2014 Feb 28

2014_02_28 Happy Birthday to Everybody born tomorrow those few years ago when a tomorrow actually arrives :D So I guess you celebrate today or the first of March? If it was me I would ignore March (hatter and hare also the Ides of) and do it today, So Many Happy Returns ;)

Another frustrating session on the sound decoders yesterday. My poor mate left here without his engine which I failed to get finished. Similar problems to the last few weeks.
So after Al left, in between dash's to the toot with a stomach bug we both seemed to pick up at lunch in Town, I managed to strip Java and Decoder pro off my computer and load it back on again.
I also loaded on Digitrax Sound Loader because the Digitrax Chip we tried to fit to Al's engine sounded woeful. I don't think Digitrax really care a lot about sound, do they?

Anyway the reloads did not help. remember the AN I worked on a few days ago? Well it was the only sound loco handy, so it became the test engine. Try it if it worked, then try to fix the broken one etc. etc.  Well not only did I get other stuff going, I broke the sound in the AN. It runs just fine, but after a couple of static hiccups it switched sound off permanently. Fortunately Loksound have serial numbers and Mike Walters has  a way of sending me my lost sound and I can reload it . loksound uses its own programmer and that works just fine. The engine was never on a track whilst I worked on another, nor was another on the track whilst I had the AN running. So another mystery.

This morning after sleeping on it, I decided to revisit the G Class project. I knew that when I found out what the tsunami problem was, I was going to be unhappy, I thought I said "kick my self" In fact I want to Kick Soundcraft in the nuts, because the problem was in fact their doing. They published a circuit outline showing how to connect up the chip. The only problem was the diagram is wrong or at best confusing. They have drawn the Caps on the wrong side. Where the diodes are lined up if the writing is the top of the board as usual. The caps are clearly drawn.

I found a pair of magnifying glasses, and started to search the circuit board, looking for broken tracks or burnt out components. It smelt ok, but you never know.
Now my eyes are poor these days. Distance 20/20 but close up, not good enough to read a circuit board. So using the Soundtraxx chart was seemingly the best way to go.....  Wrong!
Whilst checking out the magnified board I noticed that the tabs were labeled on the underside of the board, going on the diagram, the caps are on top and the F5 and F6 tabs are on the top with the Speakers on the bottom, motor + and - to their right.  This is apparently incorrect, as clearly the speaker and the motor tabs should be on top as marked on the board.  So I was calling the bottom of the board the top based on the twin capacitors being drawn on the wrong side.
So problem solved..  :(


2014_02_27 Talking Tsunami

2014_02_27 Thursday

I asked the makers of Powerpax a few questions and the second half of their answer was illuminating.
I bought the PowerPax because it was supposed to help load Tsunami's. This is obviously incorrect.
The bit about NMRA standards is indeed interesting and the suggestion is that the Tsunami is also not up to these standarrds?

The reason for the warning is that many people end up connecting the program track to the main. This WILL damage the Power Pax. Using it on an isolated piece of track is fine. The Power Pax cannot be used to drive the locomotive. It meets the NMRA standard for program track which requires that it not output more than 250mA. Any current in excess of this will trip the Power Pax off requiring a reset. This is to protect your decoder from damage in the event that there is a mis-wire. If you are using the PR3 or the Sprog2, you do not need the Power Pax. These units DO NOT meet NMRA program track standards, so they have enough output power by themselves. The Power Pax is designed to provide a boost to the normal program track output without violating the 250mA requirement. Frankly, for Soundtraxx decoders, you probably want to use the Sprog2. The reason is that the program track on Digitrax is only on for a short time. This on time is not long enough to get the decoder up and running, and as a result, it is very difficult to correctly program Soundtraxx decoders with Digitrax equipment.

Larry Maier
Tech Support
Tony's Train Exchange


2014 February 24-G Class frustrations

2014 February 24
So this weekend was to see the G Class finished. After using brute force to remove the bogie side frames, the frustrations continue. After nearly 50 sound installs, I decided to use a temporary tsunami that I collected along the way because it did have a similar 645 turbo project loaded. After spending a small fortune on Loksound decoders in the last month, at least 6 I think all of which were installed with a minimum of fuss. Oh well the AN was not really a Loksound problem, was it? :)
So this is going to take you just a few seconds to look at, but it represents 2 days of not getting a thing done. Is it me? my equipment? or is it something fundamental I don't know about Tsunami's?
Are my decoders locked?........

So after checking out the Tsunami site, I then checked the forums, researching this new toy, as I had never used a Tsunami before. I did use Soundtraxx product but pre-tsunami. about 10 years ago.
I learned that I probably would not be able to program with my Digitrax gear via the PR3. However I did have a Zephyr plus which had a switch built in to allow programming BLI and Soundtraxx Tsunami decoders. But I had not used it before. So then I found my Zephyr manuals and learned how to use it. This did not help at all, because every time I tried to reprogram the "stupid thing" I got from Zephyr..No-d   From Decoder pro No locomotive found/no decoder and this happened for 2 days!! I watched 20 videos showing Tsunami installations!  I am now convinced that a secret hand shake is required to program a Tsunami. I am also thinking that I have been in similar places before, and each time I come out looking foolish :(    \So Gerry is looking at my problem today! Please make me look foolish, mate, because I have no idea which way to go, apart from waiting till I can afford more Loksounds ;)

Two screws removed and six plugs unplugged!  Note Austrains beaut color coding! The orange and grey wirs did survive and actually do turn the motor over on a 9 volt battery.

The speakers are clearly marked, allowing pos and neg connections (not necessary for a single speaker install) The bogie pickups are not able to be crossed over and black and red wires (oh more correct coding ;)  Are attached to their correct tabs. The solder joints were each reheated and tested for connectivity.

Sylastic used to hold mounting plate which has a gap over motor and temporarily  held with blu-tak! At this stage I was thinking that my only problem was going to be the lighting, however that problem was easily overcome when Gregg and Gerry pointed me towards the 12 volt pad which connected to the blue wire (if their was a blue wire )  Oh found the blue wire but it is a negative return on this install White and I think blue to number lights and green is the real blue if you get my meaning ;)

No matter what I did usingDigitrax  DT402, Zephyr and connecting Decoder Pro via a Digitrax PR3, or a Sprog 2..     The only thing I can get this decoder to do is light up the onboard LED when it is seeking out the decoder. And in every scenario I'm told in one way or another the decoder is not found. grumble grumble!  Quickly retreats to bank account to see if he can afford just one more Loksound :(
So by now I am convinced the decoder which I did unseal from its bag, is a dud, and I am faced with up to $60 return postage to Soundtraxx for a $99 dud decoder :(    But wait.....

I started to search through my sound box and found an Alco loaded AT1000 I had forgotten about, and it was sealed in its bag too. I ran aligator clips from one end of the board (truck tabs) and joined them to my Sprog and you guessed it! The damn red LED comes on when searching the decoder and the rest is exactly like the BR1000 Grrrr! You think I am not about to blow a fuse? you just might be right! This Locomotive and this sound install has me glancing towards a carpenters claw hammer sitting nearby! In fact so much so, that I got up and tossed it out on the back lawn, just in case my safeties did not hold Grrrrr!!

So here I am sitting at my temporary sound rig With three interfaces including Loksound programmer, PR3 and Sprog 2. A new netbook I got for $200 from Aldi for the job. A zephyr that cost me more because I am led to believe its a great little throttle that reads decoders (which DT400 / .DB150 don't!) and will guarantee easy programming of BLI and Soundtraxx product.... Oh how I wish I had been introduced to Gerry and Easy DCC before I sank so much into Digitrax.
So today after sending several help messages out, I can only wait and hope the two decoders do not have to be returned to the States.
Rod Young...   Grrrrrrr!!


2014 February 22 Working on the Austrains G Class

2014_02_22 A nice warm 28C Just about right ;)

So after procrastinng for a month or thereabouts the work on the G Class re commences.

First of all I needed to find a way to free up both hands. Shopping at Aldi cost me an extra $20 this week :) It fixes securely and has nylon jaws and held the chassis at various angles.

Now with the model secured and one hand holding pliers the other simply lifted up as I released each clip

Some collaterel damage as loose parts fell away. But nothing actually broke away.

Just a closer look. Amazing what the camera shows me. These eyes are just not as good as they once were despite the Eye surgeon saying I was back to 20/20 again after my injections :(

another angle.

and another. I will have to glue the brake cylinders, air lines and steps back into p0lace before rebuilding both bogies.  Really cannot understand how Austrains could let the factory do this to us. I am sure many others are not going to tackle this job, and with DCC so popular, this model is just not cutting it :(

The gearbox exposed with plenty of clearance to secure the body back on before putting the bogie back together.

Not sure if  the scratches are actually damage caused by me trying to get these things apart, or simply grease marks.  At one stage I was certain it was supa-glue :(

and again...

And again...

Ok had lunch and time to fit a temporary Tsunami into the G. First I will cut out a styrene plate to replace the original board using the original screws. Then drill out the capacitors and blu-tac the sound board to it. Solder the wires to the new tabs and connect up the speaker.
Then I have to reassemble the side frames, screw the model back together and then reassemble the trucks with a bit of teflon grease, I guess.
Stay tuned for the next installment! This thing should run today if nothing else crops up ;)


2014_02_19 AN Sound Install

2014 Feb 19  AN Sound Install 
Temperature dropping and a pleasant 30C at Midday.

This is my Official AN sound install :D
It combines two great products The Auscision AN model Diesel Electric Locomotive

Auscision product

And our great friend Mike Walters who manages...

DCC Sounds of Victoria

This is my second attempt at installing sounds in an AN.  Probably better not say any more about my first dismal attempts, suffice to say, that I took a few days to settle down and this morning ,armed with good advice from DCC Sounds, VR Enthusiasts Forum and Rail Page Forums, I was able to take my AN out of its box, add the sound pack kindly prepared by Mike Walters of DCC Sounds and install it complete with modifications a test run in under 15 minutes.  Now I fully agree with Auscision. It is indeed a perfect sound installation and I believe the one slight problem has already been fixed for any future models. So my apologies for misleading you all on my first attempt. Mind you I will try to finish the G Class this afternoon, and that is a different kettle of fish!

AN install step 1.

Take the model out of its packaging and clear an area if your desk is like mine :(
Now loosen the body from the chassis by using your finger nails and easing the body away from the chassis by gently bending it back to disengage the holding lugs. I use one hand either side of the model, one forward of the fuel tank and other rear of it.

Hold the heavy chassis, because when the lugs disengage it easily falls apart!

Their are no cables connected to the roof, however that leads to one of our disappointments as the contact springs are of poor design, easily rectified if you need to by hard wiring them.


Now lets open the Loksound box which was ordered to fit into an AN Class and utilize both speakers.

Not only were the speakers pre wired to fit, the instructions outline how the function buttons work and refer you to an install page provided by Mike to further help you out
Diesel Installs

Loksound unit out of the box. Checking the pins on the decoder .One end is recognized by the missing pin and the different female edge.

So having worked out its orientation, check the mounting position is free of wires and push any aside that will prevent chip from seating, Near speaker box a bundle will need adjustment too simply place the Decoder on top and it will snug down gently into position if all is ok.

I use blu-tak to fill in the huge hole in the speaker box, which if left open will partially disable the usefulness of the speaker box which is their to stop the rear of the speaker from cancelling out the sound from the front.

I have some Chrystal Kleer (?) which I now smear around the box to properly seal the speaker.

I am a messy person but I can wipe it clean as it is water soluble.

Press speakers into place on lugs provided by Auscision, and wipe clean of  excess glue.

The ESU speaker enclosures go into the scrap bin.

Now the electrical connector in the roof of the body is too wide and fouls the decoder pushing down on its rear edge breaking connections,(not pins though thank goodness) and sometimes disconnecting the headlights or stopping the body from sitting correctly when you put it back together again.

I snipped off about 3mms but left the screw hole on the end , thinking it was out of the way. In fact the front of the body is sitting up slightly causing the headlight to fail, and it looks like I will have to remove the screw and glue the board in place.(I have treated this as a mistake on my behalf and ignored it for the purpose of this speed test. You might need to cut the whole edge off to make this work, I think.

Job done and so lets see if the body fits!

I heard the body tabs click in place and it appears that the install is finished and the clock has clicked over 15 minutes! Now that's a hell of an improvement over any other engine except maybe the 422 Class which uses the same principal of carrying light to the headlights.


The only thing to do now is put it on the track and test it all out :)

And of course it worked just fine :D   In the video, I showed the start up, which is short and sweet, but the camera only records a few minutes and switched off as the shut down sequence started. Now the shut down is really sweet. Takes about 50 seconds before the big engine is quiet. Maybe another video is in order ;)
The demonstration shows the loco in throttle 1/128 and using F5 to ramp up engine revs. I am in fact simulating starting off a heavy train. The engine creeps and the notches rise to about 6 before the load starts to move off, throttle now increased to 15/128. as starting off like this would possibly happen in a loop with a point to negotiate to get back on the main line. I left the throttle on about 15/128 and switched off F6 to maintain Notch 4. :)
To me a realistic train start :)
Rod Young




Well I guess I am most dissapointed to report almost nothing has happened. Since returning from Bendigo I have rediscovered the joys (?) of working with sound again after Tony came for a week and a 45 minute job turned into a three day disaster leaving both of us not interested in doing much for the Layout. Constant Northerly winds lifting temperatures from 41C in the shade to 55C standing in the wind have killed off any ideas of working in the shed which I am keeping at 29C Day and night with the evaporative Air Con fitted to the roof. Still too hot though.
Today is the best day since I returned from Bendigo. Perhaps a bit of time in the shed tonight will start the ball rolling again.
My camera is playing up and I want to finish off the sound install on the G class put aside for Tony's visit. But I do want pics as I go, so will try to see what I can do with the older digital camera.

I got a call from Southern Models and was told my VR oil tanks will leave China this month after the people return to the factories and things get back to speed. Even had the priveledge of paying for them :)
Here are the pics

four like this one with wood walkways and spoke wheels

Two like this one wood and spokes again
 And the last four are more modern like this one, disk wheels and metal walkways.

I purchased three 3 car packs and 1 individual pack which completes my 10 car BP train of the mid 70's

EDIT   Their is a discount of nearly $30 a pack if anybody wants to pay for them now at