Zscaleplanet Mar 18, 2021

  1. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

    I know this question could be posed in the DCC specific section of the forum, but I enjoy the feedback I get from fellow Z-scaler’s, as I consider each of you experts in what we deal with.

    I wanted to put an easy win under my belt, so decided to install my first decoder (DIGITRAX DZ123MO) in an MTL GP9. It’s a literal drop in with a few little tweaks mind you and some attention to detail.


    I put it on a test track with my NCE POWECAB hooked up and ready to roll. So this was literally my first foray with DCC - testing my POWERCAB and my GP9 with decoder. After a few little minor connection issues were fixed, all I could say is WOW, WOW, WOW. I knew DCC would be great but not to this level.

    Now that I am a DCC expert (LOL), I would like to consider putting sound in this loco as well. There appears to be viable room on either side of the decoder, and I do understand that the underside of the shell might need to be modified.
    5E2DA8F1-8048-4404-8879-62194678F685.jpeg With the recent improvements of decoders getting substantially smaller, as well as sugar cube speakers on the market, I wanted to quiz the group to see if anybody has any suggestions for adding sound to this unit.
    • Seeing as this particular decoder does not come with sound, does anyone make just a sound decoder that can be installed?
    • I do believe one of the sugar cube speakers offered is 9MM X 12 MM. Is anybody familiar with anything smaller?
    • If it is possible to hook up a secondary decoder for sound only, where would one pick up the power on the chassis for it?
    Thanks in advance,
    ddechamp71 and Kurt Moose like this.
  2. rray

    rray Staff Member

    Electronically, it's easy and very manufacturable. If AZL were to design their loco mechanisms to hold a full shell length board that screws onto the mechanism just like the new RS3/RSD5 use, it could be done. The speakers would be surface mount cell phone speakers mounted directly under the fan housings. The area above each truck tower between motor worm gear and underside of the DCC sound board would have aerogel super caps mounted to the board to perform as both electronic flywheels, and keep the sound from glitching over dirty track. If Z Scale DCC sound were wanted by everyone, I bet AZL would work with a sound decoder company to get it done.
    bostonjim and LWR21 like this.
  3. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    Possible: yes. Reality: no

    ESU (and others) can provide a fittable installation. However, Diesel locomotives have lower frequencies that are nearly impossible to reproduce (at at any volume) in that size. Horns: easier. Steam: much more dynamic sounds.

    Then there is the realism: download and play some diesel loco sound bytes and play them on you phone's speaker. That's what it could sound like but won't be as its not a designed acoustics (and, there are no holes from the sound to come out, unless you do fan upgrades).

    You need to remove the chassis posts, drill-and-tap for electrical pickups. And as Rob says, with the smaller scales, there will be lots of sound glitches due to pickup loss. The Sound Decoders have much more noticeable restart times, as they have a capacitor bank that cannot be instantly recharged (electronics rule). Even tho the capacitors are added on sound boards, there are good for only few milliseconds hold-up in these time decoders.

    If the layout is small, one thing that can be done is to add a sound decoder outside and add boxed speaker or to an audio box or the 3.5mm audio input of a Blue-Touch speaker. Use an other address (then make a Consist) to allow you to tailor the Speed and Momentum CV's for the best sound effect.

    Note: the simplest and non-confusing, un-altering CV's way of making a Consist on the Power Cab is to:

    Consist: Setup (1)
    Add: Loco (your GP9), Forward (the default)
    Add: Loco (your Sound decoder), Forward

    At anytime while running, you can can 'Program on Main" to change say the Momentum effect (CV3 for Acceleration and CV4 for Deceleration) by pressing: Prog/Esc, 4, Enter. Chose 2 (CV), and enter CV number, then value.

    Note: while Programming on Main ("POM"), you cannot read CV's, only when you use the Program Track mode (Prog/Esc, 4, 1 (Standard) and only 1 loco or decoder on the track.

    FORGOT: On the DZ123M0, program CV3 and CV4 to 0. Their default is not 0 (value is 3, I believe). With Momentum On (non-0 value), the decoder will restart from Speed Step 0 each time it gets a bad pickup. Makes from strange, exaggerated start ups. Follow the POM sequence to practice.

    NCE's "Momentum" does not reprgram those, it just does Command Station adjustments, while you are running.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
  4. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

    AT this time no manufacture makes a sound decoder that will fit in a MTL GP9 . However that dose not mean it can't be done.
    The New ESU 58923 LokSound 5 Nano DCC is expected to hit the market this summer. At 19.6mm x 8.5mm x 3.2mm will be the smallest of their sound decoders. While still too big to fit in a powered MTL GP9 it may fit into a modifyed dummy unit.

    I have put souund decoders into dozens of Z scale Loco's. Mostly wide body loco's AZL E8A, E8B, F3A, F3B GE P42, RDC, MTL F7 Marklin E9 and the Commodore Vanderbilt to list a few. Most of them sound good real good if i do say so myself.

  5. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

    Jeff, thanks for the info and especially the "consist" info for NCE. Just ordered another DZ132MO for my other D&RGW GP9, so will be experimenting soon.

    David, indeed your sound install is what hooked me on the need for sound after seeing this video in the past!!!

    Soooo I guess on MTL GP9's, for the time being, I should just be content that I at least have DCC to work with on these units. Sound would be icing on the cake if it were possible. But these GP'9 body's are delicate, especially with the railings. Venture to say, any attempts would be challenging.

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