Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Realistic Operations with Tsunami's F11 Braking Feature

Give your throttle a “brake” and use F11 to slow your train. Instead of adjusting the throttle to engage the brakes, our functioning brake effect lets you apply the brakes (and play the brake squeal sound effect) with the press of the F11 function key. We developed the F11 functioning brake feature to add another level of interaction and realism to prototypical operating sessions. This feature is available in our Tsunami Digital Sound Decoders and DCC Mobile Decoders.

F11 Braking on the Mainline

To use this feature, first adjust the locomotive’s momentum by setting CV 3 (Baseline Acceleration Rate) and CV 4 (Baseline Deceleration Rate) to non-zero values. The exact values are up to you, but they should be large enough to produce a noticeable delay in throttle response. We recommend starting with CV 3 set to 25 and CV set to 75. Then adjust the values to your personal taste from there. Next, program CV 61 (F11 Braking Rate) to adjust the rate at which the locomotive will slow down when F11 is engaged. If CV 61 is set to 0 or 128, pressing F11 will only play the braking sound effects and not change the locomotive speed. Programming CV 61 with a value from 1 to 127 will simulate a greater load/steeper grade, causing the locomotive to decelerate more gradually than if you simply turned down the throttle. Values from 129 to 255 will cause the locomotive to decelerate more aggressively than if you adjusted the throttle. For this reason, be careful not to set the CV 61 value too high -- it can turn F11 into an emergency stop button. To get started, we recommend setting CV 61 to a value of 178.

To apply the brakes and activate the sound effect, simply press F11 and your train will slow to a stop. Press F11 again to release the brakes and resume running your train.

This feature works really well in conjunction with our Tsunami SoundCar Digital Sound Decoder for rolling stock. Program the values of CVs 3, 4 and 61 in the SoundCar decoders to match the values in the locomotive's decoder when in a consist. This will sync the momentum and braking rates in the consist when F11 is engaged so you can experience full braking throughout your train.

Recommended F11 Braking CV Values
If CVs 61 (F11 Braking Rate) and 4 (Baseline Deceleration Rate) are set to values that do not slow the train quickly, changes in the train speed will seem nonexistent to the operator and spectators. Therefore, we recommend starting with the following CVs and values, and then adjusting them to your preferences.
  • CV 3: 25
  • CV 4: 75
  • CV 61: 178

F11 Braking for Yard Switching

Our F11 functioning brake feature is also great for shuffling cars in the yard.

Simply press F11 to apply the brakes, couple to the unit (press F12 to activate the coupling sound effect), change direction, and press F11 again to release the brakes. With this application, you don't need to worry about adjusting speed steps on your throttle. And since the F11 braking feature is available in the Tsunami SoundCar, this method works great for cutting cars into your consist, especially with our new Intelligent Consisting feature to easily synchronize the cars to the decoder settings in the locomotive.

F11 Braking for Brake Testing

You can also use the F11 feature to simulate brake testing.

A brake test is carried out when departing a yard or depot to ensure the brakes are working correctly. The engineer reduces the brake pressure so the brakes will grip the wheels. The more pressure that's released, the more the brake shoes will grip the wheel. The idea is to verify that the pressure is being reduced properly through the line, which would then, in turn, apply the brakes when required. The test is a fun sequence that can be reproduced when departing any terminal and provides a more realistic operation for your railroad.

First, press F11 to set the brakes. Then press F3 (short whistle/horn) to signal that the brakes are set. Then, wait a few seconds for the conductor to signal to the engineer that brake pressure was reduced throughout the trainline. Press F3 twice to acknowledge the signal, and press F11 to release the brakes. 

For detailed information about programming the F11 functioning brake feature, refer to page 61 in the Tsunami Steam Sound User’s Guide, or page 51 in the Tsunami Diesel Sound User’s Guide.

To see all the F11 braking applications described in this post, watch our video:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Maximizing Speaker Performance with the 7-Band Equalizer

The 7-Band Equalizer works just like the sliders
found on stereo systems to maximize speaker performance.
It's easy to get great sound from any speaker using the 7-Band Equalizer (EQ) feature in Tsunami and Econami digital sound decoders.

The EQ is controlled by eight Configuration Variables (CVs), which allow you to cut or boost frequency ranges to maximize speaker performance. Some CV adjustments are obvious (e.g., cutting frequencies not within the speaker’s range), while others can be tuned to your personal preference. Frequency ranges for SoundTraxx speakers are available on our "Speakers" page.

The Equalizer Control Register CV (CV 153 in Tsunami, CV 225 in Econami) allows you to select preset cut/boost levels configured for various speaker sizes and types, or enable the user-adjustable setting. There are seven associated CVs (all defaulted to 128) that act as sliders to boost or cut corresponding frequency ranges (CVs 154-160 in Tsunami, CVs 226-232 in Econami). Values from 0 to 127 reduce the output from -12 decibels (dB) to 0dB, and values from 128 to 255 increase the output from 0dB to +12dB.

Adjusting these frequencies will provide the ultimate tone control and help you get the most out of the speaker’s strengths.

Tsunami and 35mm x 16mm Speaker EQ Setting Example

Tsunami 7-Band Equalizer CV Adjustments 
For this example, we'll use Tsunami and our popular 35mm x 16mm speaker. First, enable the user-adjustable EQ by setting CV 153 to 7. CV 154 controls the 62Hz frequency band, which is too low for this speaker to physically reproduce (its lowest frequency is 250Hz). Set this CV to 0 so the speaker will not cause any distortion. Likewise, CV 155 controls a frequency that is too low for this speaker (125Hz), so also set it to a value of 0. CV 156 controls the 250Hz frequency band, which is the starting threshold of the speaker’s capabilities. You can boost this a small amount, so set CV 156 to 175. The rest of the CVs (157-160) are in the speaker’s frequency range as well. We suggest starting with the following values and then altering them to your preference: CV 157 = 200; CV 158 = 225; CV 159 = 200; and CV 160 = 185). Try different settings and listen for what sounds best to you. Record your changes so you don’t forget the settings you liked.

Recommended EQ CV Values for SoundTraxx Tsunami Decoder and 35mm x 16mm Speaker
  • CV 153: 7
  • CV 154: 0
  • CV 155: 0
  • CV 156: 175
  • CV 157: 200
  • CV 158: 225
  • CV 159: 200
  • CV 160: 185
  • Note: You may adjust CVs 156-160 to your personal preference.

For more information regarding the EQ, refer to the user's guides on our "Manuals" page. Our “Sound Primer” also details the science behind sound and has tips for speaker installation. You can also watch our EQ demonstration video: