Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Prototype (page 1 of 3)

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.

Final solution for the switch stands

In a flash of inspiration, I came up with my own design for switching my turnout points using components all available at my local Menards with the exception of an RC cable kit. I decided I needed a spring in order to get enough tension on the stock rails. The attached photos will give you a good idea of my approach. It works! I’m sure it cost more than if I would have gone a more traditional (ie: easy) route, but at this point, I don’t care. 🙂 Spend the cash and get the darn things done!

Normal position. You can see the RC cable with yellow sheath.
Diverging route position. Once I have everything working properly I cut off the screw extensions and paint the connection rusty brown.
Here are the components for the switch mechanism. The spring provides tension on the far side of each turnout point to keep the point snug against the stock rail.
One thing I discovered is I needed to solder another piece of music wire to the existing wire to add more stiffness. This provided needed rigidity to throw the points and hold them in position.
Here is the final setup. I made some additional modifications from what you see here by assembling each throw on a piece of pine for ease of handling, and I enlarged the access hole to the points to give the throw wire more space to move.
Note that the brass RC pin holder screws onto a threaded brass rod (obscured by the buss wires) to allow for adjusting the tension. This made it easy to get the best throw distance between the switch stand and the mechanism.

The great bridge saga continues…

Today I received an update from my friend, Clark C., who is helping construct the two Rock River lattice truss bridges for the branch.

Clark is a true craftsman. And in the tradition of craftsmanship, he is testing the design approach to the bridges. Below are two images that show a “test bed” span. He is testing such things as lattice thicknesses, materials approach and heating the acrylic to help form it for alignment, etc. All this attention to detail is greatly appreciated and it will make for a spectacular presentation once completed.


Also: this last weekend I was at Trainfest in Milwaukee promoting the ProtoThrottle with Michael Petersen and Nathan Holmes. It was my first time at Trainfest and although it was rather grueling standing for almost eight hours both days, we all had a great time.

Nathan had graciously agreed to 3D print both bridge abutments and the one pier I needed. I plan to “skin” the three components with plaster and then distress, chip, and weather them to fit within the scene. Below is a rough setup showing the girder spans in approximate placement.

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