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Bernard

Installing a DCC Decoder for Motor

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Bernard

I decided to show how I installed a Lenz decoder in to my Kato 500 Nozomi Shinkansen and I'll do it step by step. It's fairly easy and I recommend a 15 watt soldering iron and alligator clips or forceps. The first photo is the complete motor car and the second photo show the top and bottom pieces apart from the chassis.

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Bernard

The 3rd photo shows the underside of the chassis where if you look closely you will see 2 plastic clasps near the motor, you will have to squeeze them in order to get the upper plate off from the chassis.

 

The 4th photo is the 2 terminals you will have to solder coming form the motor, the yellow wire and the gray.

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Bernard

The 5th photo shows the soldering point of the Black wire to the front end of the brass pick up shoe. Remember that the Black & Gray wires are connected on the same side and the Orange & Yellow wires on the opposite sides.

 

The 6th photo show how to isolate the connection form the brass pick up shoe from the 2 terminal points from the motor. I use Kapton isolating tape and all I do is wrap it once around the brass strip where there would be a connection to the 2 motor terminals. I also use a little of the tape to make sure the strip stays in place.

 

The last photo show the motor car opened with the decoder installed with the pin that keeps the motor terminals locked down in place. I didn't cut or remove the 3 wires for controlling the lights, just in case in the future I want to put this decoder into another train.

 

Well I hope this helps and it really is fairly easy.

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CaptOblivious

Very nice! Did you just recently do this install? How has it run since installation? What decoder did you use? Headlights coming soon?  ;)

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Bernard

Capt,

I did this install a few months ago I will do another photo step by step because I don't like the way the photo of "Kapton" tape looks on the brass strips. It runs beautifully, I haven't had any problems with it at all. I've ordered the digitrax TF-4 decoders for the Head & tailights and they should be coming soon. Maybe this weekend I'll do the install on them and show the steps using the guide you gave earlier.

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hbr245b

I've just performed an install using the above instructions. My first ever time soldering anything! Took me longer to put the coach back together than to perform the actual install.

 

Many thanks for the help!

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Bernard

Great to hear that! The best part is now that you did your first one the next will be easier. For me personally, I find the Kato's the easiest to install decoders. I hope to show an install with a Tomix train next later on. Can you post some photos of the train if you don't mind.

 

Martijn, you have said that the Kato cargo train is a little tricky to install a decoder. Do you also have photos?

Thanks

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Martijn Meerts

Bernard, I don't think I have any readily available, but I can take a few. The M250 is in need of half an hour worth on the roller bench thingy anyway ;) The decoder install itself is fine, you just put it inside the container of the powered car with the motor, the problem is (as always ;)) the lighting to the cab =)

 

 

As for decoder installs, I've noticed that locomotives are often much more difficult than shinkansen, EMU's and DMU's. Not only is there much less space in a loco, but the power pickup from the wheels is usually done through the frame. The frame is divided in 2 parts and electrically isolated from each other. It's easy enough to isolate the motor from this frame, but soldering onto the frame is difficult to do. I'm not sure what type of metal the frame is made of, but your average soldering iron/pen and leaded tin won't do much good. I'm still experimenting with soldering on the frame, and I know there's people who've managed with a 40 watt soldering iron. Most of the latest loco's I've tried to convert had this type of split-frame construction.

 

I'm actually having some issues adding a Selectrix decoder to a Tomix EF510 loco. The loco is my father's, and he runs Selectrix rather than DCC. But we've already destroyed 2 decoders. The first one after 2.5-3 weeks of running just fine, the 2nd after only 15 minutes or so. Not sure what's causing it, I did the install exactly the same as my Tomix EF65-1000 (which also has a Selectrix/DCC decoder due to space limitations), and the EF65 seems to be running fine.

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hbr245b

Here's a picture of the motor coach of my 500 - I used a Digitrax DZ123.

 

It's rather difficult to see but the black & red wires are soldered to the wheel pickups (underneath the red decoder pouch). The grey & orange wires are soldered to the motor connectors.

 

On the left you may be able to see the LED light. This is not controlled by the decoder.

 

Now I've seen how "easy" it is to install the motor decoder, my attention will turn to the lights in the end cars. For now though, I'm feeling quite pleased with myself.

 

I couldn't have done it without the forum!

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CaptOblivious

Excellent work! Congratulations, and welcome to the delightful world of soldering! It really does get easier with only a couple of installs under your belt. Just in case you missed it, I'll plug my site now: I have a pictorial guide on my website on installing DCC for the lights in the end cars. http://akihabara.artificial-science.org/  ;)

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Martijn Meerts

Looking good ;)

 

If it comes to soldering, the best tips I can give is to invest in a decent soldering iron with a sharp tip and low wattage. Even better is a soldering station that allows you to control the heat (either analog or digital). Other than that, practice a lot, and the soldering itself will become real easy =)

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Martijn Meerts

And here's a few pictures of my M250 install (and a bonus at the end ;))

 

 

This is the M250, for those who haven't seen it yet ;)

 

06-kato_m250.jpg

 

 

 

This is a closeup of the wire(s) going from the container to the cab. I've painted them grey, and while you can clearly see the wire on the picture, in reality it's not that bad. I had to cut away a bit of plastic to allow the wires to fit. The other option is to lead the wires down alongside the driveshaft, but you need to glue the wire down in that case to make sure it won't ever get caught up in the driveshaft.

 

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The decoder fits nicely inside the container. Grey and orange go to the motor which is right underneith the decoder. Red and black go to the power pickup strips which are right below the plastic frame. White, yellow and blue go to the cab, where blue is common return, and white and yellow are direction dependent lights (white headlights, red taillights thing)

 

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With the cab removed you can see where the white, yellow and blue wires go. I flipped the white LED to make sure both the white and red LED have a common anode. The biggest problem here was that the etched copper tracks on the circuit board were very flimsy, and they had a tendency to come off the actual board. I had to glue them back in place here and there.

 

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Same as the previous, but a top-down view.

 

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As for the bonus, the following is a Lenz Gold Mini decoder in a Kiha02 railbus. The issue here is that there is limited space, plus that the railbus has direction dependent light, meaning it has both white and red LED's on both ends. If you look closely, you can see a very thin copper wire, that one connects the correct LED's on both ends ;) It actually works like this, but the problem is that light spills into the cab and out the sides, so I need to work a bit on the black isolation tape. If you want fiddly decoder installs though, those railbusses are probably a good candidate. Best thing is, I have 6 of them, all of which need a decoder .... The railbus is an entire 6.5cm long btw =)

 

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Bernard

hbr245b,

How was the programming after the install was done and what system do you use?

 

Martijn - Your work is amazing! I looks like the train came with the decoder already installed, I can't see a drop of solder and all the wires are evenly cut. Thanks for posting the photos!

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acousticco

Martijn, I can't believe you got a decoder into one of those tiny railbusses!  Is there still enough room inside for the weight?  I would be worried it wouldn't run as well without it.

 

-Cody

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Martijn Meerts

Bernard, thanks =) Some of the installs are quite okay. As mentioned in another thread, I generally de-solder the wires from the decoder, and solder the wires to wherever they should go first. Then I cut the wires to length and re-solder them to the decoder. It takes a bit of practice, but with a good soldering iron it's very doable. The biggest problem is usually the blue wire on the Lenz Gold Mini's, since that one's connected to a tiny diode.

 

 

 

Cody, as it is now, there's no room for the weight anymore unfortunately. I'm still working on the railbus, trying to figure out what to do with it. It doesn't run very well now (although that might be partially due to dirt, dust and cat hairs ;)), and I can't fit in one of those Power1 modules by Lenz (basically just a capacitor that stores a few seconds worth of power.) I need to do some more experimenting here.

 

Some of the options would be to try and fit the decoder on top of the weight, or cut a piece out of the weight so that it'll fit on top of the decoder. Another option would be to just glue some lead on the underside of the shell.

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hbr245b

I'm using a Digitrax Zephyr.

 

To be honest the programming is a bit of a nightmare. I'm certain that my programming track is correctly connected but cannot read or write any values to the Nozomi (can't read or write to any other decoders either).

 

I was able to program the Nozomi on the "main" (and other decoders) but the problem is that I have set the id of the decoder to an unknown value so it's currently out of commission! I cannot reset the decoder as the programming track won't work. Catch 22.

 

I have seen a tip to use 1K Ohm 1/4-Watt resistor on the programming track. Trip to RadioShack later today. Otherwise will be contacting Digitrax tomorrow.

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Bernard

hbr245b,

I'm using the Lenz 100 system and when I first set up my tracks, I made a block for programming but I was having problems. I called Tony @ Tony's train exchange and he told me to make a separate track (or spur) just for programming, away from the main line. Then he said, use "16 gauge wire" connected directly to that track. I took his advice but instead I took a piece of track, mounted it on a block of wood, solder 16 gauge wire to it and program the trains there. I've never had a problem since.

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CaptOblivious

I'm using a Digitrax Zephyr.

 

To be honest the programming is a bit of a nightmare. I'm certain that my programming track is correctly connected but cannot read or write any values to the Nozomi (can't read or write to any other decoders either).

 

I was able to program the Nozomi on the "main" (and other decoders) but the problem is that I have set the id of the decoder to an unknown value so it's currently out of commission! I cannot reset the decoder as the programming track won't work. Catch 22.

 

I have seen a tip to use 1K Ohm 1/4-Watt resistor on the programming track. Trip to RadioShack later today. Otherwise will be contacting Digitrax tomorrow.

 

Greetings fellow Zephyr user! I know you said you are certain the programming track is connected properly, but I once had similar problems and thought the same. Notice that the leads for the programming track on the Zephyr unit are split by the ground lead:

 

trk+ trk- prg+ grn prg- jmp1 jmp2

 

or something very similar to that. My programming track was wired one to a programming lead, the other to the ground, which ended up quietly frying my decoders somehow.

 

That said, if you are right, and it really is correct, this is a major issue, and you are right to call Digitrax at this point...I hope it turns out well for you!

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hbr245b

I doubled checked the wiring (again!) after reading your message and I'm 100% certain that it's correct.

 

I contacted Digitrax support via email yesterday (Sunday) and had a response by 9.45 EDT on Monday. Very impressed so far.

 

My email included details that when I placed the Nozomi 500 on the programming track, the interior lights lit up. I questioned whether this was normal behaviour.

 

Digitrax are having me send the Zephyr back to them for repair.

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CaptOblivious

That is not normal behavior. The programming track does not provide power, except during the transmission of a CV value...which is just that brief period after you press cv-wr. Oh my! Digitrax tech support are really good, as is their customer service generally, so I expect things will turn out well!

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alpineaustralia

I just bought a Kato 500 series on ebay which was described as "New in Box" and had not been converted to DCC.

I received it today and saw that someone had installed a decoder in the motor carriage. When I oped her up, this was the sight that I saw....

 

 

Martijn, Capt O, you have some stiff competition for the world's best decoder install! 

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CaptOblivious

My decoder installs are crap, I make no claim to their quality  ;) —although I am fastidious about my solder-work, at least. I'm not sure I can say the same about this one  :-\. What is that free-floating blob of solder? What's up with the red wire? Maybe the pictures are deceiving, but that really doesn't look like very good solder-work at all. I don't want to unnecessarily worry you though. It does run at least?

 

EDIT: My sarcasm detectors are defective today! Forgive me  :D Can it be fixed? Removed at least? Did you at least get a good price?

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Bernard

alpineaustrailia,

Wow, I don't know how some people can have the nerve to do something like that. What if you planned on running it DC and not DCC?

 

Wait a minute, looking at the photo again, did the seller cut the brass terminals coming from the motor when they installed the decoder? Good luck with whatever you decide to do and keep us posted on what happens with it.

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alpineaustralia

The fact is I dont know if it works at all.

It didnt work when I put it on the tracks and addressed the commands to Loco 3 (ie. the default address).

I will try addresses 5, 50 and 500 given that it is 500 series shinkansen.

In the meantime, I am waiting for the ebay seller to get back to me with the address aswell as how she hopes to redress the situation.

I paid about 60% of the current retail price for a new one. But for this "discount", I will have to uninstall the decoder, clean a lot of crap off the wheels (this train has never ever been cleaned) and try to locate a replacement pantograph  - all of these defects were not consistent  with the "New in Box" Grade 9 description of the train.

I have so far bought all of my train stuff on ebay and so far this is the first real disappointment.

 

I'll keep you posted guys. 

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Martijn Meerts

I think I'll give up installing decoders, because obviously I'm nowhere near as good as the person who installed that 500 series one ;)

 

I know that Tomix is very good with spare parts, so I'd expect Kato to be no different. I needed a replacement bogie not that long ago, after a coupling had broken off. I got a new one, free of charge, within 4 weeks time.

 

I think I posted some 800 series install shots, also a Kato. That one and the 500 series install are very similar, so you could have a look there. Not saying that how I installed it is the best way, but it works ;)

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