QSI Equipment

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First, a bit of education on an issue that confuses everyone. There is a company called QSI Solutions and a company called QSI Industries. Often people refer to "QSI" and that is ambiguous

QSI, a.k.a QS Industries is an OEM, who only sells to manufacturers, and makes the specialized ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) that is the "brains" of the decoder. http://www.qsindustries.com/ They do not support the large scale decoder. (Recently they have done a little retail sails).

QSIS, a.k.a. QSI Solutions is a company who developed a large scale decoder using the ASIC from QSI. They sell the LS and the HO decoders retail. The company was started by Tony Parisi of Tony's Trains, currently owned by Josh Shedaker.  http://shedaker.wixsite.com/shedaker You can download manuals, software tools and sound files there.

First prototype development:

The original product was directed to be very plug and play. It came with many connectors on it, and came with cables that plugged into the various USA Trains locomotives, and handled the unique high and low voltages found in USAT locos, and even the bipolar red/green classification LEDs as well as the common cathod LED setup. It was a great idea, but apparently considered too expensive. I think giving that up was a mistake.

This product was never sold, but I had one with all the adapter cables for the different locos. It was truly plug and play.

usat qsi

Original QSI Revolution / Magnum

The original large scale product was actually called the Revolution (before Lewis Polk's Revolution Train Engineer). There was a "magnum" version, which is the same decoder plugged into a board that connected the pins to screw terminal connections for use in any loco that did not have the Aristo socket.

The unit is a sound system AND motor controller and also controls the headlight and backup light.

The "magnum adapter" has no components on it, it just brings the pins to screw terminals. Only one of the two connectors has anything wired to it. The second connector gives mechanical stability, and was for future expansion (although Aristo sometimes wired things to that second connector).

The QSI unit works in three different configurations:

  1. DCC from the track
  2. DCC from an optional radio receiver (compatible with Airwire throttles, and NCE Gwire throttles)
  3. DC from track (it could also be run by an on-board ESC that did not use PWM)

The picture below is the QSI Revolution decoder:

You can see the pins at each end that match the Aristo socket. This is an earlier version with the orange polyfuse on it. Newer models do not have this. You can remove it and put in a jumper if you wish. Larger locos were tripping this polyfuse, it was rated at about 2.5 amps. The "power sipping" Aristo mallet can "sip" a lot more than was thought. There are other overcurrent protection circuits that make the polyfuse unnecessary. 

The picture below show the "magnum" configuration, which is the SAME decoder in a socket with screw terminals.

Unfortunately, this picture has the screw terminals to the rear. They are in the green housing on the far end of the unit. Remember, the main board is the SAME no matter what you buy or use.

Again, many people have gotten the impression that there are different hardware versions, there is not, there is only one hardware version, the ones sold by Aristo are the same as everyone else's.

Basically the QSI unit is a very flexible DCC decoder that also will run on straight DC and will interface to AirWire transmitters. The unit automatically senses DC or DCC.

The unit has down-loadable sounds and is very configurable. There is a programmer that is needed to download different sound files. All other programming can be done by a normal DCC system, or through the AirWire transmitter (see below).  Some programming can also be done in DC mode, such as volume, etc.

In DC operation, using the reverse switch on a power pack will allow remote control of the bell and/or horn/whistle.

In addition, for DC operation, there is the "Quantum Engineer"  that goes in series with your DC power pack and the track. It allows a number of programming functions, volume, consisting, and remote control of 30 different sounds.

QSI Titan

Tony worked on improving the unit, and the big improvements were more lighting outputs, higher current outputs, and used of an improved ASIC that does much much more. It also incorporates screw terminals for the connections:

More on sounds:

This system is one of the few that can read the actual load on the motor and change the sounds based on it. Some units like Phoenix will do a good job of "faking it" by sensing the track voltage, or motor voltage, but only a BEMF system can really sense the load on the motor. The QSI changes sounds based on load, so going up a grade with a heavy load will result in sharper and louder exhaust notes and less load will make them quieter, and drifting will make it almost silent, as per the prototype. Diesels will also exhibit changes in sounds based on load. 

There is also a commandable "Doppler shift" for the horn/whistle that simulates the change in frequency you would hear as a real train passed you.

The sounds (and the firmware) for the unit can be downloaded and customized with the programmer, about $90, which uses a USB interface on your computer (Windows only)

On their web site, you can get customized versions of the file. Once you have one sound file, you effectively have "everything" for that locomotive type, and you can change/customize, and save your customized files. You can buy them already programmed for your loco, but you can download ANY sound file into any pre-programmed decoder.

Note that the Revolution sound files are different from the Titan sound files.

Current handling:

This is always a concern in G scale. From the very early days of DCC for large scale, we have been told we need a lot of amperage, that the stall currents of locos can grow to 30 amps.

I think that while you can make a loco use a lot of amps, but in normal running, most locos run 2-3 amps under a heavy load.

So, when the QSI came out, there was a lot of talk about it's capacity. I heard (not read) 2.5, 2.7 and 3 amps. It does not have big heat sinks, and I was very concerned.

The output transistors are rated at 5 amps, but heat dissipation will shut down the system at loads that high. For some people who have the decoders where there is a heavy load AND a big loco AND no air circulation AND a hot climate, thermal shutdown has been experienced. A small fan blowing air over the board will mitigate this situation.(This is not uncommon in the large scale world)

It turns out that the QSI has a good tolerance for high loads, and an on-board temperature sensor. I had no problems initially with any loco, but after starting to put loads on my locos, I had a few problems. So did another friend, Leonard Kerns, both of us were getting the power cutting out on the Aristo mallet.

Well, we checked temperatures, and there was some funny stuff going on. I did find that the 2.5 amp polyswitch was bent over the output transistors, and it "got" some of their heat. The bottom line was that the polyswitch was tripping prematurely. We bypassed it and not a lick of trouble since.

The current production QSI boards no longer have the Polyfuse, if you have one, remove it and put a solid wire jumper in it's place.

The lighting portion of the board for the Aristo locomotives has a 1 amp maximum capability, but (from their engineer) this means that incandescent bulbs need to be about 100 ma or less since they have about a 10:1 surge current.

Interfacing a smoke unit:

If you want to use a smoke unit that has a "chuff input", the recommendation is to use an optical coupler with an open collector output. Get one whose input diode can handle the current from the fan unit. Put the fan through this, plus to coupler to fan to chuff switch to ground. Now connect the collector to P2 pin2 and the emitter to P2 Pin 1. Connect the "rest" of the smoke unit to track power.

DC Mode:

Basically the QSI will run in many modes. In DC it runs fine, but you have to remember if you bring the voltage to zero the sounds stop. It has a microprocessor that needs power. The loco stops moving around 7-9 volts, the decoder turns off below that.

So, you just slow down until the loco stops moving, and everything will be fine. If you really dislike this, or are running an Aristo TE system that insists on reducing voltage to 0 before reversing, get the "super cap" add on, basically a small capacitor that stores enough voltage to keep the micro and sounds running for about 20 seconds with power removed.

Turn the Bell on with a Quick flip-and-back operation of the direction switch. Turn it back off by doing this again.

A fast reverse starts the bell, do it again the bell stops. Ray Shoop tells me that the bell trigger is 175 milliseconds, or under 2 tenths of a second.

Reversing the direction of the loco while it is moving starts the horn/whistle, and turning it back stops the horn/whistle. The direction of the loco will not change. It only changes after you bring it to a stop.

So with a "normal" reversing switch, you can control the bell and the horn/whistle.

Note: If you do a Slow flip-and-back operation, you will get a short Whistle hoot instead of the Bell. If you try to do a very short
Whistle blast using a Quick operation, you will activate the Bell instead.

Another option on DC is the Quantum Engineer shown below. You put this between the power supply and the rails and it will let you control all the sound functions, it has a bunch of buttons for each sound. It can control 30 sounds! (It basically does sequences of polarity reversals)


Unfortunately this box has a max of 2.5 amps, and will run to about 3.5 amps, so only one loco per track.

There is a booster which has a 40 amp capacity, but it is $200. I have one and it works well.

AirWire mode:

You can run the QSI on battery (or track power) using a stock AirWire transmitter. Either the 1300 or 9000 will work, but because of some of the limitations in the 1300, I strongly recommend the 9000. In particular, F9 is used by the QSI, and the RF1300 only supports F0-F8. You thus lose some of the capabilities of the QSI. The QSI has a lot of capability, so I do not recommend saving $50 and limiting yourself.

If you do get the RF1300 throttle, most people remap the F9 key to one of the the available functions. (F9 is the disconnect and shutdown key). 

In addition, NCE has made the "GardenWire" throttle which has all the nice user interface design and operation of it's "Pro" series of DCC handhelds. Highly recommended.

To be used with the AirWire transmitter,you add an $80 receiver (Gwire) to the basic QSI board in the loco. It has a 4 wire cable that just plugs into the decoder.

Here's a picture (courtesy of Ray Shoop) of the Gwire receiver "topless", just for fun.

When you plug in the Gwire receiver, the QSI takes it’s control commands from the radio receiver. (Most people add a SPDT switch to disable the Gwire to allow it to take it's commands or programming from the track inputs)

Power is applied from the “track” leads on the decoder, and of course it can be from wherever you want (battery or track), just supply constant DC, up to 35 volts. (There might be a lower limit from the Gwire receiver, but I think not).

There are some programming changes that are useful using AirWire, mainly concerning what the QSI should do if it does not "hear" signals for a while. Specifically, CV11 sets the "shut down delay time", how long the receiver will run without hearing a signal. Many people set this to zero, so the loco stays at the same speed, even if something is blocking the radio signal temporarily. If you do this, CV29 bit 2 must be off (no analog/DC mode). Remember if you do this, your loco will keep going no matter what until you slow it down. If your transmitter batteries die, your loco keeps going.

Overall, many people are very happy with this setup, and it works well. In my opinion, most "glitches" have more to do with the difficulty of programming CV's through the AirWire, not the QSI. The AirWire programming interface is cumbersome in my opinion. The QSI will verbally confirm programming though, a godsend in this situation.

Note on the flex cable that connects the Gwire transceiver to the QSI motherboard:

Al Fischer found the exact cables in different lengths for a great price: (very expensive from CVP)

These are by Parlex, 1.0 mm pitch, 5 conductor, you can buy them from 2 to 18" long from Digikey. Here are some of the P/Ns.

HF05U-03-ND    (3")
HF05U-04-ND    (4")
HF05U-05-ND    (5")
HF05U-06-ND    (6")

Style 20566 – ul style 0.8 to 1.27 mm spacing

2308-564051  - 12 “ /  1mm spacing “same side”



More on the 1300 transmitter limitations:

Ray Shoop recommended remapping the functions on the 1300, and here's his tip on remapping the QSI F9 to the AirWire F7 button (thus giving up the QSI F7 Function).



/////F7 in NEUTRAL controls Shut Down\\\\
Enter OPS mode (Both direction leds start flashing) then
*49* Select CV 49
#9# Set Primary Index value
*50* Select CV 50
#1# Set Secondary Index value

"CV49 9"
*53* Select CV 53
#145# Set Feature ID = Disconnect/Standby/Shutdown

"CV50 1"
Exit OPS mode (Both direction leds stop flashing)
"CV53.9.1 145"

Reset the decoder:

full reset: 56.128.255 = 113  

cv 49 =128
cv 50 = 255
cv 56 = 113
(you should hear the system say "reset", if not you have done something wrong, the speaker is not functioning, or it is really dead, very rare, try it again)

Sometimes the sound just does not come back on, or the decoder appears erratic.  Note a full reset will set your DCC address back to 3 and reset all parameters to default. There's other forms of reset, that only reset certain things, see the manual.


Click the links below to go "deeper" into details on Individual topics

  QSI Installation Tips    QSI Programmer H/W & S/W    QSI Titan     QSI Revolution / Magnum 
  QSI Programming Tips     QSI "Cheat Sheet"     Original USAT Prototype     QSI wireless receiver