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Stationary sound decoder linked to engine?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Vancouver
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Stationary sound decoder linked to engine?
Posted by mearrin69 on Friday, February 1, 2008 9:44 PM

Hi all. I'm working in n-scale and have a 1'x4' layout. I'd like to have sound linked to my engines but there's no room in my little switchers for a board, speaker, etc. (at least I don't think there's one out there that fits.)

So, that in mind, I was wondering if there's an alternative. It's a small layout so I wouldn't mind having sound come from a static location. The MRC thing looks cool but it is all manual - and I'd rather have something linked to what the engines are doing. Is there a way to just use an unmounted sound decoder to accomplish this? Could I rig up a sound decoder or two with the same number as my engines and have them respond in tandem?

Sorry if it's a silly question - complete n00b when it comes to sound (and DCC for that matter). Smile [:)]
M

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Posted by cacole on Friday, February 1, 2008 9:49 PM

The SoundTraxx DSX sound-only decoder (or any other sound decoder for that matter) could be used for what you envision doing, but every locomotive is going to sound exactly alike if you go this route.  And the decoder would have to be programmed to the same address as the engine that you're running at the time or it won't work.

Considering the limitations involved in using a DCC decoder, I would consider opting for the MRC under-layout sound system.

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Posted by jim22 on Friday, February 1, 2008 10:06 PM

I wonder if it would work if you mounted a decoder (or a few if you want a variety of engine types) under the table or in a structure, and then created consists with each engine you want to run and the decoder for the sound you want it to have.  Select your real engine address, and the consisted sound decoder would create the sound for it.  I'm experimenting right now with the Digitrax SFX0416 and SFX004.  Both will produce sound to match engine operation and require only track connections.  SoundTraxx has similar sound-only decoders.

Jim 

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Posted by cacole on Friday, February 1, 2008 10:16 PM
 jim22 wrote:

I wonder if it would work if you mounted a decoder (or a few if you want a variety of engine types) under the table or in a structure, and then created consists with each engine you want to run and the decoder for the sound you want it to have.  Select your real engine address, and the consisted sound decoder would create the sound for it.  I'm experimenting right now with the Digitrax SFX0416 and SFX004.  Both will produce sound to match engine operation and require only track connections.  SoundTraxx has similar sound-only decoders.

Jim 

Yes, that would work, but could get to be very expensive if you have a lot of locomotives with decoders in them.  And the sound is not going to move with the train, which is really no better than using the MRC system.

You can use larger, better speakers with the MRC system and get much better sound than you can out of any decoder.

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  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, February 2, 2008 8:24 AM

The "Connecting a Sound Bug" thread has some info that may be useful to you:

http://www.trains.com/trccs/forums/1343499/ShowPost.aspx

I've learned from a couple of the other guys that the Sound Bug decoder from Digitrax, along with the sound-and-lights SFX0416 decoder and similar offerings from Soundtraxx, don't have to be in the engine with the primary motion decoder.  So, you could put one in a dummy engine with a speaker, and just feed it track power.  Or, you could use a boxcar, tender or baggage car for the same purpose.  This has the advantage of moving with the train, but you avoid the space issue inside the locomotive shell.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by jim22 on Saturday, February 2, 2008 12:52 PM
 cacole wrote:
 jim22 wrote:

I wonder if it would work if you mounted a decoder (or a few if you want a variety of engine types) under the table or in a structure, and then created consists with each engine you want to run and the decoder for the sound you want it to have.  Select your real engine address, and the consisted sound decoder would create the sound for it.  I'm experimenting right now with the Digitrax SFX0416 and SFX004.  Both will produce sound to match engine operation and require only track connections.  SoundTraxx has similar sound-only decoders.

Jim 

Yes, that would work, but could get to be very expensive if you have a lot of locomotives with decoders in them.  And the sound is not going to move with the train, which is really no better than using the MRC system.

You can use larger, better speakers with the MRC system and get much better sound than you can out of any decoder.

 I wasn't suggesting a sound decoder for each particular engine, just a sound decoder apropriate for each TYPE of engine.  For instance one playing steam sounds, one for diesel sounds.  Then for each REAL engine, create a consist containing the real engine and the appropriate sound decoder.  Each sound decoder would participate in a number of consists.  The two things I'm not sure of are: (1) can the real engine be the lead engine and still get sound from the sound decoder, and (2) can constists be defined concurrently which contain the same engine.  I haven't tried much consisting.  I'm putting a sound decoder along with a motor decoder in one engine.  I plan to make them the same address, but I could also give each a unique address and consist them I think.

Jim 

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, February 2, 2008 1:36 PM

The exact mechanics of consisting varies between different DCC systems, as does the method for controlling the consist.  On my Lenz system, I don't think you can put an engine into more than one consist.  Now that I think of it, I think that the "consist address" is contained in the decoder itself, so I'm pretty sure it will be only one consist per decoder.

Remember, the original post is a 1x4 foot layout.  He won't be running lots of engines concurrently.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Sunday, February 10, 2008 1:12 PM

I think consising a sound decoder just connected to the track would work the best.  If you use a full featured sound and power decoder, you will have to connect a load resistor to the motor output wires, otherwise the decoder may not work.  I don't have any experience with a sound only decoder, so I don't know how the sound would act in a consist.  I do believe that the main locomotive (designated as running in front) may be the only one you can control the horn and bell sounds from.

 

Elmer.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by Otis on Sunday, February 10, 2008 9:05 PM

I have several posts and responses on just this thing.  I am back from a holiday and just getting into wiring up this type of unit.  Here is what I am doing:

I am using the circuit idea from Soundtraxx.com to run a few decoders as stationary sound sources for my layout. 

 

I have over 83 locos now, and only about a dozen with sound installed (factory and my effort).  So I figured, no way I can afford to buy sound decoders for the remaining 71 locos....so I am just installing light and motion decoders in these.

I have three diesel locos sound decoders available for MUing with whatever loco I select on the layout  (a 1st and 2nd generation EMD and an early Alco).  I also have on Tsunami decoder for stationary steam sound (yes I know this is an expensive route, but the darned Tsunami is shorting out in the Decapod, so I will just yank it out and use it for the steam sounds on the layout.  It is a medium steam Tsunami.) And I have a Soundbug to program as a fourth source.

The sound module will be jacked into my stereo in the next room and the MUed effects played through two 12" subwoofers and full frequency speakers in the layout room.  I have learned that some people think that the frequency response of the sound decoders is not as great as it might be, but they sure rumble in the tests.

Another forum member reports good results with a similar setup.  He sets the volume to simulate in-the-cab sound levels....something I am looking forward to fine tuning.

If interested in the results, let me know and I will keep you posted.  Just awaiting the correct output transformers now from Radio Shack. My initial test worked, but was too low in volume due to the incorrect transformers.

Wish me luck!

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 7:34 AM

Interesting concept.

Riddle me this:

How about identical sound decoders, one in the engine, and one stationary, with a crossover so that the stationary decoder drove ONLY the subwoofer.  Is the frequency response of the decoders sufficient for that?  Since it is very difficult for the human ear to determine direction of very low frequencies, they should theoretically sound like they are coming from the engine, along with the high frequencies.

Just a thought.  Why yes, I was always looking out the window in school.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by Otis on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 5:26 PM
 Phoebe Vet wrote:

How about identical sound decoders, one in the engine, and one stationary, with a crossover so that the stationary decoder drove ONLY the subwoofer.

Well, yes, that would work.  But it would be twice as expensive as necessary.  Moreover, the bell, whistle, flange, and all other sound effects of the decoder in the loco would not be audible over the sound of the loco through the subwoofers....at least not the way I ran my test.

When I played the website decoder sound file through my 15 " subwoofers (and midrange/tweeters for the other effects) the effect was like standing near the real loco.  These sound waves are themselves up to 30 feet long and can be felt when the volume is turned up.  Although the full frequency is not necessarily available on the decoder sample, I have some confirmation that there is enough response to be useful to a subwoofer.

I would run the decoder sound MU'ed to the loco at or near realistic levels as the room would permit....either setting it for the perspective of the loco on the layout, or from the perspective of a listener in the loco cab, or from a listener at trackside.  When set for the latter, nothing else played in the room would be audible.

You are right, the direction of low frequency sounds is not easily distinquished by a listener (that's why home theater subwoofers can be placed anywhere, including under the sofa)

Subwoofers always need a cross over.  I use a Paradigm actve crossover between the main amplifier and the subwoofer amplifier.  That way I can dial in or out any low frequency screening I want.

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Posted by Bapou on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 5:34 PM
 Otis wrote:

When I played the website decoder sound file through my 15 " subwoofers (and midrange/tweeters for the other effects) the effect was like standing near the real loco.  These sound waves are themselves up to 30 feet long and can be felt when the volume is turned up.  Although the full frequency is not necessarily available on the decoder sample, I have some confirmation that there is enough response to be useful to a subwoofer.

First, yes you can do it, David Popp does it with his yard switcher! It was in an MR article a few years ago. Second, Otis what website is this where you play the sample sounds? 

Go NJT, NJ Transit, New Jersey Transit. Whatever you call it its good. See my pictures and videos here: http://s239.photobucket.com/albums/ff20/Bapouthetrainman/
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Posted by Otis on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 5:58 PM
 Bapou wrote:

Otis what website is this where you play the sample sounds? 

If you go to the Soundtraxx website you can play 45 or so samples of the files put on their DSX decoder (the main choice for stationary decoders).  Some people fear that fidelity of the decoder sample may not be as great as that of these samples because they are designed for tiny speakers.  However, the webpage states "Keep in mind that the reproduction of the sound will not have the fidelity of the sounds you will hear from your SoundTraxx sound systems. The files have been compressed and kept deliberately small for quick downloading."

I have heard from others who do this that the decoder sound is quite satisfactory when amplified externally and run through sound systems and especially subwoofers.  The samples were extremely impressive played through my home system which was designed for house/trance/dance music files.

http://www.soundtraxx.com/products/dcc/dsxsound.htm

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Posted by Bapou on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 10:50 AM
 Otis wrote:
 Bapou wrote:

Otis what website is this where you play the sample sounds? 

If you go to the Soundtraxx website you can play 45 or so samples of the files put on their DSX decoder (the main choice for stationary decoders).  Some people fear that fidelity of the decoder sample may not be as great as that of these samples because they are designed for tiny speakers.  However, the webpage states "Keep in mind that the reproduction of the sound will not have the fidelity of the sounds you will hear from your SoundTraxx sound systems. The files have been compressed and kept deliberately small for quick downloading."

I have heard from others who do this that the decoder sound is quite satisfactory when amplified externally and run through sound systems and especially subwoofers.  The samples were extremely impressive played through my home system which was designed for house/trance/dance music files.

http://www.soundtraxx.com/products/dcc/dsxsound.htm

Hey, thanks a lot. 

Go NJT, NJ Transit, New Jersey Transit. Whatever you call it its good. See my pictures and videos here: http://s239.photobucket.com/albums/ff20/Bapouthetrainman/
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Posted by BRVRR on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 9:04 PM

For the small layout you describe a sound decoder(s) under the layout with a 4-6 inch speaker would give you all the sound I think you might need. If you have several types of locomotive a decoder appropriate for each could be so mounted. For instance, EMD 1st generation, second generation, ALCO diesel and steam locos as needed.

I mounted Soundtraxx DSD100LC steam and diesel decoders under my HO-scale BRVRR layout. They run on track power and have a small light bulb across the motor leads to provide a load. Each decoder is assigned its own address. I have a 4-inch enclosed speaker on each decoder. The sound response is quite good and control of the sound levels with CVs is relatively easy. With the volume all the way up the sound can drive me right out of the room.

To use an under table sound decoder with a non-sound equipped locomotive, I just use the sound decoder address as the 'top' address and MU the desired locomotive(s) to it. The system works quite well. Though the sound doesn't follow the locomotive, that is not so critical on my 4x10 layout.

I have a few pictures of my installation on my website. Just push the Layout button and scroll down the page.

This method works for me on my small layout and would probably work well for you. I wouldn't even attempt to install a sound decoder in an N-scale diesel loco, they are just too small.

I do have several sound equipped locomotives, both steam and diesel, that I run often. But the under table decoders can be MU'd to any engine, or run by themselves to provide background sounds if desired.

Good luck, however you proceed.

Remember its your railroad

Allan

  Track to the BRVRR Website:  http://www.brvrr.com/

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