My function solution
As a wrapup to my posts on sound decoders and function remapping, let me tell you the solution I have arrived at. First, my kudos to David and the rest of you who are trying to adjust similar functions so they coexist and also those who are remapping functions. I also applaud those who use the same types of decoders in locomotives to be used in a consist–that greatly simplifies the task of dealing with mismatches of function. So here’s my solution to these problems.
Since most of the folks in my area who make the monthly rounds of operating sessions bring along their own Digitrax utility throttles I have to take that into consideration. These throttles have access to all the functions from F0-F12, however for those above F6 you have to hold down the Shift button to get to them. This is a real limitation because it is difficult to press the Shift and press another button simultaneously while also running a train, uncoupling cars, and manipulating a set of car cards. Consequently I wanted to have the most commonly used functions mapped to F0-F6. So here is my lineup.
First, I made up a table listing the default function assignments for the five brands of sound decoders I own. That way I was able to quickly pick out which ones I would leave in their default positions and which needed to be remapped. It also made it easier to decide on a common set of functions. I left functions F0-F2 on their default settings since these are essentially standard for all decoders and throttles. I then assigned the grade crossing signal to F3, which seemed to be a natural location next to the horn/whistle at F2.
F4 can have a number of different functions depending on the decoder brand so I assigned it to the switching mode. F5 is often set for the dynamic brake on diesels and blow down on steam so that’s what I set if for in my scheme, for all but Digitrax which can’t easily be changed. The big function left was the brake function which varies greatly among decoders so I moved it to F6. Although I don’t expect it to be used often I moved the headlight dimming function to F7 and left F8 as the mute. F9 and F10 were assigned the notch up and down function on diesels and left open on steam. Since that covered all the functions I wanted, I left the rest alone.
Where possible I used the automatic functions to activate brake squeal and to use Rule17 lighting as supported. I did not activate the automatic bell and whistle when the locomotive direction is changed but I do have the bell set to ring when the grade crossing signal is used. I make all these changes when I install a new decoder or purchase a new locomotive. Like some of you I use car cards, including a locomotive card that has a list of the function assignments on it. That way operators have that information available when they receive a train assignment.
Making these decisions only took a few minutes but making the programming changes was a bit more protracted. However, DecoderPro speeds the process with its point and click interface. Having the major sound functions assigned to the same buttons on all my locomotives (except the one Digitrax decoder in my ALCO RS1) makes it easier to actually use the sounds prototypically. It also alleviates the frustration of not knowing which button to press when you want something to happen and makes cheat sheets a thing of the past.
Fortunately most of my sound decoders are WOWSound and Soundtraxx which makes my job easier. I only have 2 LokSound decoders and one Digitrax. On the BLI side I have 2 diesel switchers and 3 steamers so that won’t be too bad either. I have been working more with the LokSound decoders and I agree with those who have said they are confusing to remap using DecoderPro. I am putting together information on the LokSound sound slots and will have more to say on that later. I will say they are making an attempt to standardize them among sound projects. I am planning an article for my DCC Corner column on programming LokSound decoders using both DecoderPro and the LokProgrammer so I can’t go too far without running afoul of my agreement to publish new material there first.
The LokSound decoders are different in more ways than one. For example there is no grade crossing horn sequence so I am just substituting a short horn on F3. And you cannot simply remap sound button assignments with a Digitrax sound decoder–you have to go into the sound project and modify it internally. So that one decoder probably will not get modified anytime soon. You have to be flexible when trying to standardize a whole fleet of locos with dissimilar decoders because of these differences. Sometimes that’s the best you can do. Plus the sounds that are most important to me may not be the same for you. Give this process a try and see if it works for you.