Installing DCC & Sound in the S Helper Service SW-1
By Michael Greene & Bill Clark
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The EMD SW-1's shipped in March 2000 by S Helper Service are nicely set up to make installation of a DCC decoder very simple. The locomotive comes from the factory with a NMRA DCC socket, and conversion to DCC involves four simple steps (all documented in the excellent instruction manual that ships with the locomotive):
It couldn't be any easier!
Installing DCC + Sound
We were interested in our SW-1's having both DCC and sound. So Don Thompson of S Helper Service challenged us to install both DCC and sound in the available space. We eagerly accepted, and set a goal to have a pair of them running with sound on the Bristol Club's modular layout at the huge railroad show in Springfield, MA the first weekend of February 2000.
We knew that space would be tight, particularly since the SW-1 shell is almost an inch shorter in length than it's brother the SW9/1200. And of course we wanted sound in the loco, not in a trailing sound car. And finally we preferred to have our sound without having to make modifications to the shell, such as drilling fine holes in grill work to allow sound to escape.
In order to accomplish this task we decided to use the following:
Once installed, the decoders' addresses would be set up to allow them to operate as a single unit on the layout.
Each of us used slightly different installation techniques with these components. Our approaches are described below. As with most DCC installations there is not one ideal installation. But there are certainly correct and incorrect ways (Letting the smoke out of the decoder is an incorrect installation! :-) If you intend to install DCC+sound in your loco, please read completely through these instructions one or more times before starting the installation so that you have a complete understanding.
Here's a picture of the SW-1 before we started the conversion. The picture after conversion looks exactly the same as we made NO exterior modifications to the shell or locomotive.
In order to get started we had to following the normal process outlined above: remove the shell, and then unplug and remove the e-unit. In this next picture you can see the insides of an unmodified SW-1. Note inside the shell you have the E-unit to the left and yellowish colored spring assembly to the right. And of course the PCB on the chassis.
Here we have removed the PCB where the E-unit or DCC decoder plugs in to make more room for the speaker:
Here are the specific steps Michael used to prepare the locomotive for the installation.
Then use a motor tool with a cut-off wheel (be sure to use eye protection) to remove the four mounting posts in the top of the shell --- two shorter mounting posts where the E-unit screws went in, and two longer mounting posts where the spring assembly wrapped around. From here on it was a little different.
Remember to use shrink tubing over all solder joints to insulate the connection!
Michael's Installation approach
Here are the specific steps Michael used in his installation:
In this next picture you can see the placement of the Lenz LE040 and the SoundTraxx DSX decoders. Double-sided foam tape was used to hold them in place. Also note the two micro slide switches that were installed. Each one was installed on one of rail pickup leads on each decoder. Should a future problem occur with programming the decoders in Operations mode, these switches can be used to temporarily "cut-out" a decoder, so they can be placed on a programming track and programmed individually. Miniatronics # switches were used, along with Walthers Goo and a couple of pieces of styrene to make an assembly. Several other approaches could have been used as well to accomplish the same thing.
This next photo shows the placement of the speaker. Note it is placed in basically the same location as the PCB that was removed earlier. The exit ports for the sound are facing down, so that sound exits around the truck, and no modifications are required to the shell. The speaker used was a Pacific Fast Mail PFM-X10 Face Ported Speaker Enclosure which comes already enclosed and with a row of sound exit ports on the "face" of one side of the enclosure.
Here's a side view of the speaker mounting:
And here is the picture of the complete installation:
Bill's Installation approach
Bill used the same decoders, but used a different speaker and approach for mounting. These next pictures show Bill's installation. In this first picture we can see Bill test fitting the speaker, enclosure, and decoders, using a cut away shell. (Please don't cut your shell! S Helper Service provided this so that we could work out the details and get some photos showing the fit!) Bill used a 1.1" x 1.6" oval speaker and mounted it using two pieces of styrene, plus the shell to make up the enclosure. The speaker is available from several suppliers including SoundTraxx (#810078), Dallee Electronics (#662), and available as a part from Allied Electronics(623-2085). The speaker is actually made by Intervox and is part number S11X16VNS.
And in this next picture you can see the fit with the shell placed on the chassis. The vertical piece of styrene for the enclosure is 9/16", and the horizontal piece of styrene is cut to fit the tight in the shell, with a cutout removed for the face of the speaker.
Here is the final installation in Bill's SW-1 shell. Note again that the PCB was removed to make room for the speaker. And that the decoders were wired directly in. Bill did not add the extra switches, as he has been very pleased with programming the decoders in Operations mode.
We hope these photos will make it easier for you if you are interested in installing DCC plus Sound in your SW-1. We want to thank all of the folks at S Helper Service for producing this fine engine, and in particular Don Thompson for his challenge & then assistance in getting us these units in time, so that we could get the installations completed in time to run at the Feb 2000 Springfield, MA railroad show.
Good luck with your installation!
Copyright © 2002-2006, C. M. Greene. All rights reserved.