Maybe it'll help you too . . .

First step & best tip: Get a LokProgrammer - or at least download the free software. Even without the hardware, you can do everything I describe here using the software to get a report of the CVs that need to be changed. You can also save the .esux file so that it can be loaded into your engine by someone that has the hardware.

While my description below refers to the specific tabs in the LokProgrammer software, you should be able to use DecoderPRO to do this programming as well. But I haven't tried that, so YMMV.

To keep things brief, I'll just tell you what I changed - if I don't mention it, I left it at its default setting.

So, without further ado (and with special thanks again to Pete Mulvany who first helped me through all this), we'll start with the Address tab...

Select the "Use Long Address" radio button and input your engine number

Analog Settings
Uncheck the "Enable DC analog mode" box

Brake Settings
This is where the v5 differs significantly from the Select/v4 decoders. You have a number of sophisticated brakes available. I only use the independent brake (Brake1). Under "Brake Functions," I made the following changes:
  • CV179 from 128 to 237 (adjusts time it takes to stop; adjust to taste)
  • CV182 from 126 to 0
  • CV180 from 128 to 0
  • CV183 from 126 to 0
  • CV181 from 240 to 0
  • CV184 from 126 to 0
DCC Settings
  • Disable RailComm (if you don't have Lenz, etc - I use NCE)
  • Confirm 28/128 speed steps
Driving Characteristics
  • I set CV3 to 30. This CV controls the time it takes to move between notches, so adjust to taste. A value at the lower end of the range makes the engine more responsive - perfect for a switcher.
  • Set CV4 to 255 (maximum momentum - this way you have to use the brake)
  • CV24.6:0=127
  • Uncheck starting delay
Function Outputs
I went to this tab next to create 2 new lighting functions - Headlight Dim & Rear Light Dim - and adjust the existing lights to make the transitions between dim and bright more realistic.
  • Front Light [1] (this is the headlight on bright)
    • Changed from "Dimmable" to "Ventilator"
    • Changed Acceleration Rate from 16 to 2
    • Changed Deceleration Rate from 0 to 1
  • Front Light [2] (this is the headlight on dim)
    • Changed brightness from 31 to 3 (adjust to taste)
    • Check LED mode
    • Confirm "Dimmable Headlight, Fade In/Fade Out"
Repeat this process for the rear light.

Function Mapping
This is where you'll 1) remove the directional lights and reconfigure them to work independently on the ProtoThrottle, and 2) remap functions to match your standard. The process isn't complicated, but it's too much to describe, so I'll let this picture do the work of 1,000 words (hopefully it's worth that much):

You'll definitely want to click on this image to enlarge it. It shows all the changes I made to match my preferred function mapping. I only modified up to F9, and I set F11 to air compressor. I left everything else at the default settings. Depending on how/where you like your functions, this step may take a while. The main change you'll need to make is to remove the directional headlights and divide them up into 4 separate functions. And - most importantly - make sure that the functions in your decoder match the function settings on your ProtoThrottle and vice versa.

(At this point, I saved a copy of the file as a "v5 Master File" so that I could just load it into future v5 decoders, saving me all this manual labor. Then all that's left to do is customize the motor and sound settings - and that typically varies from loco to loco and speaker to speaker.)

Motor Settings
This will vary according to your taste and the capability of your particular locomotive. But here's what I did:
  • Enabled motor overload protection
  • Used 3 point speed curve with the following settings (remember this is a switcher):
    • CV2=2
    • CV6=37
    • CV5=75
Special Options
Check both memory settings

After that, you'll likely want to play around with the sound settings & volumes, as well as explore the different horns, bells, etc. - but beware of the possible rabbit holes!

And since you probably have a ProtoThrottle (or else you probably wouldn't bother reading this far - if at all), you'll certainly want to configure the notching to match what's in the decoder. The ProtoThrottle website has an excellent How-To article on that here. And while I only briefly covered changing the headlight functions, this article goes into it in more detail.

Speaking of more detail, as you can imagine I've only scratched the surface here since these are really just notes for my future reference. But hopefully it'll provide you with a quick overview of what's involved. If you have any questions, I'll help if I can - or will at least try to get you to someone that can help us both (paging Mr. Mulvany . . .

And if you have any suggestions on how to do things differently (especially with regard to all those different brakes!), or what works best for you, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Wordless Wednesday #399 - Cromwell at a level of "Done-ness"

(Current situation - still lots left to do...)

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Quick Update: NER Convention & Around the Layout Podcast

Wow - what a couple of weeks! After a huge flurry of activity to prepare for the layout tour during the NE Proto Meet (aka NERPM) - and of course the 'meet and tour itself - I've been a bit sidetracked catching up on some stuff that the Missus graciously let slide while I focused on railroad stuff.

At the risk of its being old news by the time I get around to it, I do plan to do at least a short post on the NERPM - especially since it was the first one I've been able to attend since 2018(!) - but before getting into that, I wanted to do a few quick things:

1) First off, a huge WELCOME! to any folks that are discovering this here blog for the first time, whether from the 'meet, from the tour, or elsewise. I wish I'd had a chance to post some more up-to-date content lately, but stay tuned - more is coming :^)

2) Speaking of content, be sure to check out the the Valley Local website where I've done my best to archive the most helpful content, and for the most up-to-the-minute goings on (like my daily posts of layout progress leading up to the NERPM %^) be sure to join the Valley Local Facebook Group. It's free and we welcome all passengers!

3) And at the risk of over-saturating the internets with Valley Local stuff, be on the lookout for Ray Arnott's Around the Layout podcast. He had me on recently and our discussion will post around July 5.

4) Last, but not least, be sure to make plans to attend this year's NMRA Northeast Regional Convention, which will be held in Windsor, CT September 15-18. It just so happens that the convention email that went out today (copied/pasted below) features a few items you may find familiar...

Now that the end of the (I must admit, very reasonable :^) honey-do list is on the horizon, I'm looking forward to getting back to some RR stuff. I've already started programming the SW-1 and hope to be converting that from a PRR unit to B&M very soon (click here for more on that strange story). And I'd like to get some more layout progress done in time for the NER.

So be sure to stay tuned and thanks again for coming along for the ride!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Friday Eve Fun: ProtoMeet and Scale Sound Systems SW-1

Howdy Folks! You're getting this week's "Friday Fun" a day early since there's a LOT of fun going on tomorrow and this weekend that will keep me too busy to post later...

"What..." you may ask " going on this weekend?" Well, if you're a prototype modeler and live anywhere within a couple hours of southern New England you either know the answer already or you've been really out of it... for about 3 years . . .

Yes, this weekend - finally - the

New England/Northeast
Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet

(aka "NERPM) 

is what's going on! After being cancelled for the last two years, and losing its venue, the Phoenix has risen from the ashes and the next 3 days are packed with modeling clinics, displays, layout tours, and general camaraderie. And if you've been following the Valley Local Facebook Group, you know I've been making a major (for me) push to get some scenery and general layout progress done in time for the weekend.

If this is the first time you're hearing about all this, it's not too late to join us! You can register at the door for either or both days - and your registration gets you admission to all the layout tours on Sunday as well. So be sure to click here for the details - and if you're able to make it, be sure to connect with me when you're there!

In other news . . .

If you're up-to-date on the blog, you know I recently acquired an EMD SW-1 (thank you again Philip Taylor!). "Why..." you may ask "... did you get an SW-1 when the New Haven didn't have them?" Well, you can read that story here (it's actually pretty good, if I don't say so myself...).

The next step was for me to install DCC and sound. Unfortunately, the Scale Sound Systems speaker (WLML-SW1X-RC1) didn't quite fit. But to his GREAT credit, owner JT Burke not only offered to fix the speaker, and not only did he issue a recall for other SW-1 speakers that likely had the same issue, but he also offered to do the entire install for me at a steep discount. 


While I was actually looking forward (at least a little bit) to trying the install myself (and to the blog fodder that would produce), no way was I going to pass up a professional install of such a high-end speaker (not to mention teeny tiny components - an ESU v5 micro decoder, TCS KeepAlive, and microsocket/plug, thanks to Kaylee Zheng!).

So, ANOTHER reason to post "Friday Fun" on Friday Eve is that I just got the SW-1 back in the mail from JT today. I couldn't wait to put it through its paces and hear how it sounds - and I brought you along for the ride!

Hope you enjoy(ed) the video - and if you want to see and hear this engine in person (especially if you've never had the opportunity to hear a Scale Sound Systems speaker in action), check out my model display at the NERPM this weekend. I hope to have it there for you to see - and, if I can figure out the logistics, will have it there for you to hear too!

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend if you're able to make it, and if you're not - here's hoping you're able to get to some modeling!