Monday, February 18, 2013

SoundBytes February 15, 2013

Hard to believe we are already halfway through February and we have lots to talk about this post. Here at SoundTraxx we have a much-anticipated announcement for a new sound file and we have been working on a few new install documents for the decoder selector. Last for our Tech Tip, we’ll discuss the different modes of programming, starting with Service Mode or programming on the programming track.

New Decoder Announcement: TSU-AT1000 for NRE GenSet Locomotives

There have been many requests for a proper sound decoder for the NRE GenSet 3GS21-B Switchers, recently released by Atlas Models. We are pleased to say that we have been working hard on this project to faithfully mimic the operation of the prototype GenSet Switchers. This new decoder will be available in the TSU-AT1000 format, perfect as a drop-in decoder for the Atlas model. The Atlas model comes with prototypical front and rear non-flashing ditch lights that will easily utilize the decoder’s four lighting functions.
Each GenSet prime mover will have its own sound channel that will startup at the proper throttle notch, completely independently of the others, and will rev up and down based on the throttle use and remain on as the loco is used. After use at idle, a timer starts to count and shuts down the second and third GenSet engines as they “cool down.” This independent control of each GenSet engine is what makes this loco unique. You can pre-order yours from your favorite hobby shop now.
The sound sample can be found here:

Application Notes for Athearn Models
We have been working hard to get more installation documents up and listed on our website. These can be found in the Decoder Selector section. This month, we have posted the Athearn Genesis HO SD70MAC. This model uses the TSU-GN1000 for EMD 710 (P.N. 828052) and our small oval (16mm x 35mm) speaker (P.N. 810113).
Athearn Genesis HO SD70MAC Application Note:

Also, we have added one for the Athearn Ready-To-Roll HO GP35. This model uses the TSU-AT1000 for EMD 567D Turbo (P.N. 828039) and our small oval (16mm x 35mm) speaker (P.N. 810113).
Athearn Ready-To-Roll HO GP35 Application Note:

Last, we added the Athearn Ready-To-Roll HO CF-7. This model uses the TSU-AT1000 for EMD 567 (P.N. 828040) and our small oval (16mm x 35mm) speaker (P.N. 810113).
Athearn Ready-To-Roll HO CF-7 Application Note:
All of these decoders and speakers are available to ship now.

Tech Tip: Service Mode Programming
With all the discussion on programming tutorials, it seems that the methods can sometimes be overlooked in the process. In the next couple of posts, we’ll share a bit about service mode programming and operations mode programming to set the CVs and the advantages of each method. Starting this time, we’ll look closely at service mode programming using the programming track.
The programming track is an isolated section of track that is designed to communicate programming commands to a decoder. Any loco/decoder on this section of track will accept any programming changes sent from the DCC system. The command station (CS) sends a programming command and the decoder listens and makes the CV changes accordingly. When the decoder acknowledges that is has accepted the change, it then sends a pulse of power to the motor. The CS then detects this small surge of current on the track and relays that it has been programmed okay. If there is not a motor hooked up to the decoder, the command is still obeyed, but the CS will not get the acknowledgement pulse due to the open circuit. This is why many modelers will opt to use a small resistor across the motor leads to simulate the motor load, and consequently the decoder’s acknowledgement pulse.
Programming on the programming track is helpful because you do not need to know the decoder’s address, you can easily make changes, or you can easily regain control of a decoder whose address is not known.
The programming track also allows you to read a CV value, but this is not accomplished as one would expect. To read a CV value, the CS and the decoder play a game of “256 Questions.” The game goes like this: “Is the value of CV# 0?… Is the value of CV# 255?… Is the value of CV# 1?…2?….3?….…254? When the decoder wants to answer “Yes,” the decoder then sends a pulse of power to the motor circuit for the CS to detect a small surge in current. The surge of current is read as a positive answer to the value in question, and the answer is displayed in the CS screen. If there is no motor, or load across the motor leads, the decoder can never be read.
Service mode programming also was designed to be used as a test-bed for decoder installations before going to the mainline. The power on the programming track was set to about ½ power to help protect any faulty wiring from causing permanent damage to the decoder. At the time, non-sound mobile decoders were all that was available, so this worked well. Simply send a programming command and if the decoder accepted the programming, it was ready for the mainline! Now with sound--using the SoundTraxx Tsunami--becoming more dominant in the industry, the lower power available on the programming track is not quite sufficient to “wake up” the higher-powered processors on the sound decoder for programming. This warrants the need of a PTB-100 or Programming Track Booster. Our PTB-100 will amplify the signal on the programming track to allow sound decoders to now reliably read and write CVs on the programming track. It also offers short-circuit protection against faulty wiring to protect the delicate electronics involved, so it does not need to be removed when programming non-sound decoders.
 The PTB-100 also will indicate the stages of the programming process, so you can easily see that the decoder is acknowledging the programming and reading commands. It easily hooks up between the CS and the programming track, so you can set it up once and be done. More information on the PTB-100 can be found here:   
Next time, we’ll look at programming on the mainline, also known as operation mode, and its advantages.