DIY Sound Controller

sp005 Feb 14, 2021

  1. sp005

    sp005 TrainBoard Member

    I run a smaller 3 zone DC layout with a number of older engines so I never felt compelled to incur the cost to upgrade to DCC. The one thing I know my decision impacts is the ability to have sound cleanly integrated. In recent weeks I have looked into some of the older solutions like the MRC Soundmaster. None of those solutions really met what I was looking for or seemed dated and very limited.

    In the end I decided to build my own sound controller. My box has 11 triggerable sound groups. Right now the announcement button plays 1 of 3 random station announcements, the horn and whistle buttons cycle through a number of different sounds. Completely downloadable via USB in case I want to change the sounds later. I may incorporate some switches in my layout to trigger automatically based on train location, although right now I am okay with my push button approach. The push button approach I actually like a lot and it is very interactive for my kids. All of this is powered through a micro USB connector. I have two speakers built into the case which is of my own design and printed using my printer.

    I am still playing around with the final sound package. Once that is finalized I expect to reprint the labels using black on clear tape. I hope you like it.

    Attached Files:

  2. rray

    rray Staff Member

    Very nice project. I did similar with an Arduino Nano and a Dfplayer mini module. Instead of buttons, I made mine run an automated routine. Keep up the great ideas!
  3. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Supporter

    would you be willing to go a lot more in depth on how you built this?

    I'm working on a small DC layout and would love to build some type of sound system but I'm pretty much illiterate when it comes to electronics.
  4. craftech

    craftech TrainBoard Member

    I would second that. Can you tell us what is in it?

  5. sp005

    sp005 TrainBoard Member

    I started down the path of using an Arduino. As I started looking into mp3 modules to interact with I found that Adafruit had a small sound board board that did everything I needed both better and cleaner than I would have done. I don't know if direct linking is allowed so I'll tell you just to search the Adafruit 2217.

    It does 16 MB of sound either.wav or .ogg. Depending on how you name the files tells it to play on trigger, play within a group, latch the sound looping until you press again. I was very impressed and normally would have been turned off at $30, but the time saved has been great. And as a one-off it is definitely worth it. The time I saved let me focus on designing and printing the custom case while I waited for the parts to arrive. Parts where simply buttons, and jumper wire. This little board did everything else.
  6. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    I like this approach. I was going to move my control box into the realm of sound next, I wanted my Pi to loop some random ambient city/ station sounds. To me that is more impressive than hearing the locos. I am also considering built in sound for my tram layout as well. Those could be triggered by the controller board. Something like an announcement just before the tram starts moving saying "next stop 4th ave" But set it up so that it only says it every now and then, not every time. The tram doesn't take that long to make a loop around the layout.

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