What’s coming in the next few months

Well it’s that time again, I haven’t told you about my upcoming articles in a while and I have a couple that I find interesting and I bet you will too. I especially think you will enjoy the July column on keep-alive circuits. I built one using circuits I found on the internet and it actually worked the first try! I’ll try to demystify this somewhat secretive topic and show you how to build your own.

May—Tips for programming LokSound decoders using LokProgrammer and DecoderPro.

June—Decoder installation—Adding sound to an Atlas H16-44 loco replacing the old Lenz decoder with a LokSound Select Direct.

July—Keep-Alive Circuits for DCC–what are they, how do they work, who makes them, can you make your own?

August—Picking the right DCC system for you. What do you need, how powerful should it be, what other considerations should you look at?

So keep an eye out for the next few issues, May will arrive any day now.


  • Hi Larry…howza bout throwing a bone to us N scalers out there. I know it’s not your scale, but surely you have resources. I’m sure many of us are interested in installing sound decoders in N steamers. Wadda ya say?

    • Yes, I know I need to do it but I don’t own any N-scale locos and all my friends are in HO or S scale. It would probably take a LokSound Select Micro and one of the tiny sugar cubes to fit. I’ll put out some feelers at the local club to see if we have any N-scale modelers who might want a free install.

    • OK Ric, you get your wish. I found a guy with an N-scale B&O EM-1. That should have a big enough tender to cram in a decoder and speaker. It will take a few months to get it all done and squeeze it into the magazine schedule so don’t hold your breath but it will come either late in the fall or winter 2019. I only do 4 decoder installations each year and I’ve already done 2 in 2018 and June has already been proofed so that only leaves October 2018 or Jan 2019.

  • Wow, I’m cutting up a DC NW2 KATO per your instructions and using a DCC ESU Select decoder. Once complete, I will use my Sprog with JMRI to tune the default results. This May topic could not be more timely. I do have a question. I think you mentioned on this site that ESU has hidden sound files not on the specific decoder file purchased. I would like to add the USA crossing horn sequence so that I can run the bell easily at the same time–better yet, combine the two.

    • Joel—not sure the decoder or the sound project you are using. If it is a LokSound Select micro then you cannot add sounds, that can only be done with the LokSound 4.0 decoders and sound projects. Plus you need the LokProgrammer. With the Select decoders there are about 16 different horns included with the sound project. Go to the LokSound website and then to the sounds page and the specific one you purchased. Click on the bulletin option and it will show you all the slot assignments, horns, etc. I explain all this in the article.

  • It seems the keep alive (current keeper) products that are available now are overly made. They provide many seconds of charge when all that may be needed is just a few seconds of charge.Can the keep alive (current keeper) be made smaller in order to fit in smaller spaces? (Even if it reduces the length of capacity time).

    • Folks, thanks for your questions and comments. I’ll try to address all of them in the article. At this point I don’t think I’ll have room to show how to build one so I guess I’ll drag out the video camera and post a step by step here on the website once the article hits the shelves. I made one yesterday and tested with an old Lenz decoder—ran a test motor for about 20 seconds! Cost less than $5.

    • Great question Dave, The Soundtraxx Current keeper’s I’ve been using are considerably larger than my Eco 100 decoders, and they keep the current on for up to 30 seconds. Who needs that much time! If you need more that just a few seconds, you better get out your track cleaning kit!

  • I’m really looking forward to column on keep alives I have many questions I hope it will answer.
    1. can a non-stop super capacitor like a 4700 if get one through interruptions of a second or less. The supers are only 5.5 volts at best so at least 3 are necessary
    2. Can the non-supers be used without a diode resistor circuit needed to reduce initial charging current for a 1 fared capacitor.
    3. For an amp (charge) limiting circuit with the supers what is the desired resistor watts and ohms.
    4. Since many of the decoders only use a regular capacitor to keep light and sound on, where does the keep alive circuit need to be connected on decoders to have the capacitor keep the motor going as well this is probably decoder specific.
    5. I would think that a second or 2 would keep the motor running in most cases, is there really a benefit to having 10 or even 5 seconds
    No need to answer this now but hope these questions will be answered in your July column.

  • Thanks for the preview of coming topics. Sounds very interesting.