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SoundTraxx Tsunami SoundCar decoder

Read this review from Model Railroader magazine
Soundtraxx Tsunami SoundCar decoder
If you’ve ever stood trackside, you know that the sound of a train doesn’t end once the locomotive passes. There are squealing flanges, the banging of a flat spot wheel, and the clickety-clack of wheels over rail joints. The Tsunami SoundCar Digital Command Control (DCC) decoder from SoundTraxx brings these effects to rolling stock models.

Installation. The decoder measures 8.5mm x 14mm x 47mm. It has wires color-coded according to National Model Railroad Association S-9.1.1 on one end and a two-pin plug for a SoundTraxx CurrentKeeper on the other end. This component (sold separately for $24.95) is a 6mm x 11mm x 40mm bundle of capacitors that provides 10 seconds of power for uninterrupted operation over turnouts or dirty track. The decoder will also work without a CurrentKeeper.

The modeler must purchase a speaker separately. The SoundCar will work with any size 8Ω speaker.

I used double-sided tape to attach the decoder and a CurrentKeeper to the inside roof of a Kato HO scale baggage car. I also used the same tape to secure a speaker to the car’s interior floor and cemented light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to the plastic marker light pipes. Following the included diagram, I soldered wires to the speaker, LEDs, and resistors.

The Kato baggage car includes trucks with track-power pickups. For cars without factory-installed pickups, the modeler will need to add pickup-equipped trucks, such as those sold by Athearn, or add pickups to the existing trucks. Streamlined Backshop ( sells wheel wiper pickups. An upcoming DCC Corner will focus on SoundCar projects, including how to install power pickups.

Operation. Programming the SoundCar is the same as any other decoder. Configuration variables (CVs) control the sound and light effects. The volume of each individual sound effect can be adjusted. A user manual outlining all the programming options is available as a free download at

I was impressed by the amount of customization that the SoundCar offered. Using CVs, I could program whether or not the car rolls on jointed rail, how many wheels, axles, and trucks the car has, and the frequency of flange squeals and flat spots.

I could easily hear each individual sound effect. I found the SoundCar-equipped models to be most effective in the middle and at the end of a train.

The rolling wheel sounds are controlled by the throttle setting, not the actual motion of the car. It’s important to make sure that the SoundCar decoder has the same momentum settings as the locomotive’s decoder.

User-triggered functions include the bell, generator, and horn or whistle. These features would be useful in a commuter cab car. Other functions include coupler and brake sounds. All the functions can be remapped or shut off.

The decoder’s four lighting outputs can be programmed for various effects, including dimmable headlights and strobe lights, again useful for cab cars. The outputs can also control marker lights and interior lighting.

Intelligent Consisting. The SoundCar decoder can be given a short or long address and advance consisted. However, Intelligent Consisting is the easiest way to incorporate SoundCar-equipped models into layout operations.

To use this feature, I waved a magnet over the roof above the location of the decoder, entered the lead locomotive or consist address into my DCC throttle, and then pressed function 8 four times. I heard the sound of brakes releasing, and the SoundCar-equipped model then responded to the throttle settings of that address. Other effects, such as turning on the markers, require addressing the specific car. To remove the SoundCar from the consist, I again waved the magnet over the roof until I heard the sound of a handbrake being tied down.

The SoundCar decoder provides DCC users with an easy way to add the sounds of a train beyond the locomotive.
Price: $42.50; 3-pack, $112.95

210 Rock Point Drive
Durango, CO 81301

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