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.