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Thread: Installing ESU LokSound micro v4 decoder in a Kato FEF-3

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    Default Installing ESU LokSound micro v4 decoder in a Kato FEF-3

    My model of 844 was picked up used from eBay with a TCS decoder installed, and it performed so poorly that some time ago I installed an ESU LokPilot (no sound) which improved the performance significantly. Long time ago I decided not to have sound in my N scale locomotives, but after I got a few steamers with factory sound installed, I have decided that at least my steamers should have sound.

    So, this is how I installed ESU LokSound micro v4 decoders in my Kato FEF-3s.

    *** Caution - this install requires an ESU LokProgrammer for uploading sound to the decoder!! ***

    The picture below shows the FEF-3 taken apart with the TCS circuit board stripped of components (except the headlight LED) and the new LokSound micro v4 which is to be fitted in the loco. There is no doubt that both decoder and speaker goes into the tender, but yikes, it looks big. To my delight, the install is not at all difficult and not terribly intrusive.




    With the tender being the business end as far as the decoder goes, 7 wires are needed towards the engine: Two wires for track power, two wires to the motor, one for each of the headlight and mars light and one common voltage for the lights. Two of those - track power - are already there through the drawbar, so five wires must be installed between engine and tender.
    First I prepped the engine with my trusty flex PCB strips. I used three strips as shown below, but it can certainly be done differently, just remember that everything must be electrically isolated from everything else. The series resistors for the LEDs are mounted here too. I used 820 ohms, but it's not critical.




    The track power for the decoder is picked up in the tender. Taking out the bottom plate - it clips out - exposes the pickup strips and a few strategically placed cuts in the bottom plate allows two feeders to be soldered to the strips. But take out the strips before soldering !!!






    The speaker seemed too big at first, but lo and behold - it fits perfectly at the front of the tender body. I just needed to cut off the two screw lugs on the speaker housing and secure the assembly with a small drop of CA in each corner of the speaker housing.




    The engine wiring ... there's a small gap in the frame that allows five wires to be drawn through. I use the colors of the ESU decoder - orange and grey for the motor, blue for the light common and white and yellow for the two lights.




    Topside, these wires are soldered to the prepared strips. The black square in the middle is a connector for the mars light. This has stopped working on the model and I'm not fixing it now, but now the wiring is prepared.




    Below the frame I ran the wires through a short piece of flex. It's really crimpflex, but I didn't crimp it - I just need to hold the wires together. When the tender drawbar is clipped on, the flex causes the wire bundle to sit nicely inside the drawbar. I didn't even have to guide it in place.






    To mount the decoder I fitted a small piece of metal (leftover from my Kato E7 install) which adds a little to the weight of the tender. Mostly it's to make a horizontal mounting position for the decoder, so using some pieces of plastic would be just as good.
    The decoder is mounted on double sided foam tape.




    To be continued ...
    Last edited by SteamPower4ever; 27th Mar 2021 at 07:29 AM. Reason: Typo
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    ... continued (due to picture limitation in one post)


    Now all that remains is to connect the wires between the engine and tender - color by color.




    To keep check of the wires I glued a small piece of flex to the front of the tender. There's plenty of room for the wires, so it's just to keep things orderly. To connect the wires I use small pieces of flex PCB strip. This way it's reasonably easy to separate the engine and tender, should I ever want to.




    Finally, the wires in the tender must not interfere with the two posts in the tender body which sit on the weight block when the body is attached. So the wires curve around the posts.

    That's it.
    Now to upload the sound files and configure the decoder. ESU provides complete sound projects on the web site, but you need the ESU LokProgrammer to work with these. The sound project for the FEF-3 holds actual recordings from UP #844




    Ta-daa!

    Now I get to spend some time tweaking the decoder settings. For the motor parameters I used an ESU template for a Faulhaber motor which seems to be a perfect setting for the FEF-3, so no adjustments there, but I do want to rearrange the assignment of decoder functions to the function buttons and match the chuff sounds with the wheels revs and such.

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    That's neat! I've been fighting the wiring for a long time (installed an SDN144PS) but then I routed the extra wires between the cab floor and the frame. Maybe I should re-route them like you did...

    Your engine has an operating Mars light? I'm pretty certain mine doesn't.

    Thanks for another push to get that loco fixed (it's also binding slightly)

    Heiko

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
    Your engine has an operating Mars light? I'm pretty certain mine doesn't.
    Not out of the box, but I fitted a red LED in the front red lantern. It's a bit fiddly to install, which is why I don't bother right now, but I am preparing for it
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    Excellent explanation and fantastic images SteamPower4ever. You're like a surgeon! Thanks for sharing.
    ​Doug (dilley340)


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    Quote Originally Posted by dilley340 View Post
    Excellent explanation and fantastic images SteamPower4ever. You're like a surgeon! Thanks for sharing.
    Thanks Doug. I'm quite happy with this one. The second install was a breeze, but trust me, I've made my share of mistakes and bird's nests and assorted goofups.
    I was actually surprised how messy my old LokPilot install was in 844 and it's not that old. Goes to prove that practice makes perfect ... or at least leads to improvement
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    Bryan over at SBS has, in his install, a few steps devoted to adding the mars light.

    SBS4DCC - Kato UP FEF-3 4-8-4 DCC Install

    Eventually, I'd like to do this to mine.

    Sam

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    Quote Originally Posted by samusi01 View Post
    Bryan over at SBS has, in his install, a few steps devoted to adding the mars light.
    Ahh yes - I think that's the one I followed when installing mine.
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    Thanks, yes, I saw that. Someday... probably the next couple of meets will be modern and I won't use my FEF-3 there since excursion trains are boring to operate

    Heiko

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    Hmmm. Maybe I should have seen this before. Now, it will have to resort to disassembly time for my 844 and reroute the wires like you did. That would be a great help starting AT the pivot point.

    It is a great community of help we have here!

    Keep it up, steampowerforever!!
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