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Bernard

Installing a DCC Decoder for Motor

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hbr245b

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!

 

I've just had an email from Digitrax that my Zephyr is on its way back. They've had it for well over a month! And of course, it's guaranteed NOT to arrive before the weekend. Still, I just ordered a Kato E4 from MB Klein so maybe that will arrive before the weekend!

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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!

 

I've just had an email from Digitrax that my Zephyr is on its way back. They've had it for well over a month! And of course, it's guaranteed NOT to arrive before the weekend. Still, I just ordered a Kato E4 from MB Klein so maybe that will arrive before the weekend!

 

Excellent! Let us know how it goes. I love that Kato E4, just got one myself...

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alpineaustralia

I have a Kato E4 with the plug n' play Kato decoders (29-351, 29-352 and 29-353) and I couldnt be happier.

I am not sure whether they (as a cominbation work) better than the Digitrax decoders or whether it is just that I seem to install the digitrax decoders in older trains (ie Kato TGV and Tomix 300). 

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Martijn Meerts

As far as I know, the Kato decoders are simplified versions of Digitrax decoders. Digitrax designed the circuit board and the programming etc, but Kato manufactures them.

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alpineaustralia

Vourdan har du det Martijn

I guess then it must be that I am installing the digitrax decoders in older trains (ie Kato TGV and Tomix 300). 

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Martijn Meerts

I know that Kato and Digitrax have some sort of an agreement. Digitrax also makes a lot of drop-in decoder boards for American prototype Kato locomotives.

 

As for Digitrax having designed the Kato decoders, I got that from someone on a mailing list when Kato first announced the decoders.

 

But, it seems that decoders aren't always the same. For example, you can have 2 decoders of the same brand and same type, build them into 2 trains of the same brand and same type, and they can still show quite a difference in running characteristics. That's a reason why I'm slightly hesitant to convert my 0 and 100 series Tomix shinkansen, as they each have 2 motorized cars.

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alpineaustralia

Hey guys. I finally settled with the ebay seller that sold me the dud Kato 500 shinkansen.

She was actually quite good to deal with and I believe that she didnt know what she was selling

I got a $45 credit so the train cost me $70 (+postage).

Now to cleaning the wheels and installing a new decoder. I have ordered a few DZ143s.

Can anyone recommend anything to clean wheels?

 

On another note, I used WD-40 on the bogie of an old E1 shinkansen which squeaked like crazy and laboured to move. Mate, it worked a treat and is now super quiet and flies around the track. I can certainly recommend it.

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CaptOblivious

Hey guys. I finally settled with the ebay seller that sold me the dud Kato 500 shinkansen.

She was actually quite good to deal with and I believe that she didnt know what she was selling

I got a $45 credit so the train cost me $70 (+postage).

Now to cleaning the wheels and installing a new decoder. I have ordered a few DZ143s.

Can anyone recommend anything to clean wheels?

 

That is great news! What a good deal, even with the bum install. If you're going to do a thorough cleaning, I remove the bogies, disassemble, and clean the wheels individually with cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Tedious, but effective, and works on non-powered cars too.

 

On another note, I used WD-40 on the bogie of an old E1 shinkansen which squeaked like crazy and laboured to move. Mate, it worked a treat and is now super quiet and flies around the track. I can certainly recommend it.

 

Just remember that WD-40 is a solvent—which is why it's so good at removing squeaks, it just powers things clean—and not a lubricant, so you should apply lubricant after doing this.

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hbr245b

Excellent! Let us know how it goes. I love that Kato E4, just got one myself...

 

Got the Zephyr back from Digitrax. Programming track now works fine.

 

I did however manage to fry the decoder in my Kato 500 while fitting interior LED lights :-( Back to square one now.

 

The Kato E4 also arrived and it's great so far. I had a Kato 29-351 decoder on hand and it installed easily. Where's a good source in  the USA of 29-352 & 29-353 decoders?

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alpineaustralia

For 29-252 and 29-353 try:

 

http://www.modeltrainwarehouse.com

 

Recently, they had them in stock for a while but dont know if they still have them.

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alpineaustralia

[Just remember that WD-40 is a solvent—which is why it's so good at removing squeaks, it just powers things clean—and not a lubricant, so you should apply lubricant after doing this.]

 

Thans for the tip on the isopropyl alcohol. I know that someone recently recommended a US product for lubricating the motor bushes etc. Can anyone recommend a generic product that I can buy in Oz? The post won't send liquids etc through the post. 

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Bernard

hbr245b - That is great news about your Zephyr system. I have found that Digitrax has an excellent customer support.

Now, the decoder that you fried was it a Digitrax decoder like the DZ125 or DZ123 or any other Digitrax decoders? Digitrax has an excellent return policy if it's solely one of their decoders.

Unfortunately as CaptO found out they don't support the Kato decoders. Here is the Digitrax link but you probably know this from the Zephyr repair.

 

http://www.digitrax.com/warranty3.php

 

aplineaustralia - you'll lucky you got an honest ebay seller and got a really good deal on the 500 Shinkansen! Is it working after you re-installed the decoder? I'm going to start a new topic on lubricants, I just went through a similar experience.

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alpineaustralia

What was your experience Bernard?

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Bernard

I not only fried one DZ123 decoder a couple of months ago but two. I saw the return policy and said, what do I have to lose. So I returned them with all the all the information that was required. A couple of weeks latter two DZ123 decoders arrive at my door, no questions asked. I've heard from other modelers that Digitrax's customer service is excellent.

 

I'll see again if it's excellent, you got it, I got a defective DZ125 decoder this time.

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Martijn Meerts

I know Lenz has a similar policy. If a decoder stops working you can send it back for a replacement (at least, in Europe you can.) I haven't tried this myself, even though I did burn my first decoder. The shipping, handling and import taxes would cost about as much as a new decoder...

 

I think quite a few decoder manufacturers do it actually, they hardly loose any money on it, since decoders are dirt cheap to manufacture.

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alpineaustralia

Bernard, you said that you just went through a similar experience to my ebay experience. What happened? Was it the dud decoders?

 

I just sent back to Digitrax a Dz125 because the motor functions didnt work. I now realise that infact I just may not have isolated the notor properly. Oops! Hopefully, they wont charge for my......oversight.

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alpineaustralia

Got to love Digitrax. They sent back a brand new Dz125 in place of my old one. Charged me $17 but then again they could have told me wasnt covered by waranty and charged me the full retail price. For customer service they get an A+.

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alpineaustralia

"That is great news! What a good deal, even with the bum install. If you're going to do a thorough cleaning, I remove the bogies, disassemble, and clean the wheels individually with cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Tedious, but effective, and works on non-powered cars too."

 

Capt - cleaned the bogies as suggest with iso propyl alcohol. Not only does it cut throughtb the grime (where does the grime come from?) but the wheels actually look brand spanking new. The change in performance is noticeable. Great tip Capt and thanks greatly. 

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CaptOblivious
Capt - cleaned the bogies as suggest with iso propyl alcohol. Not only does it cut throughtb the grime (where does the grime come from?) but the wheels actually look brand spanking new. The change in performance is noticeable. Great tip Capt and thanks greatly.

 

I wonder too where that gunk comes from. I guess it's just floating around in the air...? Dunno. Anyway, you're welcome! I learned the alcohol thing when I was a system admin: It's the easiest way to clean grimy computer mice! A little experimentation over the years revealed that it's really good for cleaning lots of things that pick up mysterious grime.

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Martijn Meerts

The grime is a combination of oil residue and mostly human skin particles ;)

 

The oil residue can be either from locomotives that have recently been oiled/greased, or they're leftovers from the manufacturing process. A lot of cleaning liquids are also not cleaning liquids as all, but rather conductive oils, which means that trains will run after "cleaning" the track, but it'll also attract far more dust.

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alpineaustralia

mostly skin particles huh? that's truly disgusting because that stuff was caked on pretty hard on that 500.

BTW has anyone used the Tomix or Atlas cleaning car?

Can anyone suggest or recommend it?

 

How do you drive it - do you need a DCC loco as well as a decoder in the cleaning car etc ?

 

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Martijn Meerts

Well, skin particles are one of the major components of dust ;)

 

The Tomix cleaning car is quite good if it comes to the vacuum cleaner part. I haven't extensively tested the other options. I did a quick run with the grinding pads, and they definitely picked up a lot of dirt.

 

You can run it without decoder, but it'll run at max speed all the time. The problem with that is not only the noise, but it'll also overheat. There's a protection circuit in there which shuts down the motor if it starts overheating. Set it aside for a while, and you can use it again for a few minutes. Adding a decoder is quite easy though. It does need a locomotive as well, as the motor inside the cleaning car is only used for the vacuum and grinding/polishing discs.

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hbr245b

I returned my fried DZ123 decoder back to Digitrax and received a new one in the post a couple of weeks later. Top marks for Digitrax!

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Bernard

Digitrax has one of the best customer service support systems. You think you're going to get a lot of "red tape" and you don't. You only hope most manufactures are like Digitrax when it comes to returns. I also got a new DZ123 decoder in the mail after sending back a fried one. No questions asked.

 

Oh, I think Digitrax is phasing out the DZ123 decoder and replacing it was a DZ125 model. It's "new and improved" which also means 5 bucks more. ::) (Whenever I hear that phrase, "new & improved" in any ad, I always wonder what were manufacturers selling us before, "old and crummy" ;D)

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alpineaustralia

Matey - I have installed both the DZ123 and the DZ125 and the only difference is that they seem to have shaved off a little of the length bit otherwise the new and improved is lost on me. In fact, I have made a habit of searching for the DZ123 because retailers seem to be dumping them to clear old stock as cheap as US$15 while the DZ125 seems to be going for about US $22 to 25.

 

Agree on your comments re Digitrax.  The only thing I would say it that they seem to me (based on my extremely limited experience) to fry very quickly. It seems we have all returned them after accidentally frying them despite the decoders having a mechanism that shuts them down when there is a short.

 

I am only conjecturing, but that may be why we are seeing such largess from them.

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