Anybody "heard" about MRC sound decoders?

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TaeOH

or just Tom...
I am looking forward to your review and would love to see a photo step by step install PLUS a video of it in action!

Is that too much to ask ;-)
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I am looking forward to your review and would love to see a photo step by step install PLUS a video of it in action!

Is that too much to ask ;-)
No, I regularly do that on an RV forum I'm on. The people on that forum seem to enjoy my cursing and tooth-gnashing when I make a misteak...:rolleyes:
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I got 4 decoders. installed 3. Number 4 exploded in my hands when I tested it.:eek: I have a nice little burn mark on the heel of my hand.
The other 3 work well, but two have a very low volume, and my system doesn't have enough functions to adjust the volume. So, until I can find a friend with an MRC Prodigy Advance (the ones with 28 functions, volume is function 24), I have one SD70MAC that overpowers the other SD70M and AC4400CW sound units. I found out what the coughing mouse is supposed to be in the GE unit. It is the chugging exhaust of the 4 cycle prime mover. The EMD sounds are very good. I'll post photos and try uploading a video of them in action.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I kinda saw that coming.:rolleyes:
Me. too. That's why I bench tested each one before I went to the trouble of installing them. It's only the second decoder I've ever let the factory-installed smoke out of. Only 2 out of several hundred isn't bad, but 1 out of 4 is. A 25% infant mortality rate is completely unacceptable. My LHS took the dead decoder back, and swapped it for another one with no problem (shameless plug follows). If anybody gets out to the L.A. area, stop and see the guys at Arnie's Trains, they are a great bunch, with great customer service.

Now, the decoders that actually work, are working well. I've had all 3 engines MU'ed and running on my layout for a couple of hours so far, and the only problem is the volume level I mentioned in my previous post. I think if I don't have anything better to do this weekend, I'll carry them over to Arnie's, and ask the repair guy if he could use the store's Prodigy to adjust the volume levels. I forgot his name, but he used to be the repair guy for Athearn, and is very knowledgeable. I may even buy a Prodigy so I can adjust this stuff in the future (I have a Digitrax Zephyr).
Until now, my system has been more than adequate for my layout, and has enough power to run all three sound locomotives, plus 2 others, at the same time, but can't access functions higher than 14. The new decoders have 28 functions, and volume level is function 24.
Updates on the success, or lack thereof, of the volume adjustment to follow...
 

TaeOH

or just Tom...
I noticed in a post on the Trainboards that some have been doing Fan brass details on the locomotive to allow the tiny speaker to have an opening. They were pleased with the result.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
My 3 remaining are all performing well. Now that I've said that, they'll probably all die a horribl;e death tonight... When I find my camera (I just moved), I'll post the promised pictures and video.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I've "played" with the engines with the decoders, and thought I'd at least post the results I have in hand, until I find my &*(%&^%^ camera.
First, I found the volume level increased by pointing the speaker at the frame of the locomotive, kind of the opposite what I expected. It's even better if you put a small piece of electrical tape over the frame, and point the speaker toward the tape. One of the three takes a while to start moving, the other two move out very smartly. So smartly, I've had to configure the acceleration and deceleration rates for them. Now the sound of the prime movers spools up, and the unit starts moving. Before I did this, the jackrabbit took off before the engine sound changed speed or tone.
Next, I (gasp!) mounted one of the three in an AC4400CW, and configured the prime mover sound for the 4 cycle. It's a little goofy sounding, as it chugs, then smooths out, then chugs again as the throttle is advanced. There isn't any steady "chop-chop-chop-chop" sound you would expect. I also had to perform surgery on the AC4400CW, albeit minor surgery. One of the electronic components sticks up a bit higher on that particular board than the other three, and was holding the body shell up in the rear. After careful examination, I removed the radiator grill, and cut away the part of the body shell that was contacting the decoder. This allowed the piece to extend up through the shell, and you can't see it when you put the radiator grill back on. Naturally, it was the only one of the bunch with this part on it, any of the others would have dropped in without modification.:rolleyes:
These three have now been in service on my layout for several weeks without incident, and it's pretty cool to have two SD70's and a GE go rumbling by.
 

TaeOH

or just Tom...
Doesn't look like you had a problem with the ditch lights getting too dim. In the end, sounds like you love the sound.

Thanks for the video.
 

TaeOH

or just Tom...
Well...the blog I have been following updated that his MRC decoder had not failed...he made a mistake and the engine he was running was not one of the ones he installed a decoder in.

http://www.upmodelrailroad.com/

So with your success and his, I will be purchasing 2 for my Kato SD40-2's. Hopefully by the end of the month.
 

diburning

AlcoHaulic
hmm, with the video of the SD70M, the decoder sounds exactly like the one in my friend's HO scale SD45. The bell doesn't sound like anything in real life, and the horn is very off although changable. If the horn and bell were fixed, it would sound very nice in a SD40-2.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
hmm, with the video of the SD70M, the decoder sounds exactly like the one in my friend's HO scale SD45. The bell doesn't sound like anything in real life, and the horn is very off although changable. If the horn and bell were fixed, it would sound very nice in a SD40-2.
The horn and bell can both be changed for tone, bell type and ring rate, and type of horn. Volume of both are independently adjustable, as is the prime mover volume.
Remember, the speaker is only about 8mm in diameter, so it does sound a little tinny, but tons better than what was available just a couple of years ago.
 

TaeOH

or just Tom...
The horn and bell can both be changed for tone, bell type and ring rate, and type of horn. Volume of both are independently adjustable, as is the prime mover volume.
Remember, the speaker is only about 8mm in diameter, so it does sound a little tinny, but tons better than what was available just a couple of years ago.
Yea when you are looking for sound in this size, beggars can't be choosers. I think it sounds good enough till something better comes along.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
Update

I told y'all I'd let you know if I had any problems with these sound decoders, and I've got a strange one. One of the decoders (it's in an AC4400CW) started acting kind of flaky, then yesterday it no longer would go forward. Runs perfect in reverse, and all the choo choo noises do what they're supposed to in both directions. It just will only run in reverse. I pulled it out of the engine, hooked up a pair of gator clips for power, and checked output to the motor. Reverse, perfect, forward, nada. I've had decoders lose the output for the motor before, but it's been in both directions. I even did a reset of all CV's to make sure I hadn't done something to it.
And before everybody starts pointing at me and laughing, telling me I should have gotten Soundtraxx, one of my Soundtraxx sound decoders bit the dust this week, too. It runs the motor, lights, everything , but there's no sound. There just happened to be a Soundtraxx clinic at my LHS Thursday, and the people from Soundtraxx (George and Nancy) were scratching their heads over it.
Looks like there'll be a pair of boxes going to New Jersey and Colorado next week.
 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
yesterday it no longer would go forward. Runs perfect in reverse, and all the choo choo noises do what they're supposed to in both directions. It just will only run in reverse. I pulled it out of the engine, hooked up a pair of gator clips for power, and checked output to the motor. Reverse, perfect, forward, nada. I've had decoders lose the output for the motor before, but it's been in both directions. I even did a reset of all CV's to make sure I hadn't done something to it.
Add 1 to cv 29. If it runs forward with no reverse one of the transistors in the motor drive circuit is fried. This happened to me wiht Soundtraxx once as a result of an intermittent short. It was a $40.00 fix at Soundtraxx. Not sure with MRC...I only own one of their untis :)
 

AyTrane

Member
I installed a MRC sound decoder a month ago and it is still running for me. I can't figure out how to get the lights on the locomotive to turn on, but it sounds good and runs well. The speaker was too big to put in my SD45, but it fits perfectly in an F7.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I installed a MRC sound decoder a month ago and it is still running for me. I can't figure out how to get the lights on the locomotive to turn on, but it sounds good and runs well. The speaker was too big to put in my SD45, but it fits perfectly in an F7.
That one SHOULD be easy. Click F0 once, the lights should come on, possibly with a second or two delay. Is the decoder HO or N? If it's not plug and play, and you're using your locomotive's OEM lights, you may have inadvertently blown the bulbs if the output is higher than the bulbs/LEDs are rated for.
 




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