Athearn AC4400 Decoder Installation featuring the RTR-MB1 Motherboard with Keep-Alive™, WOW121-Diesel Decoder, and UNIV-SH1-C Speaker Kit by TCS

Important Soldering Tip:
Please do not use any flux either liquid or paste on the mother board. It will damage it. Use only Rosin core solder approved for electronics use.
We recommend to use only Kester "44" rosin core, SN63PB37, .015" diameter, part number 24-6337-0007.
This can be ordered from Techni-Tool under Techni-Tool part number 488SO157
This was performed by our friends from DCC Xpress installations.
They offer high quality WOWSound installations for a flat rate complete with free return shipping!
You can find them at:

These items are available in the WDK-ATH-5 which was used for this installation.

RTR-MB1 Motherboard with Keep Alive™ WOW121-Diesel Decoder UNIV-SH1-C Speaker Kit
Click here for more information on the WDK-ATH-5 and the rest of the WOWDiesel Kits line.

First, remove the coupler box screws and the coupler boxes from both ends of the locomotive.

With the couplers removed the shell should lift right off the chassis.

Remove the wires from the original lighting board.

Then lift the lighting board up from the back of the engine to remove it.

Install the RTR-MB1 into the engine by clipping it to the motor like the original lighting board.

The RTR-MB1 has a motor pick up clip pre-attatched to the bottom, so mounting it onto the locomotive could not be easier.

Though there are thru holes on the the tabs on the mother board for track power and motor power we do not recommend that you thread the wire though them. Please use the preferred method which is to tin the tab using rosin core solder only,  tin the wire, then solder the wire to the tab by aligning it laying it straight down. Make sure the wire is short so that it does not go beyond the boundary of the solder pad. Please carefully note how neat and cleanly the wires are soldered to the tabs in this photo.  There is no exposed wire off the edge of the the solder tabs. Never use flux for this solder work. Use only rosin core solder approved for electronics.
Next, wire the RTR-MB1 according to the wiring diagram in the motherboard manual. All the original 1.5volt bulbs supplied with the Athearn loco were used. The white wire solder pad is the forward 1.5v solder pad for the front lights. The yellow wire solder pad is the reverse 1.5v solder pad for the reverse lights. The solder pad marked "1.5V" is the common power source for the bulbs. This motherboard can be configured for LED operation as well, the mother board has built in current limit resistors for LED use. Consult the wiring diagram for LED use.

Solder the two violet wires to your 35mm x 16mm WOWSpeaker, glue the speaker into the UNIV-SH1-C (we used hot glue, but CA would work as well) speaker housing and mount it under the fan housing at the rear of the engine.
NOTE: You must be very careful to avoid getting glue on the speaker cone. Glue on the speaker will ultimately cause it to produce no sound and fail.

NOTE: We have found that using lacing cord is an excellent solution to taming "wild wires". Using lacing cord is a important step to neatly bundle and dress the wires which are prone to being pinched or cut by the shell (during closure) or tangled by the drive train. This simple addition makes a tremendous difference in keeping your installations neat and preventing accidental shorts from damaged wires.
Lacing cord is a wax impregnated string used for wire bundling and making harnesses.
There are many choices of lacing cord available from Digikey We use part number 802534B BK032-ND

Finally, solder the speaker wires to the motherboard, plug in the WOW121-Diesel decoder, and replace the shell and coupler boxes.

Your WOWSound equipped engine is now ready to run!

Other solder tips: When stripping wire, only strip a tiny little bit of the insulation. Strip no more then a 1/64 of an inch. When the wire gets tinned with solder the insulation will shrink back more. Try to not expose any more wire then half the length of the solder pad at most. In no case should solder or exposed wire wire ever be outside the boundary of the the solder pad you are attaching a wire to.
Click here for important information on properly Stripping and Tinning wire

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