Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SoundBytes, XXII

It has been a while since our last post. My, how the time flies when you have been busy! Speaking of busy, we have been inspecting the initial test models for many of the Blackstone Models upcoming releases, including the much anticipated C-19 consolidation. We have also been busy finishing up testing for the UP Gas Turbine decoder. In this edition, we will share another story from the early days of SoundTraxx, and for our Tech Tip, using our new product, the DBX-9000.

The Evolution of the Model Railroader (from Nancy’s perspective)

While this is a story about a long-ago tradeshow, it is also a commentary on how far we have come in recognizing that women, too, have a place in the model railroading world.
In the early days, the only two employees of the company, Steve and Nancy, attended tradeshows. Back in 1991, we attended our very first NMRA National Train Show, which was held in Denver that year. We had now attended a year’s worth of shows and it had become apparent that many modelers were not used to women being involved in the manufacturing end of the equation, especially when it related to electronics. To be quite blunt, Nancy was getting a little tired of being treated like some piece of fluff! Steve was pretty aware of how much this irritated her.
During the course of the show, one gentleman in particular came up to the booth and stood patiently waiting while Steve explained the operation of the new D220-IR to another customer. Nancy was not otherwise occupied at the moment and asked if she could answer any questions for him. He looked rather disdainfully at her and said, ‘It’s technical.’ She told him that she was likely able to answer her question and he reiterated that it was technical in nature and that he needed to talk to a man.
Steve overheard this comment just as he was finishing up with his customer. Nancy stepped back and deferred to Steve, but as the gentleman began to explain his question, Steve held up his hand and said, ‘You’re going to have to talk to Nancy – I don’t know anything about this stuff’ and he walked away. The man sheepishly turned and this time allowed Nancy to answer his questions.
Nancy is happy to report that this sort of thing almost never happens these days, noting that model railroaders have accepted that women just occasionally do know what they are talking about!

The Turbine is ready for sale.
We have been working hard to produce the most accurate gas-turbine decoder available on the market. We have been working with the original GE operator’s manual along with help from former UP employees who have worked on these thunderous beasts to ensure prototypical operation and sound accuracy. Those turbine models will no longer have to be silent.

You can listen to the sound sample on our website here:
Part number for these decoders is 827114 and can be ordered through your dealer today!

Blackstone News!
We have been receiving the pre-production samples of the upcoming projects for Blackstone Models. We are excited to see these and are doing extensive testing now to ensure they operate as good as they look. Take a look at the pre-production samples for the C-19;

the narrow frame tank cars;

and the passenger car.

We also have been given notification that the Drop Bottom gondolas are on their way to us from overseas. This means that provided that the shipment goes smoothly without any pirates, sea monsters or bad weather, we should see these cars arrive here in about 2-3 weeks. They will begin shipping to the dealers immediately after that. These cars are sold out, so contact your dealers if you have not ordered these cars yet to see if they have any available.

Texas Trip: George was on the road again visiting our dealers in the Lone Star State. During this trip, he was able to visit, Hobby Time in Amarillo; King’s Hobbies in Austin; Lone Star Trains and Collectibles, Dibble’s Hobbies, HobbyTown, USA, and Ligar Technologies in San Antonio; M&M Hobby Center, Larry’s Hobbies, Papa Ben’s in Houston; Spring Crossing in Spring; Discount Model Trains in Dallas; Greenville Hobby Depot in Greenville; and Angelo Hobbies and Model Train Crossing in Ft. Worth. George was able to meet with many fellow modelers and demonstrate the features of the Tsunami and show Blackstone pre-production samples. He was also able to demo the new turbine decoder for them as well! We would like to thank these dealers for their hospitality. Many thanks also to those who attended clinics at Ligar Technologies, Papa Ben’s Train Place and Angelo Hobbies! Congratulations too to Ligar Technologies for their Grand Opening! Please visit and support these dealers. For photos of these stores and any stores we visit, please visit our Facebook page.

Tech Tip:
One of our newest products is the DBX-9000, a 9-wire harness that allows easy connection from the locomotive to the tender. This will allow many of the Tsunami features to be transferred from the tender, where the decoder is typically located, to the locomotive, where most of the features are used.
The DBX board has 9 small soldering pads arranged in a semi circle pattern numbered 1-9. These numbers correspond to the wires in the mini-plug in order. This will help determine which wires would be wired to what in the locomotive. For example, we will need 2 wires for track pick-up (ideally), 2 wires for the motor, and 2 wires for the headlamp, for a total of 6 wires. If you want to use the cam option, there is another wire, and any other light functions for class lights or firebox flicker add in 1 or 2 more wires (These all use the same common blue wire). This necessitates a total of 9 wires. By determining which wires are hooked up to which soldering pads, this will enable the full features of the Tsunami decoder to be utilized. Let’s see how to wire it up.

For the above-mentioned example, solder to soldering pad #1- Track +, #2- Motor +, #3- white wire for headlamp, #4- brown wire for FX5, #5- blue wire for common, #6- green wire for FX6, #7- tan cam wire, #8- Motor -, and #9- Track-. Then simply hook up the wires from the harness to the assigned output or feature. If you would rather have a speaker in the locomotive, eliminate the 2 FX5 and FX6 wires, and use the speaker wires there. The possibilities are endless to be able to match your prototypes. It is easier to connect one small harness rather than 2 or 3 plugs based on traditional methods and it helps the model appear more prototypical as well!
To mount the DBX circuit board to the model, simply use a number 2-56 screw in the center hole to mount the board to either side, loco or tender, wherever it fits best. The versatility of this accessory helps make installation easier!

For George’s Bachmann Mountain model, he used the DBX circuit board in the tender, and wired the harness up into the locomotive, allowing 2 firebox flicker lights and a chuff cam, along with the headlamp, motor connections and track pick-ups. With the firebox lights using FX5 in phase A and FX6 in phase B, it produces a nice random flicker, along with a synchronized chuff, no matter the speed.