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CaptOblivious

Installing Kato Drop-In Decoders (EM13, FL12)

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CaptOblivious

So, a few people have been asking lately about how to install the Kato EM13 and FL12 drop-in decoders. Today, I'll show how to install them into commuter stock, in this case an E231-500 (Yamanote Line). Tomorrow, I'll show how to install them into an E4 shinkansen.

decoders.jpg

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CaptOblivious

The Kato E231-500 Yamanote Line is one of Kato's newer "DCC Friendly" models. This means that you can use the EM13 and FL12 drop-in decoders. Installation is very simple.

 

Installing the FL12 in the Cab Cars.

 

1) Turn the car over, and locate the hatch in the undercarriage: It will be near the cab-end of the car, and should come out pretty easy. You might have to squeeze or poke at something. In this case, there is a large chunk of detail that is used as a handle—you gently press it towards the cab end to unlatch it, and the hatch swings open.

 

2 & 3) Notice that the decoder can be installed upside down, and this is a bad thing. In the photos, you see that the "wings" have two contact pads each. On the other side, there is only one pad per wing—make sure that side is down, just like in the photos here. Once you've got the right-side up, there are two ways to install the decoder. The first photo shows how to install if the car will be at the head of the train. The second photo shows how to install if the car will be at the tail. The first way has the headlights on when the throttle is set to "forward", and the second way has the markerlights on when the throttle is set to "forward". There are two tiny contact pads at the narrow ends that will help you orient the decoder; I've highlighted these with arrows.

 

4) Here is the decoder installed. You drop it into the hatch (or, really, place it with tweezers), and then slide it towards the cab. It may take a little bit of force the first time. Make sure that it is pressed all the way forward, so that you can't see the contact pads on the wings.

 

You may find that the lights are a bit squirrely at first. In some models, it is possible to push the decoder too far forward; try pulling it back away from the cab end just a tiny bit if the lights don't seem to want to come on, or do strange things.

E231-cab-decoderhatch.jpg

E231-cab-forward.jpg

E231-cab-reverse.jpg

E231-cab-installed.jpg

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CaptOblivious

Installing the EM13 in the Motor Car.

 

1) The undercarriage details come off easily—grab them gently, and slide them to one side (don't squeeze them, as you might with other models) to disengage the latch; the piece will pop right off once you've disengaged it. You'll see a small nook to one side of the motor, but one of the axles is blocking access to it, so remove that truck. Gently squeeze the truck to one side while twisting it away from the left or right side of the body; you might remove the shell a little bit to see how its attached, and poke at it.

 

2) The EM13 can be installed upside down, and that would be very bad. On one side (not pictured) the contacts on the fork-tine-like bits run the entire length of the decoder; those are the pickups and must make contact with the brass rails in the frame. The side that is pictured just has two short contacts on the fork-tines (highlighted with arrows). These are for the motor. So, the decoder will be installed into the nook, oriented just as in the photograph.

 

3) Slide the fork-tines under the round motor pickups, and press the decoder into the nook. Make sure that the decoder is slid all the way in, and isn't poking up anywhere.

 

That's it!

E231-motor-decoderhatch.jpg

E231-motor-upsideright.jpg

E231-motor-installed.jpg

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CaptOblivious

The Kato E4 is one of Kato's newer "DCC Friendly" models. This means that you can use the EM13 and FL12 drop-in decoders. Installation is only slightly more difficult than the E231-500.

 

Installing the FL12 in the Cab Car.

 

1) As with the E231, there is a small hatch underneath the cab car. This time it's a little more obvious where it is, and how it comes out. Open the hatch, and remove the small plastic switch inside. You will probably have to use the included miniature plastic screwdriver to get the switch out. (The plastic bit acts as a knife switch to cut off headlight/markerlight operation for when two E4s are consisted together).

 

2) Install the FL12 just like in the E231. The only difference is that it is more difficult to slide in place; the components in the E4 resist insertion of the decoder. The first time, I ended up completely disassembling the car to make sure that I wasn't going to break anything trying to get the FL12 in! It just takes some force. Notice also in the photo that the decoder is not pushed all the way in; there is a little bit of the gold contact pads on the wings showing. For whatever reason, the stop is set too far back, and if you push the FL12 in all the way to the stop, the lights will not work. So don't slide it quite all the way in; you'll have to fiddle with it a bit to find a position that works. It will stay in place.

E4-cab-hatch.jpg

E4-cab-installed.jpg

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CaptOblivious

Installing the EM13 in the Motor Car.

 

1) This one is a little more tricky, because you have to remove the shell. The shell is held on by four tabs, two on each end next to the diaphragms. The tabs are quite large, and so removal takes a surprising amount of prying to get the shell off the tabs, so be careful. Once the shell is off, you will see the motor to one side, covered by a gray plastic shell. The EM13 will install into the indentation in the top of that shell. But first, notice the orientation: The brass rails that deliver the track signal are on top of, and the motor brush pickups are underneath the indentation. So, install the EM13 exactly as shown, with the long contacts up, and the short contacts (that go to the motor) down.

 

2) Installation requires only a gentle shove into place. When it's in all the way, it won't stick up anywhere, and will fit very neatly into its slot.

 

That's it!

E4-motor-orientation.jpg

E4-motor-installed.jpg

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Cen

Hi,

  newbie here. My son (5) wanted a bullet train set, so we got him a kato n700 starter set. I read up on DC/DCC and decided to add an EM13 to the motor car. Yes, I now realise how stupid this was for me as a complete beginner, but when something is advertised as dcc friendly/dcc ready, it's easy to believe it!

 

I managed to disassemble the motor car with no real trouble (pictures above helped a lot), and seated the decoder correctly I think. Putting the damn thing back together was a nightmare and I almost broke the axle (probably bent it), but it finally went together again.

 

However it's now dead on the track. I have the original Kato DC unit that came with the set and a bachmann ez-command (dedicated push-buttons per train are perfect for a youngster).

 

Can any of the gurus here help me out with some advice or suggestions ? Have I fried the decoder ? Trashed the train ? I'm really not keen to take it apart again for fear of doing more damage, but will if I have to.

 

We have other trains coming from ebay, and those WILL be sent away to have the decoder installed, but in the meantime I'd like to get the bullet train back on track, if I can.

 

Help!

 

Marc.

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CaptOblivious

Hi,

  newbie here. My son (5) wanted a bullet train set, so we got him a kato n700 starter set. I read up on DC/DCC and decided to add an EM13 to the motor car. Yes, I now realise how stupid this was for me as a complete beginner, but when something is advertised as dcc friendly/dcc ready, it's easy to believe it!

 

I managed to disassemble the motor car with no real trouble (pictures above helped a lot), and seated the decoder correctly I think. Putting the damn thing back together was a nightmare and I almost broke the axle (probably bent it), but it finally went together again.

 

However it's now dead on the track. I have the original Kato DC unit that came with the set and a bachmann ez-command (dedicated push-buttons per train are perfect for a youngster).

 

Can any of the gurus here help me out with some advice or suggestions ? Have I fried the decoder ? Trashed the train ? I'm really not keen to take it apart again for fear of doing more damage, but will if I have to.

 

We have other trains coming from ebay, and those WILL be sent away to have the decoder installed, but in the meantime I'd like to get the bullet train back on track, if I can.

 

Help!

 

Marc.

 

Hello, Marc! We're here to help.

 

First of all, I am going to ask you to take it apart again…I know…but photographs can be very helpful. I've never seen the Kato N700, so I don't know how it installs. Is it more like the E231, or the E4? Or neither.

 

As it turns out, when I put the EM13 back into my E231 after taking those photos, mine was dead on the tracks, too (after running perfectly all the time prior!!). It took me an evening to figure out, but I discovered that the brass rails were not making contact with the long pickup strips on the decoder. So I glued (using white glue, so its reversable) a couple of tiny .5mm plastic shims under the brass pickups to push them into making contact with the EM13. This did the trick…So, this might be your problem, too. This might not be, though, and photographs would help immensely :D Also, until we figure it out, you can just leave it apart, if that makes you more comfortable.

 

And don't stress too much about being new, etc. It's best to just jump right in! The hardest part of these installs is figuring out how the trains come apart and go back together, but once you figure it out, they're actually pretty easy to work with. It took disassembling my Tomix DE10 about three or four times before I really figured it out, and while I broke handrails the first time, it's easy as pie now :D So don't be afraid! But do be careful.

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Cen

Thanks for the words of encouragement!

 

Ok, here we go. Typing as I work here.

 

Hatch underneath off, bodyshell off, underside off. At this point, it looks to me that the plastic top piece with the seats is holding the truck on, so I removed this too. I then stupidly removed the wrong truck (yay me) and spent 30 minutes trying to put it back on before taking off the right one.

 

t001l.th.jpg

t002.th.jpg

t003b.th.jpg

t004f.th.jpg

t005.th.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

So, That's where we are. You can see the EM13 in place (there was a blanking plate I had to remove before inserting it). which I think is the right way round. It's now in bits, and I'll try not to lose anything!

 

Cheers,

  Marc.

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CaptOblivious

Outstanding, those shots are very helpful. My first guess is that you are having the same problem I had, because it's an easy fix :D

 

Get some .5mm styrene or thin card—perhaps the thickness of two index cards, or a cereal box. Cut two squares 2 or 3mm on a side (about the same width as the brass rails). Remove the decoder, and insert the shims underneath the brass rails where they can press the rails up against the decoder better, maybe about parallel with the big chip in the middle of the decoder. Put the decoder back in, and see if you can get what you have on the rails without having to put any more of it back together, and see if it responds on address 03 (I presume you haven't gotten it to work at all, and so haven't programmed it any) or to plain old DC power (default settings for the EM13 is to respond to DC just like the decoder wasn't there)

 

If so, awesome!

 

If not, we'll have to think a little more about it.

 

BTW, you'll know when you've fried a decoder—you'll hear it and smell it when it happens, and the charred bits around the component that gave up the ghost will be very obvious to the naked eye ;D

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Cen

Ok, just got time this evening to try it. We inserted two thin pieces as suggested under the brass rails, then located the decoder, put the truck and axle back on and tried it on the rail.

 

No luck  :(

 

It's dead. I'm not even sure we are reassembling it correctly. The brass rails that go into the trucks look like they go into obvious guides, but I could be doing that wrong. Since the decoder isn't a smoking, charred lump, I guess that isn't the issue. I tried it with both controllers as Dc and address 03 on DCC.

 

Cheers,

  Marc.

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CaptOblivious

Ok, just got time this evening to try it. We inserted two thin pieces as suggested under the brass rails, then located the decoder, put the truck and axle back on and tried it on the rail.

 

No luck  :(

 

It's dead. I'm not even sure we are reassembling it correctly. The brass rails that go into the trucks look like they go into obvious guides, but I could be doing that wrong. Since the decoder isn't a smoking, charred lump, I guess that isn't the issue. I tried it with both controllers as Dc and address 03 on DCC.

 

Cheers,

  Marc.

 

It's possible that you aren't reassembling it correctly, but not terribly likely—more often than not, if you get something wrong, you'll notice, because a piece will bulge or bind or look funny. If it looks like all the metal bits are making connections, they likely are.

 

Next up: A stupid question: You're sure your throttles are connected properly? Other trains run? The N700 runs without the decoder installed?

 

What if you put the loco, in its current state, on the programming track? Can you write CVs? Can you read CVs (I forget if this is possible on this decoder—the EM13 can be tricky with the reading).

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CaptOblivious

I've been thinking about this a bit, and it's hard to devise a good test. Likely the best way to really find anything out is to remove the decoder, and take 4 lengths of wire, stripped at each end. Use tape to secure a length of wire to each of the four contacts on the decoder, and to each brass rail and motor pickup. You'll need a couple more plastic or cardboard shims to isolate the motor from the brass rails without the decoder in place. This way, we can ensure connectivity, and test the decoder thoroughly—Try running on DC, DCC and putting on the programming track and reading and writing CVs. Don't forget to try a hard reset somewhere in the process too! (write value 8 to CV 08).

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CaptOblivious

Cen,

 

I hope all is going well? Any news?

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Cen

Hi,

  I got some time to look at this again. I put the blanking plate back in to see if it ran with that, and after much muted swearing managed to get it back together. It's still as dead as a dodo DC/DCC. Getting that truck off and on is a nightmare.

 

I'm sending a couple of other units off to have decoders installed professionally (Farish steam locos). I asked them if they'd take a look at the N700 as well and they agreed, but if it's 'broke' they won't repair it. So, that's the plan at the moment. If it comes back unfixable, I shall be on the hook for an entire new set.

 

Thanks for the advice Captain, it was and is much appreciated. I'll update once I get a response from the installers.

 

Marc.

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quinntopia

Great tutorial!  Santa got me the 1-22 E3 for Christmas, and it will be my first experience with the Kato drop in decoders.  This thread was absolutely essential as Kato's approach to decoder installations is so different than others I've done! Thanks Don!

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KenS

This thread was what I used as my main guidance for my first couple of Kato decoder installs.  I even had to use the shim trick on one older train. It was incredibly helpful.

 

One thing to add: if you put the cab car on the track and the head/tail lights don't come on, hit F0 (the headlight on/off function).  The decoders appear to default to "off".  You wouldn't believe how long it took me to figure that out...

 

Also, while you can read CVs on the EM13, sometimes it can be erratic. A second try will usually work for one CV, but systems that try to read all CVs and give up when one fails (like JMRI) may never read the whole thing.  And the other two decoders don't have enough of a load one them to be readable.

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quinntopia

I successfully installed the EM13 in the motor car of my E3 and (unsurprised) it was dead on the track. :sad:  However, after applying CaptOblivious' shimming solution, it worked like magic!  :grin  I even video-taped it so I can show you my own excruciating process at some point.

 

The interesting thing about the E3 motor car install is that it was more similar to the E231 than the E4 (which seems strange since the E3 seems more like an E4 than a 231!), in other words, you DON'T have to remove the body shell, just the little cover on the underside.

 

I also found removing the bogie/truck to be a nervewracking exerpience, but I also discovered that if you sort of leverage a small screwdriver against the body and press inward slightly against the bogie it sort of pops out (at least mine did!).

 

So anyway, the motor went okay, but....

 

One thing to add: if you put the cab car on the track and the head/tail lights don't come on, hit F0 (the headlight on/off function).  The decoders appear to default to "off".  You wouldn't believe how long it took me to figure that out...

 

Yeah, the cab cars aren't working out so well.  I had hoped Ken's solutions was my problem, but no luck.

 

I get a flicker of light when I first gently place the wheels on the powered track, but once the cab cars sit on the track, its like there's no contact at all.  Funny how there seems to be just a bit of a contact when first gently touching the rails...almost like a copper strip is getting just enough pressure to make contact with something, but then when the full weight of the train sits on the bogies/trucks, the contact gets disrupted.  I'm pretending that's the problem based on my experience.

 

Anyone have any suggestions?

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PhilipS

Absolutely sure the Wheels and track are clean?

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inobu

quinntopia  

 

Here's what you can do.

 

Place the car on a piece of track with no power to it.

 

Jumper power to the track from programing leads and watch for the flickering light.

 

Move the car and apply power to the track again.

 

Do this a couple of times.

 

If the flickering is consistent without you touching or moving the car after applying power then bogies are making contact and the flickering is the boot up.

 

The FL12 has no read back function......... so you can only write.

 

You need to test it with a command and look for a response.

 

Changing CV 61 and CV64 to 02 moves the light Func number to F5.  

 

CV61 CV64 Function No. for turning on/off light Transponding

00..... 00............ F0....................... OFF

02..... 00............ F0....................... ON (Default value)

02..... 01............ F3....................... ON

02..... 02............ F5 .......................ON

00..... 01............ F3 .......................OFF

00..... 02............ F5....................... OFF

 

Test case: change light switch command to verify if the decoder is receiving commands.  

 

Send command to change the light setting command from F0 to F5.

Test F5

 

I would change just 61 and 64 first and just assume its 03..........if nothing happens send a change command to 10 or so and update 61 and 64. This should prove that the decoder is working or not. If the lights function number F3 or F5 are not changing  then the decoder may be faulty. 

 

This pretty much all you can do. Its a basic decoder...

 

Inobu

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The_Ghan

Inobu,

 

What do you mean by "move the car" ?  Slide it along the track with your finger?  While power is applied, or not?

 

This seems to be a very strange way of making a decoder work.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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inobu

Inobu,

 

What do you mean by "move the car" ?  Slide it along the track with your finger?  While power is applied, or not?

 

This seems to be a very strange way of making a decoder work.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

 

I'm not trying to make the decoder work but test the theory of the bogie having contact issues. The idea is to move the car "with your hands" in order to trigger a natural reposition of the bogie contacts.

 

The process is based on this comment

 

"I get a flicker of light when I first gently place the wheels on the powered track, but once the cab cars sit on the track, its like there's no contact at all."

 

His theory of poor contact could be true but the shifting of the weight of the car and the movement when he places the car on the track skews the theory.  

 

So, if he positions the car and then apply power this eliminates his manual intervention. When he bumps the car to a new location it has nothing to do with his placement and only the natural movement of the bogie and its contact. If the light does not flicker upon the application of power to the track then his theory holds true and he needs to isolate the contact issue. If the light flickers consistently then the issue is not in the bogie contacts.  

 

Why would you want the car on separate piece of track and attach the wire?  

 

This act as a on off switch. The flicker of the light is the decoder turning on. If the flicker occurs in conjunction with applying powering to the track then you know that the decoder is powering up based on your actions. The faulty bogie contact is not the issue.

 

Inobu

 

I preform a pretest on the decoder before the install. That way you can identify "Out of Box Failures". If the decoder worked before the install then the trouble is  in my install.    

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quinntopia

Thanks Inobu, your test makes sense.

 

I was a little confused by this:

 

Jumper power to the track from programing leads and watch for the flickering light.

 

But as I re-read it, I think you are saying that I should have the car on the track without power, and then turn on power and watch for the flicker, correct?

As you state, there may be a 'flicker' of light indicating that the decoder is working.

 

I'll try that out...when I set it on the track in my earlier tests, this is sort of what I think I saw.  I ran the train around the layout for about 5 minutes and never saw the lights come on again!

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quinntopia

Okay, I just conducted the test Inobu suggests and what happens is something I've never seen before (but clearly Inobu was on to this!)!  :grin

 

When power is applied to the track that the E3 is sitting on, the lights 'flash' white for a fraction of a second, but no amount of physically 'moving' them on the track gets them to 'flicker' again.

 

I think that pretty much indicates that it is likely a decoder problem, not an install problem (although I wonder if I installed them upside down after all my worry about doing it the right way after reading the Capt's post above? Would the decoders work at all if installed upside down?).

 

I'm going to attempt to write some CV's as Inobu suggests and see what happens....

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The_Ghan

Thanks inobu,

 

That makes sense.  I thought it might have been a programming thing with the decoder needing some feedback, but now I understand you.

 

Cheers

 

The_Ghan

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quinntopia

Okay, I reprogrammed CV's 61 and 64 so that F5 controls lights...good news and bad news...

 

Good news is that one of the cars works perfect now!

Bad news is that the other car still won't light up.

 

I tried writing to it several different ways (with load, without, etc..) but still unable to get lights out of one of the cars.

I wasn't sure, but the CV's for both ends get the same CV settings, right?  The white/red changeover is accomplished via the orientation of the decoders when you install them as I understand it.

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