Phoenix Sound Systems

Overview

Phoenix is an old mainstay in the Large Scale market. They don't make anything for any other scale, although you could put them into O scale locos. The sounds for years were the best in the industry, and even now, years later with really no technological improvements, they are pretty darn good.

Phoenix was also early to have some DCC control, but that has never been it's strong point.

Now in 2021, it is getting long in the tooth, even with the new motor/sound unit. Not moving forwards in technology all these years is now showing.

SM18

Released in late 2017, Phoenix' first (and only) combination motor/sound decoder.

It is weak. It only has 3 amp continuous motor current, and 3 watt sound system. The motor current was NEVER appropriate for large scale trains, and is the single biggest failing. After 4 years no improvement.

Works in Aristo and Bachmann sockets

BigSound PB17

Introduced January 2018. More improvements, 16 bit sound, screw terminals, 3 volt operation, can use batteries to keep running when stopped on DC. Does DC/DCC/Remote Control

BigSound P14

Introduced late 2014, all in one board, very small board with a small connector, not popular with the LS crowd. Limited triggers, could be expanded with another board.

BigSound PB11

Introduced in November 2010, all in one board with the terrible push lock connectors. If you are buying a used one, think twice.

If you need to connect several wires to the same terminal you need to twist them and solder them or it won't work right. A cost saving item where the cost saving was not passed to the user. (electronics should get cheaper, turns out that they are not progressing with the microprocessor to save money, so they are cutting corners elsewhere)

BigSound PB9

Introduced December 2008, a standard do it all sound board, DC, finally screw terminals!

BigSound P5

Introduced September 2006, No screw terminals, 2 special connectors.There was an add on board to extend the number of triggers from the stock 1.

The documentation that comes with the P5 indicates it can have it's address set via the programming track, but the P5 is designed NOT to respond to the command station on the programming track, but it will still take the programming. The idea is so that the P5 can be wired along with another decoder.

Phoenix also says that the P5 will not properly support OPS mode on the main but it has worked for some people.

Here is a list of commands that appear to work:
CV     Description
1     Short Address
17     Long Address
18     Long Address
49     0=speed from triggers, non-zero=speed from DCC
50     Vstart
51     Momentum
52     Seconds to simulate if DCC is lost, 0=forever
53     Seconds in idle before shutdown, 0=never shutdown

BigSound 2K2

Introduced April 2002. It was an all in one unit, the first with DCC control, it had screw terminals.

Model 97

The rom chips have "FS" and "FP" (FS1 & FP1 mean real time horn & bell). Real time apparently means they fire by triggers only, not by changes in voltage.

Also, etched in the copper on the bottom of the board near the board edge will be the model.

phoenix 97

Model 96

The roms have lettering that begins with "S" and "P" The 2 roms in the 96 are one time programmed, Introduced 1995
 

Model 95

The very first Phoenix. Not sold for long. The 2 roms may have been soldered in place.

The roms had labels beginning with "E" & "O". They could not be reprogrammed.

 

Programmer

The programmer costs about $85 street price.

You can also build your own for about half that

 See my page on the programmer with some information on building your own. CLICK HERE

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12731

 
 

Tips

Some battery packs wired backwards:

Some battery packs come with the wires reversed in the connector. If yours looks like this, fix it or send it back before you plug it in!

 

VVVV

 
P8   ter C1-1 and C1-2   Power
             C1-6 and C1-7   DCC
 
P5   ter  C1-1 and C1-2  Power + DCC
              C1-6 and C1-7  Alternate power