Audio Episode

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Jim Martin: Jim's radio broadcasting career includes both the private sector and the CBC, Canada's national network. During his many years on air he was a reporter, announcer, news director, talk show and news magazine host, and his favorite part, interviewer. For many years he was also the book review and video review editor for Canadian Railway Modeller. More recently he has been writing articles for Railroad Model Craftsman. He also enjoys presenting backdrop painting clinics to local groups and train shows.

Trevor Marshall: Trevor cut his teeth in radio at Standard Broadcast News, a national radio newswire service in Canada. The radio news writing style has served him well in his current profession as a freelance writer for clients in the transportation, life sciences, and government sectors. Trevor's articles for the hobby press have appeared in Model Railroad Planning, Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman and other publications and he regularly presents model and prototype railway clinics on a variety of topics. He finds everything about the hobby interesting, but is particularly interested in the process that goes into a well-thought-out, prototype-based layout.

Chris Abbott is our Technical Director. Jim and Trevor would still be talking to each other without his help.

Otto Vondrak is our Creative Director. That awesome badge and banner on the site? That's his doing.

David Woodhead is our Music Director. If you find yourself humming our theme song, well - you're not alone. Jim and Trevor have had it stuck in their heads for weeks now. Well done, David!

Sound and movement

The Model Railway Show

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In this episode…


Jim Wells, owner, Fantasonics Engineering.

Fritz Milhaupt, member of the Operations Road Show.



The magic of sound


Increasingly, our locomotives come sound-equipped – so what are they doing rolling through scenes so quiet you could hear a pin drop? Scenic sound is often overlooked, or poorly executed, which is a shame because it can add so much to the enjoyment of our layouts.


Looking to give your layout a voice of its own? Why not get in touch with Jim Wells?


Jim scratch-builds sounds for layouts – big and small – through his company, Fantasonics Engineering. He also offers several off-the-shelf scenic sounds via his web site and it’s worth giving his sound samples a listen. He joins Jim to explain why scratch building sounds at his workbench is superior to recording actual sounds… why low volumes work best… and how he worked with Pricom Design to develop the Scale Magic Dream Player.


Jim has developed a couple of free sounds for listeners of The Model Railway Show to try out. To get the most out of the sounds, follow Jim’s instructions:


1. Download the day audio file and night audio file, and load them into any player that has a headphone/line level audio output.
2. Wire tiny speakers as shown in this wiring diagram.
3. The soundtracks were built on High Bass speakers, such as the QSI models available through Tony’s Trains. I recommend the HB90S, HB106R or HB110S mounted in the appropriate enclosures.
4. Do NOT use any speaker larger than these, but almost any teenie tiny speaker in almost any enclosure should be swell
5. Keep the speakers close together (this isn’t stereo), and keep the volume low.
6. Plug the speakers into the player and hit ‘play’
7. Stand back and ‘see’ where the various critters and birds appear
8. Have fun!


Have a question about this? Contact Jim at Fantasonics for answers.



The Operations Road Show


Time Table and Train Order (TT&TO) operation is quickly growing in popularity among serious operations enthusiasts. But learning about this classic form of operation isn’t always easy – especially since it’s best learned by apprenticing with someone who understands it, on a layout that’s built to support it.


So a tip of the conductor’s hat to the members of the Operations Road Show. This group in Michigan has built a large layout designed from the start as a tool for teaching TT&TO operations, and invites convention goers and other interested individuals to join in the fun.


As group member Fritz Milhaupt tells Trevor, the idea grew out of a conversation with an official from the Operations Special Interest Group, and the group’s Wabash-themed layout made its debut at the NMRA National in Toronto in 2003. Since then, it’s been featured at a number of national conventions, and is scheduled to appear at this summer’s NMRA National – Grand Rails 2012 – in Michigan. (The group has announced it is committed to holding a dozen three-hour operating clinics during the convention!)


Fritz also offers advice to other groups that might consider taking on such a project of their own.