Looking for a brief history on the versions of RailSounds 1 ,2 ,3, etc. and the features of each, boards, chips, etc.  

Thanks.

Original Post

Railsounds was borne of the early "Sound of Steam" in the early 90s. My Frisco Mikado from 1993 has "Railsounds 1" (then just known as railsounds) and it's basically Sound of Steam with a much better whistle.

Railsounds II came out in 1994, I believe, and was the first Railsounds with polyphonic sound and good sound quality. The Conrail SD60 from 1994 sounds amazing even to this day.

Railsounds 2.5 came out in 1995 or 1996. Not sure what the actual difference is between Railsounds II and Railsounds 2.5.

Railsounds 3 isn't offically a "thing" but a few engines made in 1998 had what is essentially Railsounds 3, one being a Soo Line SD60. They lost one Diesel RPM rev level (3 instead of 4) but added crewtalk and towercom.

Railsounds 4 came out around 2000, and the 4th RPM level was back in play. Not sure what other changes, though.

Railsounds 5 came out around 2003 or 2004, and it has 8 RPM levels and much expanded crewtalk and towercom.

Then there's Legacy.

Frisco Chris 1522 posted:

Railsounds was borne of the early "Sound of Steam" in the early 90s. My Frisco Mikado from 1993 has "Railsounds 1" (then just known as railsounds) and it's basically Sound of Steam with a much better whistle.

Railsounds II came out in 1994, I believe, and was the first Railsounds with polyphonic sound and good sound quality. The Conrail SD60 from 1994 sounds amazing even to this day.

Railsounds 2.5 came out in 1995 or 1996. Not sure what the actual difference is between Railsounds II and Railsounds 2.5.

Railsounds 3 isn't offically a "thing" but a few engines made in 1998 had what is essentially Railsounds 3, one being a Soo Line SD60. They lost one Diesel RPM rev level (3 instead of 4) but added crewtalk and towercom.

Railsounds 4 came out around 2000, and the 4th RPM level was back in play. Not sure what other changes, though.

Railsounds 5 came out around 2003 or 2004, and it has 8 RPM levels and much expanded crewtalk and towercom.

Then there's Legacy.

Thanks Chris, nothing like a concise summary to help explain what is part of a complicated history - VERY complicated when you throw in all the different motor driver/accessory systems 

It was an expanded RS4, some of the Station Sounds Diner sets were RS 4e.  RS 5.5 I believe was the first Legacy release, then there was RS 6.  That was the last one that was in the modular boards, the RS6 boards are quite different than the previous versions, it dispensed with the removable chips and went to all surface mount.  It's actually a generic board, the sounds are loaded via the indicated programming connector.  All the preceding versions where "programmed" with socketed PLCC chips.

RailSounds 1 was first released in 1989, and the reissue of the Pennsylvania B6 scale switcher was the first to try it out. It consisted of (now) spacious double stack boards that used a hall effect sensor with a magnet in one axle to speed up either the chuff or diesel RPM. The bell and whistle/horn were all the same in every engine that had it, but this system sounded a lot better than the Mighty Sound of Static Steam.

RailSounds 2 was when we first got "engine specific" sounds, like whistles made to be identical to the prototype. It still used a rather spacious power board system.

RailSounds 3 was the beginning of the smaller and more compact 24 pin programmable chip system, which has recently become obsolete at Lionel HQ. This continued into RailSounds 4, which was basically identical, but the chip design was slightly altered. 4E had slightly improved TowerCom - it had both "please stand by" and "clear for departure" dialog.

RailSounds 5 came with (thankfully) clear CrewTalk dialog, and it was multi-part, and was different each time you used it and TowerCom. It even had shut down announcements and moving announcements once the train started moving. This continued into the first Legacy RailSounds systems - 5.5 and 6.0, which had new features like quillible horn/whistle, single hit or continuous bell sounds, start up AND shut down dialog, and emergency stop sequence dialog. 6.0 was the first to offer sequence control, or automatically played RailSounds on the locomotive. The first to have this was (reportedly) the Vision Line scale Hudson.

Last edited by Mikado 4501

From TM's 2003 Modern Era Price Guide:

A note on Lionel’s RailSounds (RS): First introduced in 1989, RS has undergone many changes and upgrades since its debut. Unfortunately, Lionel has been inconsistent, and in some cases contradictory, on RS designations. For this edition, we have attempted to identify the various versions listed below. It was impossible to determine the version of RS of some items because disassembly to check the boards could not be accomplished. This applies to items with RS 3 and RS 4. In these cases, we have stated these items have RS 2.5, which is the sound standard for RS 3 and 4, as noted below. 

RS 1: Introduced on the 18000 Pennsylvania B-6 Switcher in 1989.

RS 2: Used for a short time in 1994 and 1995. Essentially RS 1 with improved sounds, but no new features.

RS 2.5: Lionel’s current standard for sound, being the TMCC version of 2.0. Early versions do not include Crewtalk or Towercom, which was added in 1997.

RS 3: Sounds are identical to RS 2.5, however the circuit boards are now constructed modularly. Allows CR locomotives to be upgraded to TMCC and RS.

RS 4: Lionel’s recently announced upgrade, with sounds still virtually identical to RS 2.5. This version features smaller circuit boards to be placed in more confined spaces, as well as a more efficient sound amplifier board.

ed h posted:

From TM's 2003 Modern Era Price Guide:

 

RS 2: Used for a short time in 1994 and 1995. Essentially RS 1 with improved sounds, but no new features.

 

I started working as a consultant for Lionel between the shipment of Railsounds and Railsounds 2. RS2 was a new effort started from scratch. I don't recall the specific features of the original railsounds, so it may well be true RS2 didn't add any new features, but certainly it had improved sounds and ushered in the ear of reprogrammable sound sets at lionel. I'm pretty sure there the original railsounds came in only 2 varieties: steam and diesel and these were masked chips, not programmable as Railsounds 2 and all subsequent versions were.

Regarding RS4e, I can add that it included some tweaks to the data compression scheme. That was the enhancement the "e" stood for. The improvement in sound quality was modest and accrued mostly to low level sounds, like reduced static in the background steam hiss.

I wonder whether the value engineering (elimination) of engine specific crewtalk occurred simultaneously with a change in Railsounds version? Perhaps someday in the future, Lionel will restore this feature to compete with MTH's great engine specific sound sets. 

The history of the Railsounds system rolls up like this.

The different numeric identifiers of Railsounds have more to do with the configuration of the PCB's than it does with feature set. (features set matters (sound capabilities), but the numbers indicate the amount the space in the processors, configuration of the PCB's, etc. 

Sound of Steam in the late 80's
Railsounds I early 90's (chuff, whistle, bell only) this was primarily just steam if memory serves me correctly) size: very crude (by today's standards) and included 2 PCB's; Audio & Amplifier;


Railsounds II (this was the really good stuff, Conrail SD60M, Rio Grande SD50, a couple steam sounds too. size: pretty big, but you can see the beginnings of the "fit" for the next iteration of sounds;


Railsounds 2.0 First released in 1996 (NYC & SP GP-7's, Santa Fe F-3, N&W Warhorse J, etc.) (prime mover sounds, horn, bell, squealing brakes, idle sounds, coupler release sounds, though locos were not equipped with coil couplers at this point in time). Volume control from remote or pot. No crewtalk or towercom.


Railsounds 2.5 came in around 1998-1999 same as Railsounds 2.0, but included towercom and crewtalk. (same exact PCB, just different PIC & ROM).

Railsounds 3.0, this was identical, in terms of features to 2.5, but a siginficant redesign of the PCB's and the beginning of the modular revolution inside Lionel locos. The Audio and power board were separated and began to require a motherboard to make it all work together! You'll know these power boards when you see the big heat sink!

With the introduction of the modular boards came the introduction of a new board for the wireless tender; AD20A (modular);

 

Railsounds 4.0; Same feature set as 2.5 & 3.0, but the PCB's changed again. The RS 4.0 series of PCB's lasted the longest and are in the largest number of locos in circulation. A new Power board was created, more stable and did not require a heat sink. The audio board changed as well. 

Railsounds 4E stopped in for a while, this was simply an increase in the space in the PIC or ROM, where there was "extra sounds" added. The sound quality was the same as 4.0 there were just "more" sounds. So, 4E is a capacity change moreso than a hardware change.

Railounds 5.0; more sound features and the elimination of the AD20A PCB in the tender for wireless IR Drawbars. The RS 5.0 audio board still required the same Railsounds Power board as 4.0 and 4E;

Railsounds 5.5; Allow me to introduce LEGACY. This is where the most significant processor and ROM size changes came into effect. (its like 4 times what was available in RS 5.0!). Still used the same RS Power board as 4.0, 4E, 5.0.

 

Railsounds 6 same as Railsounds 5.5 from a feature perspective, but the the PLCC chips are eliminated and the chips are soldered to the PCB's. Same RS power board as 4.0, 4E, 5.0, 5.5.

This is the end of the 24-pin female header and 24-pin male connector motherboards. From this point forward everything is interconnected with wires. 

Railsounds Lite; same sound features as RS 5.5 and 6.0, but a much smaller package. works in conjunction with RCMC's. 

There are 4 versions of RSL's to date; RSL1, RSL2, RSL3 and RSM (RSM is for conventional use only). 

Keep in mind that the history shown here is only for Command Controlled locomotives, it does not show the history or any boardsets of the sounds used in conventional only locos. 

Hope this clears up any confusion and gives you some insight into what is what, when it comes to the history of Lionel Railsounds.

Thanks,
Mike

Attachments

Images (13)

Nicely done Mike!  Pictures are very helpful.

Only one question.

With respect to the 3 versions of Railsounds Lite for command.

How are they different?  Different applications?  Improvements?

Thanks

Dave

 

 

 

Hey Mike,

Additionally there is this part of the early  history (we've talked about this before)...................

There was a meeting between Dick Kughn and his team and Bill Benson and his team to discuss technology sharing.  Part of Bill's demo to Dick was having me show the digital audio I had developed for RoW.  This involved a circuit with whistle, bell, and chuff.  Rather than buy technology from RoW, Dick has his engineers locate a sound chip producer in California to make masked sound chips.  In conversation with Mike Ledyard (then VP of engineering at Lionel) at York, he said Lionel had to buy 20,000 of each chip at a few dollars each to build their boards.  What I had was a programmable memory and a sound processor so I could change sounds easily.

Lionel's early sound chips had whistle and bell on one IC and chuff and blowdown on another.  They did sound good; they're in the PRR B-6.  And I am also not sure if they did diesel sounds.

Prior that the Sound of Steam board had chuff and whistle, both synthesized, not digital.

Lou N

WoK

P.S.  Mike, that's a great dissertation above!

 

 

Soo Line,

The changes, if memory serves me correctly were due to parts being replaced, discontinued, etc. Then there were some processor/ROM size changes. Doesn't really matter. If I am not mistaken the pinouts on RSL1 (and possibly RSM) are different from RSL2 and RSL3. The silk screen on the underside of the PCB connectors tell you what is what, as far as pinouts. To look at them, unless you REALLY know what you're looking at you'd have a really hard telling them apart (aside from the silk screened part number of course!)

Thanks,

Mike

P.S. Thank you for the kind comments on the write up!

Wasn't part of this that RS up through and including RS 2.0 were conventional only?  RS2.5 was the first TMCC based RS and that was in the early NYC/SP GP-9?

Also RS 3.0 board does require the early LARGE power Supply board.  After RS 3.0, the power board became universal and smaller.  Even works with modular Legacy.

I have moved RS 2.0 chips into RS 2.5 platforms and they work in TMCC mode.  But the 2.0 Hardware is not command capable.  G

I've seen the large power supply in a couple of locomotives, but I think it's plug compatible with the later modular power supply.  I never had occasion to swap the old P/S out, so the question never really came up.

GGG,

I typically use the Roman Numerals of I and II to differentiate between the numbers 2.0 and beyond. If you look at the Lionel parts site, this is how I architected all the part descriptions. Railsounds II (as mentioned above in the Conrail SD60M, Rio Grande SD50, etc) were all conventional application only sounds. When Railsounds 2.0 was introduced it was coupled with the LCRU I (and later the LCRU II), which gave the sounds the command capability.

I never attempted to swap Railsounds II PIC and ROM's into a RS 2.0 platform, however, if memory serves me correctly Bob Jacobsen over at Electric Train Outlet in St Louis, MO had done this with the Conrail SD60M chips (and let me tell you how AWESOME it sounded!). Actually made me take a step back, that earlier RS II sound set had command control capability! (ability to decipher serial data in the PIC) I never tried it personally (or professionally) but having heard it first hand it is obviously feasible!).

All that being said, for the average consumer / tinkerer out there I would use the differentiation of the roman numerals versus the numbering sequence as the break point in compatibility. Meaning keep the RS I and RS II in their intended conventional world and keep the RS 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 and beyond in their command world, if for nothing more than simplicity and keeping some hair!

Wasn't part of this that RS up through and including RS 2.0 were conventional only? 

To be fair, yes. All command controlled locos will operate in conventional mode, hence the sound systems will as well. However, Lionel has a slew of "conventional only" soundboards over the years, which was not part of the outline above. These are sounds used in starter set and entry level conventional only (not command upgradeable) applications. That is what the reference is to, not command sounds being used in a conventional environment. For clarification purposes, your question above is misleading. It should read; Wasn't part of this that RS up through and including RS II were conventional only? the answer would be yes. to follow that question up, Railsounds 2.0 was the introduction of command compatible sounds (meaning it deciphered serial communications). 

RS2.5 was the first TMCC based RS and that was in the early NYC/SP GP-9?

This was actually Railsounds 2.0 (no Towercom or Crewtalk) coupled with an LCRU II. Railsounds 2.5 was the same exact hardware, it just added Towercom and Crewtalk to the feature set. The photo below is the platform that came in those early geeps (Railsounds 2.0 and LCRU II);

(The part number is not correct for the NYC / SP geeps, but the photo is accurate (and the bracketry). The part number above is the B&M GP-9, same generation, but came equipped with coil couplers. 

If we could keep roman numerals and numbers as the delineation point it would make things much easier to follow. 

Hope this helps clear that up!

Thanks,
Mike

Attachments

Images (2)

GRJ,

I do not believe they are compatible (RS 3.0 power boards and any audio board versions beyond RS 3.0). The older RS 3.0 Power boards do not generate the 5V on pins 5 and 6 as the 691RSPRA00 Universal sound power board does, hence RS 4.0 and beyond does not work.

Besides, space is the real premium inside a loco, why would you want to try to stuff something so large into a loco? If you had to have RS 3.0 sounds just take the PIC and ROM from the RS 3.0 audio board and drop them into a RS 4.0 audio board coupled with the 691RSPRA00 power board! 

Mike

 

Makes sense Mike.  I sort of assume that the old RS 3.0 power supply was just the linear equivalent of the later universal switching supply, but as I said, I never actually had the occasion to test that theory.  I did think that I saw an RS3 board with the universal supply, perhaps there was forward compatibility?

Mike,

That does make a lot of sense in both statements, so thanks for that.

The C&O streamlined Yellowbelly and the Wabash 2046-style Hudson from 1995 did have RailSounds 2, as well as TMCC LCRU2's inside, and they came before the Geeps.

And I was considering that thought of RS3.0 audio boards myself - Lionel does still have some on their parts site that would do wonders for me just plugging into a RS powered motherboard, like the L3A Mohawk and the Commodore Vanderbilt ones, as I would with an RS4/5 audio board.

Two railsounds questions.  Has anyone replaced the Hall sensor on a railsounds 1 board with a reed switch ?  I am thinking about adding 4 magnets to the drivers on the loco to get 4 chuffs per rev. It would be easier to add 1 wire from loco to tender that the reed switch connects to ground than to have to run 3 wires in order to move the hall sensor to the loco. Anyone worked this out ?  One more off beat idea.  Has anyone used the coil coupler outputs on an L2RU board  to trigger the whistle / bell on a railsounds1 board ?  I have several old steam locos with RS1 and only the PRR E6 switcher has a front coupler.  So on larger locos I am thinking I could use the front coupler output to trigger the whistle, or the bell.  A friend converted 11 S scale locos to DCC and gave me all his LCRU and L2RU boards,  will allow me to convert all my old 1988-94 conventional steamers to TMCC on the cheap.  Thanks for any thoughts.

The front coupler output only sticks around for 1/4 of a second when triggered, so it would be a very short whistle.   I faced this problem with my little clown handcar sound, and I built this little module to solve the problem.  This module will trigger sounds based on electrocoupler inputs.  I didn't use either coupler, so I had two potential remote triggers.  In addition, it has three other inputs that can trigger sounds from reed switches or any other contact closure.  I use the BY8001-16P MP3 module to generate the sounds, my motherboard supplies the power supply and interface logic for the MP3 player module.

MP3 Discrete Interface Module 1.1 Schematic

Discrete Input MP3 Module

 

Attachments

Images (2)
Last edited by gunrunnerjohn
gunrunnerjohn posted:

Makes sense Mike.  I sort of assume that the old RS 3.0 power supply was just the linear equivalent of the later universal switching supply, but as I said, I never actually had the occasion to test that theory.  I did think that I saw an RS3 board with the universal supply, perhaps there was forward compatibility?

Additionally a RS3.0 won't work on the Universal power board.  That 3.0 PS had more stuff to run it.  G

John, thanks, neat circuit just ordered the opto couplers I think I will try using my cheap eBay Chinese DC-DC regulators. They seem to be OK.  You know I have had an idea running around the back of my head of burning mp3 files on micro sd boards.  I chased steam  excursions out of Birmingham for years and took a lot of svhs video with some really good audio. I have sounds from N&W 611 and 1218, Sou. 4501, S&A 750 pacific, Nickle Plate 2716 Berk.   The CP Royal Hudson, T&P 610 and a few more.  My big problem is my old svhs camera bit the dust years ago and my last svhs vcr occasionally eats tapes. Have not pulled the cover to check out the problem.  Also have many still images shot on medium format film.

I plan to make/play with your circuit but I think I need to order at least one ERR sound converter and see if they play well with the L2RU boards. I think I could let the coupler pulse start a timer and get some whistle function but might as well spend the money on the sound converter.   Thanks again, John

As for replacing a hall effect PCB with a reed switch or other type of non-powered switch, its easy.

You may want to chase this down with a multi meter, but I believe pin 21 on the RS 4.0 audio board is the chuff input (where one leg of the reed switch connects to) and the other leg connects to AC grounds (pins 3 & 4) on the same audio board. Be sure to remove the hall effect sensor first! (going from memory here! sorry I do not have a sound board handy to test this.) This does not work the same on an RS3.0 audio board!

The other place you could connect the reed switch, for a steam loco would be on the R2LC, specifically pin 17 and AC ground. Pin 17 takes the ground pulses for chuff in and encodes the output (chuff trigger) into the serial data which is then transmitted through the IR tether and decoded in the tender. This way the reed switch stays in the loco where the drivers are and no wires between loco and tender!

For locos with RS2.0 platforms, just chase down the cherry switch, one pin is ground the other goes to the LCRU (to be converted into serial data). So, same results, reed switch is in loco, railsounds in tender and wireless IR tether in between the two!

Thanks,
Mike

 

 

Last edited by Mikado
JohnActon posted:

John, thanks, neat circuit just ordered the opto couplers I think I will try using my cheap eBay Chinese DC-DC regulators. They seem to be OK.  You know I have had an idea running around the back of my head of burning mp3 files on micro sd boards.  I chased steam  excursions out of Birmingham for years and took a lot of svhs video with some really good audio. I have sounds from N&W 611 and 1218, Sou. 4501, S&A 750 pacific, Nickle Plate 2716 Berk.   The CP Royal Hudson, T&P 610 and a few more.  My big problem is my old svhs camera bit the dust years ago and my last svhs vcr occasionally eats tapes. Have not pulled the cover to check out the problem.  Also have many still images shot on medium format film.

Any 5VDC power supply does the trick.  The "magic" is really the MP3 player board, it does all the heavy lifting.  I looked at doing an MP3 decoder, but for the prices of these modules, I'll let someone else do the hard stuff.

JohnActon posted:

I plan to make/play with your circuit but I think I need to order at least one ERR sound converter and see if they play well with the L2RU boards. I think I could let the coupler pulse start a timer and get some whistle function but might as well spend the money on the sound converter.   Thanks again, John

The sound converter is a handy board, and you can hack the code as it's been released under the GPL and is posted in the, TMCC/LEGACY REFERENCE MATERIALS & MANUALS thread along with the schematic of the Sound Converter.  I recently did a little hack to that code make the ditch lights work properly so you can use the board for diesel ditch lights that actually operate with a command horn.

At once time I owned every TMCC Geep made.  These engines pretty much contain the history of Railsounds because there were several made with each version.  As it applies to the features of each:

RS2 - the NYC and SP versions had no crewtalk or towercom and you have to manually with the Cab1 raise the engine RPM sounds past the second level.  2.5 has engine specific crewtalk and towercom.  The RPM sounds are still manually raised past level two.  An example is the CB&Q or B&M set.  And the RPM levels have to be manually lowered on both of the above versions once raised.  RS3 the RPM levels go up or down up to the fourth level by them self depending on the speed of the engine.  Examples are the silver CB&Q the ACL and the Wabash set.  Most are like this.  Further evolution produced among others, the FEC set, then NS in a set, the NP model and the Rock Island.  The RI was the last TMCC Geep made and the only one with two towercom announcements, one saying hold and the second giving the green light, activated by Aux1-7.  I wish I had kept the Custom series Geeps, with the dragster sounds. The sounds in these beauties are activated by the engine speed only, you can't manually raise and lower the engine RPMs.  Which makes for a lot of fun playing around with them, trying to audibly burn rubber at all four levels.  And I think in at least the first version it was made at the time of Railsounds 2.5, where in the other engines made at that time the RPMs were manually driven.  I always found that interesting.  Just thought I 'd share what the different versions do on the track.  I liked manually operating the sound levels in the early versions of Railsounds.  It was fun to play with.  Heck, I liked them all.  Great sounds in those engines.   And like I said, you can pretty much follow the evolution of Railsounds with the TMCC Geeps.  

Last edited by William 1

William I,

On the rear truck of all those geeps you owned is a cherry switch. One of the two wires on the cherry switch was broken, if you had to manually rev the RPM's up and down. 

The way diesel sounds work is as follows; the serial data stream tells the sounds that a speed command has been issued and the sounds rev up. If there is no input on the "chuff in" circuit (this is pulsed AC ground through that cherry switch) the sounds immediately rev down. However, if there is an input to the chuff in circuit the sounds stay revved up. As you increase the throttle again (and pass a certain speed step, which i do remember what they are anymore) another command is sent via serial data to tell the sounds to rev up again. If there is input on the chuff in circuit the sounds stay revved up and so on. Once the input on the chuff in circuit goes away the sounds rev down.

Additionally, if there is no input on the chuff in circuit the squealing brake sounds will not play when you press and hold the brake button. 

So, the litmus test is this; start the loco running, get it to rev up to at least RPM level 2 then press and hold the brake button. If the brake squeal sounds the cherry switch is connected. If no brake sounds then one or more of the wires on the cherry switch are disconnected. 

On those earlier geeps it was not uncommon for the cherry switch wires to become unsoldered from their pin, as the rear truck swiveled a lot! 

If you still have the geeps it will be a very easy fix!

Thanks,
Mike

Mikado posted:

William I,

The way diesel sounds work is as follows; the serial data stream tells the sounds that a speed command has been issued and the sounds rev up. If there is no input on the "chuff in" circuit (this is pulsed AC ground through that cherry switch) the sounds immediately rev down. However, if there is an input to the chuff in circuit the sounds stay revved up. As you increase the throttle again (and pass a certain speed step, which i do remember what they are anymore) another command is sent via serial data to tell the sounds to rev up again. If there is input on the chuff in circuit the sounds stay revved up and so on. Once the input on the chuff in circuit goes away the sounds rev down.

Thanks,

Mike

That explains (and verifies that all is working correctly) on the RS2.5 bd I just repaired. I don't have the LCRU bd up and running yet (still looking for a microcontroller chip), so I can't hear any brake sounds anyway. 

Thanks Mike!

George

Mikado posted:

The history of the Railsounds system rolls up like this.

The different numeric identifiers of Railsounds have more to do with the configuration of the PCB's than it does with feature set. (features set matters (sound capabilities), but the numbers indicate the amount the space in the processors, configuration of the PCB's, etc. 

Sound of Steam in the late 80's

Sound of Steam was available from 1971 to 1989. It had a whistle in 1972, and then again from 1980-1989.

Railsounds I early 90's (chuff, whistle, bell only) this was primarily just steam if memory serves me correctly) size: very crude (by today's standards) and included 2 PCB's; Audio & Amplifier;.

RailSounds 1 was first issued in steam loco tenders in late 1989. The diesel version came along in 1990, but was only available in boxcars or dummy units -- never in a powered locomotive. Functionality and sound variety are quite limited, compared with the sound systems of today. The photo shown above is a one-off used in the 6-18010 PRR Turbine, and not indicative of a typical board. A true RailSounds 1 board assembly looks like this:
IMG_7145

The 610-8007-110 amplifier board came along in late 1990, after complaints were received about the low volume of the original boards. An alternate amplifier board was also used in several Samhongsa-produced locomotives produced in Korea the early 1990's.

RailSounds 1 would be used through 1993. There are technically four different versions: O Gauge steam and diesel, and DC Large Scale steam and diesel.

Railsounds II (this was the really good stuff, Conrail SD60M, Rio Grande SD50, a couple steam sounds too. size: pretty big, but you can see the beginnings of the "fit" for the next iteration of sounds;

RailSounds II and RailSounds 2.0 (mentioned below) are the same thing, and were produced in 1994 and 1995. As far as I know, only six items had this unique "double wide" board:

1994: 6-18216 Conrail SD-60, 6-18034 Santa Fe Mikado. All the Conrail chips I've seen are unlabeled, but the Mikado PIC chip starts with RS23.

1995: 6-18219 C&NW Dash-8 40C, 6-18223 Milwaukee Road SD-40, 6-18040 N&W J and the 6-19820 RailSounds Tender. Most, if not all, of these chips are TMCC-compatible, even if the board itself is not. The numbers on the majority of these PIC chips start with RS25.

RailSounds 2 was NOT TMCC-compatible, although I've wondered if the functionality isn't buried in there somewhere. Note that systems with these boards are difficult to work on, as all connections are hardwired.

The Rio Grande SD-50 mentioned at the top is actually one of the very first locos to have RailSounds 2.5, not 2.0. And I agree with the "really good stuff" comment above: these sound sets are over 20 years old, and they still sound great. (Thanks, Rudy!)

Railsounds 2.0 First released in 1996 (NYC & SP GP-7's, Santa Fe F-3, N&W Warhorse J, etc.) (prime mover sounds, horn, bell, squealing brakes, idle sounds, coupler release sounds, though locos were not equipped with coil couplers at this point in time). Volume control from remote or pot. No crewtalk or towercom.


Railsounds 2.5 came in around 1998-1999 same as Railsounds 2.0, but included towercom and crewtalk. (same exact PCB, just different PIC & ROM).

RailSounds 2.5 is the first true TMCC-compatible RailSounds board. It's what can be found in the NYC & SP GP-7's, Santa Fe F-3, N&W Warhorse mentioned above, although the first uses were really the 6-18221 Rio Grande SD-50, 6-18042 Boston & Albany 4-6-4 and 6-18043 C&O Yellowbelly Hudson from late 1995. This board was produced until mid-1998, although some were used up through 2001 due to size issues, product delays and/or inventory surplus. The PIC chips in these mostly start with RS25, although RS27 versions were used at the very end. RS2.5 has both the amplifier as well as the audio board circuitry on board, which would soon be separated for RailSounds 3 and later. Note that the chips in these boards are fully compatible when placed in RailSounds 3 and RailSounds 4 systems.

While the first RS2.5 sound sets did not include CrewTalk or TowerCom, those features were introduced late in 1997 and continued onward from there. As far as I know, there aren't any outward identifiers to tell if a sound set has these features without powering them up.

Railsounds 3.0, this was identical, in terms of features to 2.5, but a siginficant redesign of the PCB's and the beginning of the modular revolution inside Lionel locos. The Audio and power board were separated and began to require a motherboard to make it all work together! You'll know these power boards when you see the big heat sink!

With the introduction of the modular boards came the introduction of a new board for the wireless tender; AD20A (modular);

 

RailSounds 3.0 was first issued in mid-1998. It was created for the 6-18314 Century Club GG-1, but was soon used elsewhere. Again, the chips found here are compatible in RailSounds systems between 2.5 and 4.0. RailSounds 3.0 only lasted about a year until mid-1999, but was used sporadically through 2001 due to surplus inventory. Like RS2.5, most of the PIC chips start with RS25, but some RS27 versions were used towards the end. To get technical, RS3.0 has a 12 volt circuit in addition to the standard 5 volts between the two boards. Therefore, a RS3.0 power supply board must be used with a RS3.0 audio board -- Lionel's "Universal" Power Board will NOT work.

The modular AD-20 board shown above (A for steam, B for diesel) is actually the second generation of the board. The AD-20 also has a non-modular form, and was paired with RailSounds 2.5 in late 1997 only.

Railsounds 4.0; Same feature set as 2.5 & 3.0, but the PCB's changed again. The RS 4.0 series of PCB's lasted the longest and are in the largest number of locos in circulation. A new Power board was created, more stable and did not require a heat sink. The audio board changed as well. 

Railsounds 4E stopped in for a while, this was simply an increase in the space in the PIC or ROM, where there was "extra sounds" added. The sound quality was the same as 4.0 there were just "more" sounds. So, 4E is a capacity change moreso than a hardware change.

RailSounds 4 was first introduced in late 1999, and was used through at least the late 2000's -- although the last years were mainly in OEM installations for other manufacturers. Functionality didn't change between 3.0 and 4.0, it's just that things became smaller and more efficient. Just like 2.5 and 3.0, those chips are fully compatible in a RailSounds 4 system.

There are a few variations to note, but all use the standard RS4.0 audio board:

Regular RailSounds 4.0 - as described above. Used 1999 to about 2003. Note that TowerCom was expanded from one message to two starting in 2000. PICs usually start with RS27.

RailSounds 4E - as a result of complaints of excess static and hissing in background sounds (artifacts of compiling the sounds to save chip space), RS4E uses chips with larger capacities, allowing a higher-quality sound with less background noise. Functionality didn't change, and I don't believe any extra sounds were added. RS4E was an unannounced upgrade, and was used starting in 2003 to the end of RailSounds 4 production. I'm not aware of any labeling differences between RS4 and RS4E, and the PICs usually still start with RS27.

Conventional RailSounds 4.0 - this was created in the early 2000's for use in starter sets. TMCC compatibility was removed and in its place was greater functionality for conventional users. The biggest change was that TowerCom could be triggered conventionally with a short push of a transformer's whistle or horn button. The PICs for these are labeled RS28. Conventional RS4.0 was only used a few years before being replaced by the TrainSounds sound system.

Note that some RS4 audio boards are incorrectly labeled RS3, but the part number is still correct: 691-PCB1-04C.

Lastly, the standard AD-20A modular board will still be found in RS4 tenders with wireless tethers.

RailSounds 5.0; more sound features and the elimination of the AD20A PCB in the tender for wireless IR Drawbars. The RS 5.0 audio board still required the same Railsounds Power board as 4.0 and 4E;

RailSounds 5.0 made its debut in the C&O and Union Pacific JLC 2-8-8-2's in late 2003, although RS4 would continue to be found in the line for another year or two. Functionality, features and sound quality improved across the board -- expanded TowerCom and CrewTalk dialogue, the ability to lower the volume of background sounds while keeping triggered sounds at full volume, etc.  A redesign of the RS5 audio board incorporated the functionality from the AD-20A board in steam loco tenders, allowing that board to be retired. As a result, the tender back-up light is now an LED instead of an incandescent bulb used with the AD-20A. The RS5 PIC chips start with RS50, and are NOT backwards compatible with older RailSounds boards. The RS4 power supply board, now renumbered and renamed the "Universal RailSounds Power Board", is still used and essentially unchanged from its RS4 configuration.

In addition to regular RS5.0, there's one variation called RailSounds 5-4. Because of the added expense of producing RS5 sound sets (much more dialogue to record and mix, etc.) it was determined to use the RailSounds 4 feature set in some lesser-cost locomotives. But because the RailSounds 5 board set was cheaper to produce than RS4 (due to eliminating the need for the AD-20A), the RS5-4 hybrid was created which basically placed RS4 functionality into the RS5 architecture, The PICs for this set-up are labeled RS54, and as far as I know, were only used in a handful of locomotives in 2004 and 2005. 

Beyond this point, my knowledge begins fading quickly, so I'll leave the rest without comment as Mikado would know that era better than I.

Railsounds 5.5; Allow me to introduce LEGACY. This is where the most significant processor and ROM size changes came into effect. (its like 4 times what was available in RS 5.0!). Still used the same RS Power board as 4.0, 4E, 5.0.

Railsounds 6 same as Railsounds 5.5 from a feature perspective, but the the PLCC chips are eliminated and the chips are soldered to the PCB's. Same RS power board as 4.0, 4E, 5.0, 5.5.

This is the end of the 24-pin female header and 24-pin male connector motherboards. From this point forward everything is interconnected with wires. 

Railsounds Lite; same sound features as RS 5.5 and 6.0, but a much smaller package. works in conjunction with RCMC's. 

There are 4 versions of RSL's to date; RSL1, RSL2, RSL3 and RSM (RSM is for conventional use only). 

Keep in mind that the history shown here is only for Command Controlled locomotives, it does not show the history or any boardsets of the sounds used in conventional only locos. 

Hope this clears up any confusion and gives you some insight into what is what, when it comes to the history of Lionel Railsounds.

Thanks,
Mike

Gunrunnerjohn pointed me to the above posting from another thread. I promised I'd correct and expound the RailSounds history, first posted by Mikado, based upon my own experiences.

You'll find my comments in italicized, boldfaced orange. The whole posting really should be rewritten eventually, but I thought it was important to get some of the facts straightened out first even if we're just talking mostly trivia at this point.

And finally, be sure to let me know if anything else from the RS1-RS5 era needs further clarification or correction.

TRW

Attachments

Images (1)
Last edited by PaperTRW
PaperTRW posted:
RailSounds 4E - as a result of complaints of excess static and hissing in background sounds (artifacts of compiling the sounds to save chip space), RS4E uses chips with larger capacities, allowing a higher-quality sound with less background noise. Functionality didn't change, and I don't believe any extra sounds were added. I'm not aware of any labeling differences between RS4 and RS4E, and the PICs usually still start with RS27.

I believe that at least one extra sound added by RailSounds 4E is an alternate TowerCom announcement telling the engineer to "hold for clearance." This is accessed by pressing AUX1 before pressing TowerCom.

Cheers!

Keith

In the NYC and SP GP9's, the sounds also included the uncoupling effect, but had manual couplers.  Apparently the electro coupler hadn't been fully developed yet and a separate kit was offered to equip the engine with electric couplers.  The LCRU even had the coupler inputs on the board...

Marty

Keith L posted:
PaperTRW posted:
RailSounds 4E - as a result of complaints of excess static and hissing in background sounds (artifacts of compiling the sounds to save chip space), RS4E uses chips with larger capacities, allowing a higher-quality sound with less background noise. Functionality didn't change, and I don't believe any extra sounds were added. I'm not aware of any labeling differences between RS4 and RS4E, and the PICs usually still start with RS27.

I believe that at least one extra sound added by RailSounds 4E is an alternate TowerCom announcement telling the engineer to "hold for clearance." This is accessed by pressing AUX1 before pressing TowerCom.

Cheers!

Keith

Keith,

The "two-part" TowerCom is a point worth mentioning, although it occurred earlier than RailSounds 4E. RS4E rolled-out in 2003, but the first two-part TowerCom message was in 2000.

I've updated my RS4 entry above to reflect this info as shown below.

PaperTRW posted:
Regular RailSounds 4.0 - as described above. Used 1999 to about 2003. Note that TowerCom was expanded from one message to two starting in 2000. PICs usually start with RS27.

Thanks-

TRW

Last edited by PaperTRW
Mikado posted:

The history of the Railsounds system rolls up like this.

Railsounds 4.0; Same feature set as 2.5 & 3.0, but the PCB's changed again. The RS 4.0 series of PCB's lasted the longest and are in the largest number of locos in circulation. A new Power board was created, more stable and did not require a heat sink. The audio board changed as well. 

Railsounds 4E stopped in for a while, this was simply an increase in the space in the PIC or ROM, where there was "extra sounds" added. The sound quality was the same as 4.0 there were just "more" sounds. So, 4E is a capacity change moreso than a hardware change.

Hope this clears up any confusion and gives you some insight into what is what, when it comes to the history of Lionel Railsounds.

Thanks,
Mike

So the K-Line FM Trainmaster (K2438-0857CC) I just bought has the above board inside. Looking closely at my board, it has printing on it that shows "RS3 Rev C Lionel Trains 691-PCB1-04C" That number led me to believe that I have Railsounds Three instead of RS4 as shown above.

IMG_0266

In actual use, AUX1-2 produces only a single (garbled) communication; similarly AUX1-7 Towercom produces only a single "Green Light" communication, albeit much clearer. So what do I have, 3 or 4?

George

Attachments

Images (1)

I had one of those early 1990 santafe geeps with command.  It had horn and bell only. I belive it stated on the box it was signal sounds. This is the engine that brought me back to lionel and this wonderfull hobby.

Mike, funny you should mention bob at electic train outlet. Thats my go to hobby shop and one day me and bob were talking as he was giving me a tour of his backroom shop. He also told me that story and said you just could not belive it. Small world we live in. 

gunrunnerjohn posted:

That is RailSounds 4, the boards all have RS3 on them.

Not quite.

It is a RailSounds 4 board incorrectly labeled RS3. 

But only the boards made at the two US vendors were mistakenly screened RS3. 

The boards from the two Chinese vendors are properly labeled RS4.

TRW

Add Reply

Post
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×