At long last, I have acquired a four car set of MTH CNW bilevels, the once familiar conveyance of my misspent youth and bane of my early railroad career on the Galena Division.  Eastbound, we had to either "beat the fleet" or cool our heels west of Geneva till the rush was over.

Of course, nothing less will do than to have full functionality for the control cab car.  However, my experience is limited to ERR AC & DC Commander units and the various Railsounds boards that plug directly into/onto their Commander counterparts.

Since I'll be Kadeeing, I need control only for headlight, markers, bell and horn.  Therefore, I am hoping that a smaller, less expensive unit that might fill the bill.  Regardless, there appears to be plenty of room for electronics in the mid-car vestibule/HVAC space, which I estimate to be 2 1/4" x 3" x 3" (+/-).  The ERR website suggests a unit that seems particularly fitting - the Mini Commander EX, made expressly for DUMMIES.  However, the "sound" features described on the website and in the manual left this dummy reeling:

Multiple Command Set  Responds to ENG and TR commands.  Full train support for lash-ups, Forward Unit, Middle Unit, and End Unit assignment logic.  Lighting and coupler behavior based on assignment of unit...  Outputs sound system control signals, appropriately masking Non-Head Unit sound signals as required.

And the manual states:  Supports RailSoundstm  Full RailSounds integration with a single wire interconnect to the sound system.
          T
ested with all the most popular 3rd party sound kits.

What "popular 3rd party sound kits" are they talking about?  Are there choices?  If so, I'd like to have the horn replicate the dulcet tones of the prototype Westinghouse AA-2 or something close to it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSTqEWCJ178

The ERR Railsounds board for the ALCo 420 has a horn that's fairly close but I certainly don't want the sound of a big 251 blub-blub-burbbling deep in the bowels of a unpowered cab car...  Somethin' she et, no doubt.

All help and comments are greatly appreciated.  What say ye?

P.S. The Forum is blessed to have several great electronics experts among its members, however, composing this "Topic" was a poignant reminder that our friend Marty Fitzhenry won't be responding, this time.  Rest in peace, Marty, you are missed.

GENERAL NOTICE - Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of duty.  Obedience to the rules is essential to safety.  To enter or remain in the service is an assurance of willingness to obey the rules.

Original Post

Unless the Mini Commander EX firmware has been updated, you may want to consider a different option.  Various folks had issues getting the serial data to function properly with those in the past.  I haven't used one in years for the same reason.  I'd wait for some current information on whether this unit is fully functional now.  Personally, I buy something like an RCDR from Lionel for dummies, similar sized board, but I know the serial data works 100% on those.

As far as the diesel sounds, you can add a switch to the RS Commander to turn off the background sounds (prime mover, etc.) and only get operator triggered sounds, i.e. the horn and bell.  Even without the switch, you can simply use the remote and turn down the background sounds independent of the horn/bell sounds.

GRJ:  Thanks to your timely reply, I have been able to Google for the items you referenced but now have another round of stupid questions.

Its now clear that I need to order an ERR RailSounds board for an ALCo 420, in order to have the horn I want.  However, I was only able to find a RCDR on a parts list for a powered locomotive listed at the Lionel website.  Is there a source for the RCDR board you recommended and the parts needed to connect the two?

 

GENERAL NOTICE - Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of duty.  Obedience to the rules is essential to safety.  To enter or remain in the service is an assurance of willingness to obey the rules.

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