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John YouChoos

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    Wiltshire, UK

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  1. Many have been eagerly awaiting the new Hattons/Heljan O gauge LNER A3 and A4 models to arrive, and finally the A3 has reached us! Very interested to see what improvements they've made compared to the Prairie and Mogul models, and there are certainly some. Overall build and approach is similar, though the model is much more modular, meaning it comes to pieces much more easily than the GWR models. It does however come with the same ESU 'L' adapter board in the tender for DCC provision, which is fine if you like LokSound, but if you prefer ZImo, then you have a little more work to do. The easy Zimo option is to put kit in the tender, which includes a OO sound decoder on a booster board (we used the MX645PluX22 decoder with ADAPLU board). This gives 1.8A continuous output to the motor and stall current up to 2A or thereabouts - and when we measured the current draw of the new A3 model, it does get up that way! Normal running seems to be around 0.75A though. Installation is simple - un-solder the 'L' adapter and solder in the ADAPLU (RED and BLACK for track, ORANGE and GREY for motor, BROWNS/PURPLES to the speaker pads). We also added a 17000uF SuperCap for stay-alive. This all fits easily down in a gap in the tender's metal weight, so effectively takes no space whatsoever! We used a YouChoos YLR603010 which sits where the 'L' adapter was, all secured with Kapton tape and BlackTack. That's it. Runs well, sounds loud enough, though the sound does come from the tender. We then took the same model and decided to improve on it by putting the same speaker in the boiler instead. The loco comes apart fairly easily, and there is plenty of space under the chimney. They've even provided a pair of wires specifically for a speaker in there. The problem is that there is nowhere for the sound to escape. Even with the chimney drilled out, it is quite muffled in comparison to the same speaker in the tender. Next stage then was to build a better custom box for an even larger speaker... this sits under the chimney, and still works with the MX645PluX22+ADAPLU. However, to get even more sound (more than 3W), we had to switch the decoder for a proper large-scale decoder - the MX696S. This is the same size as the ESU 'L', but we wanted the YLR603010 in the tender too, so modified the coal slope in order to accommodate both the YLR603010 and the MX696S in there. The custom box is a bit of a bodge-job just to see if it worked - it is fully sealed though, with glue and BlackTack! MX696S in tender with YLR603010: This combination works really well - super loud, and the apparent 'origin' of the sound moves forward a bit, though emphasis is still toward the rear. We had various problems with our model, but nothing insurmountable. Overall, really pleased, and very promising for Hattons/Heljan going forward. See the complete installation guide and notes here: https://youchoos.co.uk/Index-Resource.php?L1=Guides&Item=OHattonsA3 Enjoy! John
  2. Received the new Hornby Terrier today... quite a nice improvement over the old one, now with 6pin DCC socket in the boiler, and a little more room to play with under the chimney. MX616N for simple DCC conversion. For sound, it needs hard-wiring, and the Zimo MX648 is spot-on perfect for that cavity. Restricted on speaker space, but the YouChoos Minnow4 goes in without too much fuss, and sounds good in the little model. MX648, perfect fit: Create maximum space: MX648 and Minnow4 speaker, protected with Kapton tape: Smart: Full install guide available here: YouChoos Terrier install guide Enjoy! John
  3. A little-known product released recently by Zimo is their drop-in DCC Sound decoder for N gauge - the MX660. Basically a very thin single-sided PCB with solder connection pads around the edge. It is designed for Kato models, but works just as well in Farish N gauge (and probably some Dapol models too). The MX660 is a full sound decoder, with 6 lighting outputs, similar spec to the MX648. Solder pads are very well laid out to be in good positions for direct connection to pickups, motor and lighting. On top of this, all 6 lighting outputs are 3V rather than the usual 12V, which means you can directly connect them to LEDs without needing a resistor - brilliant idea! Here are some photos of it being used in a Farish Class 37 diesel to great effect... this means DCC sound, decent speaker (YouChoos SugarCurve6) with absolutely no modification to chassis or plastic. Full install guide here: http://youchoos.co.uk/Index-Resource.php?L1=Guides&Item=N37MX660 Here's the MX660 with some of the wires attached with standard DCC colours: Pickups connected, re-using the screw rings from the original factory PCB of the CL37: Motor wires soldered directly to motor terminals, and SugarCurve6 speaker just sits onto of the chassis (protected from shorts of course): Lighting connector boards joined in: All back together: We configured ours for independent control of front and rear lights, so 4 of the 6 AUX lighting functions of the MX660 are used doing this. You could stop there, and you'd have a very easy DCC sound Farish Class 37, with a good level of sound from that speaker... but, we decided to add in SACC16 with a 330uF Tantalums to give more reliable running too: The extra backup power from the single Tantalum is not really visible in terms of run-on time, but you really notice the difference when crawling at slow speed - hardly ever cuts out. We also added independent cab lights and crew, but, that's beyond this topic! Enjoy
  4. Here are some brief notes on how I've fitted up a new Hornby J36 with Zimo DCC sound, reasonable speaker, and big stay-alive, without any modification to the metal or plastic. it is all hard-wired, but that's a pretty straight-forward job. Kit: Zimo MX648 hard-wired, YouChoos' new J36 immersiveDrive sounds YouChoos' new IceCube 25x18x6-1W speaker Zimo SACC16 connection board for stay-alive YouChoos' SuperCap 17000uF A few pictures below, but you can find the full install guide here: http://youchoos.co.uk/Index-Resource.php?L1=Guides&Item=OO-J36 MX648 hard-wired in, unwanted wires removed: SACC16 board and SuperCap17000: Decoder and SACC16 sitting in the speaker well: SuperCap and IceCube speaker: Back together, running/sounding beautiful: Enjoy!
  5. Hi Chris, in theory the Zimo MX644C (rather than the MX644D) should allow this, as the FA2 and FA3 AUX outputs on this decoder are logic level instead of full power. We've had a few reports though that the interior lights remain on even with the 'C', so it may be more complex than that, but that's the theory at least. Cheers, John
  6. Hi Paul, Probably a little quieter than the Minnow, but it isn't bad. I didn't want to lose the glazing, so that was the only option. J
  7. Hi Nigel, You jest, but yes, I rather suspect I could have found room for 1 flat 330uF Tant in the nose too! Interesting what you've found about the CTs with the model's PCB - hadn't considered that, which is silly because we always consider those components in any other model! Perhaps this has laid down the challenge for another budding modeller?!! ... takers? Cheers, John
  8. Hi Paul, The speaker is a Zimo MicroCube, but with a custom YouChoos enclosure, giving overall 6mm height. The stay-alive is Zimo's SACC16 board, cut-down to minimum and a single 330uF Tantalum soldered on. I know what you mean about the speaker being close to the metal... I deemed that the whole thing was tight enough that there was absolutely no movement whatsoever, and the pad is actually about 1mm away from the metal so no insulation - works a treat! Cheers, John
  9. Sound decoders will certainly need a fair voltage on DC before they kick into life. Generally speaking, you will be running the loco in the top third of the controller's power range. There's nothing you can do to change it - they just need that much oomph before they come alive. Reducing the momentum settings can sometimes give you motion a little earlier, but then you lose that nice feature of the decoder. I did an example video some years ago of this in action if you are interested: (sorry, not sure how to link to a video directly, so just copy the URL to your browser!)
  10. Heljan have done well with their new 7mm model of a large 61XX Prairie Tank - really like the model, but sadly they've scrimped on provision for speaker (just a 23mm round chamber underneath), and the loco has a socket in the boiler designed specifically for an ESU LokSound V4 'L' sound decoder. There is no standard for large scale sockets, and Zimo's equivalent (the MX696S) is not a compatible fit. In order to improve on this, we remove the socket and wire in a Zimo ADAMTC board, which takes a 21pin MX644D sound decoder (normally for OO models), boosting the motor output to 1.8A continuous running, and peaks at 2.5A for short periods... this is sufficient for the Prairie model. By removing the ESU socket board, this frees up enough space in the boiler for the super Zimo LS40X22X09-2W dual Dumbo speaker, and also a YouChoos SuperCap17000uF for stay-alive (that's the other benefit of the ADAMTC board - it gives connections for a 16V stay-alive instead of the usual 25V connection that the MX644D normally provides). Full install guide here: http://youchoos.co.uk/Index-Resource.php?L1=Guides&Item=OHeljPrairie ..for the forum, here are a few photos and words to give you the idea: Here's the model's ESU socket board: Now the Zimo ADAMTC board and MX644D sound decoer: Now the model with the ESU board removed, and all re-wired up with the Zimo kit... speaker on top, and SuperCap at the front: Ensuring that all wires are neatly tucked in, the boiler should just slide back into place. The result is stunning - really loud, sound from the right part of the model, and the SuperCap17000uF gives 4-5 seconds of backup power too! Enjoy! John
  11. So, everyone has an 08 diesel, but how many are fitted with sound? In OO it isn't always easy to get a good sound installation, but there are plenty out there, and plenty of approaches too... but in N gauge this is really the holy grail of sound-fits - there can only be a handful of them worldwide that have made a successful conversion, and many of those probably using the little CT SL76 sound decoder, which is OK, but a little flakey and unreliable. An even smaller number have attempted using Zimo's MX649 with a speaker in the cab, but until now I don't think I've come across one with this and stay-alive too. Not for the faint-hearted or ill-prepared, but it is doable, and I surprised myself that it went together as easily as it did in the end. Thanks to various people sharing their experiences along the way, so here I'm sharing my approach in the hope that it inspires a few more to take the brave plunge themselves - there's nothing like seeing photos and reading a description of the approach to build confidence! The full installation guide is available as the final example (#4) here: http://youchoos.co.uk/Index-Resource.php?L1=Guides&Item=Farish08DCC ...for the forum, I've chosen a few photos and words to give you a taster... First we mill of a wedge off the motor housing: Now remove the cab detailing, reduce the cab floor, and milling a bit out of the roof at the back: Test-fit the MX649: Wire it all in: With the body back on, we attach a MicroCube speaker (modified to 6mm height), and attach a cut-down Zimo SACC16 stay-alive board with a single 330uF/16V Tantalum aboard: Gently push the stay-alive inside the body behind the motor housing, and the speaker in the cab: Minor filing down of the rear glazing: All back together: Slow running is vastly improved by the addition of the little stay-alive... you'll never avoid stalling totally, but this really helps. Enjoy! John
  12. Hi JohnR, unfortunately not - the loco has gone off to the customer now. However, I can tell you it ran really well and smooth, even at low speeds.
  13. So, Dapol's recent OO LSWR Adams B4 is a pretty little thing, but very tight on space inside, not to mention tricky to get into without things dropping out, but DCC sound is indeed possible with a bit of careful positioning of kit... we even managed to get the Zimo SACC16 stay-alive PCB in with a couple of 330uF Tantalum capacitors... here's a brief outline of how we did it: First, the model, showing the interior, with the neat little 2-LED firebox unit which is a nice touch from Dapol: Here's the kit coming out, and the kit going in (Zimo MX649F which will be hard-wired, YouChoos Minnow4 speaker, SACC16 stay-alive board, and 330uF Tantalum): Factory PCB removed and mounts snipped off: Decide to go with a pair of Tantalums on the SACC16 board: Hard-wired, including separate control of the 2 firebox LEDs on FA1/FA2, needing to add our own resistor to protect them: Everything is wired directly from decoder to destination so we don't have too many joins in the wiring, as the model is incredibly tight. All protected in Kapton tape and carefully positioned so that the drive shaft does not foul on the kit: Speaker at the top in the nose, secured with Black Tack: Full guide and notes available here: http://www.youchoos.co.uk/Index-Resource.php?L1=Guides&Item=OODapolB4 Enjoy! John
  14. Ok, so I said I'd have a go at adding stay-alive into the Barclay, and here it is... using Zimo's new tiny PCB stay-alive kit, the SACC16 and a single 330uF Tantalum. Not huge backup power by any stretch, but enough to noticeably improve general running... Also now loaded with YouChoos' new genuine Andrew Barclay sound project! Enjoy!
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