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: Additional LokProgrammer Support

ESU has a number of articles on its website.

LokProgrammer v4


Edit FAQ Related Articles: LokProgrammer, LokProgrammer Setup, LokProgrammer/LokProgrammer Software Related Manufacturer: Electronic Solutions Ulm Categories: Multifunction Decoder, Programming

Q: Rapido's MoPower Programming Issues

From Rapido Newsletter #186

Due to the long duration of our MoPower capacitors, that are built into each locomotive's motherboard, we have found a software conflict between a still-powered-up ESU decoder and the ESU LokProgrammer (or ECoS system) where they fight for control, resulting in a failed programming attempt. We expect a fix to be coming soon from ESU, but until then, please follow the suggestions below to successfully program using ESU programming systems.

To successfully program your locomotive using an ESU LokProgrammer or an ESU ECoS DCC system, our onboard Rapido MoPower capacitors must be fully discharged. Until a software patch and/or a hardware fix is available, please allow your ESU-equipped loco to discharge a full five minutes before using an ESU programming track, or allow to discharge one minute before using the ESU Ops Mode (on-the-main programming). If it doesn't work, wait a little longer and try again.

NOTE: This does not apply to any other DCC system or controller, just ESU.

Edit FAQ Related Articles: LokProgrammer, 50220, 50210 Related Manufacturer: Electronic Solutions Ulm, Rapido Trains Categories: Multifunction Decoder, Programming

Q: What is a LokProgrammer

The LokProgrammer is a combination of hardware and software which is used to configure and load project files for ESU LokSound multifunction decoders.

Loading new projects into the decoder, including sound files, requires the LokProgrammer hardware. The software can be used to determine the configuration, and either manually entered into the decoder or exported and loaded into JMRI.

It can also load new firmware into an older decoder, as well as define the decoder's defaults.

The biggest advantage of the LokProgrammer is the speed at which it can read and write data to the decoder.

Edit FAQ Related Articles: LokProgrammer, Electronic Solutions Ulm Related Manufacturer: Electronic Solutions Ulm Categories: Multifunction Decoder, Programming

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