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 Kato RS-2 Sound Decoder Installation
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Author Previous Topic: decoder install on bachmann gp40 Topic Next Topic: DCC Control Center  

Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/17/2008 :  06:41:45 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I know that Rich Beaubien was interested in doing this as well, so I thought I would share how I was able to do this install after some trial and error (OK, LOTS of trial and error! )

I actually did the installation in three iterations since I wasn't happy with how the first two approaches worked.

Even though my RS-2 is probably 10 years old, I was surprised to find that it came with the DCC socket on the lightboard. I thought this would make this installation a piece of cake --- silly me, it didn't QUITE work out that way.

Approach #1

My original plan was to use a Loksound decoder paired with the Loksound dual speakers (#50447 at Tony's Train Exchange). These speakers have a diameter of 0.63", so I thought I could fit them into the shell if I removed the weight opposite the cab end. I did remove the weight and also cut off the 'light pipe' (or whatever Kato calls these!) so that only the light lens was remaining.

To make a long story short, this turned out to be a bad idea for the following reasons:

- the dual speaker did fit into the area where the weight used to be, but I overlooked the fact that I would need to add an LED or incandescent bulb to replace the one on the lightboard and there simply isn't enough room for the speakers and the bulb as well.
- even if this had not been the case, it was just too tight a space to add the decoder + the speakers within the shell itself.

BTW (and this is very important) --- I did test this install before it dawned on me that I needed to replace the LED on the lightboard. This proved to be a good thing because I quickly realized that the power pickup on this Kato was going to be completely inadequate for DCC use (i.e. on the test track, it would run for 1/2 A second -- stop -- push it --- starts again --- runs for 1/2 second -- stop -- etc). I had already successfully converted my Kato GP35 and knew that this loco has additional pickups from each truck. The RS-2 trucks have like a brass inner frame (for lack of a better description), so I was able to solder pickup wires to this frame using my trusty Solderpro 50 (http://www.solder-it.com/pro50.asp) --- there is very little room to work, so it would be virtually impossible to get in there with a standard soldering iron I believe. Once I added these additional pickup wires, the loco ran perfectly at speed step 1 in both directions.

Approach #1

I had read on one of the DCC Forums that someone had put the speaker in the roof of the cab of his RS-2, so I thought I would try this. There isn't enough room in the cab for the dual Loksound speakers, so I simply cut the enclosure in half and sanded flats on both sides of the enclosure until it would just fit into the cab roof. BTW --- unless you look very carefully, you really don't notice that the speaker is there. Oh yes, the sound quality is surprisingly good.

Once the speaker was installed properly, I put the shell back on. I actually had to force the shell just a bit to get all four tabs to seat properly --- a good indication of how little clearance there is inside the shell for the decoder (not a good thing).

I ran the loco on my layout for no more than 2 or 3 minutes (it DID run well) and then took it off the track. Even after this short period of time, I immediately noticed how warm the top of the shell was (warm as in almost hot!). Not surprising I suppose --- decoders can generate a fair amount of heat and, since there was no air space above the decoder in this loco, the shell was probably absorbing most of this heat.I slept on this and then concluded that I should take out the lightboard and hard wire everything --- this would provide more room for the decoder and , hopefully, make the heat generation less of an issue.

So ......

Approach #3

I had already hard wired my GP35 that did not come DCC-ready, so doing the same thing with the RS-2 was less daunting (practice DOES make perfect). I 2-part epoxied the weight back into place and then replaced the lightboard LEDs with 14 volt incandescent bulbs (which are kept in place using two-sided tape).

Hard wiring is not difficult, just a little finicky because the decoder wires are such a small diameter. Once again, I found that the Solderpro 50 is the ideal soldering tool for working with DCC connections. Take your time, double check that the right coloured wires are going to the right places and its actually not very difficult.

This little(?) project took much more time to complete than I originally anticipated, but I am pleased with the outcome. My RS-2 is now a great runner on my small layout.

Let me know if you have any questions.


Country: Canada | Posts: 290


Posted - 02/17/2008 :  07:40:23 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is great!

So the bottom line...

  • remove the existing board and LEDs

  • put in a Loksound decoder

  • tape in two 14-volt incandescent bulbs

  • put a speaker in the cab attached to the roof

  • hardwire (aka solder) everything in

Thanks for using your RS as the test subject on this one Don. And for doing all of the work. Sounds like you've got a winner.

--Rich B.

Country: USA | Posts: 2697 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/17/2008 :  10:43:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nice summary Rich --- that's pretty much it.

Sounds so easy!! <GG>


Country: Canada | Posts: 290 Go to Top of Page
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