Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Play Around - It's how You can Learn

As mentioned in my NMRA Presentation on Sunday, don't be afraid to play around... with your models Scooter, with your models.

So I have now started a new project and will use what Scooter and I told everyone about on the weekend - Rattle Cans and I'll also make sure to do it with an Accent - haw haw haw mes amies.  My test subject is an undecorated Atlas 50'6" ACF Boxcar in HO scale.


As we all know, this might take me a while as I tend to get distracted by all sorts of shiny baubles. To be precise, it is around about project number 24 currently on the go !  Nothing is linear, so who knows when each will be completed - before or after the clothesline?......

Check out the recording of Scooter and myself in this video up on Youtube - "AR Virtual Convention 2021 Day 3 Part 2" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzL2TOljFhE

You need to look at timestamp 3:05:00 to 3:24:30 for Scooter and 3:24:30 to 3:57:10 for Myself.

As the project progresses, I'll update my blog - won't I ?....

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot

 Oh... Bugger It !

I was using my NCE Pro Cab Radio handset last night to drive my trains around the AMRA layout and the throttle wheel suddenly got gritty and jammed - damn.  I was able to continue running my trains as the throttle has buttons for faster and slower etc - no biggy.  When I got home I placed it on the workbench to be looked at at a later time, in due course, when the time was right...

So after working on the club layout today I decided to check out my Radio Throttle - I had an idea a mate hinted as a possibile solution perhaps.

Upon taking out the multitude of screws holding the NCE Pro Cab Radio together, I took out the batteries and had a gander at it all.  Yep, that was it.... Whilst the batteries are in the cab, there is a fair bit of pressure on the plastic battery holder ends.  Looks like age finally had its way and the plastic gave way and it finally broke at one end, thereby pushing the metal clips at that end into the throttle speed wheel.

Now that thought that my friend at the club, let's call him B1, and I had, was that the radio cab throttle and the normal Powercab throttle I also have, should both have the exact same plastic cases. So I should be able to do a swap as the Powercab throttle does not need a functioning battery case as it gets its power directly from the layout and DCC bus. So it was out with my NCE Power Pro Cab and it also got plonked onto the workbench and pulled apart. The bench is now starting to look like an electronics repair station.


So a closer look at the back case from the Power Pro Cab showed that I needed to drill a couple of holes in it to allow the aerial to connect in as well as the status LED Light to be visible.


So it was time, time to get out the POWER TOOLS ! (I swear I could hear Tim the Toolman in the background...)  The De Walt drill got a run today.


The only soldering I needed to do was to get the wires off of the battery terminal connectors and put them back later. So here is the before unsoldering pic so I could tell which wire went where. Nothing like a bit of documentation before you go at it and muck it all up - experience...


So I now inserted the set of battery connectors into the top of the new back of the Radio Cab.  Here is a behind the cab look and then inside the cab look.



With the holes drilled in the top of the case, I installed the radio components for the aerial and LED.



Soldering of the battery wires was now done after inserting the battery terminals at the bottom of the case.  Pics of inside and outside of the case.



Done, so I says to myself - I talk to myself you know - only one smart enough around here to talk to... well... only one around actually !

But, I says to myself, I better test it heh?!  So I grabbed a small N scale locomotive, connected the Power Pro Cab to drive the test layout and then connected in the Radio Base Station, THEN turned on the Radio Cab.  Yep, all good - yeeeeharrrrr - happy chappy and ready to go for the next train outing next week :-)



Monday, May 10, 2021

As Raj would say, "I Swear to Cow, that's Loud!"

So, one of the new QR 1720 locos I have recently purchased was the Egg & Lettuce one, uou know, green and gold - the Bicentennial paint schemed one that QR did - QR 1723. While I was purchasing it out from under Scooters nose, I also purchased a sound decoder from the same bloke, that he hadn't gotten around to installing yet.

The electronic sound and controller gizmo is an ESU 95455, LokSound Select 6 AUX, this is the v4.0 LokSound decoder that comes factory preprogrammed with the Wuiske version of the 8 Cylinder EMD 645E (FT) engine. The decoder measures 30 mm x 15 mm by about 4 or so millimeters thick and is an 8 pin type.

I decided to try something different with this installation. As I've been playing with different sound chambers in my N scale locos, I thought I'd give this fella a big sound.  I already had a bunch of the ESU 50321 Sugar Cube Speaker and Baffle sets on hand, so I figured that since the ESU LokSound decoders can drive 4 ohm to 16 ohm impedance type speakers, that I might just see what two 8 ohm sugar cubes wired in parallel would sound like since that makes 4 ohms impedance.

I built up a seperate baffle chamber for each speaker using the supplied ESU parts. I used the 2 mm walls, the lid and the speaker on each setup. The walls and lid were super glued together and then the speaker attached to this with white glue. 



This gave a speaker size of 11 x 15 x 6.5 mm. The 6.5 mm depth just fits into the 1720 loco's fuel tank with juuuust enough room to use a piece of double sided tape - the Sellotape "Sticky Dots" type since they are nice and thin.

Now the chassis went into the vise, rubber jaws of course, so I could work on it easier than it floating all over my bench. 


Once the white glue was dry, overnight wait, the double sided tape was applied and the speakers stuck into the fuel tank. I spaced them apart for better sound reproduction, but didn't allow them to actually touch the walls of the fuel tank - less chance of stray rattles. "Rattle & Hum" by U2 was playing in the background (for real) by the way, if you were interested Scooter.


The decoder was then double sided taped to the inside of the roof as far to the rear as I could possibly get it. I used my normal old Sellotape "Mounting Tape" to stick it in place.



I then carefully soldered on my wires to the speakers. I wired the speakers in parallel first:

Then I wired this setup back up to the decoder and used some tiny heat shrink tubing over the joins to the decoder. 



I drilled a few more tiny holes in the fuel tank cover to "let out the sound" better and snapped that back into place. Here is a before and after the drill bit was used.


A few attempts of carefully putting the loco's shell back on was needed, to make sure all the wires went back in as efficiently as possible so as to not jam anything up or get in any way. The two screws to hold the shell on were then screwed into place and we were ready. So onto the test track and I fired up JMRI on the computer and opened up a throttle and turned the power on to the loco...


With the same settings as I normally used for single Sugar Cube Speakers or standard 8 ohm coil speakers... HOLY COW !!!!  Ear plugs required !!!!  But she is crystal clear - NOICE, very nice indeed... can you hear me over the engine noise?  OMG, does this steup work or what ?!!!

So I have now gone into JMRI and reconfigured a few settings on the sound chip.  I have dropped the Master Volume down from 180 down to 100  (192 is max).  Also,  Slot 1, which is the Engine Noise, has also been dropped down from 100 to 70 (128 is max).

I may have to revisit these settings and drop them lower. I'll find out once I run the loco down at the train club.

I am now very very tempted to revisit my older 1720 locos and do them with dual speakers too... we'll see.



Monday, April 26, 2021

Don't Say I'm Not Nice to Others

Well, a so called mate got himself an Auscision HO scale AN class locomotive the other day and wanted me to put sound in it for him.  I eventually caved in as he's the type that if he touches something - kaboom!  

I made him test the loco itself under DC before he handed it to me, which he did - all the lights and the motor worked fine. So here is what I had to work with after he'd removed the DC board.



So I got him to order in an ESU v5 21 pin LokSound Decoder and one of those dual speaker kits, the ESU 50340 set which comes with two Sugar Cube Speakers and 3 different sized build-up sound baffles.


I then tried the 3 different sized baffle sets for fit and settled on the larger of the dual rectangular ones.  Here's a photo of the a 2mm and the 3mm spacer with the bottom and top pieces. So it gave an overall height for the baffle set of 11mm and 20 x 40mm cross section.


The next few shots show the build of the speaker setup.  I glued each layer of the baffle with normal Revell Liquid Plastic Cement and then used Aquadhere to glue the actual Sugar Cube Speakers into the baffle set. The white glue of course takes a number of hours to dry, so I used some wooden pegs (suitably modified) to hold the speakers in overnight.






The ESU LokSound decoder is a 21 pin version and it just plugged in without any wiring at all - saweeeeet.


Next I screwed the sound baffle set into the loco where one of the baffles supplied with the loco used to live - these were not suitable for use with these ESU Speakers or Baffle Set. The speakers are at the right hand end of the loco and an original baffle supplied with the loco remains unused at the left hand end of the loco.

The shell for the loco was then put on and fitted well - just fitted in fact!.  Then it was onto the ESU Programmer and the sound file pushed to the loco.  I used the ESU "S0531-LS5H0DCC-Diesel-EMD-16-710G3A-T-V4-R4" sound file from their website after my mate tracked down that the AN class had an EMD 16 cylinder 710G3A donk in them.


A test run of the loco and relative adjustments to sound volumes, momentum settings and basic runnings adjustments were then made using JMRI since I prefer that application for those sorts of adjustments. The loco was then packed up and I emailed the SOAB mate of mine that he'd have the loco on Wednesday at the club :-)



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Socialism for PA's

Nope, not politics and also not about Personal Assistants - it's about some of my ALCO PA-1 and PB-1 locomotives.

Wayyyy back I put sound in some of my PA's.  I use the MRC first generation sound decoders as there wasn't much else around.  They did the job, but were fairly quiet, so I got a few decoders and only put them in my EMD F7 locos and a couple of my PA's.  As you can see in the previous post, I have found that the Sugar Cube speakers make a damned big difference to the volume of sound and all is new again and BETTER.

So I am spreading the joy around and distributing the sound decoders amongst the F3's and other PA's as well.  So the F7's had 2 sound decoders amongst the 4 loco consist and now only has 1 as that is enough to make it heard across the room nicely.  The second sound decoder got whacked across into my 4 loco consist of F3's.  Both sets are now top notch in the volume and sound department :-)

So the PA's got some attention today and I moved decoders around so that all consists have sound. The Southern Pacific PA/PB/PA set had 2 sound decoders and now only needs one, with the spare going to the D&RGW PA/PB set which previously had no sound before. Here are the leaders of both consists:

Now today I did not do the Sugar Cube installs, just moved the decoders around and lubricated the locos ready for the upcoming train show in two weeks time.  So What was maybe in a PA is now in a PB and some shells got swapped to make it easier.  It was all a big shell game and hide and seek I can tell you.  In the end I now have sound across the consists of F3's F7's and PA's.

A before shot of the lead PA and the PB before I mucked with them.


So for this PA/PB pair, I just left the decoders in place as the locomotive's mechanism is the same for both, and just moved the shell across between the two.  The front bogie had to also move as the lead loco does not have a coupler on the bogie and of course the B unit does.



The headlight had to also move as the PB doesn't have a light and the PA needs one.  Easy to do with the soldering iron to move the LED from one decoder to the next.


So after the game of whack-a-mole, hide and seek and such, we had the 3 PA/PB unit in Southern Pacific colours done.  The sugar cubes can come another day, but at least no moving of decoders will be needed.



Now for the D&RGW pair of PA/PB's.  I was able to make it so that the sound decoder went in the PA for now.  When I do the Sugar Cube install I will prbably machine off 4-5 mm of metal where the little speaker currently is.


So as of today we have distributed the wealth of sound amongst a bunch of locomotives.