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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi , I have recently purchased a Sonic models 56XX in N gauge and was surprised to see that it required a right angled decoder , my system makes use of Railcom so I needed a decoder that had Railcom and the only one I could find that fitted the bill was the ESU Lokpilot Micro 5 , on receiving the decoder I was again surprised to find that it has 5 wires attached to it which I guess are for functions ? , I have no need of any functions on this Loco so can I safely snip of these wires as close to the circuit board as possible ?.
 

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Snip away if all you need are track power input and motor output, all those are on the six pins.

A thought, might you someday want to use the decoder for another purpose in some as yet unknown future? If so trim the wires short enough to fit inside the loco, and put shrink on insulation on the bare ends. Easier connecting to wire ends than soldering onto tiny tinned patches on a crowded decoder board. Ask me how I know this...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks 34C , the only thing future wise that I can think of would be the fitting of a stay alive and that would be only if the Loco needs one for uninterrupted running , do any of these wires need to remain for that ? .
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I feel that I should warn anyone who has one of these models that the right angled ESU Switchpilot 5 micro is not suiable as the pinouts are reversed to those on the Locos 6 pin socket , i've ordered a non right angled one as I think it will fit and i'll let you all know if it does .
 

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...The only thing future wise that I can think of would be the fitting of a stay alive and that would be only if the Loco needs one for uninterrupted running , do any of these wires need to remain for that ? .
Unlikely. The common ground connection is on one of the six pins if memory serves, and the other connection is probably somewhere on the decoder board, there may be a solder pad if you are lucky! (I'd suggest researching that before purchase, and I see you have just spotted another 'trap'!)

Then again, you may find as I do that 'stay alive' is never required. I was greatly attracted to this feature when first looking at DCC (now twenty years ago!) and bought the Lenz UPS unit to try with the then very new Gold decoders. Oh boy did it work, but how often did I want to put a sheet of paper on the tracks and see the loco continue to run under full control? On a properly wired, live crossing point, all metal wheeled stock layout, in regular operation, it was simply unnecessary.

The constant DCC track power at whatever 'full voltage' is set (I have my system set to deliver 15V at the motor terminals) 'gets through', operation is near completely reliable without stay alive assistance, and it gets better. When I see the occasional loss of reliability, which is the moment when a loco 'stutters' slightly at dead slow, that is diagnostic of some dirt having arrived on the loco wheels or railhead. Immediate action to clean up keeps the layout clean. I wouldn't want that 'stutter' masked by a stay alive, it's a clear signal that a gob of dirt has fallen off a loco onto the rail and should be dealt with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good points , the layout is not ready yet to go fully live as there is a whole heap of Traincontroller configurations to do so it was just a passing thought really as i'm hoping that in operations i'll have no probs .
 

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Unlikely. The common ground connection is on one of the six pins if memory serves, and the other connection is probably somewhere on the decoder board, there may be a solder pad if you are lucky! (I'd suggest researching that before purchase, and I see you have just spotted another 'trap'!)
Both the common ground and the decoder positive are NOT on the six pins. Those pins are track-power (2), motor-power (2), front light, rear light. That's it. (The positive power for lights on a six-pin comes by half-rectifying the track power when it is returned via the relevant lighting wire).

The more I hear about the 56xx and its decoder socket the more one dispairs.

Alternative small RailCom capable decoders include the smaller models from Zimo and D&H. Both tiny and may fit without needing right-angle pins.

( I disagree on Stay-Alives, they transform the running quality of smaller models in 2mm, 4mm and 7mm scales. These are models with all-wheels picking up reliably, carefully laid track with live frogs, etc.. And, I've had a fair few skeptics saying "not necessary" who come round to ordering retro-fits in their locos having seen what locos do. Its not about running over a sheet of A4 - a pointless party piece. Its about fractions of a second of hesitancy. ).

- Nigel
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for that Nigel very nicely explained , it's virtually impossible to measure from the 56xx's decoder socket to the inside face of the cabs domed roof but I think it's most likely that a micro 5 non angled will fit , I should receive it on Monday 9th and i'll let people know by updating this thread .
 

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Both the common ground and the decoder positive are NOT on the six pins....
Thanks, I'll try and remember that; you can tell I am unfamiliar with six pin decoders can't you?

....I disagree on Stay-Alives, they transform the running quality of smaller models in 2mm, 4mm and 7mm scales. These are models with all-wheels picking up reliably, carefully laid track with live frogs, etc.. And, I've had a fair few skeptics saying "not necessary" who come round to ordering retro-fits in their locos having seen what locos do. Its not about running over a sheet of A4 - a pointless party piece. Its about fractions of a second of hesitancy.
The UPS, party piece aside, didn't discernably improve running on the locos I tried it on, equally smooth with or without.

Now here's the aspect where you will likely disagree, I actively want that 'occasional fraction of a second of hesitancy', as it is a clear signal of significant track dirt.

I routinely run a track drag for rail cleaning and that deals with the constant low level railhead dirt deposition very well: but the one thing I haven't been able to eliminate is the occasional 'blob' of greasy filth falling off a loco mechanism and landing on the rails, and cleaning it up before multiple wheel passes 'spread it around' is my priority. And it is the locos that detect these events, by that occasional fraction of a second of hesitancy. That's a signal I don't want suppressed by an efficient stay alive like the Lenz UPS. This is something like a once a month event, and I operate the layout near daily, it doesn't detract from the pleasure of operation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I can now advise as the suitability of an ESU Lockpilot 5 Micro non angled decoder for the N gauge Sonic models 56 XX as I received it this morning and the model is now using it successfully, be advised though that it is a very close thing in that with the bodyshell back on it just touches the inside of the domed roof of the cab at the top , I have no need of the function wires so they were snipped off but they may prevent the cab sitting properly if you were to leave them on .
 
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