Sunday, January 13, 2019

KATO 10-1519 クルーズトレイン ななつ星 in 九州 DCC Conversion

Here we have an impressive, expensive, must have model from Kato: Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu.

A so special model, that it even has its own and exclusive web page:

Digitalization is not easy, even though Kato specifies it is a DCC Friendly model. The truth is that it is only DCC Friendly for he head and tail car, because locomotive needs a wired decoder and some work to adapt the light board.

Head and tail cars have an almost unnoticeable hatch in the bottom to fit the FL12 decoder needed. Just be careful if you open the shell to install the lighting kit from Kato because it's a little bit tricky to close keeping the transparent pieces of the head/tail lights in place. You will see in some of the following photos how the lighting is not perfect. I had to open that car and close it again very carefully, taking care that light pieces keep in their place.

About the motor car, is a quite common digitalization of a Kato electric locomotive. It has a led lights board that needs some modifications. But the lights are SMD components and it is not possible to remove one of them and solder it again reversed. This is the normal intervention when you deal with a normal led (not smd) light board.

In this case, as we cannot modify the led lights, it is better to modify and reroute cooper tracks to feed both leds with the current crossing the resistor and isolate the negative lead of each led to connect the decoder wires:

In my case this is what I did:

  • Red arrow: cut the track (3 places)
  • Blue arrow: bridge the cooper tracks
  • Yellow square: this is the capacitor that you have to simply remove

Then you can solder the decoder wires as seen in the following photo. I used a ZIMO MX616 decoder. I like this decoder much more than Doehler & Haass or Digitrax ones for three reasons:

  1. They are REALLY small, and come already isolated
  2. Wires are thinner and much more malleable than other decos
  3. Motor control is much more smooth and has more adjustment setting

I hope you can also enjoy this beautiful model: