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Mauka

Newbie with Kato Series E6 Akita Shinkansen and V16 track set on order

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Mauka

Didn't order a "starter" set because I just want to run the super elevated double track.

Am I wrong to expect my Bachmann 'N' power supply to work?

Will I run into wiring problems adapting to the plug connector system Kato uses?

Can the V16 track set be assembled into various layouts, or just the one on the box?

 

Glad I found this fourm, I have learn alot reading posts and been inspired by the layouts shown here!

 

Thanks in advance,

Alan

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cteno4

Alan,

 

Welcome! You've been bitten!

 

Any dc 0-12v range power supply will work with Japanese trains. Your unitrak will have the mini Tamya connectors on the end (you can find these at hobby shops in the rc dept or on ebay if you want to make an adapter or just snip it off and screw down the wires on your power pack. Kato does make a pn adapter to spade lugs.

 

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/Kato-HO-N-24843-Unitrack-Adapter-Cord-p/kat-24843.htm

 

The v16 parts can be used with other pieces of unitrak to make up whatever layout design you want! Only limitations are the super elevated curve pieces in that there are transition pieces from non super elevated (flat) to super elevated and ones that are all super elevated at both ends. You can't connect a super elevated end to an regular, flat (non super elevated) end. The track in the set is just enough to do that loop as a starting point, the get some extra track and expand as you like!

 

Enjoy!

 

Jeff

Edited by cteno4

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Densha

Note that you need TWO power supplies, one for the inner and one for the outer track!

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Mauka

Aloha - The Netherlands to Washingtion DC, truely an international forum!

 

Jeff thanks for telling me about those adapters, I'll likely order them just to keep things neat and clean.  Been reading and comparing the various track packs and will likely order a pair of V1 Passing Sidings, or the equivalent pieces as individual track, to maintain the concrete tie look as much as possible.  The V12 Elevated Viaduct looks like fun too!  Budget permitting, it's sure nice to have those exra odd sized pieces at hand when using sectional track.

 

Densha, I do have two Bachmann power supplies and one of the reasons I skipped the starter set is I'd like to go to DCC system very soon.

 

Which of course means more questions... and while I'd like to do more background reading first, I'd love to hear your (and anyone on the forum) recomendation for the best DCC system for "JNS" models.

 

Alan

Edited by Mauka

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Densha

Haha yeah I didn't even see you live in Hawaii. *hides* Japanese rail fans are very scattered throughout the world because it's such a niche hobby, someone recently posted something about it but I dunno where.

 

My first Japanese train was also in a starter set, but I actually will use the tracks so it's no problem. If you wanted to go for double track I think you made the right decision to get the V16. Did you know Kato also makes single track with concrete ties? It's article number 20-875. If you combine it with separate switches (unfortunately only available with wooden ties) you have a better looking overall concrete appearance!

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cteno4

Alan

 

You'll find its pretty world wide here!

 

Unfortunately the 248 mm straight is the only bit of straight track made with concrete rails, rest is all the double track for concrete.

 

Jeff

Edited by cteno4

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lurkingknight

I think you become a Jrail fan once you ride some of them in person :P

 

The JR lines in tokyo have a charm to them like no other.

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Mauka

Never been to Japan, but if I ever do, a trip on a Shinkansen is at the top of my list!

We have many vistors from Japan and they are always polite and friendly, so a visit to Japan is a nice thought.

 

I have traveled on the Super Chief, Eurorail (1980's 200km/h), Alaska, and Amtrak. Not really sure why I like trains so much. Growing up in Hawaii the only trains left after WWII were hauling pineapples or naval munitions. There is a plan to build an elevated line in Honolulu and they even built a few support columns, but there's a lot of opposition and the cost keeps rising...

 

We're planning another Amtrak run between Seattle and Portland on our October vacation, and maybe a ride on Candian rail.

 

Meanwhile my Series E6 Akita Shinkansen just shipped from Japan and I'm expecting ModelTrainStuff to ship my V16 track set this week. I notice fourm members order direct from Japan (my Japan order was through Amazon.com), are there concerns with customs and extra bank fees? What shops are good?

 

Alan

Edited by Mauka

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Martijn Meerts

There's not really a 'best' DCC system. Which one you get depends mainly on what you need, and the availability of parts/decoders. Personally, I use an ESU ECoS, because in Europe those are reasonably priced for what they offer, and I tend to use ESU Lokpilot Micro and Lenz Silver+ Mini decoders, also because they're readily available here. They're definitely not the cheapest decoders, but they leave a lot of room for fine tuning motor control (especially the Lokpilot), which I've found almost necessary for all the various brands and motors. I'm certain Digitrax has similar decoders though, and their stuff is likely cheaper and more readily available over there.

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lurkingknight

the suppliers section lists most of the vendors that have the best pricing vs ease of use of their ecommerce sites. You might be able to find cheaper if you dig through rakuten (like a japanese amazon) but a lot of the businesses on rakuten have japanese only listings or have limited english capability even if you do manage to find what you want.

 

hobbysearch (1999.co.jp/eng) is probably the most comprehensive online store for trains. amiami.com can be cheaper but they don't always list stock or they backorder it so the wait is longer. They have a no cancellation policy on their preorders as well. The owner of loco1hobby is here and he offers some really good pricing compared to hobbysearch and even amiami. I've found jp prices on track kits to be closer to 50% cheaper than the US prices, and I'm not sure why. All of the canadian vendors I've contacted are happy to offer US pricing... but JP pricing even with cost of import is blowing them out of the water. 

 

Import costs vary from country to country and geographic location. I would suggest tring to price out orders from everywhere to see what your cheapest option is. Most of the time jp vendors will only ship such large objects such as track kits  by express post, which is tracked and insured. Depending on where you are it's super fast. (3 business days for me) standard post takes longer if your package qualifies, and sometimes it's cheaper, but I've found with large items that the price difference between SAL and EMS is only a few dollars, so having it arrive in less than a week with insurance is far better than 3-4 weeks for the difference in cost.

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cteno4

Alan,

 

going thru amazon will probably be pricy for the folks that sell there. the main options that a lot of folks use that have english sites (listings) are plazajapan on ebay and hobby search (http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/rail/). both have been around a long time and well used and respected. some discount off of SRP.

 

We also have a new shop coming together that is catering to overseas orders as well (http://loco1hobby.com/ and english http://loco1hobby.net/) The owner is a member on the forum and you can contact him directly with questions about things  you might want. Dave has been great trying to get the best prices he can for folks. see this thread: http://www.jnsforum.com/community/topic/7129-loco1hobby/

 

there are other options as well folks use. fmodels (http://fmodels.jp/  orders@fmodels.jp) is a hobby shop in tokyo that ships overseas and is usually 15% or so off list and will look for stuff for you. they will ship ems or sal. poppendetta which is a chain of japanese hobby shops that will ship overseas and also has some interesting used stuff. their website and checkout is in japanese though and they only ship ems.

 

there is no tax or duties on toys coming from japan to the us. bank fees are usually only on your credit card if they charge you the 1-3% for an international transaction where you change currancy. paypal sort of builds this into their exchange rate unless you pay for the item thru your cc with them then its only if your cc has the extra fee. all of the above shops do paypal and/or cc, so no bank transfers necessary.

 

shipping is usually sal or ems. sal is slower usually right around 2 weeks average. small packages can come a bit faster and bigger packages can take longer to the us, up to 3 week or so. but the vast majority of packages are right at 2 weeks. SAL is for smaller packages though as at around 2kg its up to the ems price. no insurance or tracking with sal although some shops will do a registered mail with sal to get you some tracking for an additional small fee.

 

ems is express shipping and usually shows up in the us in 3-5 days and comes express mail on our end. you get full tracking and insurance with this, but you pay for it too! ems for a 6 car train set is about 3200Y ($32) and sal 1600Y ($16). 

 

ive never had a sal package lost or destroyed and hundreds over the years here to DC. ive saved at least a couple of thousand dollars in shipping that i have then spent on trains and im pretty self insured now if a package does go poof at some point. i usually do sal for everything i can except for really big stuff and if its something super rare that would be difficult to replace if lost. small packages ship sal about what it costs to do priority mail in the uss ($5-10) so fine for a few bits in a package w/o it costing as much to ship as the items do!

 

for stuff like unitrak then modeltraistuff will probably be a lot cheaper with the shipping charges, especially with bigger boxes. modeltrainstuff is a distributor so usually has some of the best prices around and usually a great selection. they are an excellent hobby shop and great service (actually in baltimore here). they do get japanese trains from kato from time to time. price is usually a bit higher than ordering direct, but nice to support someone bringing stuff over from time to time. they usually go in a 2 year cycle of bringing in a bunch then some dont sell and then they get sold off on sale for very good prices. then time with not much there again, then repeat.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Ochanomizu

Hello Mr Alan,

 

Please allow me to provide some additional information regarding your selection of DCC products.

 

Many Kato products are "DCC Friendly".  The term means that the product can accept a "Kato" branded decoder in a special slot.  There are three decoders:  EM13 for the motor car, FL12 for the leader car with head / tail lights and FR11 for interior lighting.

 

These decoders will work with any DCC system.  However, because the decoders are manufactured exclusively under license by Digitrax, they feature the Digitrax feed back system known as "Transponding".

 

Fitting other brands of decoders to DCC Friendly Kato products is a difficult process but would be necessary if you preferred to use the feed back system of a competitive product to Digitrax.

 

Please review the Digitrax webpage and consider if you would use Transponding before making your DCC purchase.  It is certainly not a necessity.

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Mauka

Thank you so much - it's going to take me some days to read through all this great informantion!  Even with the extra layer of going through Amazon I could see the Japanese shop prices (including shipping) are very competitive.  In some cases the shipping was even less, and many US shops still won't ship to Hawaii and Alaska.  Another surprise is the order I placed with the Japanese shop on Amazon has already shipped my order, where my order from the US shop has not even generated an order confirmation.   

 

Thanks again,

Alan

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Martijn Meerts
Hello Mr Alan,

 

Please allow me to provide some additional information regarding your selection of DCC products.

 

Many Kato products are "DCC Friendly".  The term means that the product can accept a "Kato" branded decoder in a special slot.  There are three decoders:  EM13 for the motor car, FL12 for the leader car with head / tail lights and FR11 for interior lighting.

 

These decoders will work with any DCC system.  However, because the decoders are manufactured exclusively under license by Digitrax, they feature the Digitrax feed back system known as "Transponding".

 

Fitting other brands of decoders to DCC Friendly Kato products is a difficult process but would be necessary if you preferred to use the feed back system of a competitive product to Digitrax.

 

Please review the Digitrax webpage and consider if you would use Transponding before making your DCC purchase.  It is certainly not a necessity.

 

Just to add, the EM13's have VERY few features, which for a motor car isn't necessarily a problem. If you want to be able to fine tune the motor, an EM13 isn't going to cut it. The FL12s also don't fit in every DCC friendly cab car. My Series 151 Kodama refuses to accept them even though it is supposed to be DCC friendly and actually has the little hatch in the bottom where you fit them. Tail light never comes on though, and head light is unreliable at best. Same FL12s work just fine in the E5.

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Ochanomizu

Hello Mr Martijn,

 

I have heard of the problem with 151 organization Kodama.  Kato has removed the "DCC Friendly" notice from the website for that model.  Perhaps it is the reason that Kato no longer mentions DCC compatibility for new models.

 

Of course, the Kato decoders are not feature rich.  There is a reason for this.  The product must be easy to use.  Kato EMUs do not have two motor cars, so tuning decoders is not necessary.  Kato prefer the customer to set decoder address only.  Then play.

 

Kato locomotives (steam, diesel and electric) use standard Digitrax decoders with the necessary features to enable tuning, consisting, etc.

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cteno4

Ahh but it would be nice to set the train speeds to work out the same!

 

Jeff

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Ochanomizu

Hello Mr Jeff,

 

Yes, EM13 can do.  EM13 has following options:

 

Start Voltage

Midpoint Voltage

Maximum Voltage

Acceleration Rate

Deceleration Rate

BEMF Grade

 

All can be set same as regular Digitrax decoder.

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cteno4

Cool should be enough to get your speed roughly set across a fleet.

 

Jeff

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Mauka

Let me begin by saying I really appreceate all the help and advice , but I gotta say DCC seems way more complex than Lionel TMCC or MTH DCS, which are train control systems I have installed and used with my O Gauge trains.

 

I looked at the Digitrax web site to learn what transponding is, and while I get it - Digitrax seems to be marketed as a hobby within a hobby, complex and frankly not very inviting to me. For now I'm going to relax and run trains the old fashioned way. Nice to have the option available though.

 

Alan

 

 

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Densha

There are multiple reasons I don't use DCC with Japanese model trains: I don't have the money for DCC, the decoder installation with most (non-Kato) trains is a big hassle, analog works fine for me because I can switch the current of my sidings on and off with the Unitrack turnouts I have. The only thing I experience as a disadvantage is that I don't have constant lightning, but I can live with that.

I know many people that just installed decoders in their trains, plugged in a digital system and it simply works. That's very basic DCC but if you don't need more than that you can just get that. You don't need complicated and expensive systems either.

If you control the turnouts with switches attached to Kato's analog throttle for example you could still use those for the switches and not need decoders for that too.

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Martijn Meerts
Hello Mr Martijn,

 

I have heard of the problem with 151 organization Kodama.  Kato has removed the "DCC Friendly" notice from the website for that model.  Perhaps it is the reason that Kato no longer mentions DCC compatibility for new models.

 

Of course, the Kato decoders are not feature rich.  There is a reason for this.  The product must be easy to use.  Kato EMUs do not have two motor cars, so tuning decoders is not necessary.  Kato prefer the customer to set decoder address only.  Then play.

 

Kato locomotives (steam, diesel and electric) use standard Digitrax decoders with the necessary features to enable tuning, consisting, etc.

 

With motor tuning I don't mean equalising the speed of multiple motor cars or consists, but rather fine grained control to make the motor run silky smooth on every speed step. Not everyone might need such control, but for me personally that's the biggest reason I would never opt for an EM13 decoder.

 

As for locomotives, Kato's GS4 is designed to take an EM13 ;)

 

 

 

Let me begin by saying I really appreceate all the help and advice , but I gotta say DCC seems way more complex than Lionel TMCC or MTH DCS, which are train control systems I have installed and used with my O Gauge trains. I looked at the Digitrax web site to learn what transponding is, and while I get it - Digitrax seems to be marketed as a hobby within a hobby, complex and frankly not very inviting to me. For now I'm going to relax and run trains the old fashioned way. Nice to have the option available though. Alan

 

DCC can be a hobby of itself yes, but it really depends on what you want to do and how far you want to take it. Like Densha says, you can just grab a simple DCC control station and install decoders in locomotives and be done with it. You'd be running manual just like with analog, except you can run multiple trains on 1 controller and not have to worry about having separate power packs for inner and outer loop (and possibly more loops). There's still the initial cost and having to install decoders, but if you're handy with a soldering iron, it's fairly easy, and if not there's always someone who can help out.

 

 

 

There are multiple reasons I don't use DCC with Japanese model trains: I don't have the money for DCC, the decoder installation with most (non-Kato) trains is a big hassle, analog works fine for me because I can switch the current of my sidings on and off with the Unitrack turnouts I have. The only thing I experience as a disadvantage is that I don't have constant lightning, but I can live with that.

 

Actually, there are only a few trains where decoder installs are a hassle. Pretty much all motor cars take about half an hour, and most that time is spent taking the thing apart and putting it back together. Steam locomotives are usually somewhat problematic, and MicroAce locomotives are sometimes an issue. On the whole though, Japanese trains aren't any more difficult than European trains that don't have a decoder socket. (And, many decoder sockets have their own problems ;))

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Densha

But Martijn, you are a master in DCC and I don't think most people are. I for one wouldn't have the guts to solder in my expensive models, and only have experience with DCC decoders installed with a socket.

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Martijn Meerts

I wouldn't call myself a master in DCC, I destroyed my fair share of decoders when doing installs, and I still have the occasional burned decoder when testing an install :)

 

Soldering is one of those things that you just have to do a lot to get good at it, and obviously it helps to get a decent soldering iron and solder. Pretty much the only area that can cause problems is when soldering wires to the motor, if you're not careful you can melt the plastic around the leads and you have to replace the motor. This usually isn't an issue in motor cars though because they have rather large leads on their motors.

 

I'm aware that DCC isn't for everyone, and obviously a lot of people would rather not mess with their locomotives. I've been lucky with regards to work, so I can afford to destroy the occasional motor or decoder. I'd also happily help people with decoder installs, I've done quite a few for Domino, and all his loco's still seem to run just fine :)

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dottney

I had more work opening up the motor car of my kato 800 series Shinkansen than I had soldering in the Digitrax DZ125 decoder. There's another Digitrax decoder that's just a bit bigger, DZ135 I think, that's even cheaper that would fit in many situations. All in all these are pretty cheap selling at between $15-20. I'm relatively new to DCC (3years) and I've found it pretty easy to put decoders in most everything.

 

It all depends on what your intentions are for your hobby. I have a medium to large layout depicting upstate NY in the present with CSX locals moving freight about. But I occasionally enjoy seeing a Shinkansen slide around or a British Royal Mail train or DMU set move through the towns and country side. DCC is a logical choice for me as I like multiple things going on.

 

If I were only modeling Japanese railways I might do a layout with multiple segregated tracks running various passenger trains. DC would probably be viable in this scenario.

Dave

Edited by dottney

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lurkingknight

DCC is the current debate for me once I get a layout going, since I'll be doing double track and 2 trains, it would make sense for me to rig it while I build. Since lighting the trains is an eventual goal, I can't stand having the lights flicker on and off when the train starts and stops, it just wouldn't look right. And should I put in the tram and subways, I'd be looking at a total of 6 lines, having only 1 controller for all of that would be far more desirable, plus all the other goodies that come with dcc, it would just make managing track switching and train juggling so much easier.

 

The issue is front end cost of all the gear even before I have the track for the layout, so it might be one of those steps I take after I have a layout but before it becomes totally permanent on a custom table.

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