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KATO Decoders

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CaptOblivious

Well, my decoder is off—they should get it today or tomorrow. But in the meantime, I've had another FL12 (headlight decoder) fail on me! I've had my layout out for the Memorial Day weekend, and it just stopped working while the train was running. No idea why.

 

I'm finding that the FL12 is perhaps more finicky than I like. In commuter trains, where space is at a premium, I think these decoders are worthwhile (maybe?) but in shinkansen, where one has a little more room (at least in the cab cars), I'm going to use traditional decoders from now on, I think.

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Bernard

CaptO---I really feel bad for you on the trouble you are having with the Kato decoders. It looks like they have some "bugs" to work out. On the positive side (if there is one) you've provided valuable information about this product.

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Martijn Meerts

To be honest, I really don't like the plug & play type of decoder, at least not for N-scale. And that includes locomotives that have been designed to accept a plug & play decoder. I've seen many plugs that have really bad contact, especially once they get a bit older. Soldering the decoder in is a lot more dependable.

 

The most recent DCC-friendly locomotive I bought was a christmas present for my father. A Minitrix Era I Bavarian locomotive with 3 cars. The full set cost me about 300 euro without decoder (Norwegian price, bloody 25% tax ;))  We bought a decoder for it, wanted to plug it in, and noticed the socket was just clipped onto the circuit board. After plugging in the decoder, the socket actually come partially off the circuit board, causing the decoder to not make any contact. We had to bend the pins on the decoder somewhat to get it to fit without popping off the socket... On the positive side, the train looks absolutely amazing and fits really well on his layout ;)

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Bernard

Martijn--okay this is going off topic but as always I'm curious. Is Minitrix still manufacturing "N scale"? Model Power used to distribute them in the USA and about 5-7 years ago stopped and produced their own line. You don't find many Minitrix trains for sale in the USA.

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Martijn Meerts

Bernard, they do, quite a lot really, but of course mostly German prototype.

 

Actually, Trix (who make the stuff) is owned by Marklin nowadays.

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CaptOblivious

I received in the mail today two brand-new FL12 decoders from Kato USA! No charge: the invoice was stamped "Do Not Pay: Warranty Repair".  ;D I'll test them tonight and let y'all know how it goes.

 

How wonderful! I don't know if this was simply luck, or a matter of policy, however, which is a shame. It would be nice if they adopted a clear warranty policy. One reason I really like Digitrax is that their warranty policies are both clear and modestly generous (although in practice, it is actually incredibly generous).

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PhilD

This one show the "fiddlyness" of the install pretty well. Not a lot of space to manouver in. Red and black are once again power from the wheel pickups, blue is common ground, white and yellow are direction dependant lights. Where you connect them depends on the direction of the train. If you look closely you can see that this was a trial & error type of install, both LED's have been unsoldered, re-soldered, cut and soldered again. In the end I found out I really only needed to rotate 1 of the LED's to make it work really ;)

04-kato800-headlights.jpg

 

 

Dear Martin,

 

Just found this post. Please explain which of the LED' s needs to be rotated.

 

Regards, PhilD

post-42-13569921970687_thumb.jpg

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Martijn Meerts

It doesn't matter much which one you rotate, it depends a bit on the wiring. I believe I rotated the white one in this case.

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PhilD

It doesn't matter much which one you rotate, it depends a bit on the wiring. I believe I rotated the white one in this case.

 

Marttijn,

 

Thanks for the info. Lights now working. Just three more ends to go.

 

PhilD

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CaptOblivious

Well, I got my EM13s and FL12s in.

 

First complaint: Only 2-digit addressing. If you try to write a 4-digit address, you have to reset the decoder, because it makes it go all wonky.

 

I've just tried this again, at the urging of Shuhei Nagasue of NGDCC, who told me that it is in fact possible. I used this link http://www.ruppweb.org/Xray/comp/decoder.htm to calculate the values for CV17 and CV18, and programmed them directly, bypassing the special address programming mode on the Zephyr…and…it works! 4-digit addresses are good.

 

So, I suddenly like these decoders a lot better than I did.

 

Now if only RailCom were an option for them…

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The_Ghan

So, here's a feature list of the EM13, that I've arrived at via trial-and-error. I'll fill this in as I find out more...

 

O 14/28/128 speed step throttle control

O Ops mode programming and CV readback (via Transponding)

? Operation on DC

O 2-digit addressing

O 4-digit addressing

O Linear momentum

X Non-linear momentum (currently, no Digitrax decoder supports this)

X Constant braking distance (currently, no Digitrax decoder supports this)

O 3-step speed table

O Advanced Consist Addressing

? Advanced Consist Functions

O Static and dynamic scaleable speed stabilization (BEMF)

? Silent operation (via high- or low-frequency pulsed power)

O 128-step speed table

? Low-gear/shunting mode

O Transponding

X NMRA Bi-Directional Feedback (aka RailCom) (currently, no Digitrax decoder supports this)

? Asymmetrical DCC (stop on DC) (probably does, but I have no way to test)

 

 

Hey Cap'n,

 

Can you confirm the 4-bit addressing for this decoder please?

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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CaptOblivious

Just follow the instructions in the post above yours! I can totally confirm that it works. However, do not expect to be able to read back any of the CVs from the cab car decoders at least, as they do not support CV readback. The only way to test is to program CVs 17 and 18, and then try controlling them on the main at the programmed address. I think you also need to set CV29 to turn on 4-digit addressing.

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KenS

I can confirm the four-digit addressing works, but you do need to set it one CV at a time as recommended, and sometimes it doesn't seem to "take"; you might need to reset the decoder (set CV8 to 8) to recover. The Kato decoders are a pain to work with, but persistence pays off.

 

One thing to watch out for with the cab decoders (FL12) is that they seem to default to "off" (I only have one train with these so far, so it could be a programming error on my part), and you have to press F0 to turn the lights on.  This constantly surprises me.

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The_Ghan

Thanks folks ... looking forward to it.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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