This installation of TCS M1 Decoder is for N Scale Micro Ace Keisei AE100 Skyliner Part 2 and was performed by Don Goodman-Wilson
Micro Ace A2896 'Keisei AE100-type "Skyliner" (late livery)'
This is the second part of the decoder install for the Micro Ace "Skyliner". In the first part, I showed how to convert the cab (end) cars to DCC; in this part, I show how to convert the motorized carriage.
Suggested decoder placement.
The shell comes off in the usual way—just a gently pry of the sides outwards to release the clips from the frame. Do watch the skirt around the one truck, though. Looking inside, a TCS M1 decoder turns out to be a perfect fit for the space at the end of the car—just enough clearance for the wires. Most of those will get snipped off anyway.
The brass pickup rails are permanently attached to the underside of the seats.
The interior is fitted to a metal frame by way of eight somewhat tight clips. Pry these away from the metal frame and remove the seats. The first gotcha is that the brass pickup rails are permanently attached to the underside of the seats. Boo! Soldering the decoder pickup leads directly to the rails risks melting away the nicely detailed interior.
The clever use of recycled bits.
The strategy I chose to deal with this gotcha is to solder the decoder's pickup leads to a couple of spare bits of brass salvaged from my Kato キハ110 conversion. This is why I keep a bits box! The brass bits fit very neatly in the square holes helpfully provided by Micro Ace, flush between the rails and the plastic. A little conductive lubricant ensures good electrical contact.
Do a better job isolating the motor and the decoder from stray shorts than I did at first.
Be sure to isolate the pickup rails from the motor and the metal frame with some Kapton tape. The rails will short against the flywheels, as I learned the hard way. So don't just apply tape where I did in the photograph: Apply tape to the entire length of rails indicated.
Well, that's neat and tidy!
Cut off the function leads, and trim the pickup leads on the decoder, solder them to the spare brass bits, and insert them into the holes. At this stage, reassemble the frame and try reading the decoder address on the programming track to test conductivity. When reassembling, pay attention to the nubs on the underside of the plastic seats, which fit into corresponding holes on the top of the trucks. These nubs, if misaligned, can make reassembly very difficult.
If all goes well, then move on to the second and final step: The motor leads. The metal frame contains the motor, hiding under a clear plastic sheet. Remove the clear plastic and stuff it in your bits bin: We won't be needing that anymore.
The mysterious retainer, removed.
The motor does not come out very easily—I was not able to remove it—so we'll do the motor tab soldering in situ. Thus, using tweezers, remove this plastic piece next to the motor. I'm not sure what it is, but it looks like some kind of retainer, and so we'd rather not melt it when we start soldering to the motor leads.
Motor leads soldered to motor tabs.
Trim and solder the motor leads to the motor. When you're done, don't forget to reinstall the gray plastic retainer!
Grainy close-up showing how to file the seats so the motor leads will not interfere with the window glazing inside the shell.
You will need to file or cut the plastic interior to provide enough relief for the leads coming out the sides. Notice too that the windows on the inside of the shell will rest just on top of the outer edge of the seats, so you will have to file in fairly deeply so that the leads do not interfere with the windows.
The decoder, installed. I\'ve left enough slack in the motor leads to permit me to re-route them at a later time.
I've routed the motor leads down the middle of the seats, and over the support for the interior lights. This won't work if you intend to fit interior lights, and so you might consider additional filing of the plastic seats to route the leads to avoid interference. I used a little double-sided tape to hold the decoder in place, as well as the slack in the leads.
A final gotcha: There are two small windows inside the shell on the opposite end from the toilet/decoder. These windows like to sit very loosely, and will interfere with refitting the shell to the frame. Use a little white glue or double-sided tape to hold the windows against the inside of the shell, to keep them from interfering with reassembly.
The wires are only just visible.
The result is barely visible, thanks to the auspicious choice of carriages to motorize. The wires are a bit visible through the windows, but a little creative rerouting, and some passenger figures (or, rather, their dismembered torsos) should hide what remains quite nicely.
The completed install.
Here are some good links that describe the prototype:
Important Soldering Tip
Please do not use any flux either liquid or paste on the mother board. Over time, the acidic properties of liquid or paste flux will begin eating away at the fiberglass PCB and will damage it. Use only Rosin-core solder or no-clean flux approved for electronics use.
TCS recommends the use of Kester "44" Sn63 Pb37, .015" diameter Rosin-core solder. Kester part number 24-6337-0007.
You can order this solder from the following retailers:
Digikey - PN:KE1110-ND
Techni-Tool - PN:488SO6775
Other solder tips
When stripping wire, only strip a tiny little bit of the insulation. Strip no more then a 1/64 of an inch. When the wire gets tinned with solder, the insulation will shrink back more. Try to not expose any more wire then half the length of the solder pad at most. In no case should solder or exposed wire wire ever be outside the boundary of the the solder pad you are attaching a wire to.
Click here for important information on properly Stripping and Tinning wire