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Model Railroading > ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good


Date: 02/27/24 00:21
ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

This is Part 2 of a series on creating Weld Warpage on the Scale Trains’ BNSF 72’ Frostline Reefer.
(Part 1 was posted earlier.)
 
Hard to believe I’m actually holding an RTR BNSF Frostline Reefer in my hand!  :-0
 
Looks Good
I had high expectations for this model, and ScaleTrains did not disappoint.  Lots of separately applied details.  The lettering is accurate and crisp.  The underbody plumbing and brake rods are awesome.  The curved composite roof has tiny nut-washer detail around its perimeter.  Having seen my share of the prototype, I can tell that ScaleTrains got it right.  There’s so much to like, and not much to nick-pick, but I’ll do my best…   :-D
 
Sounds Like a Winner
When a reefer model on a layout does a roll-by, and there is a faint sound of the reefer unit running, it brings a HUGE smile to my face.  I resolved to have sound on any reefer run in a consist. 
 
The sound track ST used indicates a load of vegetables, or another non-frozen load.  A frozen load generally has the engine running constantly, which would not sound as interesting as the one ST uses. 
 
The sound track begins with the reefer starting-up and going into idle.  Then 2 minutes later (presumably after the engine has had a chance to warm-up), the RPMs suddenly increase under load, runs for 4-7 minutes, then completely off for about 1-5 minutes, then it cycles again.  The warm-up period is most likely prototypical, since BNSF can program the reefer units to run with various cycles.  (Though I have not personally witnessed this specific cycle before.)  With all the emphasis on saving fuel, and the availability of microprocessor-driven controls, it is more likely only the initial start-up would have a warm-up period.  After initially starting a cold engine and cycling it once, it should be warm enough to immediately put under-load with high-RPMs on the 2nd cycle.  If the outside temps are really cold, the on-board temperature sensor will detect if the engine requires a warm-up period.  However, being shut-down for several minutes will generally not be enough time to have the engine cool-down all that much.  The cycles I have seen will bypass a warm-up and immediately rev the RPMs to put a load on the engine.
 
Out of Uniform
One possible issue is having all of the reefers programmed to run the same pattern.  Assuming all reefers are set to start when power is applied, they would ALL have the exact same pattern.  (Ewwww, not good!)  If the recordings were a simple loop, they would be exactly the same for all reefer units; over and over again.  The reefers’ sound track will change (ramp-up RPMs, shutdown, etc.) one after the other in sequence; exactly the same for all reefers all the time.  (NOT prototypical.)  Fortunately, ST anticipated this.  I timed the transitions for several cycles on the ST model and they are (thankfully) NOT exactly the same. 
 
Here is a comparison of the 1st 2 cycles of my 4 reefers:
 
 BNSF       BNSF       BNSF       BNSF
793373    793271    793284    793336     Cycle Phase
---------   ----------  ---------   ---------   ----------------
   2 min      2 min      2 min      2 min     Start-up (warm-up)
   7 min      6 min      4 min      4 min     Ramp-up RPM (under load)
   5 min      4 min      4 min      3 min     Shut-down (quiet period)
 
   2 min      2 min      2 min      2 min     Start-up (warm-up)
   6 min      7 min      5 min      6 min     Ramp-up RPM (under load)
   1 min      4 min      5 min      4 min     Shut-down (quiet period)
 
I only show 2 cycles in the preceding chart, but I did record the patterns for at least 3 more cycles.  After recording 5 cycles I stopped, since I was satisfied they were different enough to appear random when running simultaneously. 
 
If power is turned OFF, I was expecting the pattern to repeat when it restarts.  However, though the pattern is similar to the previous run, it does NOT repeat exactly.  (Perhaps the micro-processor uses a random number generator?)  Because they are slightly different, they will cycle differently.  EXCELLENT!!  This is very prototypical.  It takes a bit of work to design the software driving the hardware, so props to ST for the attention to detail.  It would be easier for them to make just one cycle and call it good.  However, ST went the extra mile to make the run under load vary, AND the silent period between runs vary.  NICE!
 
Quite Car
There are 6 preset volume levels.  The default is Level 4, with Level 1 being the lowest level.  There is a recessed button on the underside of the model that is pressed to adjust the volume.  Pressing it will increase the volume one Level.  After reaching Level 6, it cycles-back to Level 1.  The Level 4 default is easily heard by the customer.  (This prevents customers contacting Tech Support claiming their sound unit is defective, when in fact the volume is too low for them to hear it.)   At this level, even with background noise (such as talking to someone or a game playing on TV), the sound is easily heard.  (Level 6 will start to compete with your locomotives for attention!)
 
I found that Level 1 setting was loud enough for my liking, especially if there is a string of several reefers.  Standing trackside, when the prototype was more than about 200’ away, I couldn’t hear the sound of the reefer units.  Of course, the reefer sound was competing with all the usual rumble of “track noise”.  Level 1 seemed to match my trackside experience.  Level 6 was loud enough that my next-door neighbor would hear it!  (But, if letting your next-door neighbor know you have a new ST BNSF Frostline Reefer is important, have at it.)
 
Pump-Up the Volume
I set the volume to its lowest setting and let it run for a while.  But each time the sound track is ramping-down the RPM (to shut-down the engine prior to the quiet period), the sound module decided to bump the volume to the Level 4 volume, all on its own.  The next time it cycled, the volume was still at that same default (Level 4).  This means I need to lift the car off of the track to access the volume button, reset it, then place it back on the track.  If there are a dozen cars in a string, and they all decide to get louder, that is an issue.  I thought it might be just an anomaly, but I reset it (4 times in a row) and it reoccurred again each time.  Does this just happen to be a bad unit?  Nope.  All 4 of the models I have do the same thing.  There’s definitely something wrong with the firmware that controls the recordings. 
 
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I have had issues with the sound module in an ST product.  Their JB Hunt 53’ reefer containers with sound were problematic.  Though ST replaced it (Thank You ST!), the replacement had the same issues.  Now, I only order their reefer containers without sound, and will install my own DIY version sound module.
https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?3,5602255,5602255#msg-5602255
 
The ST sound module is turned ON (and OFF) by placing 3 fingers on top of the roof, above the doors.  There is a proximity switch (underneath the roof) that senses your fingers, and toggles the power.  In order to access the volume button on the underside, it is pretty standard to grab the car in the middle of the roof (above the doors) and flip the car over.   However, my palm will most likely be picked-up by the proximity switch and be interpreted as a desire to turn OFF the sound module.  This is problematic since the volume needs to be adjusted with the sound module running.  That could be remedied by grabbing the car off-center, but the sound module bumping-up the volume (all on its own) is very disappointing (for me).  Alas, I plan to replace the sound modules on the BNSF Reefers (as was necessary for their reefer containers).  Your mileage may vary.
 
Power Hungry
There are some on-board capacitors that store track power.  Just like a Keep Alive system, it will provide about 10 seconds of power which should be enough time for the car to pass over areas with poor electrical pickup.  When the sound is quiet (but power is ON) it draws about 10ma (MilliAmps).  When driving the speaker with sound, the louder the volume, the more power it will draw.  Here is a comparison of power consumed when playing the loudest (high-RPM under-load) sound track:
 
Volume     Power
  Level        Draw
----------   ---------
   1              23ma
   2              41ma
   3              64ma
   4              97ma
   5             125ma
   6             134ma
 
This doesn’t sound like much, but if there are a dozen reefers, at a high volume level, all pulling power, that is well over an Amp.  (Pushing towards 2 Amps!)  If the locomotives have sound too, then it could start to push the limit of the DCC power source.  (I assume the same would be true of DC as well.)
 
I did run it all day, just to listen to the cool sound of the reefer cycling.  I noticed that the sides of the car did get warm.  They weren’t hot, but definitely warm.  This implies the voltage regulator is one of the older type that merely takes the voltage above 5V and turns it to waste heat.  This is not very efficient, but is cost effective.  I suspect the power consumption would go way down with one of the nifty voltage regulators I tested in an earlier post.
https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?3,5746851,5746853#msg-5746853
I will use one of those for my DIY sound module, which should significantly reduce the amount of power-draw.
 
Speakers
Sound quality is very subjective.  The stock speaker seems fine.  It is mounted to an enclosure, to maximize output.  Since I like the sound to be subtle, I don’t require a speaker with the capability of a locomotive sound (lots of bass) install.  There are no openings in the reefer’s shell, so the sound is a bit “trapped” inside the shell.  This can produce a sound that has excessive echo or is muffled. 
 
While the sound was running, I pressed my fingers on both sides of the car shell.  This dampened the shell, which significantly reduced a high-pitched vibration that was degrading the sound quality.  There is a thick butyl rubber “tape” used to create a weather strip between a camper shell and the pickup truck bed.   
https://www.amazon.com/XFasten-8-Inch-30-Foot-Sealing-Patching/dp/B06WLQ3WLS/ref=sr_1_5?crid=1VIJAUT64241Q&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.A7lCGVR3163z33-t5vPB_rWnAwH2US3qMUDk-ypa65_YiMsxzmuWAcWTOdincC35WG7HyyhLs9pOnNE_czmEaOGi4oLAjrSrtcI-9GSrfw5q26_j3vZ46raBkiIKFK09XBPbtt9ci3ComH01BhKyR1pi6hFFEq98__b-JNO_nJ8u3BJnau6JDO6O9QakB0vT92tzlF3nyBi4xI0VEQb3aUY0fA3jZAUxN6l3k_fU5HU.qNSYaInhvV5-2vi6tO5bpS2WyjhcWTIsspbMfKgk9P8&dib_tag=se&keywords=butyl%2Btape&qid=1709019612&sprefix=butyl%2B%2Caps%2C199&sr=8-5&th=1
 
Small sections applied to the interior of the shell will provide similar dampening.  This material is very dense and will add weight to the car.  The metal car weight can be removed to compensate.
 
On an earlier modification of an ExactRail 64’ Reefer, I created an opening in the wall immediately behind the HVAC reefer unit.  Then the bottom of the HVAC unit was removed.  The wall immediately behind the opening was painted black, so make it look like the bottom of the HVAC unit was still there.  (Against an unpainted white wall, it was obvious the bottom was missing.)  This was a step in the right direction.  When openings were cut in the floor of the A-End, that is when the sound was able to really escape.  The floor openings were much larger than those in the HVAC unit, and much easier than modifying the wall and HVAC unit.
 
From that experience, I will create openings in the floor of the A-End of the BNSF Reefers.  The theory is that this will help the sound “escape” and have it appear to be coming from the Carrier HVAC unit.
 
Dave

 



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/24 00:31 by tmotor.

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Date: 02/27/24 05:21
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: 494

tmotor Wrote:
----------------------------------
>  
> Power Hungry
> There are some on-board capacitors that store
> track power.  Just like a Keep Alive system, it
>
> power, that is well over an Amp.  (Pushing
> towards 2 Amps!)  If the locomotives have sound
> too, then it could start to push the limit of the
> DCC power source.  (I assume the same would be
> true of DC as well.)
>  
>
Hey Dave I can answer that because I ran these on a small home DC layout last week. When the locomotive entered the block with the reefer operating, it drew enough power that the reefer turned off all together...not sufficient power to operate both. This was disappointing but they do look great.
Thanks for the explanation about the "waste heat" as I noticed the warmth as well.

Posted from Android



Date: 02/27/24 06:55
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: samusi01

Interesting. I have been contemplating the acquisition of one or two when they show up in N scale. As others have noted, thanks for the heat explanation. I have some Athearn reefers with sound and they are mostly not run due to the amount of heat they put out. I'll have to investigate the regulaters you mentioned.



Date: 02/27/24 08:26
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tomstp

Oh my gosh.  What's next, a commode dumping from a passenger car????



Date: 02/27/24 11:49
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings 494 !

> Hey Dave I can answer that because I ran these on
> a small home DC layout last week. When the
> locomotive entered the block with the reefer
> operating, it drew enough power that the reefer
> turned off all together...not sufficient power to
> operate both. This was disappointing but they do
> look great.
I was afraid of that.  :-0
Thanks for confirming.
The only option is to reduce the volume to draw less power, or have fewer Reefers running with their sound ON.


> Thanks for the explanation about the "waste heat"
> as I noticed the warmth as well.
After having a look inside, I was surprised to NOT see one of the Old School voltage regulators.  There are only SMD (Surface Mount Device) components, but one of them definitely puts out a lot of heat.

Take care and God bless!
Dave




Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/24 11:52 by tmotor.



Date: 02/27/24 12:07
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings samusi01 !

> Interesting. I have been contemplating the
> acquisition of one or two when they show up in N
> scale. As others have noted, thanks for the heat
> explanation. I have some Athearn reefers with
> sound and they are mostly not run due to the
> amount of heat they put out. I'll have to
> investigate the regulaters you mentioned.

In theory, if that efficient voltage regulator is installed between the output from the trucks, and input to their board, then their on-board voltage regulator won't have much to do and will stay cool.

Take care and God bless!
Dave



Date: 02/27/24 12:10
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings tomstp !

> Oh my gosh.  What's next, a commode dumping from
> a passenger car????
LOL!
If a recording can be made, it can be loaded and played-back.  :-D

Take care and God bless!
Dave



Date: 02/27/24 14:29
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: sixaxlecentury

We get frozen frnech fries (the cars are set to -5), and they definatly do not run continuously.  Maybe about 15-20 minutes an hour tops.  They also do not have a warm up or whatever.  They beep for a second and startup and run.  No change in engine speed from startup.  



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/24 14:30 by sixaxlecentury.



Date: 02/27/24 14:46
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: wabash2800

Not on my layout...LOL
Victor Baird

tomstp Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Oh my gosh.  What's next, a commode dumping from
> a passenger car????

Posted from Android



Date: 02/27/24 14:57
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: PHall

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Not on my layout...LOL
> Victor Baird
>

Just takes a few swipes of a fine tipped brush with some brown paint with a few white flecks along the tracks.


> tomstp Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Oh my gosh.  What's next, a commode dumping
> from
> > a passenger car????
>
> Posted from Android



Date: 02/27/24 16:49
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: CSX2605

Love the reefers! Going to sound great when you get done.
Here is one with a load of potatoes at the farm. Notice the alarm before startup. Edited video but the warm up time is about 2 minutes then speeds up and cools the trailer temp back down and shuts off. I didn't record the shutdown. We didn't want the load very cold as these were for potato chips and would be unloaded the next day. Keep the temp & humidity down. It was a hot July day.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/24 16:53 by CSX2605.

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Date: 02/27/24 17:10
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: gandydancer4

Ya know, If you would have told me about ALL the crazy electronic noise making, 3D printing, detail crazy models we would have today 40 years ago, I would have thought you were out of your mind. Despite all the problems that can and do go wrong, I STILL LOVE IT ALL!! 



Date: 02/27/24 21:14
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings sixaxlecentury !

> We get frozen frnech fries (the cars are set to
> -5), and they definatly do not run continuously. 
> Maybe about 15-20 minutes an hour tops.  They
> also do not have a warm up or whatever. 
Good to know.  I stand corrected.
Are these BNSF Reefers, or the Lineage/Cryotrans Reefers?

The HVAC unit can be programmed to whatever the customer specifies on the Bill Of Lading (BOL) as the temperature profile.
Better insulation allows the engines to work less.
Here's a video I posted 9 years ago on different reefer cycles:

     youtube.com/watch?v=dtrVkyzGYCY&t=33s
(Need to cut-n-paste it into your browser)


> They
> beep for a second and startup and run.  No change
> in engine speed from startup.  
I have heard that buzzer on semi-trailers.  I didn't know if the railroads disabled it on their reefers, or if it was mandated.  Seems like a good idea in case someone has their hands near any moving parts.

Take care and God bless!
Dave

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/24 21:25 by tmotor.



Date: 02/28/24 02:37
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings CSX2605!

> Love the reefers! 
Agreed!
They are very well done.  :-D


> Going to sound great when you
> get done.
> Here is one with a load of potatoes at the farm.
> Notice the alarm before startup. Edited video but
> the warm up time is about 2 minutes then speeds up
> and cools the trailer temp back down and shuts
> off. I didn't record the shutdown. We didn't want
> the load very cold as these were for potato chips
> and would be unloaded the next day. Keep the temp
> & humidity down. It was a hot July day.
Thanks for posting that video!
The warning alarm (prior to start-up) is what I'm used to seeing with these reefer units.
If one wants to be strictly prototypical, the buzzer sound should match the make and model of the prototype.  This video sound track would work for the Late Thermo King HVAC units.

Take care and God bless!
Dave

 



Date: 02/28/24 02:40
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings gandydancer4 !

> Ya know, If you would have told me about ALL the
> crazy electronic noise making, 3D printing, detail
> crazy models we would have today 40 years ago, I
> would have thought you were out of your mind.
Agreed!
To be able to have an RTR model come this close to the prototype is pretty AMAZING!


> Despite all the problems that can and do go wrong,
> I STILL LOVE IT ALL!! 
It is indeed a GREAT time to be in this hobby!

Take care and God bless!
Dave




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/28/24 02:43 by tmotor.



Date: 02/28/24 07:42
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: PasadenaSub

They still might be Linear voltage regulators that consume a lot of power - even in an SMD package (such as 7805 +5V regulator in an SO-8, DPAK or SOT-89 package).  If an inductor (coil) is seen near the voltage regulator, this would suggest the circuitry of a more efficient Switching power supply chip (probably Buck or Boost type), which doesn't constantly give off heat, but is rather load dependent.  Can the markings on the voltage regulator chip be read?

tmotor Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> After having a look inside, I was surprised to NOT
> see one of the Old School voltage regulators. 
> There are only SMD (Surface Mount Device)
> components, but one of them definitely puts out a
> lot of heat.
>
> Take care and God bless!
> Dave



Date: 02/28/24 16:17
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings PasadenaSub !

> They still might be Linear voltage regulators that
> consume a lot of power - even in an SMD package
> (such as 7805 +5V regulator in an SO-8, DPAK or
> SOT-89 package).  If an inductor (coil) is seen
> near the voltage regulator, this would suggest the
> circuitry of a more efficient Switching power
> supply chip (probably Buck or Boost type), which
> doesn't constantly give off heat, but is rather
> load dependent. 
I do think there is an inductor in the circuit. 
The only part number on it is "6R8", but a search for it did produce hits for some inductors.


>Can the markings on the voltage
> regulator chip be read?
Yes, attached are some closes-ups. 
I tried to identify them based on the part numbers.

I also used a thermal gun to take temperature readings. 
The odd thing is the component with the highest temp is the Flash Memory.  :-0

Could that be causing all the heat?

Take care and God bless!
Dave




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/28/24 16:22 by tmotor.








Date: 02/28/24 18:20
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: PasadenaSub

Thanks, Dave for the pictures.  Yes, the 6R8 component is a 6.8uH inductor, and U4 is probably a switching regulator.  So without seeing a schematic, I'd say it looks like they have an efficient voltage regulator circuit.

Rich



Date: 02/28/24 19:29
Re: ST BNSF Frostline Reefer (WARP 2) – Sounds Good
Author: tmotor

Greetings Rich!

> Thanks, Dave for the pictures.  Yes, the 6R8
> component is a 6.8uH inductor, and U4 is probably
> a switching regulator.  So without seeing a
> schematic, I'd say it looks like they have an
> efficient voltage regulator circuit.
OK, thanks for lending us the benefit of your professional experience.
So, even if I installed an efficient power Voltage Regulator (in series with the ST circuit), it would still produce lots of heat.  Yikes!
It makes sense that ST would want to have an efficient Voltage Regulator Circuit.  Now that I look at it, the efficient Voltage Regulator (that I posted about earlier) seems to have a similar circuit design to the ST circuit.
What amazes me is the amount of heat the Flash Memory kicks-out.  :-0
This helps me know my desire to swap-out their Sound Board is worth the effort.

Take care and God bless!
Dave


 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/29/24 06:43 by tmotor.



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