Working hard, and drifting

I now have LokSound decoders installed in two of my steam locomotives – CNR mogul 86 and 10-wheeler 1560 – and I’ve loaded them with pre-release versions of the soon to be released Full Throttle Steam sounds and features, thanks to Matt Herman at ESU North America.

I’m still tweaking the sound and motor controls, but I’m 90% of the way there and wanted to share a quick video to illustrate one of the features I really like about this new line.

The Full Throttle Steam series will include a function similar to “Drive Hold”, which is a key feature in ESU’s Full Throttle Diesel sounds. Drive Hold is mapped to a function button and is turned on and off just like activating a bell sound. When it’s engaged, the feature locks the locomotive’s motor at its current speed. Turning the throttle knob will not adjust the speed of the train. But it still adjusts the sound of the locomotive.

Here are two ways it can be used:

If one is pulling away from a station, one can open the throttle to start the locomotive, then lock the motor once a desired (still slow) speed is reached… then continue to increase the throttle to make the locomotive sound as if it’s working harder to get the train underway. The exhaust will be sharp and strong, as if the hogger has put the Johnson Bar right into the corner.

Once one is at track speed, the motor can be locked and then the throttle can be turned down to represent pulling the Johnson Bar back closer to neutral. The exhaust note will be softer and quieter. At its extreme – turning the throttle knob all the way to speed step zero – the exhaust sound will disappear entirely, as if the hogger had shut the throttle. The locomotive will now drift indefinitely, simulating a prototype that’s being carried along by the train’s mass and momentum.

I’ve shot a very brief video that illustrates both of these features. First, I show CNR 86 starting from a station stop. At St. Williams. Next, I show CNR 1560 switching from throttle to drift as it passes the station.


(You may also watch this video directly on YouTube, where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

It does take a little bit of practice to do this smoothly – but 20 minutes of playing with this feature should fix that. It should be noted that one does not have to use this feature: One can control the locomotive in the conventional way and still get a sense of working hard and drifting by writing high momentum values into CV3 and CV4. But using the motor speed-lock feature is a much more powerful way to accurately replicate the sound of steam.

In fact, the best solution is a combination of these two approaches. I notice the first locomotive (CNR 86) speeds up abruptly as it’s leaving the scene. Increasing the value in CV3 (acceleration momentum) should take care of that, because it will smooth the transition between the locked motor speed and the throttle setting once I release the motor. I may also increase the value in CV4 (deceleration) to help smooth the transition when slowing down. For me, that’s part of the fun of experimenting with DCC.

A special thank-you to Matt at ESU, who prepared these pre-release files for me as part of our Full Throttle Steam recording session at TrainMasters TV last Friday. Matt tells me he will release of the first Full Throttle Steam decoder files very soon, and I’ll be sure to update the blog when he does.

It’s a great time to be modelling the steam era!

10 thoughts on “Working hard, and drifting

    • Matt has done a great job on these. He spent a lot of time in 2016 recording surviving steam locomotives across North America. He tells me he’ll be back on the road this year to do more.
      Cheers!

  1. I concur, the best steam sound I have heard. A very useful feature that goes a long way to realistic operations. Got to be loving’ life with this sound/control.

    Leonard

  2. This is a good step to get a better grasp of steam locomotive in smaller scale. I wasn’t very impressed by DCC steam decoder, but this bring the experience to another level and help to create a significant difference when operating steam or diesel models.

    • Agreed. Every generation of DCC+Sound has gotten better. First there were Soundtraxx decoders, then Soundtraxx Tsunamis, then TCS WOW Sound, and now this.
      At the same time, speaker technology has improved, as has our knowledge of how to install speakers in various locomotives to get the best sound out of them.
      While I’m enjoying the sound in my S scale equipment, I’m curious to see what the Full Throttle Steam series (and Full Throttle Diesel, for that matter) sounds like in O scale. I have a few O scale pieces and once I’ve done my S scale equipment (including my diesels) I’ll look at upgrading those.
      Meantime, I have heard mobile phone speakers with Full Throttle Diesel in HO scale switchers at Bob Fallowfield’s place, and they are really impressive, especially given the small size of the speakers involved. I expect Full Throttle Steam in HO scale locomotives will be equally impressive.
      Cheers!

  3. Hey Trevor – Really appreciate the video (which I saw when you first posted it, but am now re-watching since I got FT steam myself… :^)

    I noticed in the first clip, as the engine goes by, there sounds like a steam let-off — and in the second clip, as the engine goes by, the injector operates. Did you operate those two sounds manually, pushing function keys, or do you have those sounds somehow set up to be random?

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