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Thread: First DCC/sound install: Can I test sound before connecting loco?

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    Default First DCC/sound install: Can I test sound before connecting loco?

    I am about to embark on my first DCC install... a Tsunami 2 Steam 2 sound decoder "hard wired" into a Bachmann Spectrum USRA short tender, which will then be paired with a Bachmann 4-6-0 I just received from Mr. Moose.

    I have "stripped out" the new tender to make room (the factory PC board had to come out to make room for the decoder), gathered together all the components I (think) I need, and practiced my soldering. Now just need to work up the courage to start cutting wires and soldering. But first, a question or two..

    My plan is to install everything into the tender, and have it ready to go, before I cut the old tender loose from the loco... basically trying to minimize the loco's down time. I will be using a 6-wire mini-connector between the tender and the loco (actually, in the tender, I think) to make it easier to disconnect the tender in the future.The tender will soon be converted to oil... so I can't fire the speaker up thru the coal load. It would be hard to disguise the sound holes in the top of the oil bunker. There is no room to mount the speaker firing down thru the floor... insufficient vertical clearance for the speaker with the decoder sitting above it. So, I plan to mount the speaker vertically in the tender, directing the sound forward towards the loco, thru a series of sound holes drilled in what will be the front of the oil bunker. Altho' the sound holes will be visible, I think that is the LEAST noticeable place I could put them. I'm pretty sure I will have room to mount the stay alive capacitor that came with the decoder behind the speaker in the oil bunker. I'd welcome suggestions if anyone has other solutions to the speaker/sound direction... What would be smallest recommended size for the holes? I was thinking of ten to twelve holes ~1mm diameter... is that too small, too few?

    But the real reason I am posting is to ask: Is there any reason that I couldn't/shouldn't test the sound install and confirm that it works before I actually hook everything up to the loco. The new tender will have 8 wheel pickup, and I thought I might just set it on the track, select the default loco 03, and blow the whistle and/or ring the bell to make sure they work before I cut the loco loose from its current tender... I can't see why that would harm the decoder (tho' I think I read somewhere you often can't program a decoder w/o the motor connected).

    I plan to take pictures along the way (already have some of the stripping down of the tender), and will post them once I have things working.

    Thanks,
    Dave

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    Testing like that should work, it won't hurt the decoder.

    Basic programming will probably work too, but anything requiring an "acknowledge" from the decoder won't, because the "acknowledge" is a short pulse of current drawn by the engine - and most decoders use the motor to draw the current. You could add a resistor between the motor leads to "simulate" the motor - probably somewhere from 47 Ohm to 220 Ohm will work - or just don't test the programming yet

    Heiko

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
    You could add a resistor between the motor leads to "simulate" the motor - probably somewhere from 47 Ohm to 220 Ohm will work - or just don't test the programming yet
    I agree. But just to be safe re: the decoder, I would always use a resistor to simulate the motor load.

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    I use to test the decoders being them MRC, zimo, digitrax or loksound. On Drop-in decoders i just connect the wires on pick up, no motor. Is no issue with motor is not there. You will just test for couple of minute, not half hour. Is good to test before you mount, i found in the past cold soldering or bad soldering from factory (specially on Chinese brand MRC and Digitrax).

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    @NDave

    Moose wonder if you'll need to drill holes in tender shell.

    The best practice is to ensure you use a quality speaker & enclosure (see "sugar cube" speakers @ SBS4DCC.com or similar).

    There's an opening in the shell where the locomotive wire harness passes through it that may be enough of an opening to adequately hear the sound.
    ~ Moose (Co-founder of the Mt. Tahoma & Pacific Railroad, located some where in the Pacific Northwest)

    "Beware the Train of Thought that Carries no Freight..."

    Click Here to See Moose's Layout Thread

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    It's no need to drill holes in the tender (not even in the coal load) Sound will find a way out of the shell without problem. Like Moose said, just buy a good quality speaker with enclosure, the biggest you can fit in the available space. Sugar cube 11mmx15mm from Loksound or the smaller 8mmx12mm from SBS4DCC or Zimo.
    I don't think you loco si smaller than this one which sound great with Zimo , and not have any holes in the shell:

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    Thanks for all your responses...

    I'm going to try to fit in an 11 x 15mm sugar cube from SBS. I have it wired thru a TCS microconnector to the decoder, since the speaker will likely be attached to the shell and the decoder to the tender floor. This will allow me to completely remove the shell if needed, w/o unsoldering anything. It also makes it easy to swap out the speaker for a smaller one, if needed.

    I'll hold off on drilling holes until I hear how it sounds. I won't get to work on the oil bunker for a few days and have already removed the coal load, so the whole top of the tender will be open til then.

    Next step is getting the capacitor soldered in between the ground and the function common, and then splitting the function common for the headlight and a future backup light install Then it will be time to tuck the decoder into the tender (I plan to use a small bit of double sided foam tape to hold it to the tender floor), and connect the wires from the truck pickup buses to the decoder. AT that point, I should be able to test the sound...

    Hopefully, I'll have good news to report later today.
    Dave

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    Good news and bad news...

    The good news: Set the wired tender on the tracks, and turned on my PowerCab. As soon as the PowerCab booted up, I saw the decoder lights flash and the steam sounds and air pump came on. Selected loco 3, and I could blow the whistle and ring the bell. Success! Sort of...

    The bad news: the tender shell won't fit on. The problem is the depth of the water tank, floor to ceiling, so to speak. I think I need less than a mm more room. I think I can get it, first by routing all wires alongside the decoder, instead of on top of the decoder. Next, get out the old (and I mean old... purchased circa 1977) Dremel and take a little more metal off the tender chassis. Pretty sure I can make this decoder fit...

    Stay tuned...

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    Shell is on, and sound is on! Maybe I'll be brave enough to swap tenders tomorrow!

    Won't know if the 11 x 15mm speaker will really fit until I get the oil bunker constructed in a week or so...

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    You don't need holes for sound egress. Tender shells are not air tight. There are holes everywhere that will leak air (and sound). Plus no holes gives a pleasing slight reverb to the sound, and emphasizes the lower-midrange, which makes the absence of any true bass less noticeable.

    Mount the speaker so that it fires into the open space in the tender (e.g., firing up toward the top of the tender shell). No holes.

    Try it. You'll like it!

    John C.

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    Another good news and bad news post...

    Swapped tenders today... I finally gave up on the idea of including a microconnector in the leads between loco and tender. Connectors don't bend, and there just wasn't enough room to make the wires do what I wanted (more on that in a minute). Maybe with a little more experience, I could have figured it out. Instead, I ended up hard wiring the tender to the loco, which is how it started out anyway.

    Got the wires stuffed in (think they're too long), and the speaker (John C., right now I am planning on speaker baffle sitting right up against the top of the oil bunker-to-be, firing down into space occupied by wires, the capacitor, and decoder... but I can play with it and see what works best).

    Put the loco and new tender on the tracks, and powered up... air pump, bells, whistle, loco moves for and aft, chuffing sounds, all good! Turn on headlight... dynamo sounds, lights on for 3 sec, then lights gone. Hmmm, I'll bet I was supposed to put a resistor in that circuit, wasn't I? I'm guessing I blew the headlight LED. (it wouldn't have lit at all if I had swapped the white and blue lead, right?). Blowing the LED (If that's what I did) is not too big a deal, because I have a plan in the works to move the headlamp down to the front of the smoke box and install SMD LEDS for headlight and backup light. I'll remember the resistors next time... In the meantime, no headlight...

    A couple issues that I DO have to solve...
    First, I may have left too much extra wire between tender and loco, and am having trouble getting just the right amount and position. The loco is derailing at a turnout that it didn't have problems with before, and I can see the wires between the loco and tender have shifted around. I'll have to work on that... might need to shorten the leads a little.

    Second, in all the manipulations, the fireman side forward tender pickup bus strip seems to have gotten a little bent, so it isn't making contact with the tender pickup tab. Tried bending it down, but it doesn't seem to take the bend I want. Might try tacking the bus end down with a little super glue, or have seen other examples somewhere of styrene strips being used to hold the ends of the bus down. I'll figure it out...

    Then, I have to figure out how to program the Tsunami2... In some regards, it looks more similar to the Economi that came in the Bachmann 2-8-0 (page mode CVs) than the Tsunami1 in my Athearn Challenger, but with some new features...

    More later...

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    If you can not fit 11x15 speaker, try with 8x12mm also from Brian. Bachman in small movie posted, have a small 8x12 Zimo, and sound great. Just glue the speaker on shell, with CA glue, but seal perfect, to separate the inner side from out. I use to glue with CA and seal with liquid electrical tape. For wires, try to make a small loop between locomotive and tender, using the smallest wire, and test for flexibility and for any binding.
    Mounting Loksound decoder in KATO C62-2 066 by Constantin Dac, on Flickr

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    Here a photo more clear and with wires painted black. Wires have space to move free in the cab and gap between tender and locomotive.


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