Brilliance Sound Decoders

On Sun, 18 Sep 2005 16:32:47 GMT, "Digital Railroader"
wrote:


On a prototype locomotive, When you open the throttle to the next notch, the engine RPM increases as fast as the laws of physics will allow it to happen. It is a very quick thing. It doesn't take a couple of seconds or a few seconds, but more like one second or less. You ~can~ hear it happen, but it is very quick. If, for example, you are running downhill, and have shut off the dynamic brakes after reaching the bottom, and you pull the throttle from the idle-stop directly to notch 5 so that you can run away from the slack as you start back uphill, the engine will spool-up to notch 5 RPM immediately. That is, in one second or less. When you are starting a train from a standing stop, as in a yard, you can't jerk the throttle open to notch 5 or you will break a knuckle - or worse. So then, in such a situation the engine RPM will increase in 7 or less discrete steps over a period of time as the engine driver advances the throttle to increase the pulling force applied the train.
This can vary according to the type of control system that is engineered into the locomotive. For example: Some of the locomotives I operated had engines that would spool-up to notch five as soon as you came off the idle-stop into throttle notch 1. As soon as you moved into notch 6, the engine would spool-up to notch 8. In these locomotives, the engine ran at a pre-determined speed and control was acheived by varying the excitation to the main alternator. They behaved dynamically just like a machine with discrete engine RPM settings, but to the ear of the listener they were very different.
Now, with this decoder we are talking about, I have no idea how it sounds, BUT - - - until the sound is somehow integrated into the mechanical dynamics of the locomotive, and until the sound is engineered to be user-definable with regards to emulating the desired prime mover, horn and bell, it sux and will continue to suk.
Froggy,
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Are you saying that it isn't "integrated into the mechanical dynamics of the locomotive" if the engine sounds change every 16 steps of 128?
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On Mon, 19 Sep 2005 03:03:26 GMT, "Digital Railroader"
wrote:

Absolutely, yes. The thing uses throttle setting to try to "guess" what to do and it doesn't work. This is especially true on steam sound modules, which truly suk majorly. The old PFM sound system was the best I ever heard. It was capable of emitting the correct sound for any locomotive condition. It did this by being mechanically coupled to the machine rather that trying to use electrical/electronic information to guess what to do. You absolutely ~must~ know the exact RPM of the driving wheels on a steam locomotive in order to get the correct number of exhaust beats. Trying to guess by measuring the voltage applied to the motor, or the current demand of the motor, or the back EMF of the motor will never work. A short light train will have a completely different electronic "signature" than a long heavy train for the exact same speed. The sound module doesn't have a clue, so it cannot distinguish between the one and the other, thus it cannot produce the proper sound for the one or the other. Cutoff is the other quantity in steam locomotive operation that completely eludes all the sound decoders I have heard to date. You must have some way to control the cutoff. I think the people who design sound modules do not have a clue about how a steam locomotive operates nor what one is supposed to sound like. Your eyes and ears, however, can see and hear the difference unless you choose to be blind and deaf.
With a diesel sound module you cannot shut the throttle off and roll the way you can with a real locomotive. On level trackage, you open the throttle to get the thing rolling, then shut off and let it go until it begins to slow. If it doesn't slow, then you just let it roll with the engine at idle. Same thing downhill, you knock off the brakes, give it a bit of throttle, then shut off and gently retard the acceleration with light brake applications. If the grade is steep enough you may even need to use dynamics- if the loco is so equipped. This is not the only shortcoming of diesel sound decoders. They are many and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
In all, the pseudo-science of sound recreation in model locomotives still has light years to go before it is acceptable. For the present, it is nothing more than a waste of money to produce "white noise" gibberish that masquerades as "Authentic Locomotive Sound" Rubbish!
Froggy,
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I thought you were specifically criticizing the Brilliance, but I see now that you feel the same way about all sound decoders. Is there anything in the specs for the Brilliance that makes you believe that they're doing better or worse than other manufacturers?
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On Mon, 19 Sep 2005 12:57:13 GMT, "Digital Railroader"
wrote:

No. it looks to me like a "Me Too" product. The Digitrax sound module ~might~ be a contender for some diesel sound effects as it has a number of user configurable/definable inputs. We shall see what we shall see. Froggy,
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work< At a clinic I learned there are two types of BEMF, one of the types can count motor rpm and I forgot the other. The type that can count motor rpm can sync driver revolution very accurately given a CV for driver size and _maybe_ gear ratio. From here on out it's just a matter of good software, speed, drifting, pulling, etc. The Soundtraxx units have a CV for driver diameter but not having other sound decoders I am not sure how they work and what type of BEMF they use.

sound modules do not have a clue about how a steam locomotive operates nor what one is supposed to sound like< I think many do _but_ there are variables such a memory size and software design work. QSI should be capable of some really good stuff as the chip is huge compared to others (I assume that means a large memory area). I think it's really a matter of design but remember people want to stuff these units into N scale so the chip size is limited (memory limited also). There is also the cost factor but as telephones get smaller and smaller our sound units _should_ get better and better as a lot of the components come from this industry.
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Which brings up the fatal flaw in the whole concept, i.e., it is impossible to scale sound. No matter where you are in the railroad room, you can hear all the whistles and bells at once. The more locos you have with sound, the worse the din becomes; which prompts me to ask the question: ". . . Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"
The only acceptable place for sound equipped locos is outside in the 1:1 scale world of prototype railroading. Bringing sound indoors in a model world is a no-win situation.
Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote in

Lately I find myself starting a train with the sound on, having a little fun with the bell and whistle/horn, then as soon as it gets out of sight, I hit the F8 button to mute it.
I'm still laying track and looking for any rough spots and it is tough to hear a truck start to drag with all that racket going on!
--
===========================================================
Norman Morgan <> http://www.norm-morgan.com
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No-win or not, sound is here to stay - IMHO, it's driving the DCC acceptance rate!
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<snip>

way you can

the thing

doesn't slow,

you knock

the
you may

only
manufacturer to

Froggy, There is something called "manual notching" on Soundtraxx decoders. One of the members of my club uses it (he's always been a sound nut, going back to the 1980's). Essentially, it allows one to control the speed and the loco RPM sounds indepently. On the Digitrax "DT"-series throttles, the knob controls the speed, while the "+" and "-" (or up and down arrows, same thing) controls the RPM's. Most people, as you can imagine, don't bother with manual notching. Now, if they would only do that with steam, where the "manual notching" would handle cutoff or the "working" sound...
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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would handle cutoff or the "working" sound...< Well written software should be able to do that with steam using BEMF. The current draw is somewhat the same as a working or non working steam engine. The problem may be that the same software is used for both diesel and steam and I would think that shouldn't be done. We know that for sure with LokSound as all that changed in those units is sound files and in fact I doubt if any of the current sound decoders use different BEMF software for diesel or steam!
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That's pretty much what I was talking about. Manual notching is a good start, but there are miles and miles to go before we sleep.
On another note, you might be amused to know that i just finished some work on a pair of New Haven DL-109s for a friend. Decoders, lights, etc. I also have a pair of new Haven PAs that are almost finished that will have the usual headlight; however, by using a DH163 I am able to have user controlled number board lights, ground lights, cab lights, and class lights that can be selected to display white OR green OR off. Getting the class lights to work properly was a lot of fun.
No sound, as there is not a sound module that either one of us considers acceptable yet. Froggy,
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start, but

Granted. However, they have gone miles already, it's just a matter of time before totally realistic sound gets to the market (and yes, that would mean wiring speakers under the layout for the bass because there's no way you can get it from a 1" speaker). Yes, it'll take years, but I think someone will eventually do it. Already, Soundtraxx has "SurroundTraxx", and who know's what's possible with the new NMRA Bi-D standards that are coming soon (or so they say).

work on a pair

pair of new

however, by

ground lights,

green OR off.

"Ground lights"? How did you get those? And how did you get the class lights to change to white or green? Fiber optics? And are these models LL or are they brass?

acceptable
Someday...
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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They are the tiny white flat-pak LEDs, and are attached to the frame behind the ladder in the front, and above the center axle in the rear

That was the "fun" part. I tried LEDs, but couldn't get acceptable color. There is no such thing as a white/green LED, and trying to use one of each with a light pipe didn't work. It seems that it is very difficult to pipe the light from LEDs unless you have LEDs that are designed for data transmission and you have a mechanical attachment between the LED and the fiber. Well, you can't do that in a home workshop, and besides, IR communication LEDs are of no use in this application anyway. Miniatronics to the rescue! I used the small 15mA miniatronics 1.5V bulbs, the real tiny ones. I drilled out the "lenses" of the class lights, and attached a plastic tube to the insided of the loco body behind the class lights. A short bit of lucite rod went into the drilled-out lenses- enough to reach into the tube. One green and one white bulb were then inserted into the tube, and held in place with stuffing made of the cotton from a Q-Tip and some slightly used chewing gum. Wrigley's Doublemint, if it matters. It is too kewl to watch them change on command from white to green or go off. Now, when we run extra, or with a following section, or as a single section of a regular train, we can correctly display the appropriate signals.

These are the Life-Like machines.
At a later time, I am going to bring the DL-109s back into the shop and add illuminated number boards and class lights to them. I would guess that you have one or more of these, so you can see what a "terriffic" job that will be. Several orders of magnitude more difficult than the PAs.
I am ~so~ glad that no one makes models of the New Haven electrics, or I would surely become addicted to modeling it. Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

I've developed a technique for attaching the "regular" fiber optic cable to SMD LEDs, since I use them in installing lights in the Athearn N scale fire engines.
The main problem is there's nothing readily available (or quick) that allows you to "glue" something to the slippery LED lens material, so I use a brute force method.
I put a drop of cyano-epoxy on the LED lens surface, press the fiber optic cable to the lens surface, and then hit it with the "fixer." Then I glob another drop of the cyano-epoxy around that joint and hit it with the fixer. Paint the whole thing to mask the light. One of those third hand devices is real handy in this. <g>
It's not a true bond, but it works and is surprisingly rugged.
Mike Tennent "IronPenguin"
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wrote:

Those emergency vehicles you had in Montgomery looked pretty good. I tried that, but I couldn't get it to work, account I have to have two different colors available at a single end point, i.e., the class light lens. Of course, it can be done, but not in a home workshop. The light pipe has to be fused such that either color can be transmitted. If that is ever done the "lens" should actually have three pigtails, so that the end user could add a red source to emulate marker lights. Although red markers on locomotives were extremely rare in a general way, in some specific areas they were quite common. Chicago comes to mind right off, with the push-pull commuter trains. It is also likely that some helper engines in mountainous areas displayed red markers. Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

I'm always looking at LEDs - if I spot a bicolor white/green I'll give you a shout. They'd be handy for modeling airport beacons, too.
Mike Tennent "IronPenguin"
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

I've had excellent results just drilling the end of the LED's plastic housing, and gluing the end of the optical fiber INSIDE the led. Use a clear cement like ACC or Future polish. A high degree of optical 'coupling' is thus achieved quite simply.
Just be careful not to drill so deeply as to damage the semiconductor junction in the base of the LED.
Dan Mitchell ===========
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wrote:
.....snip...........

I tried that, but I couldn't get it to work, account I have to have -two- different colors available at a single end point, i.e., the class light lens. Of course, it can be done, but not in a home workshop. The light pipe has to be fused such that either color can be transmitted. If that is ever done the "lens" should actually have three pigtails, so that the end user could add a red source to emulate marker lights.
Putting two LEDs in the tube won't work the same as using two incandescent bulbs, account the LEDs emit a very small, highly focused light cone. Incandescent bulbs (globes) radiate a sphere of energy such that enough of it gets transmitted to the receiving end of the light pipe for the contraption to work at an acceptable intensity for viewing on a lighted layout. So.then, you don't have to imbed the light pipe into the light source, but can put the sources side-by-side, and place the light pipe in the "valley" between them. Froggy,
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Why don't U use a double led, they ate emitting red OR green depending on drive...? There are even three color LED:s available, red, grren and yellow...
my 2 c Thomas
Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

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