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Digitrax SFX0416 power-up, programming

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  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: East Granby, CT, USA
  • 505 posts
Digitrax SFX0416 power-up, programming
Posted by jim22 on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 11:52 PM

I'm working with a Digitrax SFX0416 sound and function only decoder.  When I first turn on my DCC system (NCE PowerCab), and if I program a CV in the decoder in ops mode, the decoder plays the crossing gate horn sequence very loudly 3 or 4 times.  Anyone seen this, and can I change a setting so it doesn't happen.  At first I thought it was an error condition, but now I'm thinking it may supposed to be an acknowledgment. I've got it set up for Diesel, playable horn.

There's a few other wierd things about this decoder too, like an alternate horn which is too soft and doesn't respond to horn volume commands; and the choice to stop playing sounds immediately when the loco speed is set to 0 or never, but no reasonable timeout in between.

Thanks,

Jim 

  • Member since
    September 2007
  • From: Victoria, BC
  • 54 posts
Posted by Don 2816 on Thursday, January 31, 2008 11:47 AM

Jim,

I have the Digitrax SDH104K1A+FN04K1 Combo decoder and frequently experience having the crossing gate horn sequence play during a programming session and sometimes when first starting to use the locomotive.  I too found the alternate horn far too soft.  I wasn't able to get the playable horn to work but that may be due to an older model DT400.

Don

  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: East Granby, CT, USA
  • 505 posts
Posted by jim22 on Thursday, January 31, 2008 8:23 PM

I emailed Digitrax with my questions.  They answered very promptly.  Here's what they sent back:

"

To: techsupport@digitrax.com
Subject: SFX0416 setup


Hi,
I just purchased an *SFX0416. *I've got it set up for Diesel sounds.

When I turn on my DCC system or program a CV in ops mode, the decoder
sounds the crossing gate horn sequence several times really loudly. Is
this normal? Is there a setting that will keep this from happening?YOU HAVE
THE 7 OR 10 KEY "ON" AS YOU HAVE TO PUSH IT TO TURN IT ON AND AGAIN TO TURN
IT OFF.

For diesel sounds, is there really a difference between a playable horn
and the default? NO THERE ISN'T. Also, the alternate horn seems very quiet
and doesn't eally respond much to the horn volume. Any suggestions on how I can
make it louder? I DO NOT HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS TO MAKE IT LOUDER.

Thanks,
Jim"
 

 

  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: East Granby, CT, USA
  • 505 posts
Posted by jim22 on Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:16 PM

I am a bit dissapointed by the SFX0416 and with the response from Digitrax.  From the other responses here (thanks!) it sounds like my decoder is performing normally, i.e. not defective.  Here are my observations so far.  Note that I have some experience with engines with factory sound - mostly QSI systems from P2K, BLI, and maybe Bachman - but this is my first attempt to install aftermarket sound.  My DCC system is rather basic: I have an NCE PowerCab, and just added a couple more UTP panels and a second ProCab throttle.  Some of the issues I'm seeing may be artifacts of the NCE system.

It's nice that the decoders come with speakers, although I don't think I'll be able to use the one that mine came with in this engine.

The manual that came with the decoder is quite readable and fairly complete.  I could use a little more detail about the CV settings.  For example, there is a CV which can be used to either turn off the sound as soon as the throttle is set to 0 speed or leave it on.  One value is 0, the other is 6.  I spent some time trying numbers in between hoping that there might be a variable timeout, but it seems not.  A comment about the values would have been helpful.  Also, there is a setting for a "playable whistle".  It ends up that for diesel, this doesn't seem to make much difference - maybe a little, I haven't decided yet.  The response from Digitrax indicates it's not effective for diesel (agian, I'm not completely sure).  A comment on this would have been helpful.

It's nice that the decoder is usable "out of the box" for diesel or steam.  The programmer is not in my budget at the moment, but I think it ought to be a big advantage to be able to program your own sounds.

There doesn't seem to be a more detailed manual available for these decoders that might be downloadable from the web site like there is for some decoders.

On my NCE system, if I
  - plug in my PowerCab with the track connected and with the decoder address selected, or
  - switch the track from disconnected to connected with the decoder address selected, or
  - have a short somewhere on the layout and the PowerCab shuts down
the decoder plays one or more grade crossing patterns on the horn.  As long as the PowerCab stays connected and the track stays on, it doesn't do this any other time.  This is fairly annoying.

When I change CV's in OPS mode ("program on the main" in NCE speak), I get the grade crossing signal once or twice.  I don't expect to change CV's often, but this is a bit annoying too.  It may be meant as an acknowedgment.

None of the sounds work if the engine speed is set to 0.  Advancing the throttle results in "engine starting" sounds, and then the other effects will work.  Five seconds or so after the throttle is returned to 0, "shut down" sounds are produced and the decoder goes quiet.  There is a CV which can be set to keep the sounds active indefineatly.  I would have liked a timeout of 30 seconds or so.  I will probably learn to mute the engine manually.

There are three short audible "beep" sounds as the decoder starts making sounds.  I'm guessing electrical interference or some software artifact on this one.  EDIT: It turns out the beeps are actually part of the sound project for this engine, and NOT a malfunction of the decoder.  I guess I've never heard one started up before.

All in all, I'll probably go ahead and install this decoder in my engine.  I'd like to repeat these experiments on some other manufacturer's offerings.  It's not a QSI, but then again, it doesn't cost as much as a QSI either.  A few software tweaks and it might be a really good choice.  Being an aerospace software engineer, I'd even be willing to lend a hand at fixing it up. I don't suspect their code is open source however.

I'm going to repeate my testing on the SFX004... I'll report back with the results.

Jim

  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: East Granby, CT, USA
  • 505 posts
Posted by jim22 on Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:18 PM

I just hooked up the SFX004 SoundBug.  It sounds pretty good too.  It does, however, have all the same issues as the SFX0416.  The SFX004 is intended to be plugged into a SoundBug enabled Digitrax motor decoder, but it can be connected to track power and run as an independant decoder just like the SFX0416.  I think it is actually a little louder than the SFX0416 using the factory defaults.  Do you suppose it would be wasted if I put it in an Athearn BB GP38-2?  Maybe I better look up the threads discussing quieting down a BB Smile [:)]

Jim 

  • Member since
    September 2007
  • From: Victoria, BC
  • 54 posts
Posted by Don 2816 on Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:22 PM

Jim,

About the "three short audible "beep" sounds as the decoder starts making sounds" - these are probably normal.  Inside the sound project file for the AC4400, the first item is "DIESEL_START_BELL  SD38_BEEP.wav   0.383 Secs".  I hear these beeps whenever I start my Kato AC4400.  I assume it might be what an AC4400 sounds like when the engineer starts the engine.

Don

  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: East Granby, CT, USA
  • 505 posts
Posted by jim22 on Thursday, January 31, 2008 11:01 PM

"DIESEL_START_BELL  SD38_BEEP.wav   0.383 Secs"

Who would have thought?  I hear the 3 beeps within about the first second of startup.  I need to learn about the programmer and the sound projects.  Maybe the grade crossing at startup is a sound file that can be made very short and quiet.  Thanks for the info.

Jim 

  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: East Granby, CT, USA
  • 505 posts
Posted by jim22 on Thursday, January 31, 2008 11:27 PM

You're right, Don.  The beeps come from a sound file in the project.  I just downloaded SoundLoader and the SD38-2 sound project.  There's obviously more to the decoder than associated sound files.  I see the two available horn .wav files, but putting them together into a grade crossing and perhaps playing it at startup or for a function key doesn't seem to have a dedicated file.  Do you know of a way to extract .wav files from a project file?

Jim 

  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: East Granby, CT, USA
  • 505 posts
Posted by jim22 on Friday, February 1, 2008 10:26 PM

David,

If F7 and/or F10 are activated, it's not because I pressed the buttons.  How did you "remove F7 and F10"?

I'm getting close to making things work for my GP38-2 engine.  Tonight I figured out how to map the F0 function to turn on the lights in the number boards so they don't interfere with the bell and horn.  These are outputs 3 and 4 from an NCE D13SR decoder.  Pretty cool.  My plan to deal with two decoders is to set them to unique short addresses but the same long address. I should be able to switch both decoders to use their short address simultaneously and then address them individually to adjust CVs.

Jim 

  • Member since
    September 2007
  • From: Victoria, BC
  • 54 posts
Posted by Don 2816 on Saturday, February 2, 2008 12:00 AM

Jim,

Re:"Do you know of a way to extract .wav files from a project file?

If you mean remove, that can be done by right mouse-clicking the .wav file in the soundloader window and removing the association, then downloading the result to the decoder.  I have done this to make room for large sound files of my own that I wish to use.  For example I deleted the alternate horn as I never use it.  In the AC4400 sound project, the following files are for the alternate horn:
009 HORN_START
010 HORN_RUN
011 HORN_END
Items 21 to 23 labelled HORN1 are for the standard horn.  I replaced mine with a Nathan K5H and added the sound of the cab door closing to function key 12.  For a friend, I added a voice recording made from a railroad communication scanner to F12.

If you mean extract as in copy the sound from another .spj, there isn't an easy way at the moment.  I have software on my pc that will record anything it hears, so all I have to do is play one of the .wav files (like NextCar.wav in Traction-V1.spj) and then manipulate the resulting sound file with the WavePad software to get the file I want to use in my decoder.  I have used the WavePad program, recommended by Digitrax, to record sounds played on my pc. 

The crossing gate horn sequence is programmed into the .sdf file and I haven't figured out how to get or create the assembler source code for that.  Digitrax hasn't made much of that public yet.  The latest version of DecoderPro, 2.1.1, has the ability to view the .sdf file.  Look under the LocoNet menu option and Edit SPJ Sound File.  When you get into editing the sound file of the AC4400, item 30 SDF can be viewed.  There is still a lot of work to be done in DecoderPro before we can easily edit the .sdf files.

I too am interested in hearing how Dave B. removed F7 and F10. I like the crossing gate horn but only need it on one function key.

Don

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