For the Canyon Road diorama, I am trying to re-create the feel of train watching at this location. Part of that is the sights of the wood bridge and the Niagara Escarpment in the background. I think, I am making good progress in re-creating the feel of these aspects. One thing that I had not thought about was the sounds, the track is wired, so I can connect it to power/DCC to light the locomotive and get loco sounds, but what about other sounds? Background sounds as part of the scenery is something I have seen done on a layout scale, and which I am interested in down the road for Liberty Village, but what sound dominates this scene? Well, to be honest, when you are standing there taking pictures, the most dominant sound other than the train, is the crossing gates electronic bell.
I was killing time browsing the internet a couple of weeks ago looking at train stuff and model parts, and I was on the Iowa Scaled Engineering website drooling over Protothrottles, when I noticed a new-ish product, the Soundbyte. A small, integrated circuit with a speaker and enclosure, with pre-recorded bell sounds. It has options for a generic bell, and 7 real world recordings. One of the real world recordings is a Western-Cullen-Hayes 777 Electronic Bell, which is the bell at many crossings in Ontario, and certainly sounds like the one at Canyon Road when I listen to my videos.
The Iowa Scaled Engineering soundByte. In its package, out of the package, and wired up to a 9 volt battery and switch.
The Soundbyte runs on 5 to 24 volts, so it can be connected to a variety of power supplies. In my case, for a portable diorama, a 9volt battery is the simplest solution. It was a simple five minute project to wire up the battery clip and switch. Red to positive, black to negative, and white with the switch to negative as well. With this done, the Soundbyte has a small volume control, to adjust the sound from quite loud, to rather soft. I have set it fairly soft for in the house, but once I figure out how to install it into the diorama, I can adjust it further. I am thinking, at this point, I will hollow out the underside of the foam hill the bridge lands at, and create a little cavern in the back to mount it into where it won’t be seen. I have to figure out the best way to do this, but I’m sure that will come to me in time.
Video of the Soundbyte. Sounds like you’re at a crossing gate.
Iowa Scaled Engineering currently also offers a Cicada Soundbyte, which is not a sound I want on Liberty Village. That said, these are a nice option if they could be programmed with generic city noises. Car horns, traffic, factory sounds, etc. At some point I will have to reach out to them to see if they have interest in expanding the line to other ambient sounds that model railroaders may be interested in.