Thursday, March 15, 2012

SoundBytes XLVIII

St. Patrick’s day is near and spring is blooming, but that is no reason to stop model railroading! This may be the time to take on a new decoder install, or add in that rolling stock for future operating sessions! This issue, we’ll cover some upcoming shows we will be attending and discuss some in-stock Blackstone Models products. For our Tech Tip, we’ll set up a sound zone from a detector block for SurroundTraxx.

Upcoming Shows
Next month, we will be setting up at the Super Train 2012 show in Calgary, AB CANADA. If anyone is in the area, we encourage you to come by and see what we have to show.

This is the largest Canadian Model Train Show. It will be held at the Subway Soccer Centre April 21st and 22nd, 2012. This was a great show last year and we are expecting it to be even better this year!
Stay tuned for other shows and appearances for our staff near you.

Blackstone Models
When we receive a new Blackstone Models product, the number of models is limited. However, this does not necessarily mean that it is sold out. We take reservations for the models and when the shipment arrives, they begin shipping out to the hobby shops.

There has been occasions recently that a Blackstone Modeler will contact us asking about existing stock, stating their dealer says it is sold out, while on our website it is not. The website is kept up to date as much as possible, so it is a good indicator of our available inventory.

There are still K-27s, boxcars, stock cars, double-deck stock cars, high side and drop-bottom gondolas, flat cars and cabooses in stock here for you.

Just be sure to let your Blackstone Models dealer know what you are looking for and if available, we will be happy to get these out to you!

Tech Tip
The SurroundTraxx is an inexpensive option for great sound for the modeler in small scales. An important piece to getting this to work is to use the block-detection system from Digitrax known as Transponding. Once this has been installed and is functioning properly, its time to assign the detection blocks to the SurroundTraxx’ sound zones.
For our examples, we will assign a loop, like the Tehachapi Loop, to a single sound zone, zone 3, and then 3-track yard and through mainline in sound zone 2.
Starting with the example loop of track, it is assigned to block 2 on the Digitrax BDL-168. To set this up in the SurroundTraxx menu, press the knob and “ROUNDHOUSE” should appear. Rotate the knob until “ZONE IDS” appears in the window. Press the knob to select. Now rotate the knob until “ZONE: 3” appears, then press the knob to select. At first, “BEG ID:000” will be displayed, then press the knob to select. Using the knob, rotate to select each digit (0-9) and then press the knob to select and cycle through each of the 3 digits individually. Using the knob, select id # 002, (press knob, 0, press, 0, press, rotate to select 2,) and then press the knob to save. The setting, “BEG ID:002” should now be displayed. Next, rotate the knob to “END ID:002”. Confirm this is correct. If it does not, change this to zone 002, following the procedure above, to ensure that the zone will be correct. Now, when a loco is detected in zone 2, the sound profile (previously set up) will be played coming out of the speaker connected to the orange wires, or zone 3.
A group of tracks, in this case, a yard where each track has its own BDL-168 detector zone, can share a speaker output. For this example, the three yard tracks with a main through track are assigned to zones 6, 8, 10, and 12. These have to be un-interrupted consecutive numbers. Blocks 2, 4, 10 and 12 can be assigned to a single sound zone, but any number in between (6 and 8) must be in that same sound zone or the SurroundTraxx will not operate properly.
To configure this part of the layout, first select ZONE ID for zone 2. Next, set the BEG ID to 006 and the END ID to 012. Rotate the knob to confirm these settings are saved. Now any time a loco is run on any of the yard tracks or the through main, the sound for that loco will play out of the speaker connected to the yellow wires, or zone 2.
Setting up the SurroundTraxx allows you to take advantage of the surround sound for your layout. With the loco sounds traveling with the locomotive around the layout, full-scale sound is now possible, especially for smaller scales.
Now with the blocks set up, customize the sound channels for each one by adding in reverb or echo as appropriate to the layout for great sound effects. See an earlier post for details.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

SoundBytes XLVII

Its time for another edition of SoundBytes. We hope you have been enjoying the look into the world of SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models. This time, we will discuss the upcoming Blackstone Models Releases.

We have been shipping the SurroundTraxx to our dealers for a while now. We are interested in hearing back from you about your experiences with our product. If you are interested in sharing your successes with SurroundTraxx, please send a short 1-2 paragraph description of your SurroundTraxx setup.

Be sure to include information about your layout, how many locos you have, and how you have been able to get the complete sound for your layout. We are interested in taking some of these testimonials and re-posting them here for others to read as well, if desired. Please send these to:

Upcoming Releases:
Now that we have received and shipped out the new run of K-27s,

our next products to arrive will be the new boxcars and stock cars, expected to arrive here in late spring. These are 6 new Denver and Rio Grande Western road numbers for each, both weathered and non-weathered. Don’t forget to place your reservations for these cars now!
Arriving around early summer will be our very popular East Broad Top hopper. These cars are very popular with many of the cars getting close to being sold out!

Be sure you have these reserved so you are not left out! We are producing a painted/unlettered version as well as a painted version with the EBT Herald and data, but no road number for those who are looking to amass a large fleet of these cars as well as 6 pre-lettered and numbered cars with various heralds.
Expected to arrive in mid-summer will be the new run of passenger coaches

and the third run of the extremely popular Tank cars.
For more information on all future releases, please visit

Tech Tip:
We are now supplying many of the major HO model train manufacturers with our Tsunami Dual-Mode Sound Decoders and some with our Dual Mode Non-Sound Mobile Decoders. We get many questions regarding the design of these models and what are the default settings. Let’s take a few moments to discuss how a project is developed and designed for the various manufacturers and where to find information about their decoders.
Once we reach an agreement on supplying a decoder for a model, both parties work together to hammer out details. The other manufacturer will supply information, desires and specifications for the model in question, and we design a circuit board to fit in the given space that will be easy to install during assembly that matches their specifications. We then send sample decoders and a checklist for them to approve. This can cover everything from fit into the model, CV default settings and operational requests, volume settings, etc. Once the samples are approved, we then are given a target date as to when the decoders are needed. We then collect the components and circuit boards and get them built by the date requested. Once the boards are built, we ship them to the address specified and they are forwarded on to the assembly floor for that manufacturer. We do not generally supply the speakers or lighting for the models, just the decoder.
To find the specific defaults for the locomotives, start at  Down in the lower right corner, there is a box labeled Quick Links.
Select Factory-Installed Decoders from this list. Then, you will be asked to select a manufacturer from Athearn, Bachmann, Bowser, Intermountain, S-Helper, and Walthers. For this explanation, we will select Bachmann. There, you will find a brief description of their products and sound Decoders supplied. Under this, a list of all the locomotives we have manufactured decoders for can be found. Selecting any of these will pull up a page listing the default values for the various CVs for that model.
Up in the upper left corner are various documents related to use with that model manufacturer’s Tsunami decoders. These can be very helpful as well.

Knowing where to find this information can help with programming any Tsunami factory-equipped locomotive to meet the desires of the discriminating modeler.