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 Keep Alive Capacitors for On30 Locos

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Reg Barron Posted - 04/17/2014 : 4:16:24 PM
Hello Everyone,

I am starting this thread to share my experiences adding Keep Alive devices to selected On30 locos (not all locos really need them). As this is being written, TCS makes the Keep Alives. Digiitrax has announced similar devices and they seem to be available. Soundtraxx has just announced the release of a device called a Cirrent Keeper, to be released this summer.

Marcus Ammann has a web site that provides lots of info (but not everything) concerning adding these devices to various decoder circuit boards. I was able to use his info to add Keep Alive to a Bachmann Shay with the old DSD (pre Tsunami) decoder. I plan to share photos intje future. My most recent install has been in the Bachmann Porter
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Philip Posted - 06/28/2019 : 12:40:21 PM
Just added a TCS KA4 to a Porter with a cheap 30 watt iron. No problem except the soldering tip was cut down on a lathe to about .040 point. The 74 connecting points are tiny.
Reg Barron Posted - 06/26/2019 : 8:26:29 PM
Update: I have just learned that it is best practice to use a grounded, ESD (electrostatic discharge) safe soldering iron when soldering to circuit boards and other DCC devices!! Otherwise, damage to the device could occur. See wiringfordcc.com for more info.
man7sell Posted - 05/14/2019 : 2:24:22 PM
This is what happens when you forget to set the DC mode to off. Disconnecting power to the track then:

https://youtu.be/1yyVVMhrb6Q
Reg Barron Posted - 05/01/2019 : 9:18:14 PM
The thread "Where to connect a keep alive to a porter " Shows a photo of the connection points to a non sound Porter. The negative KA wire appears to go to the negative capacitor connection point on the circuit board. The positive wire (blue) from the the KA appears to go to the orange component with the dark band (on the dark band side). This wiring appears to be essentially the same as on the sound board. I have not connected a KA to a non sound Porter, so the above is what I believe to be true, but I have not verified it. For more on the theory of connecting KAs to most boards, I would suggest a goggle search for Marcus Amman's (sp?) main north page, where he has a long discussion on connecting KAs and several photos.

Reg Barron


Reg Barron
man7sell Posted - 05/01/2019 : 11:24:59 AM
Video test

https://youtu.be/arM4SlFrtCM
man7sell Posted - 05/01/2019 : 10:57:35 AM
Hookup to a DCC sound 0-4-2 is easier and here is on with my hi tech camera mount.

man7sell Posted - 04/30/2019 : 10:06:03 AM
I so appreciate the info here. I built a keep alive circuit for installation on a tender for my Porters. The diagram for the 0-4-0 sound was perfect and the loco runs great (Have to turn off that CV for the DC option).

Now has someone added a keep alive to the non sound 0-4-2 and the 0-4-0's? Where to solder the two wires would be great info. Oh and the gas mechanical.



Porter 0-4-2 non sound.
On the board the connections at the top go to the loco, motor, front and rear lights, and input from the track pickups. The lower connection go the the decoder. From left to right are:

Pick Up L
Motor +
L+
Rear Light-
Front Light-
Motor-
Pick Up R

BigLars Posted - 04/29/2019 : 4:45:51 PM
quote:
Originally posted by lemkerailroad1

i have found this late but is the w/sound and w/o sound boards close enough to be the same
as i have several porters with no sound but i realized after not running trains for a few years
i need a keep alive in a few places???????

and yes i cleaned my track before running on the lower level that is wired up......lol


The boards are completely different.
lemkerailroad1 Posted - 04/28/2019 : 11:54:36 PM
i have found this late but is the w/sound and w/o sound boards close enough to be the same
as i have several porters with no sound but i realized after not running trains for a few years
i need a keep alive in a few places???????

and yes i cleaned my track before running on the lower level that is wired up......lol
Grabnet Posted - 02/11/2019 : 8:50:48 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Reg Barron

Doc Tom,
I am glad it all worked out well for you. Since starting this thread, I have read that some people have wrapped copper wire around a soldering iron and let it extend a little out the front for delicate soldering, but I have not tried it yet? David Popp at MR has also added a KA to a Porter and also to a Heisler. Since the sound Heisler has two circuit boards, he had to connect the KA to both to get sound and motor power back up. I have not tried this yet, since my Heisler runs very well without the KA back up. The new sound Tsunami and Econami seem to be pre-wired to easily accept KAs.

P.S. I have really enjoyed your threads on your two micro layouts!

Reg Barron



Thanks Reg for all the ideas. I am glad you have some info on the Heisler too. I have one of the Heislers as well.



It does run well. I did not know that there are two circuit boards in it. I think it will be many more years before I start tinkering with this little gem.

The Porter was becoming a shelf queen until the Keep Alive was installed. Thanks again for all the work you put into the documentation on the install. Doc Tom
Reg Barron Posted - 02/11/2019 : 6:09:13 PM
Doc Tom,
I am glad it all worked out well for you. Since starting this thread, I have read that some people have wrapped copper wire around a soldering iron and let it extend a little out the front for delicate soldering, but I have not tried it yet? David Popp at MR has also added a KA to a Porter and also to a Heisler. Since the sound Heisler has two circuit boards, he had to connect the KA to both to get sound and motor power back up. I have not tried this yet, since my Heisler runs very well without the KA back up. The new sound Tsunami and Econami seem to be pre-wired to easily accept KAs.

P.S. I have really enjoyed your threads on your two micro layouts!

Reg Barron
Grabnet Posted - 02/10/2019 : 6:22:46 PM
Well it took 3.5 years but I finally got up the courage to install a TCS KA 4 in my little On30 Porter.

First off a BIG THANK YOU to Reg Barron for the wonderful explanation and detailed diagrams in the earlier part of this thread. I printed the diagrams and pictures and knew exactly where to place the leads of the KA4 capacitor on the very tiny OEM Soundtraxx decoder. Reg gave very good instructions on how to microsolder as well.

Everything worked perfectly and now the little Porter literally can crawl on my logging mini layout. It has great sound as well.

No that is not a 12 pack of Perrier waters in the cab, it is the KA4. You can see how small it is!



Next step will be to secure it to the inner roof of the cab, paint it all black and enjoy the heck out of this little engine.

Thanks again Reg!!!

Doc Tom
Reg Barron Posted - 07/11/2016 : 8:32:05 PM
I just received a new KA-3 by TCS. This one is small enough to fit inside the roof of the Bachmann Porter 0-4-0 with sound, without modification to the roof, window frames, or capacitor unit. The circuit board side should be down for best fit. I just did a dry fit, and have not wired or glued this one in yet. When painted black it should be nearly invisible with the loco running on a layout. Presently, I have KA-2s in three of my Porters, and I am very happy with their performance.

Regards,

Reg Barron
Grabnet Posted - 08/22/2015 : 8:33:44 PM
Thank you both for this very helpful information. I will be bookmarking this thread for my future attempt at installing a KA-2 . Doc Tom
Reg Barron Posted - 08/22/2015 : 5:06:46 PM
Larry,

I am glad you had success!

Doc Tom,

Most of the info you are looking for is detailed earlier in this thread, but here is a short summary:

- with the Bachman factory installed sound board in the Porter, the blue positive wire of the KA must be soldered directly to the circuit board to any one of the four components that are circled in the drawing from Soundtraxx (shown earlier in this thread). The negative wire from the KA can go to the negative capacitor wire. If the KA is soldered directly to the original cap wires (and correct polarity is observe), the best one would get is sound only Keep Alive.

On shrink wrapped Tsunamis, it is not necessary to solder directly to the circuit board, one can solder the blue positive wire of the KA to the blue Tsunami wire. But this easier method will NOT work with the Bachmann sound Porters.

On the 0-4-2, I hid the KA in an extended fuel bunker. On the 0-4-0, I cut the KA in half and hid it in the roof. Earlier, I had simply painted the KA black, and stood it upright in the rear corner of the cab. I always use KA-2s in Sound Porters because the keep alive in a KA-1, is so short. A Soundtraxx Current Keeper is about the same as the KA-2, but the circuit board is longer and thus harder to fit and I don't know how to cut and reconnect it. An enclosed cab or an added tender would also be effective ways to conceal the KA.

Hope this helps,

Reg Barron

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