• Kato C30-7 Sound Decoder Install

    Kato C30-7 DCC sound installation - and taking a few pictures of the process

    Before: Kato C30-7 (Santa Fe 8013) at 112g, ready to be attacked.

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0265.JPG

    Shell removed:

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0266.JPG

    DC PCB removed:

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0267.JPG

    Some gentle wiggling with a flat-tip screw-driver to pry loose the tank...

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0268.JPG

    ...and finally, all the mechanics removed and in one box:

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0269.JPG

    Right frame half:

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0270.JPG

    ...as seen from top - this is where the decoder will have some SMT-parts, so the material needs to be removed:

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0271.JPG

    and from below - the speaker shall fit in the tank, so will need to remove some material here as well:

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0272.JPG

    Powering up the Dremel-clone with a cut-off disc - remember: 1) They splinter easily, so wear glasses - I don't think safety goggles are required if you are wearing regular glasses as I am - and 2) Buy enough discs - you will destroy some, even if they won't splinter on you, you will pretty certainly grind them down until they are too small to accomplish anything meaningful. I destroyed two discs by splintering and two by just using them up...

    http://he-ro.dyndns.org/krempel/deco...7/IMG_0273.JPG

    (tbc - hit the 10-pictures-per-posting limit)
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. Nick Lorusso's Avatar
      Nick Lorusso -
      My 1 question why cut a chuck of frame off the fuel tank area instead of making a hole to fit the speaker? But thank you for the tutorial not many people show the secrets.
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      Well, because with my somewhat limited tools and skills I did not succeed in making a nice hole. I started out using a regular drill - won't work for two reasons:

      1) You can't drill into one half at a time, you need to work on both frame halves at once, otherwise the drill will spin away
      2) A regular drill will not make a hole with a flat bottom

      Then I experimented with a cutting bit in my drilling machine, but the fixtures I have are not sufficiently stiff for that (by a few orders of magnitude) so this cutting off chunks is the easiest way to do it, IMHO. Now if there was some space somewhere in the frame where I could just drill a hole through one half, that might work, but there are way too many gearboxes etc. inside the frame for that.

      Heiko
    1. grweldon's Avatar
      grweldon -
      It seems to be that there is more to this article than I am able to view. There is a notice that the 10 photo per post limit has been reached. How do I get to the rest?

      EDIT... the day after I post this message it seems that the problem is fixed...
    1. Ngaugingnut's Avatar
      Ngaugingnut -
      I guess we're wondering what happened to the actual decoder install as this just shows how to prep the frame.
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      Yeah, seems something went wrong when Bryan promoted the article to the home page (I'm happy he did, though I didn't expect it).

      Check this link: https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...ecoder-Install - leading to the "Tutorials" forum, hope you can see the other two posts with pictures there.

      Spoiler alert: I currently don't have any decoder ready so the last pic shows the engine with the speaker installed but with the original PCB on top. I've already ordered the decoders and will update this thread with one or two pics when I finally install one in here.

      Heiko
    1. Ridgeline's Avatar
      Ridgeline -
      Two thumbs up man! Super-clever idea, to me anyway, to cut a "square hole" and glue the speaker to the tank.... I've always made round holes for round speakers, and now I just feel foolish for having done so much extra work all this time....
    1. DrGonzo's Avatar
      DrGonzo -
      Nice tutorial!
      Which decoder are you planning to install? The SDN144K1E?

      Kyle.
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      Yes, that one. The speaker I installed actually came from one which I destroyed...

      Heiko
    1. Nskale's Avatar
      Nskale -
      I understand why you have to do all that, which makes me say this:

      Come on manufacturers - both decoder and locomotive designers! Get with the program and start designing the parts for an integrated solution for sound!

      For pete's sake it's 2013 ...
    1. DrGonzo's Avatar
      DrGonzo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
      Yes, that one. The speaker I installed actually came from one which I destroyed...

      Heiko
      Where are you planning on putting the capacitor? By the speaker?
    1. DrGonzo's Avatar
      DrGonzo -
      Quote Originally Posted by DrGonzo View Post
      Where are you planning on putting the capacitor? By the speaker?
      I just looked at the DigiTrax installation instructions and it seems that the capacitor goes on the top
      inside the plastic clip. What is that in that space in your picture? Did you put a different capacitor
      in there? A smaller one from the looks of it maybe?

      Attachment 39311

      Und viele Gre aus Los Angeles!
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      You are spot on. I used four of these: http://www.digikey.com/product-detai...89-2-ND/965903 soldered together in parallel, resulting in approx 90F. Using the capacitor Digitrax provides would require extra work on the frame, even on the SD40-2.

      For the SD40-2 I used three of the same capacitors, fitting nicely under the roof hatch, for the C44-9W I used four as well IIRC, under the rear end of the decoder. I can add a few pictures of those other engines maybe next weekend.

      Heiko
    1. DrGonzo's Avatar
      DrGonzo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
      You are spot on.
      ...
      Heiko
      Slick move!
      Do you see any difference in decoder behavior to the original cap? This sure makes the install easier.
      Thanks for sharing this Heiko!

      Kyle.
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      I haven't done much testing, so I can't really say if there is any difference. I can tell you though that you don't want to run the decoder without any capacitor - sound will restart frequently as soon as you start moving the loco. This does not happen with the small SMD caps and it does not happen with the OEM Digitrax cap either.

      Heiko
    1. DrGonzo's Avatar
      DrGonzo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
      I haven't done much testing, so I can't really say if there is any difference. I can tell you though that you don't want to run the decoder without any capacitor - sound will restart frequently as soon as you start moving the loco. This does not happen with the small SMD caps and it does not happen with the OEM Digitrax cap either.

      Heiko
      Heiko, from what I've read it seems like Tantalum SMD caps are the best replacement for the larger "regular" electrolytic caps.
      I have found some pretty cheap on eBay and will give that a go. Any idea when your decoder will come? Can't wait to see
      (and hopefully hear!) it installed.

      Kyle.
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      Kyle,

      Quote Originally Posted by DrGonzo View Post
      Heiko, from what I've read it seems like Tantalum SMD caps are the best replacement for the larger "regular" electrolytic caps.
      Yes, if they are small enough they certainly are a good replacement. These ceramic capacitors are even smaller - this was important for the SD40-2 and also for the C44-9. The C30-7 would probably also be able to accomodate a tantalum cap, though you'd have to be more careful not to block the LED for the front lights.

      Quote Originally Posted by DrGonzo View Post
      Any idea when your decoder will come? Can't wait to see
      (and hopefully hear!) it installed.
      No idea at all, actually. I have ordered them from a German hobby shop, along with some other stuff they will have to import as well. Sometimes they will receive and forward the stuff within two weeks, sometimes it takes months, due to many different reasons - from Walthers not delivering to the carrier having trouble to customs being slow or a PITA.

      I placed the order Dec 18, hoping I might be able to go past their shop (600km from here) ob my end-of-January-trip and pick up the stuff, but... you never know.

      However, I have some more engines with sound, including another C30-7. Might try to take a video from one of them on the weekend, even though the sound is still the factory-installed SD40-2 16 cyl two stroke (645) sound and I'd also have to find some webspace for a vid...

      Heiko
    1. DrGonzo's Avatar
      DrGonzo -
      Thanks Heiko.
      I have ordered some 100uF and 220uF 16v SMD tantalum caps, just in case I get around to installing a sound decoder into one of
      my engines. I have a couple of stationary sound decoders on my layout, and while the sound quality through the 2.1 speakers is pretty
      good, the fact that the sound doesn't move with the engines is somewhat.. irritating after a while. At least to me.

      Webspace for your video? I'm sure you've heard of YouTube, no?

      Kyle.
    1. N-Bob's Avatar
      N-Bob -
      Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
      Well, because with my somewhat limited tools and skills I did not succeed in making a nice hole. I started out using a regular drill - won't work for two reasons:

      1) You can't drill into one half at a time, you need to work on both frame halves at once, otherwise the drill will spin away
      2) A regular drill will not make a hole with a flat bottom

      Then I experimented with a cutting bit in my drilling machine, but the fixtures I have are not sufficiently stiff for that (by a few orders of magnitude) so this cutting off chunks is the easiest way to do it, IMHO. Now if there was some space somewhere in the frame where I could just drill a hole through one half, that might work, but there are way too many gearboxes etc. inside the frame for that.

      Heiko
      You clamp the two frame halves together in a machine vise. A "Forstners" can be used to drill aluminum! The operation must be done in a drill press at it's slowest rpm. Clamp the work securely and feed the bit in small increments, backing off frequently to break the chips. Use kerosene or bee's wax to lube the bit.
    1. SOO's Avatar
      SOO -
      Some one beat me to it about the forstner bit. Heck the first two articles I read are very informative , I can see this is a great forum.

      Adios, Wyatt
    1. Heiko's Avatar
      Heiko -
      OK, I may try that next time, though I'm afraid my drill press (and my fingers) is not precise enough to allow for the required "small increments". Plus, the Forstner bit in 13mm diameter will be expensive...

      Anyway, the decoder finally arrived on Friday and I finished the installation. First, cut off the capacitor so the wires are long enough for the ones I'm using:


      Remove the DC PCB from the frame by lifting it up (in this special case) and pushing it towards the rear, then you can remove the motor tabs:


      ...and attach the motor tabs to the decoder:


      I solder them, to make sure the contact is fine and to prevent them from bending outwards and catching on the shell's walkway when lifting the shell of the frame:


      Now is the big moment: Slip in the decoder where the PCB used to be (with the capacitors already attached to the decoder). I needed to shim the front end of the decoder a little (two layers of regular paper) to make a good contact, YMMV. The picture also shows the already existing speaker cables...


      Carefully route all the cables so they won't be squeezed when you put on the shell - and so they also won't be in the way of the LEDs:


      De-solder the new speaker cables from the decoder, solder the already-installed speaker cables to the same pads. Polarity does not matter, according to Digitrax instructions - it's only relevant if you want to install multiple speakers to have them all in phase.

      Now is also a good time for a first check: Lights are on



      And finally, the end result:


      I'm uploading two videos right now - first one with a steady camera, but noise transferring through the foam, second with a hand-held camera, but much more realistic audio. Still, I'd say it sounds a little better than the second video in reality. Will add them here once vimeo is done converting them.

      Have fun,

      Heiko

      edit: First video, noisy, but stable picture: