Sunday 26 July 2015


An Atlas Alco decoder that should make my conversion of CV 8081 easier.
At Collinsville this year I picked up a NCE decoder which is a drop in and go version. I think this will make the conversion very easy. Don and I also picked up a few I-phone speakers which will work with a sound decoder. There actually was a clinic on this topic which we missed due to a late breakfast and a structures photo shoot in downtown Collinsville. We did get the scoop shortly after by one of our regular blog readers. "Using I-phone speakers" by Kaylee Zheng was the 9am clinician this year at Collinsville. Don looked into the speakers for us and we both left with a few speakers. It does makes sense to use this type of speaker as Apple cell phones have great quality sound and considering the minimal cost of purchasing the speaker, it is a great option. Don will take it from here...George Dutka

Two of the I-Phone speakers are seen here in their packages.

Tsunami Sound and I-phone Speaker Don Janes

B&M 1558 is equipped with a Tsunami decoder and I-phone speaker
     As George mentioned, we picked up some I-phone speakers at the Collinsville show to give them a try.  I really wish I could have attended the clinic about them but after talking to the rep from Loksound I was convinced they would be a good choice and decided to buy four that I could use in future projects.  At $2.90 there wasn't a lot at stake if they didn't work out.  My first engine to receive one was an Atlas GP-7.  I am a real Soundtraxx Tsunami sound decoder fan so that is what I went with for the decoder.  I used an EMD 567 AT-1000 which is a direct replacement for the Atlas lightboard. 
The Tsunami EMD 567 TSU AT-1000 is made as a direct replacement for the Atlas light board. The TSU-GN1000 for Athearn Genesis engines is shown here but is similar to the AT-1000.

This is the I-phone speaker.  The two small brass wires are where the decoder wires are attached.  $2.90 is a great price when compared to $10-$12 for model speakers of comparable quality.
This is the location of the I-phone speaker in a GP-7 long hood.  It is set back from the front so it won't interfere with the light lens and LED.  It fits nicely above the motor and decoder in the long hood.
      Once I got the decoder installed and was sure it was working correctly I added the lights.  For this I used a pair of Golden White LED's, one at each end with a 1K, 1/4 watt resistor on each LED.  In order to get the headlight and class lights to illuminate when the headlight was turned on I used the end of the clear plastic light bar and placed the LED's directly behind it.  As you can see from the photo above these lights really show nicely.
     Once the lights were tested and working properly it was time to add the I-phone speaker.  The GP-7 is a prime candidate for this speaker with its spacious long hood.  The I-phone speaker measures 2" long x 3/8" wide x 3/16" thick making ideal for installation in high hood roadswitchers, F units or steam engine tenders. The photo above shows the location of the speaker and it was held in place with a piece of double edged tape.  Once it is installed it is just a matter of attaching the speaker wires from the decoder to the two small tabs on the speaker.
     With the decoder, LED's and speaker installed I replaced the hood on the chassis and put the engine on the track for a test run.  When I fired it up I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the sound that the I-phone speaker produced.  I feel that the sound is as good or maybe a little better than the 16mm x 35mm and 1" round speakers I have used in previous installs in similar locomotives.  I feel that there is a little more bass in this speaker (which really enhances the throaty EMD 567 engine) than other model speakers but like any sound, it is subjective.  The trick to good sound is to have the speaker in a good enclosure.  In the case of the I-phone speaker the speaker and enclosure are already integrated into one unit and since it is for an I-phone you know it has the best design possible for quality sound.  I know our I-phone has great sound and this is also true for my locomotive with the I-phone speaker.
     Once satisfied with the install I put the engine on the program track and programmed in a new long address of 1558, changed CV's to enable brake squeal, air compressor sounds and cooling fans cycling on and off. The factory default volume is much too loud for home layout use so I cut back the individual sound to a more acceptable level.  Combining the smooth running quality of the Atlas locomotive, great sound effects from the Tsunami and excellent sound quality of the I-phone speaker I am extremely pleased to add this sound equipped locomotive to my roster.
     I checked out the Much Buy web site, , and found these I-phone speakers for $2.99 and if you buy 8 they are only $2.19 each so if you want to order 8 and split the order with your friends you can save even more money.  Put the SKU number 4564 in the search.
The shop staff has fired up the 1558, tested the lights and are now having a break while the engine crews gets ready to head out on their next assignment.

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