Decoder & Sound for HO 2-8-0

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by trainwhiz20, Aug 17, 2004.

  1. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Hey everyone!

    Once again, I bow down to you knowledgeable guys for help!

    I recently recieved a brand-spankin'-new HO Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0 Consolidation. I really want to add a decoder and hopefully a relatively reasonably priced sound system.

    The DCC system I have is that Atlas Master. It was the combo pack (the controller and generator) and I haven't even set it up yet. I think the controller only allows for two extra functions, but I'm not sure! I'm completely new to this stuff! Maybe someone who has the AM DCC could advise?

    So, what are some relatively cheap decoders/sound systems for an HO Locomotive for a teenager on a budget? What about installation? I believe the Spectrum is DCC ready...

    Thanks for all your help!:D

  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

  3. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member


    I use the Atlas DCC system and like it a lot. But I don't have sound. Atlas has a problem programming BLI sound decoders but Tony's sells a programming track "booster" (PowerPax) that will solve that problem.

    I don't know if there is a problem with the Soundtraxx drop-in decoder for the 2-8-0. I hope not. Anyway Tony's will know. Just email or call them.

    Let us know how it goes.
  4. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Thanks Jim!

    I looked at the Soundtraxx Drop-in decoder for the 2-8-0, the DSD-B280LC. I think it's my best option because you just plug it in, and boom! you have a decoder and sound all in one. Surely worth the $120 dollars. That's probably my best bet.

    A whole different subject, but Jim, could you describe the Atlas System so I have an idea of what it will be like? (Like what kind of decoders you use... the power of the controller, etc....) I hope you don't mind!

    Thanks guys! Good find Gary. I think that what I'm going to get, but I'm going to find it the cheapest place I can... *goes off to search*

  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    One of the guys in the modular club I belong to is sort of our "steam guru." He has found that none of the decoders he has tried will work in the Bachmann 2-8-0 as a plug & play. He has had to remove the Bachmann circuit board and wired in a T-1 decoder(cheap) with either a 1 ohm resistor, or a change of lights to 16 volt grain of wheat bulbs. I don't believe there is any cheap sound decoder on the market. I don't know much about the Atlas dcc system, but I think it is the most limited set up on the market with very little ability to expand.
  6. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Russ you may be right. But I believe this wiring problem was corrected in the later issues of the Spectrum 2-8-0. I read an article that the first few generations of the Consolidation didn't work with plug n' play. However, I just had a Master Model Railroader who showed me a recent Bachmann 2-8-0 with the Soundtraxx Decoder/Sound. (The DSD-B280LC). He just had to drill a few holes in the coal load to enhance the sound, but other than that, the engine works flawlessly.

    I appreciate the comments about the Atlas, but I must be appreciative of the system because this railroader gave it to me for nothing. So I have it, and the Atlas system will be better than no system at all.:) (Besides, expansion doesn't look that limited!)


  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think I should explain that we were looking for a system for a modular club that had to be wireless. The Atlas was rejected by the dcc committee early on because it was not wireless, and had limited address availability. As I remember it was a 2 digit address. The club would quickly run out of addresses with only 99 choices available. In terms of use on a personal layout, the Atlas may not be that limited. I don't know what capability it has for options like sound, signalling, etc.
  8. camelot

    camelot Member

    I installed the Plug and Play sound decoder from Soundtraxx in the Bachman 2 Truck Shay , it runs great with my Lenz Compact which i believe is the same as the Atlas Commander Unit.Since the plug and play units have only 2 sounds , the bell and whistle, that can be opperated by buttons, the limited 2 button system on the compact works fine.

    Having said that i had problems programing the soundtraxx decoder , i could change the basic cv's like loco address and start voltage but could not change the sound or lighting effects.In the end i purchased a Digitrax PR1 programmer which is connected to my computer to change them.The sounds worked fine but with the factory default settings but i just had experiment with them. (Character Flaw)

    Also i believe an upgrade is available for the Atlas/Lenz system that can handle 4 digit addresses and 4 button effects via a combination of button pressing as well as consisting trains.


  9. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    My 2-8-0 was bought when first released, I put in the drop in sound decoder and had no problems.
  10. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

    The Atlas system is made by Lenz and is compatible with Lenz equipment and ALL NMRA decoders. The Commander is limited to 2-digit addresses (my main complaint) and has 5 functions which is probably enough for the Soundtraxx drop-in decoder but limits you for more advanced sound applications.

    It's a 2.5 amp system (same as the Zephyr and some other "starter" systems.) This will run several trains (4-5 depending).

    I use the Commander and two HandCommands with 3 UPC connectors around the fascia or walk-around control.

    I bought the system about 2 years ago. If buying now I would probably go NCE or Lenz, but I think the Atlas will keep me going for quite a while. There are a lot of other things I need to do before I "upgrade" my DCC system.

    I use mostly Digitrax and Lenz decoders in the $15 to $25 range.
  11. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Thanks Jim.

    One question though, when I get the Sountraxx Plug n' Play decoder, how can I program the sounds? (The instruction manual doesn't explain...)

    I know you said you had the PR1 computer software, but I don't think I can afford that...

    Does the decoder come with three different whistle sounds? That's what I've heard.... How would you choose which one you wanted?:)

    Thanks everyone! Keep the comments coming, they sure mean a lot!

  12. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member


    Ian has the PR1 software. I would think that you would program the sounds by setting CVs and the Atlas will do that fine.

    But I don't have sound so you'd better wait for some "sound" advice from someone with experience. Or look at the Soundtraxx manual...I hear that they are pretty good.

    Yep. I took a look: CV115 is set to 0, 1, or 2 depending on the whistle that you want.

  13. camelot

    camelot Member

    Yes it came with 3 whistles to choose from , you can adjust the rate of the chuff and also have standard and articulated and the option to have the air pumps on or off.You can also change the bell rate , fast ,slow etc.

    I had to get the PR1 programmer to do this , i could not access the cv values higher than 9 , this might have something to do with the fact that my lenz compact is old and the first version they had out.I can normally do bit and cv editing on other decoders , just for the soundtraxx one i couldn't get it to work and i the compact dosn't support page programing i believe.I posted questions on all the forums including the Lenz yahoo and Atlas , received responses but to no avail.You might find them on these sites.The PR1 was my alternative to fix this.Maybe the Atlas comander can program the sounds on soundtrax DSD's , can someone confrim this ?

    On another note i will probably be looking at the bachman easy DDC system as it seems to be able to do all this and has a lot more functions at an basic level and small price , just right for my small 6 x 4 layout at home.


  14. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    umm... yes... well... umm.... That's sorta the way things happen to me too, sometimes. :D :p :p :rolleyes:
  15. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Thanks everyone.

    I think I'm gonna go with Tony's Train Exchange and their Soundtraxx DSD-B280LC decoder for the 2-8-0. Hopefully, there won't be an issue. I'll let you all know how it works out. I will order it tomorrow. Thanks so much!:)

    Yours Truly,

  16. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    One more quick question, as Ian said, does anyone know if the Atlas Master can access CV's higher than 9? Or will I too have to get the PR1 programmer? (The manual says the Atlas Commander supports Register Mode Programming and can access 8 registers... but I'm not sure how to interpret that.)

    Can anyone with the Atlas DCC confirm? Thanks!


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