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CaptOblivious

DCC Decoders for DCC-Ready Kato Locomotives

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CaptOblivious

Kato uses three kinds of lightboards in their designs, which I have labeled "Narrow", "Wide", and "Short", for lack of better terms. The narrow-style board is extremely common in their North American outline models, but it is only used in one Japanese model, the DD51—all of these are rather narrow diesel locomotives. The short-style is relatively new, showing up in the North America NW-2 switcher, and a new release of the C62 steam engine. I suspect that the upcoming DE10 release may use this board as well.(nope, it takes the "Narrow" style!) The wide-style board is used extensively in everything else (including some European HST locomotives).

 

Wide:

wide.jpg

DF50, DF200, EF58, EF60, EF63, EF64, EF65, EF66, EF81, EF200, EF210, EF510, EH200, EH500, ED75, ED79, E851

 

Narrow:

narrow.jpg

DD51

DE10

 

Short:

short.jpg

C62

 

 

[table]

[/td]

Short

Short

Wide

Wide

Wide

Wide

Narrow

Narrow

Narrow

[td]DN123K3

K3D3

K0D8

#0001664

N12K0a

DN163K0a

#0001642

K1D4

DN163K1d

 

Manufacturer

Digitrax

TCS

TCS

MRC

NCE

Digitrax

MRC

TCS

Digitrax

Price

$30

$35

$??

$35

$30

$35

$35

$35

$36

Functions

2

3

8

2

2

6

2

4

6

Advanced Consisting?

Loadable Speed Table?

Dimmable Lights?

BEMF?

Fancy Momentum?

Transponding?

RailCom?

Max Current (cont. func.)

n/a

?

?

n/a

n/a

500

n/a

50

500

Max Current (peak func.)

n/a

?

?

n/a

n/a

?

n/a

?

?

Max Current (cont. total)

1250

1000

?

1000

1000

1500

1000

1000

1000

Max Current (peak total)

2000

2000

?

?

1250

2000

?

2000

1250

[/table]

 

Functions

 

Two functions are the minimum: One for each set of headlights. Two more functions are even better: One for each set of markerlights. Of course, the Kato locomotives that these decoders will fit don't actually come with markerlights, but they do come with clear red lenses and space to fit a small LED. Some frame milling may be required, but nothing extensive. Two more features and…well, I'm not sure what those buy you. I don't see any reason why you could wire the markerlights to two function outputs simultaneously to allow a broader range of effects.

 

Advanced Consisting

 

If you want to consist locomotives, Advanced Consisting is the way to do it. The hard way is to assign each locomotive in the consist the same address, but then you cannot operate their various lights prototypically—each locomotive will have its headlights on, for example! Advanced Consisting allows each locomotive to keep its individual address by adding a secondary address. Consisting is only activated when an address is programmed into this secondary slot. Moreover, decoders with Advanced Consisting give you the option of setting up alternate programs for the various functions, allow prototypically-correct lighting control during consisted operation. If you are going to consist a locomotive or two with an EMU or DMU, make sure that the decoders you use in the MU also support Advanced Consisting.

 

Loadable Speed Table

 

All decoders today support the three-step speed table. This table maps voltages two the lowest non-zero throttle setting, the middle throttle setting, and the highest throttle setting. But many locomotive models do not have a linear response to increased voltage, and indeed, neither do the prototypes. A 28-step speed table, also called a loadable speed table, divides the throttle into 28 regions (instead of just three), giving you more control over the models response to throttle changes.

 

Dimmable Headlights

 

As in the United States, Japanese rules of operation require trains to dim their headlights when passing or standing at passenger stations. Although a subtle feature, many modelers enjoy prototypical lighting effects in their trains. Typically, a decoder that supports this feature will dim the lights when F4 is pressed. Any function decoder that supports "Rule 17" operation of the lights will support this feature.

 

Digitrax's implementation of Rule 17 lighting is not as flexible as other manufacturers. One option for Rule 17 lighting is to dim the headlight opposite the direction of travel, so both headlights are on. This is called "opposite dim" by Digitrax and TCS, and is not prototypical for Japanese locomotive operations. Unfortunately, Digitrax decoders do not allow you to disable this aspect of Rule 17 operation—headlight dimming and opposite dim are all-or-none in Digitrax decoders.

 

BEMF

 

Back EMF (BEMF) is a method for regulating the motor speed for smooth low-speed operation, and maintaining constant speed up and down inclines. It works by inferring the motor's speed by measuring the amount of feedback generated by its rotation—called back EMF—and adjusting the voltage up or down to maintain a constant speed. This feature is critical for low-speed operations, including smooth acceleration and deceleration from and to a full stop.

 

Fancy Momentum

 

All the decoders surveyed offer basic linear acceleration and deceleration, but some manufacturers go a step further. TCS offers 3-step acceleration and deceleration curves for non-linear momentum. This feature is nice for simulating smooth and realistic-looking station stops and starts.

 

Lenz and ESU offer a feature called "constant stopping distance", which, when active, varies the deceleration term to bring the model to a stop within a fixed distance, regardless of the speed of the model. This is great for automating station stops, because you will know the distance from the station throat to the stopping point, but you might now know just how fast a model is traveling when it enters the station throat.

 

Bidirectional Communications

 

RailCom and Transponding are two different systems of bidirectional communications over DCC. Normally, DCC is a one-way signal: From the command-station to the decoder. There is normally no method for DCC decoders to respond. RailCom and Transponding are methods for the decoder to send a response to the command-station. This is really useful for automated control of a layout, but is not a necessary feature to implement basic block occupancy detection, although both methods require a block occupancy detector detector to work. I won't get into a discussion of the advantages or disadvantages of each system; you can read more about those elsewhere on the Internet.

 

RailCom is Lenz's semi-proprietary standard. RailCom responses can be detected by a Lenz LRC130 RailCom detectors and reported to a computer via the Lenz LRC135 RailComBus USB adapter.

 

 

Transponding is Digitrax's proprietary standard for bidirectional communication, and is currently only implemented in Digitrax decoders and Kato decoders designed by Digitrax. Transponding responses are detected by a Digitrax RX4 detectors, which must themselves be attached to a Digitrax BDL168 block occupancy detector. Transponding events can be communicated to a computer via the Digitrax PR3 LocoNet USB adapter.

 

Maximum Current Ratings

The current rating of a decoder tells you the largest load you can connect to the decoder. Each light, motor, speaker, etc., draws a certain amount of current; attaching too many will cause the decoder to overheat and perhaps even die.

 

A manufacturer often lists two or more different current ratings. A current rating is either for each function individually, or the total current for all functions combined. Moreover, a current rating is either a continuous rating or peak rating.

 

Continuous Current per Function is the amount of current a decoder function lead can handle over an indefinite time period. For example, if the literature claims a 125mA continuous function current rating, then you can attach a lamp that draws up to 125mA to that function, and leave it on as long as you please.

 

Peak Current per Function is the amount of current a decoder function lead can handle for short bursts. Incandescent lamps, when they first turn on, have an inrush current that is ten times the current draw of that lamp. For example, a lamp that is rated as drawing 50mA will actually draw 500mA very briefly when it is turned on. So this rating is important to know when you are using incandescent lamps. LEDs do not have a significant inrush current.

 

Continuous Total Current is the total amount of current that the decoder can supply for all functions combined over an indefinite time period. The sum of the current draw of all lamps must not exceed this amount. This may limit the number of lamps or other loads you can attach to the decoder.

 

Peak Total Current is the total amount of current that the the decoder can supply for all functions combined for short bursts. This is particularly important for motor decoders, where the stall current of the motor (the amount of current the motor draws when it is stalled or locks-up) must be less than this number. Unless you will be using a large number of incandescent lamps (see above), this number is relatively unimportant for function decoders.

 

 

 

A heavily editorialized version of this review can be found on my blog:

http://akihabara.artificial-science.org/dcc/dcc-decoders-for-dcc-ready-kato-locomotives/

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CaptOblivious

TCS has announced the new K0D8, an 8-function deocder to fit locomotives with the "wide" light board for mid-October release. The only specs released are that it will feature 8 (!!!) functions. The other specifications listed for it above are speculative: Since recent TCS releases have included RailCom, this one likely will too. Moreover, TCS attempts to maintain a consistent feature set across all their decoders, so I predict that this decoder will support all the other TCS features listed above.

 

http://tcsdcc.com/Customer_Content/Customer_Info/Bulletins/NewDecoders.html

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CaptOblivious

Member Inobu has just measured the circuit boards in his Kato DE10 and Kato NW2 (N.A. prototype), and claims they differ, and that the DE10 will likely not take "short" DCC boards.

 

Indeed, the photos Inobu posted to the gallery ( http://www.jnsforum.com/index.php?action=mgallery;sa=item&id=658 ) show that the DE10 takes the "long" style board.

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kmcsjr

Just to confirm, are there any DCC ready (drop in decoder, or wired docoder on tender) Kato JNR steamers? (Not Kobo, unless it's reasonable)

 

Thanks

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CaptOblivious

Just to confirm, are there any DCC ready (drop in decoder, or wired docoder on tender) Kato JNR steamers? (Not Kobo, unless it's reasonable)

 

Thanks

 

None that I know of. I had heard that the 9600 model would take one, but I have never seen confirmation of that fact. I've just dissected Kato's new D51-489, a very new and very clever design, and it was one of the more difficult decoder installs I've done in a while :( Absolutely no drop-in for it!

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Webskipper

Only Kato Steamer that gets a drop-in is the GS4. Decoder is an EM13.

 

D51-498 tender weights are milled for a sound decoder. Still have to hard wire it back to the boiler.

 

I don't know of any other brand making a drop-in for a Steamer.

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CaptOblivious

I stand corrected. Last night, while perusing the NGDCC website, I found this gem:

http://www.snjpn.com/ngdcc/de22/de22x2_c62kj.htm

It's a drop-in decoder to fit the Kato 2019-2 D62 steamer. Not sure what other decoders might fit in there.

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The_Ghan

...

 

RailCom is an open standard developed by Lenz and adopted by the NMRA as a Recommended Practice for DCC. That is, it is now an official, if optional, part of the DCC specifications. RailCom responses can be detected by a Lenz LRC130 RailCom detectors and reported to a computer via the Lenz LRC135 RailComBus USB adapter.

 

...

 

I just thought I'd post this update as, to my knowledge, the NMRA has not adopted either Transponding or RailCom as a standard or recommended practice.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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CaptOblivious

...

 

RailCom is an open standard developed by Lenz and adopted by the NMRA as a Recommended Practice for DCC. That is, it is now an official, if optional, part of the DCC specifications. RailCom responses can be detected by a Lenz LRC130 RailCom detectors and reported to a computer via the Lenz LRC135 RailComBus USB adapter.

 

...

 

I just thought I'd post this update as, to my knowledge, the NMRA has not adopted either Transponding or RailCom as a standard or recommended practice.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

 

That is correct. Will fix that later today.

  • Like 1

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The_Ghan

Cap'n

 

I notice you haven't updated your blog yet ...  :cool: ... one of my favourite places, your blog!

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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KenS

It is, however, a draft RP. I seem to be reading these in reverse order, so I commented over on the Motor Car thread and won't repeat the details here, but the RP was just updated in May.

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quinntopia

Is it me (or Firefox 26 on Mac OS 10.9.1) or is the table that Don created completly hosed in this thread now? 

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cteno4

yeah looks like the code did not survive the move to the new forum software...

 

jeff

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kvp

I've finally got my Kato nohab locomotive. It's an european diesel locomotive based on the gm f7. This locomotive will be run mostly on an european club layout with DCC, so i would like to add a decoder, hopefully with sound that also works in analog mode at home. It comes with a 6 pole NEM connector and there seems to be space reserved in the roof for a small round speaker. So far i've found that the loksound v4.0 decoder supports the right nohab sounds.

 

My questions are:

-which variant of the decoder should i use

-which speaker should i use for this locomotive

 

Any info will be appreciated!

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