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BLI Sound Steamers

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  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Huntsville, AR
  • 742 posts
BLI Sound Steamers
Posted by oldline1 on Friday, March 17, 2017 11:19 AM

I have been thinking about getting a BLI sound equipped steamer to run. I have watched quite a few youtube videos of the various Pennsy and Reading engines that interest me. I'm basically disappointed with the sounds I'm hearing there.

The whistles, other than the J1, don't sound all that good to me. The peanut freight whistles I remember sounded different from what they put out. I also don't like the sound ramping up or down at the end or beginning. Are there more whistles selectable per engine or is it what you see is what you get?

Second problem for me is the exhaust chuffs seem to be "out of square". I mean 3 chuffs sound right and the 4th one is "off" sounding.  I remember riding on a Virginia Blue Ridge USRA 0-6-0 that sounded that way and the engineer told me the valves weren't set right so it was "out of square" meaning they didn't hit every 90* and steam wasn't working properly. I'm no expert but I find the BLI chuffs to be unacceptable. Can they be adjusted?

My only thought right now would be to throw the factory decoders away and install a Tsunami sound decoder. The ones I have installed previously sounded right and good.

Anyone have experience with the BLI adjustments?

Thanks,

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • 532 posts
Posted by hdtvnut on Friday, March 17, 2017 7:29 PM

I agree with you exactly about both the whistles' endings and the uneven cadence of the chuff, as I stated before either on this or the general net.   I also don't like the rotation of the chuff sound between different files.  I think BLI went off the rails on these "features", possibly with the misguided intention of making for greater realism.  AFAIK, these cannot be adjusted, so I have also thought in terms of a replacement decoder.  The expensive 4-12-2 I bought, while beautiful to look at, not only had these problems, but the chuff was not, and could not be, sychronized with the drivers; for a 3-cyl engine, the gear ratio they chose is incompatible with the Paragon 2/3.  This made me angry at first, then I sat down and installed a TCS WOW, which gets sync from six tiny disk magnets and reed switch I installed on the front driver.

I recently saw an in-depth demo of the Tsunami 2, and believe it has great sound; however, it has no sync wire for chuff input.  You lose your positive chuff sync, having to use the BEMF signal, which is difficult to make do a good job on startup/very slow speed.  I have had good luck with the WOW and the Loksound.  Or you could use the original Tsunami (not a good sound for an articulated above 25 mph, tho).

Be aware that if you install a WOW or original Tsunami decoder in a BLI, you cannot use the pickup they use, which is a magnet installed in the flywheel.  This puts out too many pulses per rev (the gear ratio divided by 4 for 2-cyl engines).  BLI does it by using a countdown circuit internal to Para2/3.   So a magnetic or mechanical commutator will be needed for positive sync, as I had to do with my 3-cylinder UP.  IIRC, the Lok4 also has a programmable countdown, but doesn't include 6, so this didn't help with my UP.

I plan to refit some of my other BLI Para2/3's  with WOW or Loksound, to get away from the corny sound.

Hal

 

 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Huntsville, AR
  • 742 posts
Posted by oldline1 on Friday, March 17, 2017 7:38 PM

Hal,

WOW! Just lots of good info there. I generally use Cantara cams in my steamers so I can get a good 4 beat chuff that stays in sync. I have used several older Tsunami's and they sound great but the beat varies with speed which I don't care for. The extra wiper/cam/wiring for better sound is not that big of a deal to me.

Do you know if the whistle c an be adjusted or changed on the BLI system they use? Do they use the QSI or whatever?

I've heard some TCS whistle demos and they seem to have the best selection compared to Tsunami's.

Thanks,

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomortive Works

 

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • 532 posts
Posted by hdtvnut on Friday, March 17, 2017 8:06 PM

I don't think Paragon 2/3 have such adjustments.  They have no relationship to QSI.  Yes, WOW has an excellent library of whistles and pretty good bells.  So does Tsunami 2; wish they hadn't decided to leave off the sync wire, because in all other respects, the T2 is very advanced, with its programmable reverb and spectrum.  And lots more.

Are Cantara cams still available, and where?  Google came up nothing.

Hal

 

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 194 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Friday, March 17, 2017 9:25 PM

The Paragon 2 BLI's that I have, all have 3 whistle choices.  The three options on my Mikados are different from the 3 on my Pacifics, but personally I think they all stink.  The Mikados have a "hidden" alternate whistle that is activated with, I think, F21.  This sounds better to my ears, but has to be manually selected every time you fire the locomotive up.  I've also noticed that when you sound the whistle, the chuffs get quieter while the whistle is going.  Not a lot, but enough to notice.  The bells sound subpar too.  As for adjustment of the chuffs, I have not seen or heard of the ability to do so on them, though that doesn't bother me near as much.  The Paragon 2's also have issues with remembering non-factory default momentum settings.  Frustrating as I otherwise really like the locomotives.

hdtvnut
Tsunami 2; wish they hadn't decided to leave off the sync wire

I thought I read somewhere online that they use a new system where you set a baseline chuff rate at low speed, and then adjust how quickly it increases as you increase speed steps.  A bit fiddly, but otherwise able to basically keep the chuff matched to the engine without needing a cam.  I've not verified this myself, but would be worth looking into.

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Posted by hdtvnut on Saturday, March 18, 2017 1:14 AM

I should have been more clear; I meant that I don't believe the user can modify the whistles to get rid of the "tails".

As for the new Tsunami 2, I just got a couple, but have not had a chance to install one and try their procedure, so maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Hal

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 194 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Saturday, March 18, 2017 6:18 AM

hdtvnut
I should have been more clear; I meant that I don't believe the user can modify the whistles to get rid of the "tails".

Forgot about that one.  There is a CV you can change to somewhat eliminate it, but the still sort of carry on for a second after you let off the button.  Longer than Tsunamis or Loksounds, but not as long as they do default from the factory.

  • Member since
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  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 18, 2017 6:42 AM

Water Level Route

 

 
hdtvnut
I should have been more clear; I meant that I don't believe the user can modify the whistles to get rid of the "tails".

 

Forgot about that one.  There is a CV you can change to somewhat eliminate it, but the still sort of carry on for a second after you let off the button.  Longer than Tsunamis or Loksounds, but not as long as they do default from the factory.

 

 

Sorry, guys, but I for one love the "tails".

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, March 18, 2017 10:39 AM

 If you use NCE or Digitrax, the whistles are actually playable. I don't think any other systems supoort that. NCE does it by scrolling the wheel while holding the whistle button, Digitrax does it by varying how hard you press the F2 button.

                       --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
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  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
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Posted by selector on Saturday, March 18, 2017 1:32 PM

Some of you may not like the uneven cadence of the chuffs on BLI steam sound files, but the fact is that not-recently-shopped steamers all sounded like that eventually.  As for the reality of it all, let's take a listen to a few audio examples of Pennsy steam, first an M1 and secondly an engine that is unknown (they show a J1, if my eyes are right, but I have no way of asserting that what we hear is in fact a J1. The whistle is not that of a J1, I think, more that of a smaller steamer like an I1). The M1 is in low cutoff working a little more strenuously than drifting, but the J1 is definitely working hard.  First, the near-drift recording, but working on about 15-20% cutoff:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7b9iNTQwzU

Not the cha-cha-cha-cha, but cha-cha-cha....cha, cha, cha...cha,cha,cha, endlessly on that throttle and cutoff setting in which the hogger has left it.

Now the example where the engine's stalk talk is entirely different...and you can still hear the pronounced banging chuff every time.  It may not be 'correct' timing of the valves, but it's what the trainmaster dispatched that day because it was well within keeping for the job:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmtvA0yJyTU

Maybe I'm a rarity (though I doubt it), but I appreciate my K4 Paragon from the early BLI Platinum series and it's QSI version of the typical sounds.  It has a pronounced chuff ever four of them.

 

  • Member since
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  • 21 posts
Posted by Captain_Bill12 on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 2:59 PM

In dealing with BLI paragon 2/3 decoders I have found it is best to reset them to factory if the engine is bought used and then just set the address. I use windows running JMRI and a sprog to program engines. It's so much easier for me than trying to deal with CV's directly. I have had many issues with making changes and having the decoder stop working until I factory reset it. When I factory reset it I don't mean setting CV8=8 either. That does not work for me. I have to do a hard reset. Which means usually opening up the engine, hold the reset button, apply power, wait for the cha ching (coupler noise) and then it's reset. I have several older blue box BLI units that I have removed the decoder and wired in a Tsunami or Tsunami 2 decoder w/keep alive into. I find Tsunami's to be as close to bullet proof as you can get and JMRI loves them. I would recommend if you hate the paragon sound change the decoder. Unfortunately it takes a bit of work to do it but once it is done....it's done. You can put the engine away for years and when you pull it out of storage and put it on the track it will run as good as it did when you put it away. I am sorry if it does not provide a lot of help in your case but this is based on my experience and opinions with BLI engines. The do look good and the older models still have the detail but often can be found at a more affordable price.

-Regards,

Bill 

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