Preliminary peek at ESU’s “Full Throttle Steam” decoders

On Friday, I hosted ESU North America’s Matt Herman at the TrainMasters TV studios. TMTV brass hat Barry Silverthorn and second camera operator Christian Cantarutti shot a series of segments for DCC Decoded during which Matt and I explored the soon-to-be-released “Full Throttle Steam” sound and motor control files for LokSound decoders. Noted CP Rail modeller Bob Fallowfield – a fan of ESU’s “Full Throttle Diesel” line and a familiar face behind the ESU booth at train shows across southern Ontario – joined us for the day, and a grand time was had by all.

TMTV - Full Throttle Steam Segment
(Matt – standing – demonstrates the “Full Throttle Steam”-equipped decoder in CNR 1532 as Bob either shoots video on his phone, or genuflects to the awesomeness of Canadian National. Or, perhaps, both…)

As part of this shoot, we equipped one of my CNR 10-Wheelers with a LokSound decoder loaded with “Full Throttle Steam”, including an air-powered bell ringer and CNR-style Nathan five-chime whistle. This is a beta-build of the sound file and there are still a few lines of code to tweak, but Matt is going to send me the updated files once he’s finished working on them.

Once I have those (and have had a chance to customize the various CVs to, for example, synchronize the chuff rate to the driver revolutions), I will shoot video of CNR 1532 on the layout and share it here. But for now, I can say that the early results are certainly impressive. I’m looking forward to converting the rest of the fleet.

(In fact, in preparation for this, yesterday I picked up a refurbished Lenovo laptop loaded with Windows 10 at one of my local computer stores. I use Macintosh computers for everything in real life, but ESU’s LokProgrammer programming and sound-loading tool only works with Windows. Since I wanted a dedicated computer for the workshop, it made sense to find something inexpensive rather than add a PC emulator to a Mac laptop. But I digress…)

TMTV - ESU Segment
(I’m with Matt and Bob as we prepare to shoot a non-steam, HO scale segment at TrainMasters TV. It’s pretty obvious that we’re having a great time…)

I won’t have to wait long for the finished files- and neither will you: Matt anticipates releasing the first series of “Full Throttle Steam” sound files by the end of the month. It’s a great time to be modelling steam.

Stay tuned for updates!

11 thoughts on “Preliminary peek at ESU’s “Full Throttle Steam” decoders

    • Not yet, Gene – as I said, the sound file I have is still in beta testing. I don’t want to share anything less than the finished product. Matt has made a Herculean effort to get ESU’s new steam line-up right and it would not be fair to that effort to share at this point. What I have sounds great, but I need to tweak some CVs – especially related to chuff synch – before it’s ready for prime time.
      Stay tuned!

    • Hi Mike:
      I didn’t measure them, but the LokSound decoder we installed in 1532 is about the same size as a TCS WOW Sound decoder. I don’t know how big Tsunami 2 decoders are.
      LokSound also produces micro decoders. I believe they can also be loaded with Full Throttle sounds. (If they can load the diesel, they will be able to load the steam). I’m sure someone can confirm that.
      If you’re really concerned about size, I believe all decoder makers include dimensions on their web sites.
      Remember, with LokSound the decoder and the sound file are two separate things. You buy a standard decoder, then load it with whatever sound file you want. You can do this yourself with a LokProgrammer and a PC, or you can probably have the dealer do it: More and more dealers are offering this service. Both of the major railway-focused hobby shops in my area do it.
      Matt tells me that the Full Throttle sound files can be loaded on LokSound decoders that go back to 2009, so lots of modellers will be able to take advantage of these with existing ESU product. It’s one of the things people – including me – like about the ESU approach: I know that if/when new features are added, I can simply download them from the web and transfer them to the decoder – and do this with the locomotive sitting on a test track: I don’t even need to open it up.
      By the way, hobby shops love LokSound decoders for a very practical reason: it really simplifies their ordering and stock-keeping. Instead of having to guess at what sounds people want on a decoder, they can keep a few of each LokSound model in stock and then custom load the sounds for customers. They’ll never get stuck with a half-dozen “Galloping Goose” decoders that nobody wants.

  1. Thanks for the update. The Full Throttle is an attractive product and I’m keen to learn more about how it works for a steam-based sound profile. Further, how that integrates with the typical throttle design (e.g. WiiThrottle).


  2. Great to have another quality steam sound decoder. The TCS Wow was the first steam decoder to implement two of my must-haves; camless exhaust synchronization and load based volume. After seeing the demo in Cleveland, I bought four – my first “fleet” purchase. This year we get two more Nice.

  3. One thing I’m particularly curious about is how the decoder simulates a light engine – where most of the sound is rod clank and like sounds associated with an engine not under load. Separating out the motor control and sound control features like Full Throttle for diesels should might make this simpler to represent.


    • I would like to add to that with a related question. Is there a “coast” effect, so that we don’t have the “chuffing to a stop” effect that completely spoils the illusion?

      • There sure is! In fact, drifting/coasting can be done at any speed, for any length of run – so, for instance, you could drift downhill on the mainline. You can also work hard (with a sharper exhaust note) going uphill at the other side of the valley.

    • And that’s exactly what’s been done. You can pin the locomotive to a given speed with the touch of one function button, then adjust the throttle knob to change the sound of the locomotive without changing the speed. So, start it moving, lock the speed, then increase the throttle to provide the sound of a locomotive trying to get a heavy train started. Then, release the motor and the locomotive will increase speed to match the throttle setting. Once at speed, the sharp exhaust backs off to a normal chuff – but then you can also lock the motor speed and dial back the throttle to change the sound to a drifting/coasting noise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you're not a nasty spamming robot thingy * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.