Electronic Solutions Ulm

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Manufacturer: Electronic Solutions Ulm

Summary: ESU is a German designer and manufacturer of DCC systems and components. Their DCC Systems feature a graphical interface, and RailCom. There LokSound multifunction decoders are often used in OEM applications, and allow the user to upgrade their firmware and sound projects using a LokProgrammer.

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General information
Main URL Main URL
URL to manuals
Date Opened
Date Closed
Device Types Booster, Command Station, Mobile Decoder, Stationary Decoder, Throttle


An example of a locomotive decoder (LokPilot)
ECoS controller

Electronic Solutions Ulm (known as ESU) is a German manufacturer of accessories for model trains, especially known for their locomotive decoders.

The products include the LokPilot and LokSound series of decoders and recently the Märklin company has teamed up with ESU for the manufacture of the decoders for their new generation of mfx locomotive decoders. ESU is also an OEM supplier of decoders for a number of manufacturers.

ESU was one of the first manufacturers to produce decoders capable of sound - a feature that has become very popular with model railroaders. Their LokSound v3 decoders have the added benefit that end-users can re-program the sound files used by the decoder, using a LokProgrammer.

Some of their decoders such as the LokPilot and LokSound are multiprotocol in that they support the Motorola format as well as Digital Command Control (DCC) and also Märklin style analog AC current. Their LokPilotDCC on the other hand is a pure DCC decoder and will not work in a pure Märklin/Motorola environment. The ECoS DCC system supports NMRA DCC, Marklin/Motorola format and Selectrix modes.

ESU Products


ECoS is a combined command station/throttle which features a number of innovations, such as the graphical display with a large colour LCD. This system is mainly focussed on the European market.


The ESU mfx format was designed by Marklin, but information is hard to come by. They describe it as a bi-phase format.

It looks a lot like DCC with a zero pulse being 100 milliSeconds in duration, and a logical one represented by a 50 mS pulse. Polarity is not an issue.

ESU Cab Control

50310 CabControl Wireless DCC System

  • Designed with the North American and Australian market in mind.

Features Easy Consisting using menus, American and Australian icons for your locomotives, and wireless throttles.


  • 7A power supply
  • 28 functions
  • Up to 16,000 addresses available

Stationary Decoders

  • SwitchPilot V2.0
    • Control up to 4 solenoids or 8 other loads. Works with any DCC system.
  • SwitchPilot Extension
    • Adds four relay driven outputs.
  • SwitchPilot Servo V2.0
    • Designed to drive servos.

Multifunction Decoders

Main article: Electronic Solutions Ulm/Multifunction Decoders
Main article: Electronic Solutions Ulm/Statement Regarding Multifunction Decoder failures

ESU is a supplier of both retail and OEM Decoders. Unlike many other decoder suppliers, ESU doesn't supply different versions of OEM and retail decoders. The decoders are identical. For the Australian and North American markets, the Select OEM decoder is used and identical to the retail decoders. The user can replace the sound files (as long as they are Select sound files.)

LokSound decoders are supplied without any software. The manufacturer or retailer can load software for a specific application. They can also set the defaults for that decoder's application.

A notable user of LokSound decoders with custom sound files is Rapido Trains.


LokSound 5: ESU_LokSound_5_EN_InstructionManual_14-01.pdf

Decoder Features

LokSound Full Throttle Decoders

  • Drive Hold
  • Run 8
  • Coast
  • Improved Dynamic Brakes
  • Independent Brake

Drive Hold allows you to lock the speed and control the prime mover sound with the throttle.

Run 8: Lock the prime mover in notch 8 and control the speed with the throttle.

Coast: The prime mover is set to idle, but speed is still controlled via the throttle.

  • Heavy Load: Control of Cut Off


Used to program ESU decoders, load sounds and set defaults. Requires a computer with WindowsXP SP2 or 7/8/10. RS-232 interface.

LokProgrammer V5.0

LokProgrammer version 5.0.0 was released in January 2019. See the ESU website for downloads and updated software.

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 is required. The .NET Framework will be installed automatically if the computer is connected to the internet.
  • Supports the LokSound5 series of decoders

DCC Equipped Motive Power


Pullman the ESU line of G scale locomotives and rolling stock

Engineering Edition

This is ESU's line of DCC Equipped Locomotives in H0, as well as rolling stock.

OEMs Using LokSound Decoders

The following manufacturers use ESU LokSound Decoders in their DCC equipped locomotives. (January 2017)

  • Atlas
  • Athearn
  • Ausicion
  • Bowser Manufacturing
  • Fox Valley Models
  • Hornby America/Rivarossi
  • Intermountain Railway Co
  • Kato USA
  • Kato Japan
  • On Track Models
  • PBL
  • Rapido Trains
  • River Raison Models
  • ScaleTrains
  • SDS Models
  • Southern Rail Models
  • True Line Trains
  • Walthers
  • Wuiske Promotions

Further Reading

External Links

Manufacturer Site

Additional Information

See Also

References to this Manufacturer

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Electronic Solutions Ulm FAQs

Q: Rapido Sound Files for LokSound Multifunction Decoders

Rapido Trains offers LokSound multifunction decoders in their locomotives with proprietary custom sound files. These files are only available from Rapido and are locked to the multifunction decoder, so they cannot be used in another decoder.

If the file becomes corrupted, email Rapido Trains the decoder's serial number, they can create a locked file for the decoder.

Edit FAQ Related Articles: LokProgrammer, LokSound 5 DCC, "Bricked" LokSound Decoder Related Manufacturer: Electronic Solutions Ulm Categories: Multifunction Decoder

Q: "Bricked" LokSound Decoder

Bricked refers to an incident occurring during the software update of an electronic device, rendering it unresponsive.

After updating the firmware in a LokSound decoder using the LokProgrammer, the decoder may be unresponsive. It is possible some Configuration Variables have been altered.

  • Before allowing a firmware update, read and save the decoder configuration to your computer.
  • Upon completion of the firmware update write the saved configuration back to the decoder.

There is a possibility when the firmware update was performed some CVs were changed and those have now become the defaults. A reset will not fix that.

Recovering a Bricked Decoder

In some cases the decoder will require return to the manufacturer for reformatting.

  • The following suggestions are not guaranteed to work.

Firmware Reload

Before making plans to return the decoder, attempt to reload/update the decoder's firmware. Several attempts may be required. If successful, the next step would be to reload the sound project.

Firmware Downgrade

Another method would be to attempt to load an older version of the firmware. Sometimes the LokProgrammer will refuse to update the firmware, stating it is the current version.

Downgrading is done using an older version of the LokProgrammer software. If successful it will downgrade the firmware on the decoder. It can then be updated to the current firmware using a newer version of the LokProgrammer software

Decoder Swap

Sometimes the decoder does not acknowledge the LokProgrammer, which is the root of the issue.

Using an identical decoder, let the LokProgrammer initialize using it, then swap the new decoder for the faulty one. This will fool the LokProgrammer, getting around the issue of the decoder not being recognized.

Additional Resources

See the LokProgrammer page for more details and videos regarding its usage.

Edit FAQ Related Articles: LokProgrammer, LokSound 5 DCC Related Manufacturer: Electronic Solutions Ulm Categories: Multifunction Decoder

Q: Disable Startup Sequence for a LokSound Multifunction Decoder

There are two different delay settings in LokSound decoders:

  1. Set CV124 bit 2 (bit weight = 4), startup delay takes effect if speed is zero and Sound Slot 1 (prime mover) is Off. It prevents the operator from activating the prime mover sound then moving off while the prime mover is still cranking over (because that is not how a real locomotive behaves). It is not a fixed value as it is dependent on the time the start-up sequence requires to complete.
  2. Separately, there is a move off delay which takes effect when the locomotive's speed is zero and its prime mover is running. It prevents the locomotive from moving off immediately, allowing the prime mover spool-up time before it actually moves, as again, that is how a real locomotive operates.
    1. By default, the delay is set to three seconds.

Effect (1) is enabled/disabled via bit 2 of CV124.

Effect (2) is a different story:

  1. LokSound V4, this setting is internal to the Sound Slot 2 schedule. It requires a Lokprogrammer and a copy of the original sound file as one has to change and rewrite the entire sound project.
  2. LokSound Select: The user cannot alter it as the Sound Schedule is locked out.
  3. LokSound 5: Typical projects have moved this setting to Sound CV13 (CV 167). Change is possible with an NCE Power Cab or JMRI DecoderPro.
    1. Strongly Recommended: Record the original value in CV167 in case the effect is undesirable and it is necessary to revert to the original value).

Edit FAQ Related Articles: LokSound, Identify a LokSound Multifunction Decoder Related Manufacturer: Electronic Solutions Ulm Categories: Multifunction Decoder, Programming

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