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 Keep Alive Capacitors for On30 Locos
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Author Previous Topic: A small distraction - Estrella Copper Co. Topic Next Topic: Broke Back Mining & Logging Railroad
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NVNGRR
Engine Wiper

Premium Member


Posted - 04/23/2014 :  12:42:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit NVNGRR's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Dave,

The problem is mostly with the shorter wheel base locos such as the 0-4-0 Porters and Gas Mechanical. Even with the stock keep alive capacitor they will cut out or stall on unpowered frogs or the slightest bit of dirty rail due to the limited storage capacity of the built in keep alive. The TCS keep alive capacitor stores more energy and gets these locos past the dead frogs.


Kevin Miller
Winlock, WA

Country: USA | Posts: 363 Go to Top of Page

HWCRR
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/23/2014 :  1:54:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you Kevin, for clearing that up.

Now, my ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse!

Dave HWCRR



Country: | Posts: 440 Go to Top of Page

Reg Barron
Engine Wiper

Posted - 04/23/2014 :  3:11:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have one of the older Shays (pre Tsunami) and they were notorious for faulty pick up. Bachmann must have fixed that problem with the later run. I don't have a newer Shay to compare the old one with, but I do have the New Heisler. It runs like a watch and never stalls.

I put a Keep Alive in the Railbus because I often run it without the trailer. With the trailer attached, it does not stall regardless of keep alive. The longer locos such as the 4-4-0 with 12 wheel pick up also never stall.

Reg Barron



Country: USA | Posts: 211 Go to Top of Page

Reg Barron
Engine Wiper

Posted - 04/27/2014 :  12:23:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If any anyone has any questions about these techniques, please feel free to ask!

A couple of things I forgot yo mention previously:
- if I ever add a capacitor to another circuit board again, I would consider soldering tweezers since both the wattage and the heat time can be easily controlled.
- second, one can practice hot soldering on some blank circuit board, such as Radio Shack and others carry.

Regards,

Reg Barron



Country: USA | Posts: 211 Go to Top of Page

Reg Barron
Engine Wiper

Posted - 07/21/2014 :  5:33:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here is an update since my last post:

I have added the KAM 4 to an HO Athearn/Roundhouse, EMD Model 40 Diesel that I had converted some years ago into a tiny On30 Internal Combustion Critter. This little loco runs like a watch, but has had some pick up issues that caused the lights to flicker at slow speeds. My original solution was phosphor bronze pick up shoes, which did help. I was never fully happy with this method, fearing possible loss of traction and possible snagging thru turnouts. The TCS KAM series is a tiny non sound decoder with built in KA-2 Keep Alive. This was a simple Plug and Play install. The loco is now one of my very best runners, very reliable and smooth at slow speeds.

With regard to the KA-1 in the Bachmann sound equipped 0-4-0 Porter, I am not fully satisfied. I installed this device because I wanted to try both the KA-1 and the KA-2, plus I was able to fit it in the under side of the cab roof. It turns out, the KA-1 only provides about 1/2 second of keep alive in a sound equipped loco. Thus, it is hard for me to tell, just how much good it is doing . . . . . The KA-2 installed in the 0-4-2 Porter is working like a Champ!!! Some time in the future, I may look at cutting a KA-2 in half to change its shape, and then reconnect it together with small wires. Marcus Ammann has already done this with success for an HO loco. The KA-2 should then be able to fit in the roof of the 0-4-0 Porter.

Today, I added the new Soundtraxx Current Keeper into the Digitraxx and MRC sound decoders. I hope to describe this in a little more detail in a future post. The Current Keeper appears to be about the same as the KA-2' but it is a little longer, due to the extra electronics being located at the end of the circuit board.

Regards,

Reg Barron



Country: USA | Posts: 211 Go to Top of Page

BigLars
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 07/21/2014 :  6:16:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Still following along with interest.

My current build:
http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=50375

Country: USA | Posts: 11360 Go to Top of Page

thtroll
Crew Chief

Supporting Member


Posted - 07/21/2014 :  11:03:49 PM  Show Profile  Visit thtroll's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looking forward to some pics and updates. The Current Keeper sounds interesting. I see it is available at Walthers for about $25.

Cheers, Heath.

Country: Canada | Posts: 854 Go to Top of Page

Reg Barron
Engine Wiper

Posted - 07/24/2014 :  2:53:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The specific decoders that I added stay alive to recently are the MRC HO Diesel sound decoder, number 0001800-V2, and the Digitrax N scale SDN144PS,both with sound. I wanted something other than (and cheaper) than the Tsunami Galloping Goose sound I have in the Railbus. These are for the Bachmann Rail Trucks. The small digitrax decoder will pretty much fit in the existing mailbox space on the back of the truck. However, it has a rather smooth diesel sound. I was looking for something more like a "ra ta tat" rough sound with a "honky" type horn. The MRC decoder has several voices, so I was able to find the sounds I was looking for at a reasonable price.

To install the Current Keeper in the MRC decoder, I referred back to the info on Marcus Ammann's Main North Stay Alive site. I installed the blue, positive, wire on the Current Keeper to the blue wire on the decoder. The black Current Keeper wire was installed to an "ANNODE end of one of the two Diodes that have their Cathode (Band) ends connected to the Track Input ( red and black track input wires on the decoder). This forms the DC negative". I recognize the previous sentence is a mouthful, and it has taken me a while to be able to recognize these parts on a circuit board, since I am not an Electronic Technician!

At any rate it worked, but . . . Hold the fort! As it turns out, we don't have to solder to the circuit board for either of these decoders!!

After finishing the MRC install, I turned to the Digitrax. I was a bit daunted by the really tiny size of the components on this N scale circuit board. Remembering that the negative Keep Alive wire on previous installs had been connected to existing negative capacitor wires, I did a quick continuity check, and viola it worked. I went back to the MRC decoder and did the same check, with the same good results !!

So, the bottom line for both these decoders is that NO direct connections to the circuit boards are needed. They can be spliced into wires that are already soldered to the boards. Blue wire to blue wire, and black wire to black CAPACITOR wire (not black track pick up wire). This simplifies installation quite a bit since the danger of damaging a circuit board component from an errant soldering iron is reduced.

Incidentally, you can read the negative mark on the MRC capacitor, but the Digitrax one is painted over. I am referring to the small capacitors that are connected to the board with two wires. These are provided on sound decoders for sound keep alive only. The TCS Keep Alives and Soundtraxx Current Keepers are for both sound and Motor stay alive. Also Digitrax has come out with their own version of these devices, and with their newer decoders, they can simply be plugged in (similar to the TCS Wow decoders that have their Keep Alive plugged in).




Country: USA | Posts: 211 Go to Top of Page

Reg Barron
Engine Wiper

Posted - 08/28/2014 :  09:33:38 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sorry for the triple posts on 7/24.

Meanwhile another update. The Current Keeper installed in the rail truck with the MRC decoder, appeared to be a little too powerful for the decoder. When power was turned off, the rail truck made all sorts of start up sounds, and would then surge down the track for a few inches. So, I removed it and replaced it with the KA-1 that had previously been installed in the 0-4-0 Porter. The KA-1 is working pretty well in the rail truck and is providing about 1 1/2 seconds of keep alive. Not a lot, but more than the appx 1/2 second in the Porter. The rail truck is now behaving fine.

Meanwhile, the 0-4-0 Porter was without keep alive. I discovered that if I painted a KA-2 black, and stood it upright in the right rear of the cab, it tended to be hardly visible. Still, I was looking for a better solution. I wanted to hide it in the underside of the cab roof. So, I borrowed a page from the notebook of Marcus Amman (Main North Stay Alive page) and cut the device into two parts. This makes it possible to hide it under the roof in the small cab. I wired the two parts together with #30 wire. The clear coat must be carefully scrapped away over the circuit trail to solder the wire. Now, both the 0-4-0 and the 0-4-2T have KA-2s with plenty of Keep Alive!



Country: USA | Posts: 211 Go to Top of Page

Reg Barron
Engine Wiper

Posted - 09/01/2014 :  4:59:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Photo of KA-2, cut in half and wired back together.









Country: USA | Posts: 211 Go to Top of Page

mabloodhound
Fireman



Posted - 09/01/2014 :  5:28:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good Idea Reg.

PS, you can delete those extra duplicate posts when your logged into the forum.
Just go to the little trash can at the top of each post.



Edited by - mabloodhound on 09/01/2014 5:29:21 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 6700 Go to Top of Page

NVNGRR
Engine Wiper

Premium Member


Posted - 11/01/2014 :  3:31:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit NVNGRR's Homepage  Reply with Quote
First off I'd like to thank Reg for reminding me of this topic. I finally purchased one of the newer 0-4-0 Porters and installed the KA1 in it. I had posted on the TCS yahoo group looking for help locating the right place to solder the wires for the motor keep alive. Reg was kind enough to point me back here where I had previously replied to his topic. Talk about feeling rather dim witted. I claim a Senior Moment.

It was a challenge though. I thought I was going to fry the board trying to solder to the small diode contacts. They must have used a high temp solder on the board because I had to turn the temp almost all the way up on my iron to get a good joint. I would like to thank Bachmann for using the most fragile wires I have ever seen. I had to redo three different ones before I was done. At least they broke one at a time so I didn't have to figure out which black wire went where.

The KA1 fit sideways in the top of the cab. The heat shrink wrapper fit tight enough that it just snapped in. If you don't know its in there you'd never notice it. As Reg said you will get about 1/2 second of motor keep alive. That worked just about perfect for me. It now crawls over unpowered frogs without stopping or having a sound drop out.


Kevin Miller
Winlock, WA

Country: USA | Posts: 363 Go to Top of Page

Reg Barron
Engine Wiper

Posted - 11/01/2014 :  4:49:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Kevin,

I am glad you had success with the KA-1 on the unpowered frogs, it proves it does work. I also appreciate the other info on editing out my duplicate posts.

A few notes (I should have added earlier) based on Kevin's comments. The edges/corners of the heat shrink can be trimmed with fine manicure scissors to help the KAs fit in tight spaces. I had to remove the interior window frames on the smaller porter to make it all fit.

With regards to soldering to the tiny board; I pre-tin the wire, and bend the end at 90 degrees, and trim the end of the wire to fit. I use Radio Shack Rosen core solder. I use a tooth pick to put a micro dot of Rosen flux to the pad on the circuit board. I put another tint bit of Rosen on the end of the wire. The soldering iron ( about 30 watts) is also pre tinned, but with no excess solder. I place the wire to the correct pad on the circuit board, and touch the iron on top of the wire, for about a second. Some solder will transfer from the wire to the pad. The main danger seems to be the careful placement of the iron.

I have also experienced the wire on the Bachmann locos breaking, especially at solder joints. It seems that extra careful handling is in order!

Over all I am very pleased with the extra reliability the KAs provide.

Regards,

Reg Barron



Country: USA | Posts: 211 Go to Top of Page

andykins
Fireman

Posted - 11/01/2014 :  5:04:51 PM  Show Profile  Visit andykins's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Im not sure if im lucky or what, but all my porters (3 dressed up in various ways, and 2 "box fresh" run perfectly with basic chips.

I will add my limited experience with TCS' keep aline chips seems good, and 40billions time better then dcc concepts rubbish that jumped locos backwards 4 inchs and 500mph... (and 100billion times better then the "customer service" from the sod of a (use your imagination for words) owner



Country: United Kingdom | Posts: 4279 Go to Top of Page

barry dupler
Engine Wiper

Posted - 11/29/2014 :  04:37:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have several older Bachmann HO shays with the DSD-B3TS soundcards in them. They have pickup issues. Can a keep-alive be added to this soundcard, or do I need to update them to a TSU-750 or other newer DCC sound decoder first?

Barry



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