Thursday, December 13, 2012

SoundBytes 12-13-12

The Holidays are upon us and it’s time for gifts! While our fellow modelers are collecting Tsunami sound decoders for that new loco they are getting, we have been getting gifts here too -- new SMT equipment to keep our assembly technology state-of-the-art! We’ll share some photos of us opening our early Christmas presents with you. Since we are focusing on our production floor, we’ll also introduce you to our Production Manager, Brad.

Holiday Hours
We will be closed the week of Christmas from Dec. 24 -28 and on New Year’s Day. We wish a safe and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our friends!

Brad Schulz: Production Manager
We are happy to introduce you to our Production Manager, Brad Schulz. Brad came to SoundTraxx from South Dakota where he worked in industrial electronics manufacturing making many of the big video screens at sports stadiums around the country.
Brad grew up in Montana with a love for the outdoors. He played football at Chadron State College in Nebraska and also earned a master’s degree in industrial management while working in South Dakota.
During his college football days, Brad played against Fort Lewis College, located here in Durango, and fell in love with the area. When we posted the job opening for a production manager, he jumped at the opportunity to live here full time!
Brad has been at SoundTraxx for 3 years. Since he has come on board, he has helped maintain steady stock levels to minimize backorders, and has lead the expansion of our production team from 5 to 12 people.

New Equipment! It’s Christmas in December!.. Oh… Wait…
Last week, we received a few new machines to improve our production process with the latest and greatest technologies.
For starters, we have a new oven. After the pick-and-place machines locate the components on the raw circuit boards, the panel (consisting of 12-20 decoders) then travels through the oven. This heats up the entire panel to melt the solder paste and permanently attach the components down to the board. The new oven is much bigger to allow better flow of the solder on the board to the components. This has the newest technologies to insure even and consistent soldering while being large enough to expand our production capacities.
Next is our new selective soldering machine. This machine is designed to solder larger solid components to the circuit board using through holes, so this no longer has to be performed by hand soldering. An example of this would be the large super-capacitor mounted on the lighting decoders for the Blackstone Models coaches and cabooses. This has a robotic arm that does the work for more predictable and consistent results.
Also, within a week, we will be receiving a flying probe tester. This machine will go around the circuit boards and electronically test each component to insure that it is the correct part, it is functioning, and that it performs properly in the circuit. This will not replace the functional test we perform on each decoder that allows us to know the decoder is operating as it should.

With the addition of these machines, we are proud to say that our automated decoder manufacturing process has now become lead-free. We are looking forward to the more streamlined manufacturing process and possible expansion capabilities these new machines will bring. By adding in the newest technologies to our process, you can be sure you are getting a quality-manufactured product from the United States!

Tech Tip: Lighting for a Consist, Part 1

This tech tip was requested at Trainfest in Milwaukee by a show attendee. To fully explain this feature, first we must understand how to set up advanced consists. Many command stations offer consist setup, but this is usually stored in the command station, and the function commands are sent to only the lead unit. Therefore, to have the consist of locos perform properly, as if a single loco, they need to be set up using an advanced consist.

First, look at the consist address, which is stored in CV19. This is a two-digit alias that the consist responds to. This is a number between 1 and 127. This address could be the last two digits of the lead loco, a train number on a timetable, a club member ID number, etc. This number is programmed into CV19. When the loco is facing backwards, add 128 to the address. (Ex. Consist 20 for a forward-facing loco would have 20 programmed into CV19, and a rear-facing loco would get 148 programmed in CV19. To control the locos, select loco 20 with the cab and run them together, even though they are facing opposite directions.)

Next, determine which locos are to do what functions based on their location in the consist. These are set using CVs 21 and 22. CV 21 activates F1 through F8,
while CV 22 activates F0f, F0r, and F9 through F12.
The location of the loco determines what functions are active. For an example of two locos consisted, the lead loco will have the headlight (F0f), bell (F1), horn and short horn (F2&3), dynamic brakes (F4), dim (F7) and mute (F8), and brakes (F11). For this example, we will not be using FX5 or 6, or manual notching. The trailing loco will have dynamic brakes (F4), mute (F8), brakes (F11) and the coupler (F12). Now determine the CV values. Following the chart for the lead loco, CV21 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 64 + 128, so enter a value of 207. CV22 = 1+16, so enter a value of 17. For the trailing loco, CV21 = 8+128, so enter a value of 136. CV22 = 16 + 32, so enter a value of 48. If you had a third loco in the middle, just leave out the coupler clank. This becomes fun, especially when all locos in the consist behave as if they are all one long loco!

Next post, we’ll look in depth at the lights for each loco in the consist.

Monday, November 19, 2012

SoundBytes 11-19-12

First, we want to wish a safe and happy Thanksgiving to all of our fans, customers, fellow modelers and hobby shop dealers. SoundTraxx will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 22 and 23, so we can feast with our families and friends.
Trade show season is in full swing now. As the weather turns colder, trains are now taking center stage for hobbyists. We have our last show of 2012 coming up in the next month. Also, we’ve been out visiting stores and giving clinics.

Upcoming Show: Oklahoma City Train Show, Dec. 1-2, Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, Oklahoma City
We hope to see you at the Oklahoma City Train Show, which has been named one of the Best Train Shows by “Cowcatcher Magazine.”

Show Recap: Trainfest, Nov. 9-11, Wisconsin Exposition Center, Milwaukee
If you were able to attend, you could easily tell this was a great weekend up in Milwaukee. The weather was great and there was a record-setting 25,500+ in attendance.
We were busy greeting our fellow modelers and sharing the great features of the Tsunami decoders. Thanks to all who came and saw us. We always enjoy these shows!

Dealer Spotlight: Traintek, Waltham, Massachusetts
SoundTraxx Vice President Nancy Workman recently visited Traintek in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Nancy met with the owner, Gary Paulino, who graciously showed her his operation.
As you would expect, Gary stocks a lot of product, geared primarily for DCC users. She was happy to see their installation department busily working on installing a Tsunami Digital Sound Decoder during her visit.
If you live in the Boston area, please visit Traintek! They are located at 39 Emerson Road, Suite 203 in Waltham. Their phone number is 888.339.8724. They have an efficient business geared toward customer service, installation, and product availability and would be happy to see you. You also can visit them each year in January at the Big Railroad Show in West Springfield, Massachusetts (at the Big E). Please visit their website at

Fan Photo Submission
We are always happy to see what the modelers have been doing with our Blackstone Models products. This submission was from one of our dealers in Luxembourg, KSPS Commerce SARL.
Good to see the flavor of the narrow gauge has infected the European modelers! You can visit their website at  

Clinic Recap
George gave a clinic at the Greeley Freight Station Museum for the Northern Colorado Model Railroad club on Oct. 25.

They filled the house for their business meeting and the clinic.
Another clinic was given at Caboose Hobbies in Denver on Oct. 27. A good crowd was in attendance, as well as some of their employees. A special “Thank You” for the hospitality and interest by both the Northern Colorado Model Railroad Club and Caboose Hobbies for having us up there for these clinics. You can find out more information about the Greeley Freight Station Museum at and about the Northern Colorado Model Railroad Club at  You can also visit Caboose Hobbies at

George also taught a clinic at Enginehouse Services in Green Bay, Wisconsin, just before Trainfest on Nov. 6. The clinic was held in a nearby vacant office space to accommodate all who attended.

As always, we want to thank Enginehouse Services for their hospitality and to their patrons for coming out to see what we had to share! You can visit Enginehouse Services at
SoundTraxx in the News
SoundTraxx was mentioned in the latest La Plata County Economic Development Alliance newsletter. You can see the information here:

Thank you to all of our loyal customers who have helped us become what we are today!

Monday, October 22, 2012

SoundBytes 10-22-12

It has been a busy month so far of “Train Season.” We got started off right at the iHobby Expo in Cleveland, Ohio, and we’ll be traveling to a few shows this winter. In this post, we’ll also cover SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models announcements, as well as a clinic in the Denver and Front Range area.  We'll also introduce you to Vinson's Custom Electronics in our Dealer Spotlight.

SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models are now on Twitter! Look us up for announcements, news items and general hobby related items.
You can find us at @SoundTraxxCO and @BlackstoneCO. As always, you can find information on our website and Facebook.

Upcoming Shows:
We just finished up with the iHobby Expo in Cleveland. We had a great time catching up with many of our dealers and meeting up with a few new dealers. Over the weekend, we got to talk with many people, so thanks to those who came by.
Next up is TrainFest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on November 9, 10 and 11. This is a great show with lots of stuff to see and do! It is one of our favorites, so if you are in the area, or can get there, be sure to come by the booth! For more information, please visit

Blackstone Models News:
We have started shipping out the Blackstone Models Chili Line Passenger Coach 3-packs this past week. These are still available, so it is not too late to place an order. These cars are painted in Pullman Green and equipped with the unique conductor’s bay window. They will look great on any HOn3 layout as these cars did find their way around the narrow gauge system. With the two Pullman Green coaches available individually, a passenger train can be built quickly with the addition of this limited edition 3-pack.
B350112 Chili Line 3-Pack, Nos. 284, 306, 320, Pullman Green MSRP $280.00

SoundTraxx Clinics:
We will be giving a clinic at Caboose Hobbies (500 South Broadway, in Denver at 10:30 a.m. on this Saturday, October 27. The presentation, “Prototypical Operation using Tsunami Decoders,” will cover the myriad of features built into the decoder that allows the decoder to easily be set up to match the prototype and execute a few prototypical operational scenarios using the Tsunami decoders. We will also have a few the pre-production samples of the new Blackstone Models run of C-19s and 2-8-0s to see.

We also will be giving this clinic at EngineHouse Services (2737 N. Packerland Dr., 2H, in Green Bay, Wisconsin at 6:30 p.m. on November 6.
If you are able to attend either one, be sure to come by and join in the fun!

Dealer Spotlight: Vinson’s Custom Electronics, Fallon, Nevada
Mr. Werner Vinson has been in electronics the majority of his life and has been working with model railroad electronics since 1995. As a dealer for SoundTraxx, he installs sound in all engines, steam or diesel, using Tsunami sound decoders “because it is the best there is!” As an installer, he has years of experience dealing with many types if models, and specializes in the difficult or tight-fit applications, such as the S1 or S2 switchers and he treats each install as if it was his own locomotive. Drawing on his experience with installations, he understands that it is important to install speakers properly to obtain the best sound results.
Adhering to quality workmanship, Mr. Vinson uses LEDs in the installations for great lighting results and extends the longevity of the light source. As a SoundTraxx installer, he is equipped to work on any scale, HO through G- or Large Scale. You can contact him at (775) 867-2105 or  You also can visit his website at

Thursday, September 6, 2012

SoundBytes 9-6-12

In this edition, we explore one more of our new C-19 release, discuss upcoming appearances, and for our Tech Tip, delve more into speed settings.

In other big news…
SoundTraxx was selected as one of 50 Colorado Companies to Watch by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade! This is a big honor that will come with TV and media coverage. A special “Thank You” to all the discerning modelers who have helped push us to what we are today.

Blackstone Models C-19
Included in the newest C-19 lineup is D&RGW No. 342. This interesting loco traveled throughout the narrow gauge in Colorado in her lifetime. Number 342 was operated out of Durango in the early to mid 20s and out of Salida, Colorado in late 20s and early 30s, primarily as a switcher.

She also was operated from Ridgway to Ouray in the mid 30s until her untimely demise in 1938. Blackstone Models has modeled this little engine adorned in the Royal Gorge herald paint scheme. Sporting a road pilot, flat smokebox door with box number plate, rounded steam and sand domes, a box headlight and a prototypical straight side tender, this sound-equipped, ready-to-run model can be at home on any narrow gauge layout. Reservations are due by September 28th, so hurry down to your favorite dealer and get yours ordered today!

B310209-S D&RGW C-19 No. 342
B310209W-S D&RGW C-19 No. 342 Weathered

Upcoming Shows.

Next up is the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Seattle, Washington from September 12th through the 15th. We will be attending and giving clinics and demonstrations throughout the week. If you are in the area, be sure to come by and see us and say “Hi!”

Tech Tip: Speed Tables
Setting up speed tables can be quite an undertaking, but by following a few easy steps, it can be much less of a hassle. Following up from our last post, we’ll use the speed table to limit top speed, and then to speed match locos. First, let’s look at the affected CVs. CVs 67 through 94 correspond to each of the 28 steps in a 28-step table (CV 67 is step 1, CV 68 is step 2… CV 94 is step 28). As we learned in the last post, the decoder calculates the in-between steps when in 128-step mode. CV 66 and 95 are trim CVs that adjust the entire speed table (default of custom) up or down to compensate for mechanical differences in forward or backward respectively.
When setting top speed, first you have to decide how fast is too fast. Many times, you can use a scale speedometer, or a foot per second rule to determine the speed of a loco. Once you determine top speed, to get an even, linear speed table, we’ll do a bit of math -- don’t worry it’s not difficult! Let’s say you desire the top speed of your model to be the same as it when set to ¾ throttle. Each step CV can be set from 0 (0% throttle) to 255 (100% throttle). So for ¾ speed as top speed, CV 94 should be set to 192. But how can we determine the values of CVs 67-93? Simple math. Divide 192 (Value in CV 94 as determined by top speed) by 28 to determine the number by which to increase and decrease each step. This yields 6.8, which rounded off is 7. Set CV 93 to 185, CV 92 to 178, and so on until CV 67 is set to 6. Run the loco, and the top speed, step 128, will produce a ¾ top speed.

Almost every loco out there seems as though it runs better in forward than when in reverse, or vice versa. The Tsunami decoder uses CV 66 and 95 to help overcome these differences for a more consistent, predictable speed, no matter the direction, for better consists. If the loco runs slower in reverse than forward due to better broken-in gears in forward, then use CV 66 to slow the motor down when in forward. CVs 66 and 95 multiply the speed table by X/128, where X is the value of the CV. The default value for CVs 66 and 95 is 128, so this will have a multiplier of 128/128 or 1, or no change.
Translated, values of 129 through 255 give the speed table a 1+ multiplier, and therefore cause the motor to turn proportionally faster throughout the speed range. Values of 1 through 127 give the speed table a fractional multiplier, which causes the motor to turn proportionally slower. This is applied to the entire speed table, the default linear table or a fully custom speed table. Values farther from 128 will give more drastic changes. Just remember, to set CV 29 for alternate speed tables and CV 25 to 16 for user adjustable speed tables. Using CVs 66 and 95 can also be used for quickly speed matching locos.
Using these methods, you can have the easy, full custom speed table you desire.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SoundBytes 8-15-12

With all that has been going on lately, time seems to slip away! Here it is, the middle of August already! The good news is there is less than a month until the next National Narrow Gauge Convention in Seattle, WA. The NMRA Show this year in Grand Rapids was good. We were able to meet up with many of you and discuss our new products and answer questions. The show was well attended and we had a great time. Thanks to those who did make it out. In this edition, we’ll discuss the newest SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models items and in our Tech Tip we’ll talk about motor control and speed steps in DCC.

With the release of the new Blackstone Models passenger cars, including the new Chili-Line 3-car set, we have been selling many of the new lighting decoders specifically designed for these cars. 
This lighting module easily fits under the roof and provides even and adjustable lighting for the detailed interior of these cars, and can be adapted for use in any HO passenger car. For more information:
With the many new announcements from Athearn in their Genesis line, we have added in a TSU-GN1000 for EMD 645 non-turbo (p/n 828058) to easily fit into the Genesis GP-15s and will fit into the new Genesis GP38-2s.
This drop-in decoder will replace the factory circuit board without the need for additional resistors for the lights.
For N-Scalers, we have been getting many requests and interest about our SurroundTraxx sound system. This system allows the sound to travel around the layout with the loco, providing full-scale sound, including an under-layout subwoofer, for up to 99 locos! While this system is designed with the small scales in mind, it can be utilized in any scale too! More information can be found here:
We also have the TSU-750 now available in the dual 567 for N-Scale E-Series locos (p/n 827018) and the UP gas turbine (p/n 827015) for use in N-Scale brass or Con-Cor Models. These are available to ship to your favorite dealer now!

Blackstone Models
The new Denver & Rio Grande Western Hoppers have been very well received. We have been shipping many of them, so don’t be left out, order yours today from your favorite hobby dealer.

These cars are available in 2 road numbers, weathered and non-weathered, so they are not expected to last long. These are in stock now and ready to ship.
B340708      D&RGW 3-Bay Hopper # 950   $54.95
B340708W  D&RGW 3-Bay Hopper # 950   $59.95
B340709      D&RGW 3-Bay Hopper # 955   $54.95
B340709W  D&RGW 3-Bay Hopper # 955   $59.95

Also announced at the show was the new 3-pack of the Chili-Line passenger cars #284, 306 and 320.

These Pullman green cars come in a discounted 3-pack with the signature bay window factory-installed. These cars are awaiting the 3-pack boxes before they will ship. We expect these to be shipping within the next few weeks.

B350112     D&RGW Passenger Coach ‘Chili-Line’ 3-pack     $280.00
                      Road Numbers 284, 306, 320

Upcoming Shows
Our next big show is the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Seattle, WA on September 12– 15, 2012. (

Blackstone Models focuses on Narrow Gauge in HOn3, so this is a great show to attend see what’s available in HOn3. Come by if you’re nearby and see what we have in store.

Following this is the iHobby show being held this year in Cleveland, OH on October 12-14, 2012. ( This show is primarily catering to the hobby shop owners, but is also open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday.

With many model railroad related manufacturers and other activities there, a good time is sure to be had. If you are in the area, be sure to come by and see us!

Tech Tip:
DCC was adopted because of the standards established by the NMRA. Within the standards, DCC has improved its technology over the years, and are still able to conform to the standards. Included in these improvements are more functions, more realistic sound, better consist methods, and most important, throttle response.
When DCC was introduced, motor and light control was pretty much it. At the time, the technology was young, and therefore only allowed 14 speed steps. What this means is that the throttle from 0-100% was divided up by 14 increments, or a 7.1% throttle change. This was crude and could cause clearly visible changes in the speed. Adding in momentum did make the changes in speed less obvious, but did not alter the amount of change in speed. There were no in-between speeds.  As the technology progressed, DCC saw the introduction of 28-speed step mode. This divided 0 to 100% throttle up in increments of 28, or 3.5% change, allowing finer throttle adjustments. Following this came along 128-speed step mode, dividing up 0 to 100% throttle in 128 increments, or 0.78% change, giving much finer speed control than ever before in DCC. Going one-step further, the Tsunami decoder has 2048 internal speed steps. This allows the decoder to use BEMF and momentum along with the throttle setting to step through the table, giving ultra fine motor control.
When using DCC, be sure for the best control of the decoder, that your DCC system and Throttle is set to 128 step mode. To run in any other modes (unless necessary by system limitations) is doing yourself a disservice.
Another thing to keep in mind when adjusting speed control is the DCC track voltage level. A decoder works the motor through Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This means that the motor is seeing momentary pulses of rectified track voltage (power is either on or off). By varying the length of time this power is on to the motor, the motor, in essence, turns faster or slower.
Higher track voltages translate into faster motor speeds throughout the speed range because of the higher power pulses sent to the motor. By lowering track voltage to 12-13v from 16-18v in 128-speed step mode, your loco will run much smoother, draw lower current, operate at cooler temperatures and the decoder will still be receiving the power it needs to operate. Spending a bit of time looking into these aspects of DCC, the results will be well worth the effort.
Next post, we will discuss setting up your own speed table to limit loco top speeds.

Monday, July 30, 2012

SoundBytes 7-30-12

NMRA National convention and the National Train Show are being held this week.
If you are in attendance, be sure to come by and say Hi! Jarrette will be giving clinics on Tuesday and Wednesday on prototypically using the Tsunami decoders, speed matching and consisting.  We will be there with a full staff at the show Friday, 9-12 for NMRA Members and 12-6 for the general public, Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 10-5.  More information can be found at

New announcements!
A few items are ripe for announcement at the NMRA convention. Included is a new Blackstone Models passenger car three-pack “Chili Line” cars in Pullman Green. These cars, road numbers 284, 306, and 320, come with the conductor’s bay window factory installed and ready for service. These will be shipping out soon, without a traditional pre-order period.
B350112      Chili-Line Passenger 3-pack    MSRP $280

Next up is a car that was requested, and we admit, looks good. We are announcing HOn3 3-bay open top hoppers painted in a D&RGW Flying Grande scheme. These former EBT Hoppers made their way all over the country, including Durango, Chama, and did service on the White Pass as well. We took a bit of liberty and added D&RGW to the list as if they were dispersed throughout the country from the EBT a bit earlier.  This car is decorated following the paint scheme and numbering sequence of their standard gauge counterparts. These are available in only 2 road numbers, though, meaning quantities are limited. These cars are available now to ship out immediately.
B340708      D&RGW 3-bay hopper #950   MSRP $54.95
B340708W  D&RGW 3-bay hopper #950   MSRP $59.95
B340709      D&RGW 3-bay hopper #955   MSRP $54.95
B340709W  D&RGW 3-bay hopper #955   MSRP $59.95

Last for Blackstone Models is the release of the EBT hopper Vulcan truck assembly. These will be available to start shipping out immediately.
B370113 2-Bay Hopper Vulcan truck MSRP $12.95/pr

Tech Tip:
With most of the hobby’s major manufacturers now using SoundTraxx for their factory-installed sound, there are many manufacturer-specific CV defaults now. Each company is free to choose how their decoder is set up. Many of these do not match the default settings of the decoders that are purchased and installed by the modeler. We get many questions as to what are the default settings, so when making changes, the user knows where they are starting from.
On our homepage,, down in the lower right, there is a box labeled “Quick Links”.
In this box, you will see “Factory-Installed Decoders.” Click here to be taken to the Factory-Installed page. Here each of the model manufacturers we supply are listed, Athearn, Bachmann, Bowser, Intermountain, S-Helper, Walthers and soon to be added, Rapido Trains. To find out about these specific models, click on any of the manufacturers, and this will pull up their page. Each manufacturer's page starts off with a little about the partnership we have with these companies. Scroll toward the bottom of the page, and listed by scale is each of that company’s models we have built decoders for. Click on any model to pull up its specific CV default list. These are the defaults selected by each company to more closely math their models.  These decoders do still adhere to the programming explained in the Tsunami User’s Guide for both Steam and Diesel.

Using this for each Tsunami factory-equipped model, you can achieve a standard operating scheme, or set volumes to be similar so you can have your whole fleet of locos operating to match your needs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

SoundBytes XLXIII

It has been a busy June here for us. Not only did we get the new shipment of Blackstone Models cars in, but we also held our annual dealer-training seminar.
We'd like to thank our dealers who attended the training this year. With July upon us, first, we hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday.  Now we start preparations for the NMRA National Convention. 

Blackstone Models:
Most of the new Blackstone Models cars have shipped off to the dealers. We do still have some of these popular cars remaining here, including the new passenger car numbers along with the red Denver and Rio Grande 3-pack!

These cars also look great with our flicker-free DCC lighting kit installed.  This lighting module easily fits into the roof of the model and uses LEDs to evenly illuminate the interior with adjustable brilliance and no flickering! This 4-function DCC decoder will compliment these great passenger cars.  (Part Number 810136, MSRP $35.95)
The EBT Hoppers have been getting great reviews, and are just about sold out! Don’t miss out on these great cars.

New C-19s: The D&RGW #346 Post-Wreck
Following the popularity of the Blackstone Models K-27 RGS #455 Post-wreck, with our new C-19 and 2-8-0 locomotive release, we will be including the D&RGW #346, as she existed after it was wrecked in 1936 on Kenosha Pass. The loco was re-built with a steel cab, a wood pilot beam, and the unique steam and sand domes on the boiler. Blackstone Models has chosen to model this version of the #346 C-19 as she appeared in the late 30’s to the late 40’s adorned with the Flying Grande herald that was applied in the mid 40’s. (B310210-S, B310210W-S for weathered version)  Dealers are taking orders now for this, and other C-19 and 2-8-0 locomotives for release in early 2013. More information on Blackstone Models upcoming C-19 and 2-8-0 release can be found here:

Trade shows:
We will be attending the upcoming NMRA National Convention and the National Train Show in Grand Rapids MI July 31st thru August 5th.  Jarrette will be giving 3 clinics on the features of the SoundTraxx’ Tsunami decoders and using Tsunami decoders in prototypical operations.  A lot of good information will be shared there. If you are in attendance, please come by the booth to say hello, and to see what is going on in the world of SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models

Tech Tip:
Every so often, we are asked questions or given suggestions from our customers that may have slipped under our radar. This tip comes from Matt Tjaden from Virginia. He found a way to set up his loco for a straight to Notch 8 feature using a single Function button with our Tsunami decoders. For F40PH Head End Power (HEP), the prime mover ran in notch 8 at all times to supply electrical power to the passenger coaches garnering them the nickname "Little Screamers". 
Using the Tsunami decoder, this can be achieved by using the Dynamic brake application feature set in CV 116. When the Dynamic brakes are applied, the different manufacturers of the locos had the prime mover do different things based on the needs. For an example that relates here, GE and ALCO typically had the prime mover run up to notch 8. To set this up, we’ll apply this Dynamic brake logic, but to prevent the dynamic brake fan sound, we’ll set this volume to 0. Here’s how it’s done. First, add 192 to the value in CV 116. Default value is 39 (7 (7 speed steps up or down notched the diesel engine) + 32 (Auto Start, loco sounds start up upon track power.)=39). Add in the 192 so the prime mover runs to notch 8 when F4 is applied. CV116 then will be 39+192=231. Next, set the volume level for the dynamic brakes (CV133) to 0. Now when F4 is pressed, the diesel engine will ramp up to notch 8, with no dynamic brake sounds, a perfect reproduction of the HEP sounds of a loco at the press of a button!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SoundBytes XLXII

While the temperatures start to get hot, so too are our New releases and announcements so far this year. Summer has arrived, and we have a piping hot edition of SoundBytes for you. We’ll discuss the new Blackstone Models arrivals, invite everyone for factory tours and introduce you to another of our dealers, Crusader Rail Service in Pennsylvania!

Factory Tours
Travel is part of many of our summer plans, usually to visit tourist railroads located throughout the world. We are lucky to have one of the most popular tourist destinations here in Durango with the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
If your travel plans include a visit to railroad in the San Juan Mountains, you are invited to come and tour our manufacturing facility. We do design and build all of our decoders here in Durango and you are welcome to come see what we do here. Because the railroad is a popular destination, we do get a lot of requests for tours, so if you are planning on coming, please call ahead to help us schedule a time for your visit.
We will be happy to see you! Our toll free number is 888.789.7637.

We have recently received new updated samples of our New Integrated Roadbed Track system called ProTraxx.

This will become a full line of track sections including turnouts (Switches), multiple radius curves, multiple length straights, crossings, etc. To introduce this line of track products based on the KATO Unijoiner, we will start by offering an oval starter set and individual sections in 4-packs. We are expecting these first components to be available in the fall, with more to quickly follow. If you are interested in ProTraxx, be sure to let your hobby shop know! Feel free to contact us for more details.

Blackstone Models Shipments
The new run of Open Platform Passenger coaches, the new Narrow Frame UTLX Tank cars, and the all-new East Broad Top 3-Bay Open Top Hopper will be arriving soon. Quantities are limited, so be sure to get some of these cars on order with your local hobby shop to be sure you get yours before they are gone. These cars are hot items, so we do not expect them to last long at our facility.

Lighting Modules
With the impending release of the new run of Blackstone Models Passenger coaches, don’t forget to get the SoundTraxx Dual Mode Flicker Free Lighting Decoder, specifically for the coaches!

This uses the wipers supplied with the cars to easily illuminate the interior for your scale passengers! The MSRP is only $35.95 for a 4-function dual model decoder with the LED lights already in place!

810136- Lighting Dual Mode Decoder for Blackstone Models Passenger Coach
810137- Lighting Dual Model Decoder for Blackstone Models Long Caboose

New Release of C-19s, the RGS 41
We have received some of the first samples of the upcoming run of C-19 and 2-8-0 locomotives. Here we’ll share a pre-production photo of the New RGS 41.
These, along with the other C-19 and 2-8-0 locomotives are currently available for preorder.  More information can be found here:,, and

Dealer Spotlight: Crusader Rail Service:
CRUSADER RAIL SERVICES of Philadelphia, PA was created in 1997 by Ray & Mary Kaminski to offer custom sound system installations, repairs, upgrades and modifications to locomotives, rolling stock and railroad-related equipment.
Ray’s love of trains goes back to his first Lionel set in 1953, HO in 1959 and Narrow Gauge in the mid 60’s (favorite railroads include the Reading, EBT, B&O, D&RGW, Western Maryland, Maine Central and Maine 2-foot Railroads).
Mary came to the hobby much later, but is no less a narrow gauge fan.

The 2001 acquisition of a devoted narrow gauge business allowed Crusader Rail to expand into sales of HO, HOn3, S and O scale products for the craftsman-level modeler, in both standard and narrow gauges. They are a specialty shop, featuring unique vendors that are chosen for their quality and attention to detail. They are currently in the process of expanding their narrow gauge inventory.
In 2006, Crusader Rail became a SoundTraxx dealer along with Blackstone Models.  DCC and sound equipment, figures, track and turnouts, bridges, buildings, narrow gauge kits, tools, and detail parts are just some of the many items stocked.
Check out their website at  Or catch them at one of the over 14 major shows from Maine to Ohio that they attend. Ray and Mary can also be found at most of the Narrow Gauge Conventions. If you get the chance, call (215-482-7530) or email ( - you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SoundBytes XLXI

Summer’s just about here! Graduations are going on, sun is out, and the Big National Train Shows are coming up quickly! Also, we will be closed in observance of Memorial Day, Monday, May 28th.  We want to wish a special Thank You to all who have served in our country’s Military, and had family members who did so!  Your sacrifice and support help keep the world free.
We’ve got a few things to touch on this time, so lets get to it!

Traveling Clinics & Upcoming Shows
This past weekend, George was on the road to Little Rock, AR. While there, he was able to visit some of our dealers in the area, and deliver operation clinics to the shop owners and their customers. As always, we enjoy meeting everyone anywhere we go, and this was no exception. While there, he visited The Hobby Shop Deluxe in Dardanelle,
Rail & Sprue Hobbies in Jacksonville,
and Arkansas Traveler Hobbies in Bald Knob.
He was also able to visit a Mopac and Frisco inspired layout by Jon Swanson near Little Rock.
Last, because of a late flight, he was able to travel up to northern Arkansas and follow the Mopac’s White River Route. There was plenty of beautiful scenery there. After the trip, he was very glad he chose to model this portion of the Mopac for his home layout.
Upcoming shows that are scheduled include the National Train Show being held in Grand Rapids, MI this year in August. After that in September, we’ll be going to the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Seattle. We’re working on some projects for these shows, so be sure to keep checking in here and on our website for updates and other future appearances!

Blackstone Models:
We are expecting to receive our next shipment of Blackstone Models Products here in mid-June. Included in the shipment are the second run of passenger cars, the third run of narrow frame tank cars, and the All-New East Broad Top 3-bay hopper cars. These cars are not yet sold out, but quantities are getting low. Be sure to order your cars before they are gone.

Blackstone Models HOn3 2-8-0
With the new second run of C-19s, Blackstone Models has taken the opportunity to pique the interest of modelers of an earlier era. The New Painted and Unlettered 2-8-0 Early Diamond Stack loco is designed to be a generic Turn of the Century Consolidation. This loco is not modeled after any specific prototype, but allows freelancers and modelers to create their own fun diminutive loco. The model will feature a single 11” compressor, a Baldwin Cast front smoke box, fluted style domes, a diamond stack typical of locos in this time frame, and an ornate livery including a ‘Russia Iron’ boiler jacket. Interest in this loco has been high. You can reserve your Early 2-8-0 locomotive at your favorite hobby shop!
We are pleased to announce the all-new ProTraxx HOn3 track system! This is a track system based on the popular and reliable KATO Uni-Joiner. To start off with, we will be offering a 9” straight and curved sections for a 19” radius as well as a starter set complete with circle of 19” radius curves, four 9” straight sections and wired track feeding track joiners. Note, it will take 16 sections to complete a circle of track, so 4 sections is a quarter of a circle.
Pre-Production Sample Shown, Actual track will have painted ties.
At this time, we are taking pre-orders. Track is a new venture for us, so we are asking your help to help us better gauge our necessary stocking levels. Re-orders for track have a long lead time, so to better serve your HOn3 ProTraxx needs, please place orders with your dealers now. Our deadline to order stocking quantities is the first week of June, so we ask that your orders be submitted by June 1st. We will continue to take orders after then as well.
We do have plans for a full track system, including turnouts, crossings, multiple radius curves and multiple length straight tracks, but we have to start out somewhere. Don’t forget, ProTraxx track can easily set up a test track or temporary layout, as well as be used to build a complete home layout!

B500100           9” Straight 4-pack                       $18.25
B500200          19” Radius Curve 4-pack             $18.25
B500900          Starter Set (Circle + 4 straights)  $89.95

New KATO Locos:
With the impending release of the new KATO AC4400CW and SD90MAC models in HO, now would be a great time to plan ahead and be sure to order the Tsunami decoders designed for these models so they can be running on the layout with sound the same evening it comes home!
The TSU-KT1000 for SD70 will easily replace the factory light board in the SD90MAC with the LEDs built onto the board to match up to the model’s clear light ‘pipes’. The TSU-KT1000 for KATO AC4400CW for is designed for factory light board replacement as well. These decoders also have 2 additional light outputs for use with any of the Hyperlight features, including ditch lamps. The Big GE loco is designed to accept a 1” round speaker in the fuel tank, for an easy installation.

828060 TSU-KT1000 for KATO SD70/SD90MAC   $119.00
828066 TSU-KT1000 for KATO AC4400CW           $119.00
810054 1” Round Speaker                                             $9.95