Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Author: Scott (page 1 of 11)

Improving layout sound

I’m getting close to having all layout sound installed. Working with sounds for my random flange squeal on each of the layout’s three curves had me thinking about a simpler audio app that I could run on my Mac. I had been using Adobe Audition, but the program is more for serious audio designers who need robust programming. I simply needed a basic program to adjust EQ and cut and splice with minimal effects.

Enter Ocenaudio. A donation-based app that fit my needs perfectly. The app has a simple interface with intuitive controls which had me editing quickly. Below are a couple of screen shots from the program…

Simple interface with intuitive controls = perfect!
Here’s the pop-up EQ control.

I’m taking a design liberty with my Rock River scene in that the Milan branch crosses the river twice. The south crossing (below) has a neat little island that I wanted to model…

…while the north crossing has an interesting spillway just below the parallel road where I could include ambient sound.

I wasn’t happy with the original Freesound recording of “rushing water with birds” because the gain was low and the water sounded muffled. So I pulled the MicroSD card out of my ISE Squealer module (below) and modified the sound in Ocenaudio to increase the gain and brighten the sound. You can hear the difference in the two samples below the photo.

The MicroSD card inserts into my ISE Squealer sound module to loop the ambient rushing river and chirping birds sounds.
Original Freesound of rushing water with chirping birds (20 secs.)
Modified sound using Ocenaudio (23 secs.)

And here is where the river sounds will reside on the island. As you can see, the modeled portion of the island will be very small, and the speaker will be camouflaged by trees and ground cover. The small rocker switch on the fascia allows me to turn the sound on or off.

Let there be sound!

I finished installing six small speakers around the layout. Five were installed on the fascia as you see above, and the sixth is embedded into a small river island on the Rock River.

These speakers will play sounds of the Rock River’s spillway with ambient birds,
I-280 road traffic, and random flange squeal from an ISE Arduino module. The spillway and bird sounds have a zen-like quality that puts me in a good mood.

Track cleaning and conductivity

After getting some sought-after advice and reading a very good article in Model Railroad Hobbyist about track cleaning, I purchased mineral spirits to clean my track and Wahl clipper oil to topcoat the rails.

Both the mineral spirits and Wahl oil are what’s called non-polar solvents. Non-polar means that the solvent prevents micro-arcing which creates dark powder-like gunk that inhibits good electrical contact. So, between both products, I should be good for excellent operating performance.

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