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ERR RailSounds Commander with Wireless Tether

I've gotten several requests to upgrade the sound of steamers from the Lionel RS4 boards to one of the ERR RS Commanders.  In the past, I wired it up and it didn't recognize the serial data stream.  I decided to take one more look, in theory it should be pretty easy, I have all the signals required right at the RS4 sound card connector!

I wired it all up, and sure enough, it worked great in conventional, but the command serial data wasn't recognized.  Now I know that the RS4 board takes the same serial data as the ERR RS Commander, so there was something else in play.  I fired up my 'scope and verified that there was a nice looking serial data stream on the proper connector pin, and I could even see the whistle command when I pressed the whistle on the remote.  So, I connected the ERR board to the RS4 connector and monitored the serial data.

WOW, now the serial data went from a 0-5 volt signal to a 0-2 volt signal!  Mystery solved, the AD-20 board doesn't have the drive to power the opto-isolator on the ERR RS Commander.

Gosh, I've just recently designed a little board to solve this problem, might as well apply my fix.  Enter the serial port buffer that I recently posted about in these very pages.

Added that to boost the serial data stream and like magic, the command operation works!  The good news is, there is a way to use the ERR RailSounds Commander with the wireless IR link for upgrades.  I'm picking up some of the Lionel AD-20A boards for times when I'm starting from scratch.


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