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chadbag

KATO EF210-100 3034-4 DCC Conversion using TCS K0D8-A (Digitrax DN163K0A)

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chadbag

Today I did the DCC conversion of my KATO 3034-4 EF210-100.   I used the TCS K0D8-A decoder as the base of the install.  You should also be able to use a Digitrax DN163K0A if you so choose.  I chose TCS as it supports RailCom and someday I will attempt to use RailCom with some automation.  If you use Digitrax transponding then use the Digitrax decoder.  If you  don't care about any sort of "transponding" capability, you can easily use either one.  The Digitrax tend to be a bit less expensive, so compare the functionalities of the two to see which will work best for you.  The install should be basically the same using either one, though there is one point below where I believe the Digitrax is "easier" (one less step) though I have not actually used a Digitrax decoder for this sort of install.  I did inspect one at the store however.

 

This install should actually be similar on any KATO engine that uses the KATO 3051 or similar lightboards (there is another KATO board that is basically the same but the LEDs are on top of the board instead of underneath, and there are also older KATO boards that follow the same basic pattern (size, shape, etc) but have different KATO part numbers.

 

The basis for this install is this thread:  

 

 

In that thread I showed my DF200 installs (a Seven Stars and a normal Red Bear) using the same TCS decoder.  On those ones, I used the bulb LEDs that came on the decoder.  On this one I replaced them with SMD LEDs.

 

I do not like to modify the existing boards if possible, so I did not desolder the SMD LEDs of the existing board or anything.  Instead, I bought a strip of 100 SMD LED white, right angle, 0805 size LEDs.  They typically come in strips made to feed into the SMD manufacturing machines that assemble boards.  They are tiny as well!   I have some other color 0805 right angle on the way which I will use for other projects including an HB-E300, which has a variant of this lightboard but which has a red and white LED on the same side.

 

 

Edited by chadbag
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chadbag

First I took the top off and took a picture so that I would know which way the top goes back on.  Some KATO stuff has arrows embedded in the plastic and the chassis but not all, so I always take a picture to show me what it looks like with the shell off but otherwise as from KATO:

 

IMG_0477.thumb.jpg.42a86ec3b9cebe658763b27cce9f6bb5.jpg

 

I carefully removed the gray plastic clip that helps hold the board down over the motor power tabs.  By sliding it forward a little it is easier to take out.  Be careful to not damage it, for unlike my other installs on the DF200, I will be re-using it.  (And on the Digitrax I believe you can re-use it just as is without any magic).

 

Next I removed the existing light board and placed the decoder next to it so I can see what I am trying to reproduce.

 

IMG_0478.thumb.jpg.dd9c43ae04a182b3a99f14c1d77d040a.jpg

 

I want to use the existing LED legs to attach my SMD LEDS.  You need to note which is the anode (+) side and which is the cathode (-) side of the existing LEDs.  WIth the TCS decoder, in both cases, the + side is the further side when the motor pickup is on the left.  If you look inside, the smaller metal piece is usually the anode side.  (see:  https://www.instructables.com/id/IDENTIFY-THE-ANODECATHODE-of-LEDs/ )

 

I then cut the LEDs off so that the legs have the same length as the KATO lightboard:

 

IMG_0479.thumb.jpg.8f4055b7cb1ff2d6966df8a76857d5b5.jpg

 

I took an 0805 right angle LED from the strip (be careful, they are small).  The ones that I bought have a green stripe closer to one edge on the back side.  Each manufacturer may mark them differently.  For me that denotes the cathode (-) side.  I double tested this by using my multimeter and putting it in diode test mode.  This should light the LED when the - lead is on the cathode and the positive on the anode.

 

I spread the existing left over LED legs slightly and press fit the LED in between them.  I made sure it was tight enough I could pick up the board and the LED would come along.

 

IMG_0481.thumb.jpg.6dc00980aeb77ee978be0bb58d308bbe.jpg

 

I then took my soldering iron and tinner the tip, touched it to the outside of the leg where the LED was, and touched my thin solder (I bought some really thin stuff for working with trains) to the junction where the LED touches the leg.  I just want a wisp of solder there.  I did this on both sides.  I then pushed at the LED to make sure it was not still just pressed fit in.  (It is small and my aging eyes, even with magnified reading glasses and good light are not that great for seeing great microscopic detail -- and after getting my eyes lasered 11 years go my really close vision has suffered some [but my far vision is 1000% better])

 

I then repeated this on the other end of the decoder with the other LED legs and another 0805 right angle LED.

 

IMG_0483.thumb.jpg.0d6508030210ed59bb0c2a7b460eb945.jpg

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chadbag

If you are using a Digitrax DN163K0A and not the TCS, I believe you can skip this entry.  From what I saw in the store, the Digitrax has motor tab connections on the underneath side of the decoder.   Check that yoru Digitrax has motor power pads on the underneath.  The TCS does not.

 

Here is a picture of the underneath of the TCS decoder. Right in the center of the image, where the left side hole in the middle is, right outside the hole, is where the motor tabs touch the KATO board so that power flows from the rails into the motor (on DC).  You notice that on the TCS decoder there is no gold/copper  color for any sort of electronically active pad for the motor tabs to get power from the decoder.  

 

IMG_0485.thumb.jpg.9b59fc0f1cd3dba405d715466c74f8d6.jpg

 

Here is the top of the decoder.  You can see the bit gold pads next to the hole.  These are the motor power pads.

 

IMG_0486.thumb.jpg.8cc60bf5aa7b975e0ca17db805ca7f9f.jpg

 

In the DF200 installs (and other ones I have done using this decoder and the same or similar KATO lightboards) I soldered a wire to the motor tabs and brought it up through the hole and then soldered it to the top pad.  The "problem" with this is it makes it hard to take apart. You need to desolder the wire etc.  I wanted to try something else.

 

I remembered I have thin copper foil that I use in shielding the electronics compartments of the bass guitars I have built or am working on.  For that sort of work it is ideal as it has adhesive on one side.

 

IMG_0484.thumb.jpg.709ce178631f2ed491e8c21b614dce09.jpg

 

So I cut out some small squares of the copper foil, attached it to the bottom, pushed it up through the hole, and pushed it down on top of the gold motor tabs pads.  

 

IMG_0488.thumb.jpg.ea054bf2ac5cba855f6c364dfdb3d14f.jpgIMG_0487.thumb.jpg.64a316538ac5cf545d052be39f9f7e7a.jpg

 

However, since it has adhesive on it that does not make a great contact between the copper and the gold pad on the decoder board.  So I got it got and put a little solder on it.  You want to keep the solder layer thin but still conductive (as you want to put the plastic tab back on).  The first time I did it it was too much and "blobular".  Using my hand desolder braid I got most of it back off, and then redid it using just a small amount.  It looks thicker in this photo than it really is, but I should have actually done a better job. But this one is actually thin enough.

 

IMG_0490.thumb.jpg.9740266317bf899c7a93c90ae00605b8.jpg

 

 

Edited by chadbag
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chadbag

If you are using a Digitrax decoder, you can jump back in here.

 

Put the decoder back on the locomotive, making sure it slides under the litele tab that holds the lightboard down on the right side (assuming the motor tabs are on the left) and carefully put the gray clip back on.

 

large.IMG_0491.jpg.e82470f3e72a2873fc89b99e84f092b9.jpg

 

Then test it on your programming track or main track. I am using my stand alone programming track.  Lights work in both directions.  (And it goes forwards and backwards)

 

large.IMG_0492.jpg.78d71a0cc729bb3e7f5ea63b8bf858fc.jpglarge.IMG_0493.jpg.53a448dc829c70996ef2549c8c223522.jpg

 

Because the LED on this board is on the underside of the lightboard, (and if you look at the loco chassis, you see plastic walls to dam the light), I added a piece of electrical tape on top of the LED fixture on both sides to keep the light from spreading inside the loco body and leaking out where we don't want it.

 

large.IMG_0494.jpg.f4e654a5aa5eb25204bd2b0025b0d53b.jpg

 

Here is what the finished loco looks like.  (Note that the EF210 requires a little thinning out of the plastic shell or cutting a small amount away underneath the top equipment piece as the decoder with chips is thicker than the light board and the shell does not quite fit on and snap into place as is.  I have not done this yet so this next image just shows the shell sitting on the chassis but not snapped into place).

 

large.IMG_0495.jpg.b9579ec3efbbb9506132b6aa6dfa0516.jpg

 

That is basically it.  The factory KATO board does not have "rear" red lights so I did not add them here, and there does not seem to be any internal light pipe or even red plastic where it appears that the prototype loco has red lights.   Some of the other KATO locomotives using this lightboard seem to have a place for a red LED in the chassis and plastic light pipes for the red lights (or at least red plastic inserts) but KATO does not supply them.  When I get around to doing those ones, once my red LEDs show up, I will wire in the rear red on each end and use extra aux LED function outputs the TCS comes with.

 

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gavino200

That electrical tape lightproofing is a great idea. I have that problem with a couple of locos. I must go do that myself.

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cteno4

Chad,

 

A great connector strip material is nickel silver strip material they use to string together rechargeable batteries and solar cells. Forms well and solders well, also little oxidation.

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=nickel+strip&_sacat=0&LH_TitleDesc=0&_blrs=recall_filtering

 

ill put some in the mail to you to play with.

 

jeff

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Kiha66

Looks great Chad!  Might want to try warm white LEDs too, I've switched to them myself and they really help the headlights look a more lifelike color.  I find the usual "white" leds are way too blue to look realistic to my eyes.

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chadbag
8 minutes ago, Kiha66 said:

Looks great Chad!  Might want to try warm white LEDs too, I've switched to them myself and they really help the headlights look a more lifelike color.  I find the usual "white" leds are way too blue to look realistic to my eyes.

 

I've been trying to match what the model came with.  If it came with "white" I use a "white". If it came with that "warm white" incandescent look lights I will use that if I can.  I think some of the new prototype locos are probably using whiter halogen or even LED lights compared to older locomotives.  Some of the youtube videos look like that to me but it is hard to tell on a video shown on a computer monitor.

 

BTW:  they look a lot bluer in the photos above than they do in real life.

 

I do have some "yellow", which supposedly are more like a warm white, 0805 SMD LEDs (right angle version) coming eventually so I will have that option as well.

 

Edited by chadbag
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