As I was rebuilding the Staging Elevator, I had a side project on the go as well. I decided to try adding Soundtraxx SoundCar to my layout. The problem is that I mostly run open-topped cars with removable loads, so adding the SoundCar decoder in a car is not possible.
Some weeks ago, I was interested in a post made by Trevor Marshall regarding SoundCar and how it was applied by some modellers (SoundCar). Rather than mount them inside cars, two modellers mounted them under the layout. After speaking to Bob Fallowfield, one of the two modellers, I decided to give it a try.
Installation was pretty straight-forward: instead of mounting the SoundCar decoder inside a car, I mounted it in a slot in a piece of 1×3 poplar (below). The block is screwed to the table fascia using a bracket from the inside. The front cover is black styrene sheet and the decoder is right up behind it. This location is at the layout end, right beside the Staging Elevator.
I gave it DCC address 1 and labelled the installation for operator identification. To activate the decoder, any magnet is swiped at the black cover.
The speaker I use is a Soundtraxx 810078 Oval speaker (.050″ x 1.12′ x 1.57″) and is mounted under the centre of the layout about where the eastern ready track water column is (below). A .060″ thick styrene adaptor has the speaker mounted to it and it in turn is mounted to the woodwork. As this speaker is in an adjacent module table, I used a miniatronics two-prong connector to allow separation of speaker wires if the tables need to be dismantled.
To link the SoundCar decoder to your locomotive, swipe the magnet at the decoder and then press F8 four times. That’s it; the decoder is consisted to the locomotive. As the engine moves, the sounds of clickety-clack are proportional to the speed of movement. There are also random wheel flange squeals as based on the trains speed. To release the decoder, wave the magnet again. Very easy.
My first impression was not that good though. It was odd to hear the sounds coming from the centre of the layout when my train was near staging. This is only six feet, but I did not like it. Oddly, standing on the other side and end of the layout (passenger car side by the roundhouse as if delivering a box car to the roundhouse) it sounded okay. So I added another same speaker to the module table beside staging, roughly west and under the inspection pits. The two speaker set-up sounded better to me. In fact, I did not make any changes to the programming. The decoder is right out of the bag, however there are many other optional sounds available to the modeller.
As Bob explained to me earlier, these kinds of sounds are heard throughout a yard anyway in real life, so it is not necessary to have the sound come from a particular car. For me, this was the only practical way to apply SoundCar to my layout in any case; it is the difference of having rail car sound or not at all. The sound is not over-powering; it provides a subtle ambiance of movement when a train is moving.
I’m going to install a second SoundCar for the passenger car/express car side of the layout.
For more info see Soundtraxx website (Soundtraxx).