Check out this demonstration of installing a Keep-Alive™ in an N-Scale Locomotive.
Jim Grover writes about the KAT12 built-in Keep-Alive™ Decoder:
I have an old NWSL Brass HOn3 Southern Pacific Diesel #1 (think of a 70 Tonner, only about 1/3 smaller) that has, since day one been been a pain my side. It weighs almost nothing, and only picks up power from one side of each truck. It has had a new motor, new gears and relentless tinkering. After our club made the move to DCC on our Narrow Gauge layout I quickly put a TCS T1 into my little diesel, and it ran slightly better than it ever had on our ancient analog system. But it still didn't run as well as I wanted it too. I had heard of a few guys installing Keep-Alive™ decoders into their engines but I figured I wouldn't have the room for both the decoder and the Keep-Alive™. Finally I got onto the TCS website and actually investigated the KA series and found out I could get the KA and a decoder combined. Went straight to my LHS and grabbed a KAT12 came right home, unplugged the T1, plugged in the KAT12 it was really that easy. Now I did have some trouble with the engine at first, and I emailed TCS Tech Support, Dave answered my emails really fast, and gave me a list of things to test out and finally I got my diesel running. And boy does it RUN!! Smooth as glass through out the entire speed range, it even responds much lower in the throttle than it ever did before. Just for fun I ran over the paper towel I used to clean my wheels, and it just kept on rolling. Probably the best thing I can say about the Keep-Alive™ line is that it WILL be the ONLY decoder I install in my brass locomotives from now on. It is worth every penny! Thanks TCS for making an awesome product.
Bob Stetser writes about the KAT22 built-in Keep-Alive™ Decoder:
I have an older brass SD 45, manufacturer is Oriental. Looks great, done up in PRR, but as with most old brass when running it, even with a decoder, in this case a TCS T1, the loco would stop on Atlas turnouts as the wheel base reached the frog. So it was a constant PITA, and I never ran it.
Jim H. did some work to improve electrical contact at the trucks, but stalling was a continuing issue.
I just removed the T1 decoder and installed a TCS KAT22, (Keep-Alive™) and the loco runs nearly 100% better. It no longer stops/stalls at the turnouts. So Dave, thank you and TCS for a great decoder.
Guys if you have a special loco that you like, but it has trouble maintaining electrical power consider installing the TCS KAT22, or the other one [KAT12], there are two of them TCS sells [note from TCS, there are 6 KAT-Series decoders]. The duration of "keeping alive" is the difference between them [this is true for the two types (KAT1 and KAT2) but the second digit refers to the number of light functions]. I got the KAT22 for the 3-15 seconds of "Keep Alive".
Mike Jensen writes about the KA2 Keep-Alive™:
Today I removed a Digitrax decoder from an older model P2K 0-8-0 switcher that has no tender pickup – just the engine wheels pickup. It was balky at best over Peco insulfrog turnouts and stalled frequently.
I replaced the decoder with a TCS T1 decoder and a TCS KA2 Keep-Alive™ capacitor block.
The difference in behavior is nothing short of remarkable. The T1 decoder is of course the smoothest motor decoder on the market – I already knew that. With the KA2 the loco is now not only one of the smoothest on the layout, it runs flawlessly over Peco insulfrog turnouts and any other usually balky spots.
Thank you for solving one of the most troublesome problems with short wheelbase locos.
George Huckaby writes about the Keep-Alive™ devices:
The Keep Alive almost totally eliminates the dirty overhead wire problem. We recommend that trolley modelers have one in at least one car to clean overhead wire prior to operating sessions. You could advertise this benefit if you like. We have a section of track on our test track that is rarely use. It usually takes 15 minutes of cleaning and running to operate on it. Our unit with the Keep Alive ran flawlessly the first time without a hitch. This will be great for those who operate on overhead wire and do not run often.
Jim Betz writes about the KA1 Keep-Alive™:
I have finally gotten a chance to test the new TCS keep alive system. I was using one of the KA-1s which is the smaller of the two.
It's Alive! (Sorry, my apologies to Bram.)
I installed it in a Stewart DS-4-4-1000 switcher. I did not do a permanent install but instead just ran it with the shell off and with no train behind it. All I had to do to test it was hook up the KA1 to the decoder using the supplied wires and connector. There is also a 'hard-wired' version. Here are the results of our testing:
1) When we cut the power to the track the locomotive continued to run for "about a foot" (or said another way it ran a little more than the length of the loco). We used speed step 20 (of 100 on the Digitrax DT402d throttle). And it was dead steady even as it slowed and stopped. There were some very slight 'hesitations' (changes in speed) in the last inch or so or travel - but you had to look for them to see them. When we turned the booster back on it hesitated for a few seconds until the decoder received the refresh from the DCS100 command station and then it started to move at SS 20. The performance was "dead smooth". If anything the loco runs better with the keep alive than it does without it. What this tells me is that we are all seeing little "mini problems" related to dirty track and/or wheels - even with recently cleaned track and wheels. I can't really say that the loco was truly running smoother with the KA-1 than it would have run without it ... but it certainly seemed that way to me.
2) We set the loco up at SS 20 (a slow but not super slow speed) and it ran "dead smooth" - and we routed it down to staging, thru staging, and back up to the visible layout. This layout has -very- long staging ramps that are all down under the visible layout and are difficult to keep clean - so difficult that the owner has a rule that goes "no trains will run into or out of staging with only one loco". It ran over this long "staging route" flawlessly. It was probably a half hour (or more) on this run. Again it was dead smooth. BTW, later that same evening we tried the same thing with a Tsunami equipped loco and it got about 2 feet into staging on the same route and went dead and had to be retrieved using another loco.
3) We did the "quarter test" and the loco continued to run. In fact because the track is protected by PSX breakers which were re-trying the loco ran about 2 to 3 times further than it did when we cut the power! It still stops - but due to the re-try the caps weren't being drained as fast.
4) We ran the loco into a turnout set the 'wrong' way. It ran past the gaps and much further into the turnout before it stopped ... but it did not get so far that it de-railed.
5) We picked the loco up when it was running at SS 20 and the sensation (vibration) of the motor still running was just plain weird! And if you picked the loco up and set it down on a flat part of the scenery next to the track it moved about the same amount as it did when we killed the power - with no track.
6) Tests at other speed steps showed pretty much the same -distance- of movement when you cut the power. Higher speed just used up the stored energy faster.
7) The package itself is about the same size as a T1 decoder and only slightly thicker. It will be easy to find room for this baby.
===> All in all this was a -very- successful test!!!! <===
I look forward to the release of the decoder versions that have the keep alive integrated into the decoder itself. The pictures on the TCS website make it look to me like the T1 version will be about 1/3rd to 1/2 longer than a regular T1.
David Balser Writes about the KA1 Keep-Alive™:
John at DCC HOBBY SUPPLY in Colorado recommended a TCS T1-KA decoder along with a Keep-Alive™ KA1 for an installation in my On30 Bachmann Davenport. My layout is in my garage with a dusty environment and I do not always have good electrical contact resulting in poor performance especially with small lightweight locomotives.
Richard Craig Writes about the M1 and T1:
I just buy the M1's which are really, really good in comparison to the T1 (which is the best decoder out there by far, nothing but nothing comes close to the T1 it's a fantastic decoder and when John brought it out it was a God send !!!!).
Chaitanya Telang Writes about the T1:
TCS T1 decoders ....what an executive class decoders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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