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Guest Bernard

Kato interior lights & DCC

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Guest Bernard

In the past I've gotten various responses about my question so here it goes.

Before I switched to DCC, I put Kato 11-206 interior lights in my passenger cars. I was told by my LHS that if I ran those cars on my DCC layout they would melt. I've been told by another source that they run their trains with the same light units and nothing has happen. Since it's almost next to impossible to replace a Japanese car, what do you think?

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Darren Jeffries

I'd quite like to know why they thought they would melt? I know a fair bit about electricity and in particular lights... the only thing that may make a led melt is either too high voltage or possibly if the LED is positive dependent and you incorrectly connect the positive to the negative, that may generate heat and burn them out. I find it very difficult to believe that they would just melt under normal operation (either DC or DCC)

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Guest Bernard

Hi Darren,

The 11-206 sets were replaced with 11-209/210 set and are advertised to be comptible with DCC systems. I did have on car start to melt but it might have been because the bulb might have been too close to the ceiling of the car. But I don't think Kato makes the 11-206 sets.

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Guest bill937ca

Bernard, you might want to try running that by the Yahoo Kato Unitrack group. Much more experience there.  I don't use Kato track or DCC.

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kwt

The older bulb sets can get hot.  If you aren't running more then 12 volts through them and you correctly installed the foil heat shield sticker,you should be ok.  I have had them on with a Digitrax Super Chief set on N scale for hours without issues. On my Digitrax Zephyr, the voltage is higher and it does get really hot.  I would not leave them on with the Zephyr.

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Guest Bernard

Thanks kwt,

I have so many of the Kato 11-206 sets and some are specialized for certain trains like the Sunrise Express set. Now I can put ALL those sets back into the cars! Heck its better then trying to sell them on eBay. Do you know what the difference is in the new 11-209 sets, I image a different bulb.

 

New question, how do you like the Zephyr? What are the pro & cons of the system?

I'm using the Lenz 100. I like it but at first I had problems with the programming track until I called Tony @ Tony's trains. He gave me advice that wasn't in the manual.

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Guest Bernard

kwt,

I for got to tell you I too have one of the older Kato 100 Bullet trains and I wasn't sure if I would be able to install a decoder because there was a resister in it. (It must have been made in the '80's because it looks a little out of scale) I took out the resistor and worked the first time I programmed it and has ever since. Putting the light units in that train is another story, you can do it but you'll have to fiddle with it.

BUT I will tell you putting a decoder in the older Tomix trains, from my experience, isn't worth it. One of the ones I did has a spring worm to the driver and it is the only train in my roster that worked better DC than DCC, plus it's MUCH louder than any of the other trains. When I run it my next door neighbor thinks I'm killing our cat. I plan to convert it back someday soon.

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kwt

Bernard,

 

The new Kato light sets are LED based.  No bulb to get hot.  I am going to mod some of the older bulb lights with a diode to drop the voltage down.

 

I bought the Zephyr to use as a throttle and auto reversing booster for my Super Chief.  I have not used it as a command station so can't really comment on that function except to say that the track voltage is not selectable like the booster on the Super Chief.  I was told to use some dropping diodes to reduce the voltage to a safe level for N scale.

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Guest Bernard

kwt,

If it's not too much trouble could you show a photo of what you do to modify the older bulb by dropping in a diode and what diode you're using? I would really appreciate it.

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kwt

I'll post something when I get a chance to do the mod.

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serenityFan

Thanks kwt,

I have so many of the Kato 11-206 sets and some are specialized for certain trains like the Sunrise Express set. Now I can put ALL those sets back into the cars! Heck its better then trying to sell them on eBay. Do you know what the difference is in the new 11-209 sets, I image a different bulb.

 

New question, how do you like the Zephyr? What are the pro & cons of the system?

I'm using the Lenz 100. I like it but at first I had problems with the programming track until I called Tony @ Tony's trains. He gave me advice that wasn't in the manual.

 

 

Bernard, just curious, in the end, did you manage to use the 11-206 lighting set with DCC? i'm planning on getting this set ... :cheesy

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Bernard

serenity - The Kato 11-209 lighting set is for DCC, it probably has a different bulb. Before I went DCC I had a whole bunch of Kato 11-206 sets and my LHS said he wouldn't take responsibility if the lights melt the cars if I switched over to DCC. I used the 11-206 set in my Super Hitachi and I haven't had any problems BUT I'm always careful about letting that train stay a long time on the track.

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serenityFan

serenity - The Kato 11-209 lighting set is for DCC, it probably has a different bulb. Before I went DCC I had a whole bunch of Kato 11-206 sets and my LHS said he wouldn't take responsibility if the lights melt the cars if I switched over to DCC. I used the 11-206 set in my Super Hitachi and I haven't had any problems BUT I'm always careful about letting that train stay a long time on the track.

 

LOL I was trying to save some money, because the 11-206 kit is $10 cheaper compared to the 11-209 LED at plaza japan.  :angel9:

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Bernard

 

 

LOL I was trying to save some money, because the 11-206 kit is $10 cheaper compared to the 11-209 LED at plaza japan.  :angel9:

Wow, that is a big price difference. The lighting kit is one item that most LHS in the US carry because it is the same kit used in the N. American passenger car sets Kato makes. Is there a Hobby shop near you that you can check their price or if they carry it?

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David

$30 for a 6 pack of LED (11-210) vs $20 for a 6 pack of bulb (11-206) is about right in my experience.

 

However I've been going with the LED kits for a number of reasons:

 

The LED kits do not run the risk of getting too hot. It can take as little as 15 minutes on a layout with too much voltage (which might be unavoidable with some club DCC layouts) to melt and deform the roof of your car.

 

The LED kits consume much less power - the amps pulled by bulb kits add up fast, quickly overshadowing the power used by the motor.

 

The LED kits give you a choice of light tone - on their own you get a modern white light, while they also come with an optional orange filter to give the older bulb tone.

 

Not all of Kato's models are bulb friendly. For a bulb to be safely used, you need to have the reflective strip in place, and there needs to be enough space for the reflected heat to escape and dissipate.

 

On some models Kato seems to be up front about it, i.e. all of the following are listed as only compatible with the LED kits

http://www.katomodels.com/product/nmi/vista_car.shtml

http://www.katomodels.com/product/nmi/nioe88.shtml

http://www.katomodels.com/product/nmi/14kei_14.shtml

 

While on others Kato seems to think a bulb kit could be made to work, but I think it would require some custom work. For example the double decker green cars on the E531 have an odd shaped roof and seats close to the ceiling. It comes with a custom prism piece preinstalled (glued in tight), which does not seem to include the same thick reflector tape normally used - I wouldn't install a bulb kit in that car without some major surgery to ensure it didn't melt the roof or upper seats, which are secured with only a thin plastic piece.

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TaeOH

Has anyone added the DCC decoder to any of their cars and if so, what kind of control do you get?

 

I think eventually I would to outfit my Super Chief and Daylight this way, but it is a very expensive conversion that is low on the priority list.

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Martijn Meerts

I haven't actually installed a decoder only for interior lights, but depending on the decoder used, you'll probably only get the option to turn lights on and off, and possibly a dimmer function. Any other functions are pretty pointless for interior lights

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David

The FR11 decoder that Kato sells for the lighting kits (it's optional, with DCC the car lights will just stay on all the time) has one and a half functions - you can use it to turn the lights on or off, and it does transponding. Of important note is that the decoder only officially works with the LED lighting kit, not the bulb one. You could install a different decoder, but it would be real fun to do, and since it costs a lot to outfit all the cars with a decoder as cheap as the FR11, imagine how much it would cost with a $30 Z scale decoder.

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disturbman

Newbie question: Can't you install the decoder on the rail or the wires instead of the cars and then controll the lightning? I guess not but I'd like to know if it's even remotely possible.

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CaptOblivious

Newbie question: Can't you install the decoder on the rail or the wires instead of the cars and then controll the lightning? I guess not but I'd like to know if it's even remotely possible.

 

No, this doesn't work, sadly. The decoder must sit betwen the light and the rails. Otherwise you'd stop the motor when you turned off the lights (just like on DC)

 

My Super Hitachi came pre-fitted with bulbs in each car, and it can't be swapped out for the LED kit Kato sells. I'll actually be doing some surgery eventuall to replace the bulb element with an SMD LED and resistor. Doesn't look to hard, and could save those with extensive bulb-lit fleets a lot of money if it works.

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Bernard

Don - Since you are experimenting with the lighting kits, and I have a lot of the Kato 206 sets, can I buy re-placement LEDs to fit into the 206 units? Or are the 209 light sets different also in design?

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David

The LED set is a bit different in design. While the part of the L shaped component that makes contact is the same, the upper portion with the light is thinner on the LED version, with a small circuit board for controlling the power flow. If your time has no value you could upgrade them with generic LEDs and capacitors for less then the cost of buying new LED kits, but it would be very tiny work (you'd be stripping the L shaped piece down to the plastic base and contact pins I think).

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Bernard

The LED set is a bit different in design. While the part of the L shaped component that makes contact is the same, the upper portion with the light is thinner on the LED version, with a small circuit board for controlling the power flow. If your time has no value you could upgrade them with generic LEDs and capacitors for less then the cost of buying new LED kits, but it would be very tiny work (you'd be stripping the L shaped piece down to the plastic base and contact pins I think).

David - thanks for the info. One reason for this question about conversion is the light kit for the Kato "Super View" And "Sunrise Express" is different in design than the standard sets and I already have the special lighting sets for these 2 trains.

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David

The LED set is a bit different in design. While the part of the L shaped component that makes contact is the same, the upper portion with the light is thinner on the LED version, with a small circuit board for controlling the power flow. If your time has no value you could upgrade them with generic LEDs and capacitors for less then the cost of buying new LED kits, but it would be very tiny work (you'd be stripping the L shaped piece down to the plastic base and contact pins I think).

David - thanks for the info. One reason for this question about conversion is the light kit for the Kato "Super View" And "Sunrise Express" is different in design than the standard sets and I already have the special lighting sets for these 2 trains.

 

I should post some close up pictures of what the pieces look like later today, since I have a few "unused" kits sitting around (anyone know how to take the shell off Kato's really old Hankyu 6300 set without breaking the clips holding the seats to the bottom of the car? And for that matter, getting the pickup to work consistently - even after breaking the clips and clueing them back together on the unpowered trailer car, I couldn't get the lights to stay without flickering - I bent and rebent the contact pins dozens of times to try and find a working combination)

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Bernard

David - If you are going to take photos of the 209 lights (Thanks), start a thread about your Hankyu 6300 set w/photos and members here might be able to help you. 

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