Thur 18th Feb 2010
" Model train enthusiasts rub their eyes ruefully and ask themselves
which target group might start making cash registers ring again. It
appears an answer has been found: The makers of model trains first and
foremost want children to become enthusiastic about the hobby. "
But thats what Hornby have been doing for a while. Have the trainsets and
train packs. then theres railroad, then theres the superdetail.
I don't envy them though, limited resources and a great many possibilities
to explore but a simple, robust, reliable, relatively low cost entry level
range is (I think) essential if they want people to get their kids into the
hobby. If they take to it then they will look for the higher detail kit on
the market as they mature.
I've been looking for a cheap-ish sound system, to hook up to a DC
controller for steam and diesel sounds, all generic, no need for great
accuracy. Anyway only the Americans seem to cater for that as a low cost
option (MCC, about 60 quid, does steam and diesel with assorted additional
sounds, not ideal for UK outline though). Somewhere I have a copy of
Electronics for Model Railways from the early 1980s (possibly late 1970s)
which I shall have to unearth.
Just putting the small sound chips of the same sophisitication as those used
for singing christmas cards in things could be fun, a station platform with
'carriage doors slamming', 'single door slam' and 'guard's whistle' whould
be nice (and cheap), three rubber push buttons to operate it and the job's
boxed. For a signal box the same but with three different single stroke
bells would be fun, an excuse to teach youngsters about the real world
problems and solutions.
You can no longer re-program the chips used in cards, but I believe you can
buy something pretty similar from the likes of RS. I may get around to
looking at that at some point.
Also try http://www.instructables.com/id/Greeting-Card-Hack /
Thanks team - That's another excuse gone for not doing it myself, if I get
it to work I'll post the details (may take a while though, currently have a
stack of old laptops, most partially dead, to fettle.
You could try one of these http://www.quasarelectronics.com/sg01m-four-train-sounds-generator.htm
I got one of these http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=31695
a couple of years ago but I did rush it, Christmas eve night !, and it
did not work. Got signal to speaker but no sound !
Thanks for the links - May well give the Maplin one a go for a chap I am
'helping' at the moment, he is pretty deaf in one ear so a single source
sound would be fine for his needs.
The Quasar unit is US biased, but I'm going all-diesel for that (Bernard
Taylor's articles in MRC in the 1970s or 80s seduced me away from 'light
railways' in order to get improved running). It's cheap enough that I may
get one for the level crossing though.
If the MTL coupling system works as advertisied I may just spring for this
(a lot cheaper than DCC sound in all the locos and with a tiny speaker the
low rumble of a diesel would be difficult to replicate using on-board sound
in N). . .
Haven't found a UK equivalent yet in spite of a lot of searching.
When we scrap a computer system we recover any working parts, and for deaf
people we replace the speaker with an remote LED set into the display base,
so I have a box full of small speakers to play with
I gather Bachman is releasing an MTL style coupler for their UK 00 and N
ranges this year, which would open up real possibilities for N Gauge
shunting, I may yet get that light railway layout I always wanted!
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