Author Topic: Questions about Digitarax SDN144A1 PnP Sound Decodeer for Atlas SD60  (Read 1367 times)

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jprince46

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Has anyone installed one of these sound decoders yet?

The installation looks straight forward, but I am more curious as to the sound quality and volume.

Also, they recommend replacing the fans with BMLA parts to help - is this necessary?

Thanks
Jim
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 10:22:23 AM by jprince46 »

robert3985

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Re: Questions about Digitarax SDN144A1 PnP Sound Decodeer for Atlas SD60
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2013, 04:30:02 PM »
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Has anyone installed one of these sound decoders yet?

The installation looks straight forward, but I am more curious as to the sound quality and volume.

Also, they recommend replacing the fans with BMLA parts to help - is this necessary?

Thanks
Jim

I have only installed the Digitrax SDN 144K0A in my E's and F's, but I can comment as to what will probably be equivalent sound.

On both my E's and F's, I've machined the frames on them with large holes to snugly hold the round speakers.  This forms a nice, integral speaker enclosure, with the fairly snug body forming a sufficiently airtight seal.  The speaker vents out the bottom of the frames relatively unobstructed and I like the installation.  I am meaning to machine brass plugs for the top of the holes on the E's, to see if the sound is improved...but, I am more than happy with the volume...when the body shell is on.

I was troubleshooting one of my E's and in the process, I removed the body shell.  I could barely hear the sound, because now there was no speaker enclosure and the opposing sound waves coming of the front and rear of the tiny speaker were canceling each other out.  After I'd solved the pick-up problem of that one chassis, I slid the body shell back on, and in doing so, did it slowly while the unit was idling on the track.  I was amazed at the drastic increase in volume as the shell progressively slid down on to the chassis, sealing one side of the speaker.

So, for you, it is essential that you either fabricate or purchase a speaker enclosure for your oval speaker that is supplied with your decoder.  If you have room to mount the speaker (with enclosure) on top and have it fire upward, replacing the fans with BLMA fans will allow the sound to escape, and I would venture an educated guess that it's necessary.

If there isn't room on top of the decoder for the enclosed speaker, then I would replace the oval speaker with a round one and drill a mounting hole/enclosure somewhere in the metal chassis and have it fire downward. 

You'll need a good sized drill press for that operation (at least) and preferably a mill.  The clearances were close enough on my E's that I wouldn't have wanted to do the job without my mill and industrial drill press.

One trick that I will be doing on any further speaker installs will be to drill a hole that's a friction fit for the round speakers from the bottom of the metal frame, but only do it deep enough so that there's just room for the back of the speaker when the front fits nearly flush with with bottom of the chassis.  Then, I'll drill a much smaller hole to route the speaker wires out of, attach these to the board, seal the hole with caulk and that will form the airtight speaker enclosure, and not remove any more weight than is necessary.

Also, whatever metal alloy Kato uses for the chassis on its engines, does not like to be drilled or milled.  Removing as little as possible is a good idea.

Here's a photo of my E's getting their sound decoder installed:


As to quality of sound.  Mediocre.  The horn has a distinct stutter in it which really bugged me at first.  However, at shows, the sound is plenty loud enough to be heard above the crowd, and onlookers don't seem to mind (or hear) the stutter.  I much prefer the sound in the ESU Loksound boards, but I much prefer the price of the Digitrax boards.  Also, the install is a lead pipe cinch as long as you tin the motor contacts and solder them to the board.  The Kato snap-in "keeper" doesn't do a good enough job of making sure these critical contacts remain viable over time.  Drilling/machining the speaker holes and capacitor shelves was the biggest deal, and because I've got a mill and drill press, it wasn't a very complicated job.

Hope that helps ya out!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 04:36:47 PM by robert3985 »

jprince46

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Re: Questions about Digitarax SDN144A1 PnP Sound Decodeer for Atlas SD60
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2013, 04:54:36 PM »
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Bob,

Thanks for all of the information.

I think I can live without sound on these units and spend my $$ on steam :D

Jim