With projects starting to move again at the factories in China the question of what to do about decoders in the three or four projects that will require sound over the next twelve months has been exercising the minds of the staff in the sound section here at the Eureka offices recently.
Normally, this would not be problem as QSI would be the automatic choice as decoder manufacturer following the successful use of QSI decoders in the first seven sound equipped models released by Eureka Models. However, it appears that QSI no longer supplys DCC decoders to OEMs in the model train industry. Eureka is trying to have this confirmed at the moment but given that QSI is likely to not be available, consideration is being given to alternative manufacturers.
The projects coming up that will require sound include steam engines, a diesel and rail motors so consideration will have to be given to the physical location of the decoders. It may be possible in the case of the diesel for example to utilise an existing commercially available decoder which fits in the existing diesel body without the need for tooling changes and consequent cost savings.
The decoders used in the first seven Eureka projects all used an eight pin connector. If this is to be continued there are two manufacturers who produce commercially available decoders and who have good market acceptance:
These two are:
a. ESU (Loksound5).
A third option involving the use of a 21 pin connector is
c. Soundtraxx Econami ECO-PNP This involves a replacement PCB with inbuilt decoder. This board
for example will fit in the footprint available in the 40 class chassis for the current PCB. The Econami
ECO-PNP for diesels includes inbuilt sound files for an Alco 244 engine and
Nathan horns, so would not require the provision of new sound files which would be required by the other two manufacturers.
Each of the above have their advantages and disadvantages both from the supply point of view and the fitting/manufacture point of view with associated cost impacts. Another consideration involves the country of manufacturer. China is a heavily protected economy and getting decoders made outside China into that country can at times be quite challenging (see post on Kadee couplers) so any of the above decoders manufactured has an advantage.
The sound department of Eureka Models is currently examining each of the contenders and is expected to make a recommendation shortly.