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Kato N gauge Class 800 with Zimo MS sound

Kato N Gauge Class 800 IET with Zimo Sound, stay-alive and DCC lighting throughout

Kit: MS480, SugarCube6, Tantalums, MX681 function decoders x4, interior lighting, passengers and drivers

This is a mammoth install, as we are putting separate decoders into every coach - sound in the motorised coach, and function decoders for controlling lighting in all of the other coaches. We'll break the install down into the 3 types...

MOTOR COACH: MS480, SugarCube6, 2x 470uF Tantalums, passengers, mini white LED for interior lighting

The Kato model is designed to take special shaped Zimo decoders, in particular the MS560 sound decoder. However, at the time of installing, these are not yet available, and we are quite comfortable using the more traditional style MS480 decoders instead, so we set about hard-wiring these.

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The first job is to make room for the SugarCube6 speaker at the rear of the motor coach. This requires a little fettling, but nothing too major.

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Next we prepare a platform for the MS480 sound decoder and a pair of 470uF Flat Tantalums.

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On to the trickiest bit, which is to isolate the pickups from the motor. The undertray clips off and we carefully remove the spring clips, insulate them and solder our wires directly to those clips, and another pair of wires to the track pickup strips. The wires will feed up through the base of the seating, so we drill a hole above where we want to poke the wires through.

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Using standard DCC wiring colours, we add red and black wires for the track pickup, and grey and orange for the motor clips.

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The fiddliest bit is putting the now-insulated clips back in place and feeding the wires through past the motor and up through our new hole in the seating.

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Once that is done, the undertray clips back on, as does the seating, and everything holds nicely in place.

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Wires for the speaker need to be long enough to go to the far end of the coach, where the decoder will be.

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We remove the protective sleeve from the decoder and remove all of the wires, as we will just add back on the ones we need to use. We prefer ESU decoder wire for this, as it is finer and easier to work with than the thicker wire that normally comes on the MS480.

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A pair of 470uF Flat Tantalum capacitors will be used for stay-alive. We can connect these direct to the MS480 without any extra components, so it makes it very simple. It isn't a huge stay-alive, but is enough to improve reliability.

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Tantalums and decoder are covered in Kapton tape to protect them. The Tantalums fit across our platform.

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Kato have an ingenious design for diffusing light throughout the cabin using a clear plastic bar with ever-increasing prisms. A single white LED can be shone into one end and this arrangement diffuses fairly evenly across the whole length. We use a mini SMD white LED, and carefully glue it to the end of the diffuser.

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END CARS: MX681, LifeLink with 3x 470uF Tall Tantalums, Passengers, Driver, mini white LED for interior lighting

Each end coach can be enhanced with a DCC function decoder, giving control of the head/tail lights, and we also want to add interior lighting to the seating area too, controlled by DCC. Like the motor coach, Zimo produce a fucntion-only decoder in a special shape for this purpose, but like the MS560, these decoders were not available at the time of the install, so instead, we use a more traditional MX681 wired function decoder for the job - one in each end car.

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Example 3

The 'Y' shaped PCB from the model is removed so that we can solder the decoder wires onto it. There are connections for the head/tail lights. Track pickups we get by solder the decoder's red and black pickup wires to the spring clips. Fairly simple in principle, but a little fiddly in practise because everything wants to keep popping out until it is all held in final position! You can see the blue wires for common positive, white for white lights and yellow for the red tail lights.

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The MX681 needs to have extra components in order to add a stay-alive... this is worth doing to avoid too much flicker on the lights. We employ a LifeLink PCB to go between the decoder's common positive and ground connections, and some Tantalums. There is enough space in the underbelly to add 3 of our narrow/tall 470uF Tantalums, joined in parallel.

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Kapton tape is used for protection, and wire lengths are cut appropriately so that the decoder, LifeLink and Tantalums can be placed in the bottom of the frame.

The model's PCB is reinserted and the pickup springs are placed under the track pickup strips. Note that the PCB is fully insulated from the pickup strips so that the decoder sits electrically in between the track and the lighting.

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Our final item to add into the end car is the LED for internal lighting. Like the motor coach, we use a single mini white SMD LED, glued to the end fo the diffuser.

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A dab of SuperCap and some SuperCap accelerant do the job here.

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A little bit of black electrical tape helps to prevent the light from spreading off the diffuser too early.

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Populate the coach, reassemble and test!

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Here's the other end car, done exactly the same way, except with wires for the white and red lights switched over.

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OTHER COACHES: MX681, 3x 470uF Tall Tantalums, passengers, mini white LED for interior lighting

The remaining 2 dummy coaches follow much the same process as the end cars, except these are simpler because there not factory lights on board and therefore no intermediate PCB to navigate. All coaches have electrical pickups already, so we can just connect our decoder onto those.

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Connecting up the white SMD mini LED...

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Give the lighting a test...

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Add passengers...

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Body back on, working very well. Do the same for the other dummy coach too.

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Disclaimer

Please note that these guides are provided as useful resources for you, as-is. YouChoos cannot be held responsible for errors in the information, or for any damage caused to your models or equipment if you choose to follow any of the steps detailed here.

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