Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SoundBytes Premier Post

Welcome to SoundBytes! This is our new bi-monthly blog and will be your opportunity to take a look at what’s going on here in Durango, Colorado, in the world of SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models direct from the main offices and production floor!

George Bogatiuk and Jarrette Ireland will be giving you periodic updates on things happening here at the factory, as well as when we go on the road to different trade shows around the country.

George A. Bogatiuk III and Jarrette Ireland

An introduction to George A. Bogatiuk III: I was born and grew up in Arlington, Texas, in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. After graduating High School, and while attending UT Arlington, I went to work in the auto parts industry. After 17 years in the auto industry, I decided to follow a different career path. I moved to Durango, CO and started work here as a salesman in November 08, and I enjoy the work and my co-workers, and I love the area.

I have been into model railroading since I was 13. I model the Missouri Pacific circa 1978, in HO scale. I always enjoyed seeing the blue Screaming Eagles running through town when I was growing up. As a result, I am the lone diesel modeler amongst a sea of steam enthusiasts here at SoundTraxx. I strive to achieve a high level of detail on all of my models, including locomotives and rolling stock, as well as create a finely detailed scene for them to run through. I currently operate a 12’x 8’ L-shaped switching layout that I salvaged from my 2-car garage-sized layout in Texas. I had been an avid proponent of DCC and SoundTraxx® products before coming here to work. I read and studied DCC to ensure a fun and enjoyable operating environment for my fellow modelers and myself, and to be able to resolve technical issues when they came up. I have been in a few model railroad clubs, most recently, Spring Creek Model Railroad Club, an HO and HOn3 modular club based in Dallas, Texas.

I am also an avid sports fan; I have played some form of sport all my life, including baseball and soccer. I currently play goalie in ice hockey and follow Dallas Stars Hockey as well as other Dallas area professional sports teams… (Hard to believe, right?) I am also a passionate NASCAR fan! GO Harvick #29!

An introduction to Jarrette Ireland: I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up around the greater valley area. I graduated from Arizona State University where I majored in Political Science and Public Relations. Once I graduated I took off for Durango, CO in an escape from the heat and traffic!

I have always loved the Durango area and narrow gauge steam railroading. I first rode the D&SNGRR when I was 9 months old. The railroad bug caught me at a young age and I was hooked. My dad was a collector of LGB trains, which got me into model railroading. I got my first real train set at age 10, (An LGB Christmas train set, which I still have around my Christmas tree to this day!) but was never satisfied till I had models that actually were of a K-28 and Jackson Sharp coaches. My favorite model I own to this day is my Accucraft K-28 473 in the bumblebee paint scheme. This locomotive is also what introduced me to SoundTraxx as I put a Sierra Sound board into it right after I bought it. Currently I am beginning to model in HOn3 with of course Blackstone Models.

The railroad bug doesn’t just end however with models. While growing up in Phoenix I ran several locomotives at the McCormick Railroad Park. This a is a really neat park that houses a 15” gauge railroad that is based on Colorado narrow gauge equipment and a 7.5” gauge railroad. When I first moved to Durango I hired out with the D&SNGRR in the operating department. One of the greatest thrills for me was getting to operate the 473 when it was painted in the bumblebee paint scheme (Not often someone gets to run the prototype of their favorite model!). At this time I also started working for SoundTraxx 1 day a week in production. After 4 and half years of working for the railroad I reversed things and took a full-time job with SoundTraxx and now work weekends in the summer for the railroad.

Like George, I too am an avid sports fan; I played and coached hockey, and played basketball growing up. I worked as a media relation assistant for 5 years during college for the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL (Yes the Dallas Stars are our rival!). I am a die-hard fan of all of Phoenix sports teams. This makes for some fun around the office between my love of Phoenix teams, George’s love of Dallas teams, and Nancy’s love of Boston teams. My other interests are anything mechanical, hiking around the San Juans, and traveling to anywhere I haven’t been before. (Which is great during trade show season!) Anytime you see us at a trade show don’t hesitate to stop by and say “Hi”.

SoundTraxx News

Recently, we announced the release of many new products. Headlining our Tsunami® releases is our TSU-GN1000, a drop-in decoder designed for Athearn Genesis diesel locomotives that requires no additional hardware! To demonstrate just how new this product is, here is Cole pulling the first ones out of the “pizza oven.” They are complete and ready to be tested.

After the components are soldered to the board by baking them in the oven, individual decoders are separated from the boards. Dan then performs the tedious/fun job of hand testing and listening to each one to ensure they work correctly. Here he has the first tray of the TSU-GN1000s to test.

Our sound library also continues to grow with additions to our steam and diesel Tsunami line. Newest in the lineup is an EMD 645 non-turbocharged diesel prime mover sound for MP15s, SW1500s and GP38s, one in which George had a personal interest in. For steam enthusiasts, we added a Southern-style decoder with whistles native to the southeast United States. You spoke and we listened!

Tech Tip: Calculating CV Values

Configuration Variables (CV) allow modelers to customize decoder properties such as the address, volume settings, momentum, throttle response, and lighting effects. Each CV is comprised of eight bits, which are added together to create a CV value that can range from 0 to 255 (255 is the total of all eight bits turned on).

When a bit is turned “off,” or not selected, its setting is 0. When a bit is turned “on,” or selected, its setting is 1. Bits that are set to 1 are assigned a value in the CV. As shown in the CV register (below), each bit's value increases exponentially. This means that as you read from right to left, the value of each bit doubles (i.e., bit 0 = 1; bit 1 = 2; bit 2 = 4 . . . bit 7 = 128). To calculate the CV's total value, add up the individual values of the bits that are set to 1.

For example, let's determine the value for CV 29 (Configuration Register) using the CV register below. Again, think of each bit as an on/off switch, where a setting of 0 = off and a setting of 1 = on. Bits 0, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 are turned "off" as indicated by the 0; bits 1 and 4 are turned "on" as indicated by the 1. Turning on bit 1 enables 128 speed-step mode and bit 4 enables customizable speed curves. Therefore, we need to set CV 29 to a value of 18 (bit 1 = 2 + bit 4 = 16) to enable 128 speed-step mode and customizable speed curves. 

For more information on adjusting CVs, check out our online manuals and technical references.