Friday, July 9, 2010

SoundBytes XXIV

It is time for another edition of SoundBytes. This time, we will look a little at what it takes to get ready for a trade show. For our Tech Tip, we will also complete the look into speed tables in the Tsunami decoders.

UP Gas Turbine!
We are shipping the Union Pacific Gas Turbine decoders out this week. After extensive testing and exhaustive research, we have built the best Turbine decoder available. We have utilized remaining audio recordings and worked with some of the remaining Union Pacific service technicians who worked with these large locomotives to ensure an accurately operating decoder. With a few new CVs to accommodate every possible operation mode, you can be sure your models operate as the prototypes did many years ago!

NMRA 75th
The National Train Show along with the NMRA’s 75th annual convention takes place this coming week in Milwaukee, WI. The NMRA convention runs July 12th through the 16th. Modelers travel from across the globe to attend the clinics, layouts and other railfan activities. This year, Jarrette and George are giving clinics about Tsunami and Prototypical operation using Tsunami Thursday and Friday Evenings. If you are attending the NMRA convention, be sure to come by and sit in on these fun and informative clinics.This convention is complemented with the National Train Show. Manufacturers work on projects and save the announcements for this show with all the Model Railroad press and attention in attendance. Many run “Show Specials” at this show as well. Here at SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models, we are no exception. Be sure to come by and see what we have new this year! We have a few surprises up our sleeves to help celebrate our 20th anniversary!

Packing Up The Booth:
Each time we travel to a show, there is much work to be done. For starters, we discuss what we want to announce or showcase at the show or convention. Next, we pre-stage the booths and displays to ensure that we have all parts in good condition and we have all the display models operating. We assemble the entire booth to stage the plaques and other signs that we want to display. This gives us a good idea of what we need to pack and ship to highlight our products. We also test every display model and set up any tracks that we have to ensure all goes well before we get there. Every DCC command station we use is tested too to be sure it all works before we send them all out. We also have to pack many ‘normal household items’ that we may need, such as power cords, a carpet sweeper, counter cleaning materials, and tools to fix anything that may have been damaged in shipping. We also print off any literature that we will hand out.
This usually takes several weeks to get it all in order. The booth and other materials has to be shipped a week or more in advance to ensure it arrives on time for us. It is a lot of work to get everything done in time for the show. We enjoy doing it though, since we get to go out and meet with many of you and show off and demonstrate our products.

Tech Tip:
Last time we showed how to set up Tsunami using the pre-loaded speed tables. Tsunami also has the ability to operate using a user-loaded speed table. Using this feature, you can limit top speed, adjust for a slower operation, and precisely speed match locomotives.
To do this, first you will need to activate alternate speed tables in CV29. Turning on Bit 4 in CV29 (adding a value of 16) will activate alternate speed tables. CV25 then tells the decoder which table to use, one of the pre-loaded tables like we discussed last time, or a user adjustable table. CV25 values 0-15 use the pre-loaded tables, but a value of 16 then activates the user-adjustable tables.
To adjust the speed tables, CV 67-94 correspond to 28 individual speed steps (1-28). Each of these can have a value corresponding to the percentage of available power from 0 (0%) to 255 (100%) to be applied to the motor in that speed step. Default values create a linear table from 0-255 across 28 speed steps, in equal increments. This can be adjusted to limit top speed to 75% of available power by setting CV94 to 192, then decreasing in equal increments accordingly throughout the remaining CVs.
CV66 and CV95 are used to ‘trim’ the speed table to help speed match locomotives as well. CV66 is for motor control in the forward direction, while CV95 is in the reverse direction. These are separate since mechanical bund and motor efficiency may not be the same in both directions. Factors for the trim are determined by (CV Value)/128. This means that CV values above 128 increase the power applied to the motor, while values less than 128 decrease the power applied to the motor. Each increase/decrease increment of 1 shifts the entire speed table up or down 1/128.
For fine-tuning the locomotive, Tsunami has 2048 internal speed steps that the decoder works through calculating in the speed tables, momentum, brakes and BEMF. Using all these factors and spending some time, you can have a great running model that meets your running demands for your layout.