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Thread: DCC sound decoder for Bachmann 4-6-0

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    Question DCC sound decoder for Bachmann 4-6-0

    I'm interested in upgrading to a sound decoder in my Bachmann 4-6-0, and I'm considering the Digitrax SDXN136PS for the job. Electrically, it looks like a simple job to install, but I'm not sure if it physically fits inside the tender. Has anyone installed this decoder in their 4-6-0?
    I'd also like to hear from anyone who has used other sound decoders in this engine, since I'm open to using any decoder that can do the job. (I'm not married to any particular brand. I've installed 2 TCS non-sound decoders with great results, but I don't think they have a sound decoder small enough for N scale yet.)

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    I have two Bachmann ten-wheelers which rec'd upgrades to Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 Steam 2 sound decoder (one is discussed here, the other shown here...).

    However, neither of my installs used the factory tender. UP #1585 was retrofitted with a Bachmann USRA short tender, and UP #1243 with a MP Vanderbilt tender (altho' I didn't post a how to for the sound install in 1243's tender, a similar install was done into a Vandy tender for my Bachmann 2-8-0).

    Altho' there is no "drop-in" decoder, it shouldn't be that difficult to "hard-wire" install a sound decoder into the 4-6-0s factory tender. It would be less cramped than either of the installs I did...

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    https://youtu.be/Z2F-cmwlEYw6
    I mount zimo sound decoder and sugar cube. Easy job
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    I have installed older Loksound micro's in two of mine. They are all hardwire only in a smaller tender also. The three brands talked about are all similar in connecting. I am unfamiliar with the zimo. I do have a couple of tsunami's in other units. My only trouble with those have been that I have not been able to find any memory cv to keep the decoder from restarting every time it has a power skip, which the Loksound has. There is very little room for any keep alive caps in these locos.

    It will be fun to watch your install.
    Northern Pacific and Black Hills RR in N, of course!!
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    I did not use any keep alive with zimo. Them are already on chipboard. Zimo M648 is the smalest on market now, even more than Loksound. Me also i prefer loksound, more easy to program, but in this setup, remain more space for sugar cube spkr.
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    I have not installed a decoder in that particular loco (or tender), but I've installed an ESU Loksound in a Bachmann USRA Short tender (which I believe is actually smaller than the tender on the 4-6-0) and a Soundtraxx Economi in a Bachmann Vanderbilt tender. I'm not very good at wiring and both took me a while, but it was well worth it in my opinion. While there is some subjectivity in which one a person likes best, I'd recommend either of those decoders over the Digitrax one.

    I used that same Digitrax decoder you are considering - SDXN136PS - in a 40' boxcar I wired up for sound. I thought since it had both diesel and steam sounds on it, I could consist that sound car with either type of locomotive and save doing a bunch of installs. It works in principle... but to me the steam sounds on that decoder just aren't very good. At the time I had a factory installed sound decoder in a MRC 2-8-0 that was better than the Digitrax steam sounds. I ended up installing the decoders I mentioned above and only using one of the diesel sound files on that Digitrax decoder (while the diesel sounds on that decoder aren't top of the line either, to me they're usable). Both the ESU and the Soundtrax were head and shoulders above the Digitrax decoder, in terms of both sound quality and features. I used sugar cube speakers from SBS4DCC for all of these and actually had a larger enclosure on the speaker wired to the Digitrax decoder (more room in the boxcar) so I'm confident that the lower sound quality wasn't because of the speaker. I don't have any experience with the Zimo decoders that @gamitzu likes, but have no reason to doubt him.

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    Digitrax was for me worst than MRC at chapter sound decoders. But this is just my. I like more Loksound i am more familiar with programing that than Zimo pseudo programing. On Zimo you will pay a fee for loading the sound if is a coded project. In 4-6-0 can go Loksound , have bigger tender than my KATO 9600 steamer or C55. Motor control and steam chuff per one wheel revolution is more accurate than Loksound, if you manage to set up the decoder in a proper manner. I also suggest Loksound if you are not familiar with another one.
    Last edited by gamitzu; 9th Jan 2021 at 06:48 AM.
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    https://www.nscale.net/forums/attach...1&d=1424637814

    This is a pic of a Loksound and speaker installation in a similar size tender I did.
    Northern Pacific and Black Hills RR in N, of course!!
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    I agree with Gamitzu that ESU and Zimo produce the best results. I have not attempted to install the new series ESU's. The problem I have with Zimo is that if your command station cannot access numbers in the 300's you will need a separate programmer costing around $200. If you commit to Zimo, the advantage is size and sound quality with a broad selection of sound files be it there may be a charge.
    HAROLDN212

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    You can use the pseudo programing. CV 300 and after is an algoritm on manual how to do. My MRC comand work well without problem.
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    Hi Gamitzu, could you further explain pseudo programming or suggest a source for a more detailed explanation?

    I found it in the manual download. Now to try it out...

    Thanks anyway.

    Harold
    HAROLDN212

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    It is not needed if you have any cab new design, to work with CV over 300-400. My MRC Prodigy Advance Wireless, work without problem. All project i have not even reach that number. Only problem is the lack of free projects, most of them are coded and you will pay a fee. Brian from SBS4DCC sell them and cen put on it any project is needed. I use ZIMO on small steamers, due to size, is smaller than Loksound micro. Best motor control on the market, beat another brand without problem. Here a extract from manual:
    5.1 The “CV #300 procedures”
    The term "CV # 300 - procedure" means the "pseudo-programming" of CV # 300, which allows the modification of the currently loaded sound project during normal operation, in relation to:
    - the selection of sound samples within the various sound groups (i.e. “ short whistle”), if it is a “sound collection” (which has several sound samples in some of its sound groups) or a “normal” sound project with several sound samples in certain groups.
    - the volume and the sound loop behavior of individual sounds; for example, setting the whis-tle volume different to the driving sound volume (i.e. chuff beats).
    NOTE: If setting the volume of individual sounds is the main concern, it is more convenient to use the direct CVs, see chapter "Drive-independent basic settings"; in many applications the CV #300 procedure is therefore NOT needed.
    A more convenient procedure (w/o the use of CV #300) is available with ZIMO MX31/MX32 cabs
    Selecting another chuff set (if several sets are present in a sound collection): (only possible for steam projects, not for diesel or electrics)
    The following procedures are always used in the same way in spite of the flexible decoder layout with different sound sample compilations. It is also worth mentioning that the sound samples can be lis-tened to and evaluated under actual operating conditions (with the engine running), not just on the computer.
    The selection procedure is started with a “Pseudo-Programming” in operations mode (“on-the-main”):
    CV #300 = 100 (only for steam / not possible with DIESEL engines!).
    The “Pseudo-Programming” (meaning that the entered value is not really stored in memory) has the effect that the function keys F0 to F8 no longer actuate function outputs but instead are now availa-ble for special tasks within the sound selection procedure. The function keys should be set to mo-mentary, if possible, which would facilitate the procedure. CV #300 procedures must be done in operations mode (on the main), NOT in service mode!
    The function key identifications (and the MX31/MX32 cab displays) shown are typical for a ZIMO cab during the selection procedures (and for other sound adjustment procedures) but is analog to the function keys of third party cabs, although the keyboard layout may be different.
    The function keys have the following special meaning during the selection procedure!
    F0 = play: plays back the current chuff sound for evaluation; only possible with the engine at a standstill; the chuff sounds are played back automatically when the engine is moving.
    F1, F2 = prev, next : plays back the previous or next recording stored in the decoder; the sound file can immediately be evaluated with the engine stopped, whereas with the engine running the selected file immediately replaces the currently active.
    F3 = CLEAR + end : The selection procedure is stopped and the selection is cleared, that is no chuff sound will be played (but boiling and blow-off sound remains).
    F8 = STORE + end : The selection procedure ends and the current chuff set is replaced with the selected chuff set.
    The selection procedure is also stopped when programming anything else (e.g. CV #300 = 0, or any other value or any other CV) or by interrupting power. In these cases, the current chuff set re-mains. Such “forced endings” are also useful when the “old” sound should remain as the current sound without first having to locate it again.
    The selection procedure is supported with acoustic signals: The “cuckoo jingle” sounds when….
    …. the last stored chuff sound is reached; use the key to scroll in the opposite direction (F1, F2) to listen to the other stored chuff sounds, …. playback is tried (F0) but no sound sample is assigned, …. a wrong key is pressed (F4, F5 etc.)
    The “confirmations jingle” is played after ending the selection procedure with F3 or F8.
    The engines can be operated normally during the selection procedure: with speed regulator, direc-tion key and MAN key (the latter only with ZIMO cabs); functions cannot be actuated until the selec-tion procedure is terminated with F3, F8 or by other programming steps, see above.
    Selecting boiling, whistle, blow-off, brake squeal sounds… within a sound collection or a sound project with several samples of this kind:
    The selection procedures for these “automated background sounds” are initiated with a “Pseudo-Programming” in operations mode programming
    CV #300 = 128 for the boiling sound (steam only) . CV #300 = 129 for direction-change sound . CV #300 = 130 for the brake squeal . CV #300 = 131 thyristor-control sound (electric engine) . CV #300 = 132 for the “start” whistle or horn . CV #300 = 133 for blow-off sound =cylinder valves (STEAM only) . NOTE: the blow-off selection (CV #300 = 133) is also valid for function key playback (CV #312).
    CV #300 = 134 for the driving sound of ELECTRIC engines . CV #300 = 135 for rolling noise .
    CV #300 = 136 for the switchgear sound of ELECTRIC engines .
    CV #300 = 137 for a second Thyristor sound (ELEKTRIC engines) . CV #300 = 141 for the turbo charger (DIESEL engine) . CV #300 = 142 for the “dynamic brake“ (Electric brake, ELEKTRIC engines)
    The selection procedure for background sounds is the same as for the selection of chuff sounds. EXCEPT: the engine should be at a standstill because the speed regulator is used for setting the volume of the relevant sound file!
    Note: these sound files can also be used as function sounds, allocated to function keys (see next page); the automated back-ground sounds can then be cancelled with the function keys.
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    Gamitzu,
    I will give it a try in the very near future.
    Thank you
    HAROLDN212

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    Well, all of you have convinced me to blow a few more bucks and get something better than the Digitrax. I checked out Zimo, LokSound and SoundTraxx’s offerings, but NDave really sold me on the SoundTraxx Tsunami 2, especially with the videos. Thanks for all the responses, everyone!

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    Soundtrax TSU1000 was first decoder i mount in steam locomotive. Sound great, but is to bulky. And became more bulky when i mount a brass radiator on it due to overheating. Is posted already here on forum. Almost impossible to reach 4 chuff per revolution of wheell. But still a great decoder, eassy to program or customize the CV. I will be curious on this. Also old TSU need a power pack. All new one, Zimo, loksound have a small one on chip.
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    I'm not sure how big the TSU-1000 was, but the TSU-1100 is only 27x10.5x5mm. Not sure what a "power pack" is; if you're talking about a "keep alive" capacitor, it can use one but it appears to be optional. Since I'm sticking with the stock tender I think there's enough room, so I'll probably install one.

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    Yeap. Keep alive.Not came in my mind at the time of post. If you not install it you will cry later. If you mount and test the new one, please post few info of temperature, how is running, etc. 27mm length is a lot if you want to mount in a small tender like Kato 9600. That was the reason to go with Zimo, 18mm long
    I am curious on how is to adjust the chuff per revolution and temperature, if they solve the big problem of TSU1000. Till i mount the cooler posted here in dcc, long time ago, locos just run 2m, stop till cool down, again run, again stop.Thanks in advance, have a great day.
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    There should be plenty of room in the 4-6-0 factory tender for the decoder, speaker, and the capacitor that comes with the decoder, tho' I would suggest stripping out the factory PC board completely.

    You might have to play a little to find the biggest speaker and enclosure that will fit. On the USRA short tender, I ended up with the 8 x 12mm sugarcube speaker from SBS, with the standard enclosure sanded down just a little. You might be able to go a size up in the factory tender. I was able to fit 11 x 15mm speakers in the Vandy tenders, by using the oil bunker as the speaker enclosure.

    I don't know how hot the decoders might be getting... but I have not had one shut down from overheating (and they have been run up to an hour at a time). (OTOH, my "train room" spends half the year below 60F)

    IMO, the Tsunami 2 is much better at maintaining chuff synchrony than the first gen Tsunami or Economi decoders. As far as I could tell, the older Tsunamis were only synched at the speed at which you set them. WHen chuff synched at slow speeds, the Tsunami 2 seems to maintain synch over a pretty wide speed range and load variation... I wonder if it is using B-EMF to measure the actual wheel revs and maintain synch? My challenger came with factory Tsunami... when heading upgrade under load at constant throttle, the loco slowed down, but the chuff rate didn't... with the new Tsunami 2 decoder, the chuff slows down as the loco speed slows under load.

    I am quite pleased with the Tsunami 2 decoder (I have installed them in all 5 of my locos)... The only thing I wish it had was a true "quill-able" whistle... meaning one that I could control the quill.

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