Tuesday, June 4, 2013

M.T.H. Locomotives - Electronics

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Like many in the S community, I'm patiently waiting for the return of the S Helper Service product line and new S offerings from M.T.H. As the pre-order date for their first catalog has just passed, I'm really hoping there was good interest shown by the S community.

One of the areas I am very interested in is the electronics they will include in their locomotives. Between the advanced sound decoders on the market and the advances that Lionel delivered, M.T.H. has a high bar to reach. Like Lionel, M.T.H.'s 2013 catalog items in the Locomotives area are being delivered in one of two ways -- either with a set of electronics to handle all sound and power needs, or delivered as dummy non-powered units.

From the M.T.H. 2013 catalog (starting on the inside cover), every powered M.T.H. locomotive will include their Proto-Sound 3.0 sound and control system. Specifically in the catalog their EMD F3A and F3B powered units will feature Proto-Sound 3.0 units which
"offers authentic EMD 567 prime mover sounds, a first generation diesel horn and bell, crew and station sounds, and the ability to maintain any speed down to 3 scale miles per hour".
 Again from the text on the inside cover page of the catalog:
"Our Proto-Sound 3.0 sound & control system enables M.T.H. locomotives to run in every S gauge environment: conventional AC or DC, NMRA-standard DCC, or our own DCS digital command system.
With a conventional AC or DC transformer, Proto-Sound offers diesel motor sounds that ramp up and down with engine speed...You'll also hear squealing brakes whenever an engine slows down or stops. In addition, the Proto-Speed control acts like the cruise control on an automobile, helping your locomotive maintain a constant speed regardless of hills, curves, or heavy loads -- at any throttle setting from a 3 mph crawl to full throttle.
Add an M.T.H. AC transformer equipped with whistle and bell functions, and you can experience a much larger range of locomotive sounds: horn or whistle, bell, passenger station announcements or freight yard sounds, crew conversations and typical engine sounds such as air pumps...
If you operate with Digital Command Control  (DCC), you'll find Proto-Sound 3.0 locomotives take full advantage of the capabilities of DCC and are completely compatible with all DCC motive power. In fact Proto-Sound engines are already equipped to use DCC functions 0 through 28, to full advantage of newer DCC controllers that use the full range of NMRA standard functions.
To experience the full capabilities of Proto-Sound 3.0, add the M.T.H. Digital Command System (DCS) for full command control and an even larger range of sound and control features." (note: Pages 2 and 3 of the catalog provide a detailed view of Proto-Sound 3.0 features, along with a table of the DCC enabled features.)
At several points on pages 1-4, it notes that more details can be found on their web site at www.mthSgaugetrains.com. The nice thing about the online catalog is that you can click on any catalog item number and get a detailed page for that item.

The Proto-Sound 3.0 system really seems quite comprehensive. As always I'm even more interested in the reality of the delivered models. Until the S locomotives are delivered, the best I can do is review written material.

One data point that I do consider very useful is what they are delivering with Proto-Sounds 3.0 in their HO engines. Model Railroader magazine in the July 2013 issue (pages 64-65) has a detailed review of M.T.H.'s new HO scale Proto-Sound 3.0 equipped GP35. While it might not be an exact match to the S gauge unit, I suspect it will be close to the capabilities of the Proto-Sound 3.0 units in the S gauge models. The Proto-Sound 3.0 system is noted in Model Railroader's review as a highlight of the model. Find a copy and read the review for more details.

Also in the same review it is noted that the M.T.H. GP35 user manual is downloadable from mthHOtrains.com -- here's the GP35 Owner's Manual direct link. This provides considerably more insight into the specific DCC features implemented in the Proto-Sound 3.0 unit for the GP35. Again the DCC implementation looks pretty comprehensive -- including a number of advanced DCC features like user-defined function mapping, user-defined speed curves, and active functions at the consist address that are found in many DCC Sound decoders along with some M.T.H. specific DCC controls.

A little more to think about while waiting for the delivery of the models!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

MotorMax 1:64 Dioramas

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These came out a while ago, but over the last week, I have run across two variations of this products that I had not seen before -- Bustling Metropolis has a subway stop with a Ford Crown Victoria yellow cab, and Down Town has a Savings & Loans with a white 1956 Ford Thunderbird. Here's the complete selection of 1:64 dioramas I have run across -- but there have been numerous variations from what I understand...


Hinkle's Package Store

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A new kit from Bar Mills Scale Model Works in S Scale  is Hinkle's Package Store. Available from your friendly S scale dealer who carries Bar Mills' products, or direct from Bar Mills, Hinkle's footprint is about  2.75"w x 3.5" deep. Of course you'll need a little additional room for real-estate.

This little "package store" comes complete with everything from window signs to a fire hydrant. Bar Mills tried to keep this one "simple", making it a quick & fun-build for modelers of almost any modeling skills. A small footprint combined with colorful graphics & an awning help to make this type of structure versatile... whether using it in a small eastern town or a "narrow-gauged" setting it's generic enough to look right at home pretty much anywhere. The figure does not come with the kit... but anything from the mailbox to the sidewalk does. At MSRP $37.95 for S scale it's a good deal.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stairs, Stairs, Stairs...

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Recently the Bristol S Gauge Railroaders visited for our
monthly meeting. During the course of the afternoon some of them noticed some kits for stairs that I had in stock. They were not aware that these S scale stairs are available, nor where to get them. So in the interest of  providing greater visibility...

The S scale stair kits are produced by fellow S scale modeler Mike Fyten at Kaw Valley Designs. Mike has four different S scale stair kits available:

  • Kit #301 - Straight Stairs
  • Kit #302 - U-shaped stairs
  • Kit #303 - 2 pair of straight stairs
  • Kit #304 - L-shaped stairs
The kits sell for $11.95 each plus $2.00 for shipping. Buy any three kits and shipping is free. These make a really nice addition to any structure where stairs are needed and not included. Stair kits can be ordered from Mike at: Kaw Valley Designs, 6801 Nolan Rd., Shawnee, KS 66216 USA. If you have questions, you can contact Mike via email (remove all spaces) mike   @    kvrr-usa   .com.  Here are some photos of the available kits.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

S Scale Stockade Fencing

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If you're looking for stockade fencing for your S scale layout, you don't need to look very far! Branchline Trains offers S scale 6 foot tall stockade fencing. Available is a package that provides 88 feet of fencing for your layout.

BRA #705 includes 10 sections of 6 foot tall by 8 foot wide panels as well as 2 sections of 4 foot gates. These can be laid out to separate one yard from another, or by using multiple packages, to enclose the entire back yard or property. The fencing can painted or stained as desired.

Using iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android devices as Wireless Cabs on DCC

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Over the last few months I've received a number of inquiries regarding the use of the almost ubiquitous Apple iPhone's, Apple iPod Touch's, Android phones and Android MP3 players as wireless cabs on a NMRA DCC system. Some model railroaders are interested in supporting these in addition to a DCC manufacturer-produced wireless cab system they already have installed to provide support for additional cabs and/or supporting visiting cabs. Other model railroaders do not yet have wireless cabs for their DCC system, and are considering this approach as an alternative to DCC  manufacturer-produced wireless cabs.

So to assist others with understanding this option, we're developing a white paper on this area. As we prepare the white paper we'll be posting pieces of it here as blog entries, and invite readers to share questions, comments, and experiences in this area. Wherever possible we'll try to incorporate the reader input into forthcoming white paper wherever it will strengthen the white paper.

Right now the basic structure of the white paper will be:
  • Overview of Need and Solution options
  • Solution components  - what are the components needed, what role does each component perform in the solution, why is it required, how it connects to other components
  • Pros & cons of this solution
  • General solution configuration information
  • Solution elements - products, models, where to obtain, and general pricing
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
After the core of the white paper, we'll include a number of appendices specific to a number of major manufacturers' systems. At the moment, we are only planning to include appendices on systems where we have access to the actual manufacturer system and are able to actually configure and test the solution. Right now we have these appendices in our plans:
  • Appendix A: Solutions for Lenz DCC
  • Appendix B: Solutions for Digitrax DCC
  • Appendix C: Solutions for NCE DCC
  • Appendix D: Solutions for ESU DCC
Just as it is important to specify what will be covered, it is also important to be clear about what will NOT be covered in the white paper. This white paper (and related blog entries) will NOT cover any of these topics:
  • DCC manufacturer-produced wireless cab systems/solutions/products
  • Interoperability of DCC manufacturer-provided wireless cab systems
as they are already and/or better covered in existing materials from the manufacturers, various book authors, and/or numerous Internet forums.  Readers who are interested in detailed information on the DCC manufacturer provided wireless cab systems should consult the various sources of information already available.

If you have specific questions, comments, etc., please don't hesitate to let us know.

Our plan is to complete Version 1 of the white paper by July 2013.


PS To modelers reading this that model in scales other than S -- the solutions here should work equally as well in any scale where NMRA DCC compatible systems are in use.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Fields and Brass Updates in S Scale Product Database

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Updates are on-going in the S Scale Product Database Project (SSPDP). Recently we have added these new fields to the Locomotive database:
  • Model Builder
  • Quantity Built
  • Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price (MSRP)
  • Loco Phase
The first three fields should be obvious as to the contents, and the last field (Loco Phase) will be used to provide additional info about the special characteristics of the model, allowing us to move to values in Loco Type which are more consistent since they appear in a query drop down list. These fields will be populated as information is available. All of these fields are now available for export and for viewing on screen.

Also we're in the process of updating the  Brass models information in the SSPDP. We are currently updating Overland Models locomotive information, and will update other brass items following the completion of locomotive information.

Use this link for S Scale Product Database Project