Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Trying to Build Realistic Sound Templates


It has been far too long since my last update. Unfortunately I don't have much to report. My spare days are mainly being used to build fences and gates at this point in time. I have not been buying much in the way of trains lately however I did buy a Sound Devices MM-1 pre-amplifier to supplement my Rode NGT-3 microphone. I am hoping that this little device will help record better audio.

This post is purely to show case a few of my latest projects. While the actual audio sounds have progressed also, the main thing I have been working on is dialling in my Templates. I am trying to build templates and sound flows that help create more realistic operation. It has been a steep learning curve however I am enjoying staying up at night going over and over sound flow problems in my head ha ha.

Anyway, below are a few videos of my latest exploits.



Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Post From Wichita Kansas


It has been quite a while since I updated my blog. For some reason I have not been concentrating on it much lately.

Danielle and I have recently moved into our new house and it is basically taking up most of our time. I hoping to have a modelling space soon.

Meanwhile, I have been doing some work on ESU diesel templates and built up a new D57 class project. As most reader would be aware, ESU released their 'Full Throttle' feature recently. In my opinion, the new feature is just a new method of manual notching. They have added a speed hold function, coast function, eight notch function and a brake. The speed hold function locks the electric motor to the selected speed and allows the throttle to adjust the prime mover sounds. The coast function allows the user to force the locomotive prime mover sound into notch one/idle at any speed. The eight notch function does the opposite and forces the prime mover sound into notch eight and the brake function stops the locomotive (momentum settings are best set high) with any speed step selected.

I don't want to sound negative however ESUs concept is kind of ridiculous. Sure this has resolved the issue of separating prime mover speed from track speed however it is a messy solution. Like I said, in my opinion.

Here are the reasons I do not like it:

1. After having pressed the 'Hold' function and after having used the throttle to change the prime mover sound - once the 'Hold' function is released, the locomotive will accelerate or decelerate to the selected speed. To prevent a change in speed, it means that you must remember the speed at which you started. Some may not care about the speed change. Its a personal thing.

2. Pressing a function button to hold a speed, manipulate the prime mover noise, then deselect the speed hold to be able to slow down again is really quite stupid. For one, when shunting this is dumb.

3. Function buttons are prime real estate, particularly if you are a NCE user. Who wants to continually look at function buttons when shunting?

4. Consisting will be impossible with any other decoder or non 'Full Throttle' Loksound decoder.

5. The coast and eight notch ability can be done without function buttons.

I get the feeling that someone discovered a few check boxes that were not really used (they have been there for a long time), worked out that if you use a second sound slot as a control slot, that they could create a new method for manual notching. It seems the firmware update was used to add new function terms.

The one great thing that came out of this is the 'brake' function. While this has/is available on other decoders manufactured by others, it is a welcome addition to ESU.

When I built my XPT project, I built it with the ability for the prime mover notches to be selectable on the way down. This allows you to coast at speed or select notches at will. Having tried to create a better diesel ESU project, (I have never been satisfied with any diesel sound files due to the way they
drive) I was very interested to see what ESU had come up with regarding 'Full Throttle'.

Well as you can probably tell, I was disappointed ha ha. I decided to go back to the drawing boards and build a full eight notch diesel project that was completely driveable, sound and loco speed by the throttle. No function buttons.

As I have not recorded an eight notch diesel locomotive, I had no sound files to use in my new template. I ended up using ESUs EMD 645 project, deleted all the sound flow slots, substituted my new template and loaded the file into my Auscision 422 for testing. Last week I was able to run the 422 on Ray Pilgrims Bylong (thanks Ray). Rays layout is beautiful as most of us know but the main challenge was to convince Ray that a Loksound decoder, with a diesel file was useable without having to play the thing like a piano. It was great to see Ray find the project easy enough to drive. I have to admit, although in Candy, the locomotive looked great slugging up the 1 in 40 grades with it's prime mover sound adjusted to suit.

Anyway without banging on about it, I hope to modify my whole diesel fleet. This will most likely mean having to record quite a few locomotives so I have audio files to use. The 48, 45 and 43 are high on my priority list.

I have attached  two videos of the 422 and a video of my latest 57 file. I am sorry for the poor narration on the 422 videos. In regards to the 57 file, I have to make one small timing change.

422 Class - Part A and B

422 Class - L. Towell - Throttle Notching - Part A

422 Class - L. Towell - Throttle Notching - Part B


I am currently in Wichita, Kansas and have attached two photos from the trip so far. One is the SR71, no more needs to be said about that and the other is a steam locomotive that I have no idea about.

Thanks for taking a look.



Sunday, January 31, 2016

Andian Models LWW


Just  quick post while I wait for a decoder to load.

My LWW is one of those projects that has been hanging around for years. I found it a challenging little kit, however it all went together ok.

One of the main reasons for the delay has been me figuring out how to mount the couplers and also how to add the brake detail. I had a few photos of the brake gear sent to me but it has taken me ages to figure out what I was going to build it out of.

Anyway, I turned up the air reservoir tanks on the lathe and modified bits and pieces I had laying around for the brake cylinder and triple valve. All in all it came out ok.

The couplers are the Sergent variety, mounted on a threaded brass spigot with a 10ba screw.

The brake shoes are Ian Lindsay castings, I do need to tidy these up a bit as the photos show some unevenness.

The timber platform was made by laminating timber to brass, milling the ends so it sits at the correct level and weathering.

Still to go is a general tidy up, adding the rest of the hand brake/ brake detail, painting and then just maybe, just maybe it will be finished! Finally!

Thanks for looking,


Saturday, January 23, 2016

A revamped Z13, Longest EHO project ever and Most of a house


I hope everybody is well. After a nice three week break over Christmas, I am now back at work and loving every moment - umm not.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Last weekend I took a trip to the Auscision shop. Not a bad shop, it's very nicely presented and has a lot of models on display.

While on the subject of shops I have to make mention of the outstanding service provided by Hobbyland.


These guys really know how to treat customers. I am looking forward to the release of their X200 rail tractors. Should be a good model.

On the sound front, my XPT file is now being distributed by Mike Walters at DCC Sound. I have been contemplating building a Paxman Valenta engine XPT project version also. This would cover XPT power cars up until Paxman VP185 engines were fitted during the 2000's. There is really only one place to now record a Paxman Valenta engine in a working locomotive that I am aware of. This place exists in the UK and the locomotive is the prototype HST power car 41001 which has been restored to operational status. There are a couple of obvious problems with recording 41001. One is that it's on the other side of the world and the other is that although it has a Paxman Valenta engine, the exhaust system is probably very different to that fitted to XPTs.

The first problem is probably the easiest to solve. I have a contact in the UK that may be able to help with quality recordings. I could also just go on a holiday!

The second problem is where my dilemma really lies. According to documents on the XPT, the power car exhaust systems were modified (attenuated) from those fitted to the HSTs. For model train engine sounds, I believe that the locomotive should be recorded from the outside, not engine noise specifically but the noise produced by the exhaust. If you have watched any HST videos you may have noticed that they have a very predominant turbo whine. I have read the term 'scream' to describe the sound of Valenta equipped HSTs. After talking to a few people and watching early videos of XPTs running, I don't think the turbo noise is apparent from the outside. The XPT most certainly didn't seem to scream along. This brings me to the point of decision. Do I bother building a Valenta project where I will have to mostly edit the turbo scream out or just use my VP185 engine recordings? Both are technically incorrect for a pre-2000's XPT. Just because 41001 has a Vallenta engine does not mean that it sounds anything like the Aussie XPT on delivery. I asked my Uncle the other day (as he lives on the main southern line) if he could recall any sound differences in XPTs over the years. For him, he thinks they sound the same powering up the bank into Moss Vale,

I would love to hear some other opinions. I can most certainly build a pre-2002 project however it may not be worth the time and effort.

Still on sound, I have revamped my Z13 project. I have cleaned up whistle transitions and added a few new features such as a function operated brake. I have included a video to show these recent changes. Sounds such as random compressor, injector, coal shovelling and safety valve are automatically played at random intervals. Some of these can be heard in the video while others did not play during filming.

Modelling - My EHO project continues. I have finished the basic underframe which includes a method for sprung buffers. I need to build some battery boxes and then add all the underfloor detail components. Still some work to go.

House - Our house is only a couple of months away from being finished, fingers crossed. Modelling will really take a back seat once we move in as I have about 100 years of landscaping work to do. Operation line my layout room will commence in the next month or so. This should create a nice area for the building of track work. Let’s see hey!

Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Until next time,


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

XPT Sound - Part 2

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Danielle and myself had a good time however are happy to be back home after a fair amount of travelling.
Before Christmas I embarked on another XPT recording session. Blacktown railway station was a real eye opener. Never before have I seen so many ankle trackers in one place. Glad to be alive still!
I now have better XPT horn recordings. Still, these recordings have been by far the most challenging recordings to edit. For the XPT project, if the applicable function button is held the corresponding horn (there are three horns) will play a full 4 second burst and fall silent. If you only want a short horn burst you simply deselect the function quicker. No function room on this project for three separate long and short horns.
As the XPT project is really my first full blown attempt at a diesel project, I thought I would try and modify how the general diesel sound flow works. While I am sure there are third party sound developers out there that have already paved this path, I personally have not come across anything that suited me.
What didn’t suit me:
Generally when you accelerate an ESU diesel project, the model accelerates at a set momentum rate and the sound flow increases as per set thresholds. These thresholds can comprise of multiple factors. This all works well.
It was decelerating that bugged me a little. When a locomotive comes up to speed and no more power is required, say cresting a hill, accelerating up to track speed, drifting down a hill, the throttle is generally shut off an amount that suits the conditions. This could mean the throttle is simply backed off one or two notches or placed back into one notch (I won’t say placed into idle here as I will have a flurry of people tell me how a diesel locomotive should be driven). What I am trying to say here is that the throttle directly effects the prime mover engine revs. Track speed is a product of environmental and power requirement factors.
When it comes to models fitted with sound, generally the locomotive speed needs to be decreased so the sound flow transitions into lower notches. This in a way creates the sense that the locomotive is being braked by the throttle.
ESU have ways of detaching the engine sound to driving speed in the form of manual notching. This however can be a little cumbersome and I really wanted a method of doing all of this by throttle manipulation rather than function button playing.
Some may not agree with this thinking.
The XPT project:
Here is another badly filmed movie! It's a shame that the function buttons did not show up better in the video. You can just make out the selected function button by the border that appears around the box.

My XPT project now has the ability to let you travel at track speed and ‘coast’ with the engine in any notch, all selected with the throttle.
If accelerated up to speed step (SS) 22 (I always use 28 speed steps), the XPT engine will accelerate up to throttle notch 5 (max throttle setting for an XPT) and track speed will build as per momentum settings. I have used speed step 20 as one of the thresholds for the diesel engine sound being at maximum revs. This was to help simulate a hard working XPT while traveling at two thirds max track speed.
Once the XPT is up to speed (SS 22) and the throttle is decreased down one SS to 21, the XPT engine will progressively come back to notch 1. As the throttle is still selected at SS 21 the models track speed remains relatively constant. The XPT will maintain notch one and track speed 21 for good if no change is made.
Once the engine sound has settled to notch 1, by increasing the throttle one SS, back to 22 the engine sound will progress back up to five notch.
If for instance we are travelling at SS 22 again and we want to decrease the throttle to four notch without effecting track speed, you simply move the throttle to SS21, listen for the decrease in engine sound and then reselect SS22 and the XPT will remain in four notch. If three notch is then required move the throttle to SS21 again, listen for a decrease in engine speed and then reselect SS22 on the throttle. The engine sound will then remain in three notch however track speed is still set at SS22.
Once again if the throttle is increased one SS, to SS23 the engine will once again move to notch five.
Another feature is the incorporation of a function operated brake. When the braking function is used, the XPT will come to a stop faster. Braking times are adjustable by changes in momentum setting. When the brake is applied and released brake pipe sounds are heard. When the loco is stopped with the brake function, braking squeal is played.
For me this has added a little bit of fun to the project and once being operated on a layout, will make it quite a challenge to stop at a platform. Just like the real one.
As in my last blog posting, the project still allows for one XP power car to operate in service mode (engine speed remains in two notch). This is function button selectable and applies to the trailing power car.
I am happy with this project for use in the XPT. I think a diesel freight locomotive, for most prototypical realism would need a similar throttle notching set up for when increasing engine speed also. Perhaps one day.
Decoder Installation:
For the XPT I used two ESU V4 21 pin decoders, two ESU Power Packs and two Zimo LS 10 x15 sugar cube speakers.
The XPT install was one of the most straightforward I have carried out. The strobes, headlight, white marker lights (ditch lights) and red markers are all wired individually. The blue and green wires are both commons for lighting (markers and ditch lights). These commons run through two of the switches under the fuel tanks. The grey wire is connected to the red markers and the yellow wire is connected to both white markers and ditch lights. You may be confused here - I was. Weirdly if the blue wire (+) and the yellow wire are powered the white markers light up. If the green wire (+) and the yellow wire is powered the ditch lights illuminate. I found the lower lighting board impossible to open up for fear of breaking it. This means, to separate the white markers from the ditch lights will require the green common wire to be isolated. This will be possible by using an amplifier circuit switching the positive side, utilising one of the decoder logic only outputs.
The headlights and strobes are connected through a 4 pin connector. The lighting connections are already made to the 21 pin plug. All that is required is to map the functions correctly.
Pin 15 - Aux 1 [1] = Strobe - These have been mapped to flash when the horn is blown. May have to fix up the cabin disco. I didn't notice all the flashing in the window until I watched the video!
Pin 14 - Aux 2 [1] = White Markers – This requires soldering onto plug (yellow wire)
Pin 7 - Rear light output = Head light
Pin 8 - Front light output = Red Markers
I also swapped the motor wires around as I think they were wired backwards. I am using the same address for both loco units and have simply used the ‘reverse direction’ option on the trailing unit. This allows all the direction features to operate properly.

That’s About That:
I am yet to run my XPT set on a layout but so far running on the rollers looks favourable.
I need to thank Dave for being so helpful in allowing me to record the XPT. Much appreciated and a copy of the file is all yours if you want it.
Now to get on and weather the set. This could be interesting!
Thanks for looking. Have a great New Years!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

XPT Sound Project


My Blog has seen little action over the past few months. As we are still waiting for our house to be finished, not much has been happening on the modelling front. In saying that, sound project stuff has still been happening in the background, mainly due to it really only requiring a computer and a few gadgets.

I have wanted to build an XPT sound file since the Auscision model arrived. I reached out using social media for anybody that could get close to the prototype. Lucky for me a gentleman named Dave answered the call! Dave being a driver made recording sounds all that much easier. It's great having somebody that is able to describe how the locomotive works and what sounds should be where.

There was not much to the XPT recordings. It’s a five notch locomotive, has three whistles, no dyno, and no real compressor sounds to be heard. Pretty simple really compared to the steam projects I have been doing of late, however, like most things that seem simple, they rarely work out that way.

I have never been a fan of the way the ESU V4 handles diesel projects, hence why I have mainly stuck to building my own steam projects. I still use ESU diesel projects however, exclusively supplied by Mike Walters at DCC Sounds, mainly because they sound very good. For me the way in which the loco sounds is more important than having to live with a few ESU diesel project quirks. My layout is flat, however the prototype location is fairly heavily graded, particularly leading on to the viaduct. I actually like the manual notching feature as this is really the only way to simulate a locomotive in eight notch at low speed and still have the locomotives whole speed range available.

For my XPT project, I wanted to try and produce a coasting effect as in my steam projects. This means that the XPT can be running at max speed (28) and the engine can be idling without having to use manual notching. With my steam projects I can also simulate a hard working engine at low speed simply by using the throttle. I am still not at this point with the XPT project however I have a few ideas to explore.  

Another aspect that needed capturing is the ability to hold the trailing unit in two notch. As Dave explained to me, this happens so as to service the train’s power etc. He also explained that either the leading or trailing locomotive can be selected as the service unit and was a driver preference thing. As Dave prefers the rear unit servicing the train, that's how I incorporated it into my drive schedule.

Adding these features has really had me thinking. It has been great to do as I have learnt so much more about the ESU sound scheduling.

I have taken a quick video, using my phone (yes not very good I know), of the decoder on the tester. My XPT is not accessible at this time so this is as good as I could do.

The decoder is an ESU V4

Speaker is a Zimo Sugarcube

·       The first part of the video shows start up and notching up the engine using the throttle. It can be seen that if the throttle is cut by one speed step the locomotive engine heads to idle however the model will remain at the selected speed.

·      The second part shows manual notching.

·       The third part shows the notch two servicing feature, when shift is selected (F1) and then the locomotive is selected to reverse (trailing unit) the engine sound is locked into notch two.

The horn recordings I captured were not up to scratch. The horn heard in the video was recorded on the day with Dave however I cannot edit any part of the recording due to an echo.

I still need to add the brake release sounds, better braking sounds, whistles and perhaps a little track noise while coasting.

All in all it has come out ok and I am looking forward to getting the model running with it for testing.

Hope you enjoy the video and once again sorry for the poor phone recording quality.

A big thankyou to Dave for helping me out. Hopefully the guard is ok now after thinking I was trying to hijack the XPT. Much appreciated.  

If this ends up being my last post for the year, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Great New Year.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NSWGR 36 Class - ESU V4 Project


Just a quick update.

I have wanted to build a 36 class sound project for some time now. As I have three 36 class models, and they are one of my favourite locomotives, I was keen to get some recordings. Lucky for me 3642 was out and about last weekend in Sydney and on the Southern Highlander tourist train. With a few phone calls I was able to record 3642 being prepared for its weekend run.

I spent five hours hanging around getting in the way and recorded over 70 sound files. One interesting sound is when the headlight was turned on, the generator dips in sound and starts to work harder. I was able to capture this and then found a way to incorporate it into the sound schedule. This now means that the generator sound does not simply come on when the headlight is turned on. You must now start the generator (like the real loco) and then switch the head light on. I have tried to show this in the video however the random compressor noise interrupts a little.

I was also able to include sounds for the power reverser. When you change direction, the power reverser sound now plays. Hopefully it will suit the 38 project also?

I have included a video. The project uses the same throttle type control set up that I have explained previously. I have had a good time building this project, now all I need to do is paint a couple of my 36 class models!

Still on the sound front, I intend on recording an XPT in a few weeks. I have a great sound schedule ready and all I need now are the sound files. Regarding XPTs, I have to say that the Auscision model is very nice. I am looking forward to fitting sound to my set and adding a few bits and pieces to the coaches.

I am heading to Liverpool this Saturday, hopefully I will see some of you there.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Turntable, Version Three

Hi All,

Just a short post to show some of the latest progress on my 60 foot Sellers Turntable.

I think I am up to about version three with this turntable, however this time I  am much happier with the results and feel it is very close to depicting the Picton turntable.

As for the TT drive, so far I have used a stepper motor coupled to the original worm drive, stepper motor directly coupled to the bridge and now I will try out a toothed belt drive. The belt and pulleys are still a few weeks away so all effort has been focussed on the bridge itself.

The TT well has been modified since it's last appearance on this blog. I have added some extra height to wear the ring rail mounts and then profiled the well using casting plaster. This has allowed the support wheels to sit in the correct location.

There are still a few things to do. PCB and wipers need to be added for ring rail pickup, all the timber stuff needs adding, a tidy up of a few things and painting.

The photos show one of the handrail assemblies temporarily tacked to a few of the copper clad sleepers. Looking over some photos of Pictons TT, it is obvious that there was an angled handrail post fitted to the outer most sleepers at some point. This angled support ran from the end sleeper up to the handrail, attached at the first vertical post. I have a feeling that this angled piece was fitted post 1955 as a few photos in William Bayley's books show it without. I would like to add them for interest however as the layout is set in 1955, they should not be there. I would love to hear from anybody that has more information on this aspect.

That's it for now.

Thanks for taking a look.


Monday, July 20, 2015

C32 - Two Posts From Two

G'day Again,

Two posts in two days! Probably a good idea to get a few posts out of the way as I will be consumed with study shortly. I really hate studying, especially when there are much more interesting things to do.

Anyway, here is the P Class ESU project I have been working on. Once again videoing was done by recording the sound separately on my Zoom recorder and combining with the video afterwards. As per normal, something always decides to go a little wrong. This time the front pony truck decides to get in the way towards the end.

This sound file, like the 50 Class, was created using recordings I have taken over the past few months.

Like all my projects, bar the 57 class file, this one uses throttle steps to vary how loud the chuff sound plays. If the speed is increased by more than two speed steps rapidly, the loco chuff sounds are louder and longer. If the throttle is decreased by one step, the chuff sounds move to a quieter, shorter sound. If the throttle is decreased by one more speed step the locomotive will coast. Ian Phemister first challenged me to make the decoder behave this way and now done I really like it. You can hear this change in sound throughout the video.

The model in the video is a Classic brass 32 fitted with an ESU V4 decoder and Zimo sugercube speaker.



Standard Goods Sound


With the upcoming release of Eureka's 50 Class I was asked by a mate if I had made any progress with my 50 class sound file.

I recently bought a new recorder and the quality of audio it records is much better than what I had previously. For the past few months I have been recording a few steam locomotives, tracking down their whereabouts and then trying to be in the right place at the right time. This process has proved much harder than originally thought. It seems a lot of steam drivers like to play the whistle and I guess if I was in control of the cord, I would too! This however is no good at all for the editing process, as any variations in the mid section of the sound flow are very noticeable. If only drivers would just blow the damn thing solid for a few seconds hey!

After hours of trying to loop whistle sections together, I feel that I finally have a half decent NSWGR whistle. I have included this whistle in my STD goods project, which I feel fits quite well. Please tell me otherwise if I have ballsed it up.

The new whistle uses a slightly different sound schedule flow to what I have used previously. The whistle length is determined by how long the whistle function is held. The long whistle has two finishes. One that is short and sharp and the other sounding more preservation loco driver (a little more character).

I have included a video of my Classic Brass saturated 50 Class. I have recorded the sound separately with my Zoom recorder and then married up the sound/video using movie maker software. I think the quality is better than previous videoing attempts however it may be slightly out of sync.

Also, the compressor gets a little bit muddled up in the beginning of the film. This is because I had the compressor function running and then the random sound compressor kicked in also. Something that may need some work.

The loco is fitted with a Loksound V4 21 pin decoder and a 15mm x 12mm Zimo Sugarcube speaker.

Anyway here it is -

I am not sure if it is a good idea yet, but I have been thinking about actually charging a small fee for my ESU projects. While I am an amateur and not likely to retire on the idea, I feel that the time put into them is probably worth something? Feel free to tell me what you think about this.

Hopefully within the week I will be able to video my 32 class and post on here also.

Thanks for looking and please offer any advice. I am all ears.