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Martijn Meerts

Tomix and DCC

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velotrain

If someone cannot use the decoders (Digitrax etc) that plug and play with Kato, then Kato's feature of DCC friendly is useless.  

 

Why would he not be able to use Digitrax decoders?

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katoftw

Dunno?  I didn't say it.  The OP did.

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velotrain

Dunno?  I didn't say it.  The OP did.

 

Really?

 

Where was that - I can't find it.

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kvp

 

 

For me, it you can do complex wire ups for a DCC layout, you should be able to wire up a train without sockets.

Most people don't do complex wire ups for DCC, just route DCC power to everywhere and avoid loops, so reversing units are not needed. This means a single central without boosters and feedback and with a limit of around 3 or 4 trains running at the same time and from the central's one or two speed controls. These simple layouts are not wired, just set up for single locomotive operation with power everywhere turnouts and a single power feed point and then DCC added to make them work automagically. Actually japanese style analog control with power routing and analog controllers could look nicer than a basic DCC setup as you can actually control all the moving trains at the same time without switching back and forth by punching keys, so more time remains to actually control them.

 

There are many types of japanese made trains from a DCC standpoint:

-DCC compatible with standard sockets (only european prototype models made by Kato)

-DCC compatible with Kato sockets (these take Kato decoders made by Digitrax)

-DCC friendly, compatible with wired decoders and designed with easy modifiability in mind (some Kato and most Tomytec are like this)

-DCC unfriendly (it's possible to add a decoder to these, just needs lot's of work and some rather heavy modifications, most japanese trains are in this category)

-DCC incompatible (trains that have low voltage motors or other features that make DCC-ing them a hard engineering challange)

 

For somone with zero electrical engineering skills, only the first two categories are usable, while minimal knowledge allows the first three. Most japanese trains are in the 4th catgetory, but usually a professional model engineer could install decoders into them for a fee. The last category is for trains (usually from small manufacturers), that are incompatible with most PWM/CL analog throttles too, so (in practice) could be fully ignored.

 

DCC centrals have similar levels too:

-beginner's (example: roco multimaus)

-high tech (example: roco z21)

-advanced, usable for home and clubs (example: twincenter, intellibox, super chief)

-mainly for clubs (digitrax dcs series)

 

The last type doesn't even have a user interface and requires a digital network to be wired to be usable. On the other hand, the first one looks like a simple handheld throttle and most people could figure it out easily. The latter was designed to be plug and play like a Kato blue throttle, but allow basic DCC functionality without programming or setup. This is what most people use and they also expect trains to be this plug and play type, preferably with factory installed DCC or just open, plug, close and run setups. Since japanese trains and track systems are built for analog operation with power routing in mind, they don't allow this plug and play digital functionality, except those few Kato products designed with export in mind that could take Kato decoders. The same is true for Tomix turnouts as it takes quite some effort to wire a Tomix layout to be DCC compatible, while Kato turnouts are more DCC friendly and some are even factory installed with DCC decoders and power routing disabled. Imho, these are also mainly meant for export.

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titoit

Thank you very much indeed for your advices.

I'm really wonder if it's a good choice to test myself with DCC. I think it's better to follow the way of analog system. My doubts are always concerning the possibility to let many trains to run in the layout at the same time and I have to read up about isolators and special tracks.

Anyway, when I'm not getting wrong, I understand it's possible to use only different units to manage each train, isn'it?

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velotrain

You need to consider just what it is you want to do.  The basic solution is to have a separate loop/control for each train you want to have running at the same time.

 

If you would be satisfied with alternate trains running, such as two trains with one of them always running, there is a solution that requires minimal additional electronics (and knowledge of such).

 

The Tomix 5563 TCS unit has 8 operating patterns pre-programmed, including running alternate trains from two tracks - connected by turnouts, at a station.

 

Two of these units would allow you to have four trains on the layout at once, with two always running.  Or, you could have a freight train running continuously, and two passenger trains alternating from a station.

 

Again - it's all about just what you want to do, which you haven't explained to us, outside of "many trains".

 

You can search for Tomix 5563 on the forum, and there is also additional info and video on the net.

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kvp

Isolators and special tracks are usually not needed as the turnouts contain most circuits off the shelf. The Tomix fully power routing turnouts even handle reversing loops, wyes and other special situations without additional components.

 

For trains, one controller per running train is the norm. You don't need anything for stationary trains on unpowered tracks. Switching between them is a matter of throwing a turnout.

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Martijn Meerts

Thank you very much indeed for your advices.

I'm really wonder if it's a good choice to test myself with DCC. I think it's better to follow the way of analog system. My doubts are always concerning the possibility to let many trains to run in the layout at the same time and I have to read up about isolators and special tracks.

Anyway, when I'm not getting wrong, I understand it's possible to use only different units to manage each train, isn'it?

 

 

DCC isn't all that complicated, but like others have said, it sort of depends on what you want. If you just want to be able to run multiple trains independantly of each other, than a very simple DCC set up will do just fine. For something like that you can just go for a Roco Z21 and use a smartphone/tablet to control the trains. If you also want to control turnouts using the Z21, you'll need turnout decoders for those. Which ones you need depends on the track system you're using.

 

As for installing decoders, very few Japanese trains have a socket to plug a decoder in to. Kato has a few, but those only accept their custom decoder which has a limited feature set. Some recent Tramway steam locomotives even have a 6-pin socket. However, for most trains, installing decoders is fairly straight forward. A lot of locomotives have enough space for a decoder without modifications. The multiple set trains have plenty space for a decoder, but they generally need 3 decoders in total as the motor is usually not installed in 1 of the cab cars. So you need 1 decoder to control the motor car (sometimes 2 decoders because there are 2 motor cars), and 1 for each of the cab cars.

 

If you haven't built a DCC layout before, I would recommend just building a semi-permanent one to test things. Maybe just a double loop with a 4 track station and some storage tracks. That way you can start with just controlling the trains with DCC, and leave the turnout control analog. Once you get the hang of things, you can add decoders to the turnouts, and finally add a block detection system.

 

There are plenty people on the forum willing to help out with advice and showing decoder installs they did in their own trains. And if you want a block detection system, there are a few people who have built that before, so they can help with determining the blocks in a track plan or something.

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Oz_Paul

With a lot of help from this forum I now have 2 layouts with almost entirely Tomix tracks and rolling stock.

 

The larger layout is controlled by a Digitrax DCS command station and the points/turnouts with Digitrax DS64's which are excellent.

 

I have only used the Digitrax DZ126T 1 Amp Tiny Series 6 decoders for the N scale locos and it works well albeit requires soldering.

 

The layout is block wired for 16 sections using Digitrax BDL168 and PM42 for power management. The wiring for block detection took some effort but well worthwhile as it enables computer control.

 

These in turn are computer controlled using software from Railroad & co (Friewald).

 

Have had no issue whatsoever with this configuration and enjoy watching the trains go around automatically and return to the yard (especially the E6 Super Komachi)

 

 

The smaller coffee table layout is DC controlled using the Tomix 5563 and I had posted a video of this some time ago.

 

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cteno4

Nicely done Paul!

 

Jeff

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TCC Railroad

So in the years since this thread started has any definitive decision been reached whether Tomix eats decoders? I'm new to the world of Japanese trains (just bought my first one (Kato 10-1447 the Shikashima Express). I am looking at a Tomix Kiha 47-0, but before I spring for it, I want to be relatively sure I can convert it to DCC. Also, someone on the thread said they purchaced through a Tomix dealer who offers DCC conversion. I can't find the original post right now, but would love to know who the dealer is.

 

Kurt

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kvp

Personally i know that Tomytec motors are really easy to DCC, just 4 solder connections (2 pickup strips and 2 motor tabs).

 

Modern Tomix multiple unit motors also use the same pickup strip and motor tab connections. Headlight boards usually need the same mods as Kato non DCC friendly units, usually a led flip and a circuit split to use blue/white/yellow connections.

 

On the other hand, old split frame locomotives and multiple units are hard as it requires milling. The same is true for similarly old Microace motors. Headlights with the old grain of rice bulbs are also hard. These units usually have the old power collection system. There are reissues that still use these so it's best to avoid them for dcc.

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Oz_Paul

Most of my locos/ shinkansens are Tomix made, albeit 2-3 year old, and I have installed wired Digitrax DZ series decoders in all of them. 

 

Installations have been fairly straightforward as long as the basic precautions are taken i.e.

  1. Test decoder before install
  2. Isolate motor, preferably with kapton tape &
  3. Make enough room in loco to accommodate the decoder and wires.

Paul

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TCC Railroad
On 2/5/2018 at 6:40 PM, Oz_Paul said:

Most of my locos/ shinkansens are Tomix made, albeit 2-3 year old, and I have installed wired Digitrax DZ series decoders in all of them. 

 

Installations have been fairly straightforward as long as the basic precautions are taken i.e.

  1. Test decoder before install
  2. Isolate motor, preferably with kapton tape &
  3. Make enough room in loco to accommodate the decoder and wires.

Paul

Thanks, Paul. It sounds like most new (2015+) models should be able to be upgraded to DCC with about as much trouble as US locomotives.

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TCC Railroad
On 2/5/2018 at 3:42 PM, kvp said:

Personally i know that Tomytec motors are really easy to DCC, just 4 solder connections (2 pickup strips and 2 motor tabs).

 

I should be able to handle that! (Maybe, my soldering skills are not first rate to say the least...practice, practice, practice.)

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Martijn Meerts

I haven’t noticed tomix consistently eating more decoders than any other brand.

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Kim Perrin

I recently installed Digitrax DN136D decoders in a Tomix E1 Max set (circa 2000), with no issues. I wired the end car head/tail lights as though they were motors, assigned them the same decoder address as the motor car and ensured that the normally forward direction complied with the motor car. This way, they automatically change colors the way they are supposed to and also they still work correctly when run on DC analog layouts. The light boards have resistors wired in already so there is no need to rewire them or modify their circuits. The lights come on before the motor receives enough voltage to start. I have a feeling that Tomix deliberately requires higher starting voltage for the motor, which may explain some of the earlier comments about high starting voltage versus Kato.

 

On another subject, I have two of the Tomix DC power packs with the CL feature. The lighting on Kato sets like the Wide View Hida, and the 700 series, for instance, behaves exactly the same as Tomix when using these controllers.

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kvp

The motor decoder solution has the problem of keeping the lights lit while the train is stationery and keeping them at constant full brightness when going very slow. How did you solve these?

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Ochanomizu
On 4/7/2018 at 5:19 PM, kvp said:

The motor decoder solution has the problem of keeping the lights lit while the train is stationery and keeping them at constant full brightness when going very slow. How did you solve these?

Hello,

 

Wouldn't you just set CV02, CV05 and CV06 all to the same voltage setting for the two cab cars?

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kvp
5 hours ago, Ochanomizu said:

Hello,

Wouldn't you just set CV02, CV05 and CV06 all to the same voltage setting for the two cab cars?

No, as stopping would still cut the lights. The bipolar headlight capable decoders add the extra feature to have the lights on while the train is stationery.

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warra

I have one regular Tomix chassis to convert. First step was getting it running well on DC.  After I adjusted the pick up rail "springs" so that pickup from both bogies was working well  the performance of the chassis improved considerably, from  "hard to start and then runs away" to nice steady speed on a basic DC speed control. I'll report back after I attempt to convert to DCC.

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Kiran

Now that I discovered DCC, I am trying to see which of my trains I can convert. My 2 Shinkansens are Tomix N500 (92815) and the the N700a (92486). What are the chances of being able to install a decoder into these? Or should I consider getting Kato's DCC friendly versions?

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chadbag
1 hour ago, Kiran said:

Now that I discovered DCC, I am trying to see which of my trains I can convert. My 2 Shinkansens are Tomix N500 (92815) and the the N700a (92486). What are the chances of being able to install a decoder into these? Or should I consider getting Kato's DCC friendly versions?

 

You can install DCC in Tomix Shinkansens (I did the Kyushu N700) but it is a hardwire installation. There is no in-built facility for DCC in the Tomix trains.   I only did the motor car so far on my Tomix N700 Kysuhu version.   I have not yet done any end (cab) cars or interior lighting.

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Kiha66

Shouldn't be too hard, it may be slightly visible through the window but tomix trains are usually a pretty straightforward wired install.

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