Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sound Decoders


My first foray into sound equipped locos began when i fitted out a couple of Bachmann  4-6-0...G gauge locos with Aristocraft wireless control & MyLocosound sound decoders.

The sight & sound of a double header leading a long freight on a frosty morning, puffing smoke & chanting along over trestles & in cuttings will be with me forever...The garden railway is no more......The neighbours are happier on Sunday mornings though !!!...

I never could seem to find the volume control pot...

Obviously G gauge locos are a lot larger than HO equivalents...the speakers are bigger & the noise is certainly bigger...But i came to the conclusion that a return to HO would certainly involve a sound equipped fleet.

When i begun rebuilding the HO fleet i took some advice & equipped a Trainorama 42 class with a Loksound decoder....a fairly easy conversion.  I was quite happy that i had a loco that made noise...but after a while i noted that the system had its limitations.

During that time i was able to sample the QSI offerings through the purchase of a Eureka 620 / 720 set & then followed a while later with the purchase of the long awaited CPH/CTH from the same manufacturer.

In my rush to fill the roundhouse ( that does not yet exist ) i also purchased a couple of Loksound equipped near new units from ebay.  One being a 442 & the other a 49.

The 49 seems to be about as good as a Loksound install gets & of course the 49 does not offer much room under the hood anyway... As for the 442 it sounded OK but all the functions were all over the place & needed straightening out.

Then one day a chance purchase from an american supplier was to change my thinking for the future...I came across a stock of Tsunami  TSU-AT1000 sound decoders going for around $40 or $44 dollars being me....i jumped in and bought  a few units of the 251 & 567  variety & they duly arrived.  It was then that i realised that these decoders were board replacement type units for Atlas or Athearn units & were only remotely plug & play if you had these type units...

These are far from Plug & Play units and at first glance seem to have solder tabs coming out of every orifice.

No worries i thought... a quick call to Danny should sort this minor issue out.

Danny has a favourite expression that i am sure all who know him have had thrown at them at one time or another...

He listened intently to what i had purchased but then launched into a tirade of abuse which closed with.....

"ARE YOUR EYES F&%#*!? PAINTED ON!!!".....Did you read the description...etc etc.

There certainly are types of Tsunami decoders that are seemingly easier to fit....but from advice from another source...the removal of the factory fitted circuit board is required on a number of local maufacturer's locos anyway.

From my experience it is certainly easier where the 44 class is concerned ....I hat to think what the 49 class looks like under the hood.

As it turns out & after a lot of perseverence & phone calls in the middle of the night asking where does this wire go....I have "mastered" the art of fitting these units to at least the 42 class, 442 class & the 44 class.

It does entail essentially gutting the loco which is bloody daunting the first time...

A couple of weeks ago & experiencing a high from my new found skills...I decided to download & setup DecoderPro software & with the aid of an old serial / USB lead that i thought would never be used again...I had success...

I have only just started to scratch the surface of this software & its applications, but certainly can see just how powerful an ally this program is for a DCC equipped fleet of locos.

I have now logged all of my sound equipped loco roster into the program & have sorted out all of the basic issues with the fleet.

Now my plan is to convert all locos to Tsunami where possible...I welcome any comments here & feel sure i will insult some...but as far as MY ears are concerned the Tsunami decoders ( if fitted correctly i guess ) certainly offer a quality of sound that is in my opinion postcodes ahead of at least QSI & Loksound.

It is not hard to see how sound installs & fine tuning the output can be a separate hobby all on its own.

So...some advice from a rank amateur is....if you have been putting off fitting sound to your locos for one reason or another ....give it a advice & soon the veil of mystery will start to lift...Oh, and as Molly Meldrum used to yourself a favour & take a look at Decoderpro Software.





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