More on adding sound to your railroad

Quite a few questions came in on the last post, about adding sound to your railroad.

The link to buy them?

Kim has kindly given me a better picture, and Barry has also stepped in.

“Hi.Better picture of the sound can see the replacement switch.” — Kim


I read from your latest video that one of your followers users some sort of recording device to trigger his diesel horns.

These pictures are of ones that I used to use to do that same thing. I only have 2 left that I could find. One is intact the other I opened up to show the insides of it. The device has a latching circuit built in so when you push the button to play and release it will continue to play whatever you’ve recorded for up to 20 seconds.

I simply wired in place of the momentary pushbutton switch a magnetic reed switch also shown in the picture. Then I would mount the device with the reed switch near the track and mount a magnet in or under a railroad car to trigger the reed switch. I show a round magnet but I generally used decoupling magnets. It works very well. I have checked to see if Radio Shack still carries the and they don’t.


Click here to get the sound cards on the ebay cheat sheet!

22 Responses to More on adding sound to your railroad

  1. Mike Street says:

    Thanks for info Barry, for UK readers Amazon UK have a ‘Sound Module Card’ listed at £3.49 (Freepost) No1GS with a 10 sec record.

  2. Frank Robba says:

    It’s a great idea and I aim to try it myself
    Well done!

  3. Guy Thompson says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow.

    Now, I wonder if these can’t be mounted in a loco/carriage/wagon, and triggered by a magnet on the layout – surely if they can make the now-(in)famous key ring video camera they can make a small recorder/replayer!!

    I, for one, am going to check that out! Watch this space, as they say…


  4. John Fuller says:

    Small digital pocket stereo recorders are available from many stores such as Radio Shack. These recorders will store up to 120 hours of audio on several designated files. Each one can be played back on its own. You can then put what you record onto another media such as a computer and use them at will for whatever purpose needed. These devices are now sold for less than $30.00. They have a stereo output jack for headphones and often have a microphone input for better quality.
    They are very sensitive and can obtain sound from quite a distance and when played back on a proper system sound extremely lifelike.

  5. Barry Palmer says:

    The reason this works so well is that these talking modules have a latching relay circuit built into them so when you push the momentary push-button switch it continues on its’ own. Then I replace the push-button switch with a reed switch using the normally open contacts. You have to position the reed switch so the magnet pulls the contacts together. Practice with it before you mount the reed switch permanently. I never did but a person might also use an old DC power supply rather than batteries.

  6. Ian Price says:

    Hi – good cheap idea. Listed on £2.99 inc p/p.

  7. paul starr says:

    Any ideas that save money,got to be a great.

  8. Bob de grouch. says:

    Just in case info here. Circuitron makes a diesel horn ckt. Usually have a steam ckt. too, but presently not making it. Probably a little pricier, but runs off of a regular mdl. train power pack, rather than batteries. I think I’m going to try one of them. I would suggest going to their website
    and read the description in their catalog. It’s pretty versatile.

  9. TimC says:

    I guess this means no more yelling Woo-Woo, as the train goes by……

  10. Paul Otway says:


  11. I believe that all train mfgs are losing the market selling all scales,

    G – Z without sound. Many train companys are charging two

    different prices. the one w/sound cost aprox. $ 80.00 to $100

    more than the trains without sound.

    The solution is simple: equipt all trains with sound.

    There are many people who are making a killing charging

    their customers the extra amount to install sound.

    As we all know sound makes a train layout more real-

    istic and interesting.

    I’m not trying to pass the buck, but a dollar is still a



    Capt. Geno

    layout more realistic and enjoyable

    one without sound.

  12. Ed Albritton says:

    Great idea, thanks for the tip, I was getting ready to add sound to my layout…It helps a heap.

  13. kevin j says:

    I am going to try but I don’t know why you could not just go to any greeting card store and buy a card that has one of these in them. I have some old sections of Atlas track with a pressure sensitve switch built right in. designed for signal crossing but I would think I could make work.

  14. Len Lainsbury says:

    Have obtained a couple of sound modules as described by several of you from Amazon. Unfortunately I find I`ve bitten off more than I can chew !! Any chance one of you real experts could e.mail me an explicit diagram and instructions on how to mount and install please. In my naivety I expected some instructions to come with the product.
    Thanks in expectation.

  15. Dennis says:

    I found these on eBay and am going to order one. I think I will just put the button next to transformer and activate sound manually. Question is, where are you getting the train sounds to record?

  16. Mark W says:

    Another idea would be to purchase some smaller micro speakers and spread them around the track in the scenery and tie to a central sound device i.e. an ipod or mp3 player. These are inexpensive and can download lots of sounds to them from laptop. Can work sound device on batteries and recharge on laptop.

  17. perry says:

    I take my personal recorder with me and record sounds from any train sorce.mainly crossings. I live close to the main line of bnsf. I put the tape in my larger cassette player and run the trains.

  18. jeff says:

    in the uk you can go on e-bay and type it sound recorders and you should find in the first few pages the thing that gets put into a greeting card for you to record your own message.I have just ordered 1 from a uk supplyer

  19. Barry Barnes says:

    I am also new to the hobby, unfortunately e-bay do not mail to South Africa. I live in Durban and there are no shops here that stock Model Railroad equipment. I subscribed to the Model Railway Village. It will take me a long while to complete the setup, but in the meanwhile I read and collect all the tips that I can get.
    Regards Barry B.

  20. Darrell Smith says:

    Johnny Cash has several train songs… I like “Mad-Dog-Cyclone”. Just set your sound recorder so the microphone is near your computer speaker, pop a CD in the drive and start recording…. I received a Steam Locomotive CD Collection of DVD’s and there are great sounds there to record on the greeting card sound device. I’m modeling the Chesapeake and Ohio, 1950’s era steam layout, as soon as my sound cards arrive (I ordered several) I will have Steam Loco, Diesel, and roundhouse sounds at various trip points along the track.

  21. Ernie Webb says:

    For the greatest “steam train in the rain” sound, go to “Mystic Moods” Orchestra and play “One Stormy Night”. I have been listening to this track since the 1970’s and never get tired of that train coming through the mountains, The steam whistle getting closer and closer and the cracks of thunder and lightning throughout are so real. I hope I can hook it up to my own layout one day.

  22. Jim McQuillen says:

    To those of you who want to shop at Radio Shack… they declared bankruptcy and, at least in California, the stores are gone.

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