SoundCar Frequently Asked Questions

Which scales can use the SoundCar?

The SoundCar is suitable for N - G scales. Measuring 47mm x 14mm x 8.5mm, the decoder will fit in many N-scale models. Since motor stall current does not limit the decoder’s use, the SoundCar is appropriate for larger scales as long as the track voltage does not exceed 21 volts.

In which types of rolling stock can the SoundCar be installed?

All of them! Since its sound effects are customizable, the SoundCar is appropriate for all kinds of rolling stock.

The generator sound can be adjusted for reefers (intermittent) and passenger cars (constant), and the clickety-clack rate can be customized for any car -- from bobber cabooses to 6-axle observation cars -- by setting the number of axles per truck and trucks per car.

The SoundCar also has a selection of airhorns and bells for cab cars and push-pull service cars. It even includes an air whistle for cabooses used as shoving platforms during switching across grade crossings -- no more FRA fines!

Which airhorns, bells and whistles are available on the SoundCar?

The SoundCar includes a selection of the most common airhorns, bells and whistles for cab cars and cabooses. Airhorns include Wabco E2 and Nathan K5LA, as well as a Hancock air whistle. Bell options are cast, electronic, and gong. The bell ring rate is also adjustable.

Do I need to have a SoundCar decoder in every model for the full effect?

No. Based on our experience, we recommend having a SoundCar decoder installed in every third or fourth car of a train for best results. The SoundCar 3-Pack provides you with great savings to equip multiple models. 

Will the SoundCar overwhelm my layout with a bunch of noise?

No. We thoughtfully designed the SoundCar to add another dimension of realism to layouts so that it's not just a noisemaker. We recorded a variety of rolling stock with variances in tonnage to bring you the most realistic sounds to accommodate any type of car. The SoundCar also includes independent volume controls and other user-adjustable features so you can tailor the effects to your layout and personal taste. 

Is the rate of the clickety-clack, flat spot, and flange squeals synced to the speed of the locomotive?

Yes. The rate of the wheel noise responds to the throttle and can be fine-tuned with CVs to match the locomotive’s speed steps, as well as the type of car and rail (e.g., welded rail).

What exactly is Intelligent Consisting?

Traditional consisting methods can be cumbersome and time-consuming if you have a number of SoundCar-equipped models. We developed Intelligent Consisting as another option for quickly adding and removing cars from a consist without having to do any CV programming. By reducing the number of steps required to set up consists, Intelligent Consisting represents a 90%
time-savings over the traditional method!

How does Intelligent Consisting work?

Intelligent Consisting mode is triggered by waving a magnet over the SoundCar-equipped models that are to be added to the train. Then, press F8 (remappable) four times from the locomotive’s or consist’s address to send a command to the SoundCar decoders to add it to the train. To remove a car from the consist; simply wave the magnet over the model again.

This consisting method is also synchronized with prototypical sounds. When the magnet is first waved over the car, the sound of the hand brake being untied will play to indicate that the decoder is in “waiting mode” (deactivated after 1 minute), looking for a signal from the command station to add it to the consist. After F8 is pressed four times, the decoder will confirm that the car is hooked into the locomotive’s train line by playing the sound of the air bleed-off from the retainer. The SoundCar decoders have also been monitoring the DCC signal bus for the status of all active addresses and instantly synchronizes its function state and throttle speed with the loco or consist that it just joined. When the train pulls away, the SoundCar will create the clickety-clacks, flange squeals, brake sequence sounds, and more, just like any car on a prototype train.  

When the car is released from the consist, the sounds of the hand brake being tied down and set is played to acknowledge that it is no longer part of the train.

For information on using Intelligent Consisting with NCE-style Advanced Consisting, please read the instructions on our support page.

Does the SoundCar have outputs for lighting effects?

Yes, it has four outputs that can be set to our Hyperlight effects -- perfect for adding interior lamps to passenger cars, flashing rear-end devices (FRED), and the flicker of a wood-burning stove to cabooses. 

Is the SoundCar difficult to install?

Installation will vary by model and we will post installation documents on our website. The trickiest installations will require adding electrical pickups to the model and modifying the body to allow the sound to escape. The SoundCar decoder is a universal-style board format with wires that are color-coded per the NMRA Standard. 
Note: It’s important that the decoder is installed in the model so that the Intelligent Consisting sensor is easily accessible (we recommend adhering it to the underside of the roof), and located at least 5mm away from the speaker. The decoder should be oriented so that the sensor is facing outward from the model (the sensor is located on the "flat side" of the decoder, opposite the capacitors).

Installation example: Note the location of the SoundCar on the roof of the model with the Intelligent Consisting sensor facing outward for accessibility.

SoundCar wiring diagram

My model does not have electrical pickups. What are my options for adding them?

There are a number of commercially available wiper kits and trucks with electrical pickups that you can install on your model. Or, you can make your own. We are working on a Technical Note to explain how to use Kadee No. 5 centering springs to create pickups.

Will SoundCar-equipped models draw a lot of power?

No. The SoundCar doesnít draw a lot of power since it isnít driving a motor. On average, a SoundCar with only the sounds activated at their default volume levels draws about 15-25mA at 14 volts while running at normal speeds.

Is a CurrentKeeper required for all SoundCar installations?

No. We recommend the CurrentKeeper for models that do not have all wheels equipped with rail pickups. The SoundCar includes a socket for easily connecting a CurrentKeeper.

What speaker can I use with the SoundCar?

The SoundCar is designed to work with any 8-ohm speaker.