Summary: NCE began as an OEM in 1993, supplying hardware and software for the Wangrow SystemOne. NCE became a DCC manufacturer when Wangrow passed on the NCE Power House DCC system as the replacement for the SystemOne. Today NCE offers a variety of DCC Systems and accessories.
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82 East main Street Webster, NY 14580
|Other, Booster, Command Station, Mobile Decoder, Power Supply, Stationary Decoder, Throttle
NCE began manufacturing DCC Products on an OEM basis in 1993 and was originally known as North Coast Engineering. They provided the software component of Wangrow's SystemOne and RamFixx Technologies' RamTraxx DCC systems. The name was changed to NCE when it was incorporated in 1996. Today, NCE has to grown into a full-time electronic design and manufacturing firm devoted entirely to the development and sale of products for the control of model railroads.
The NCE Power House was intended to be marketed by Wangrow as the next generation SystemOne. Wangrow declined, so NCE decided since it was a finished, ready for production product, they would release it under their own brand. Wangrow subsequently went out of business when their licence for the command station software supplied by NCE expired. Wangrow failed to comprehend the difficulty and time requirements needed to create their own software.
NCE produces a full line of Digital Command Control products
- Power Pro
- Power Pro R (Radio)
- Power Pro 10
- Power Pro 10 R
- Five- and 10-Amp versions available.
- Walkaround capability
- Expansion: 63 devices (Additional cabs and accessory items). NCE calls anything on the throttle network a "cab".
- Interface: Serial Port, RS232. USB adaptor card is not recommended as some commands are not available over USB connections.
- Programming Track connections, Programming Track Booster recommended.
Entry Level Systems
- Power Cab
While the Power Cab looks a lot like a Power Pro (they use the same package for the throttle), it is a 1.5A Booster, Command Station and Throttle integrated into a handheld device. If you disconnect it from the layout, everything stops as the DCC track signal is generated in the handheld. Adding a Smart Booster eliminates that issue. The tight level of integration limits the available current for the track power bus. Some software features are also absent.
The Power Cab features Pro Cab compatibility when connected to NCE Pro Cab / Power Pro command station it functions as a throttle. A cable to enable this feature is included.
The interface to the layout is called the PCP or Pro Cab Panel. It has connections for the ProCab, DC Power, and the Rail A and B terminals to connect the track power bus. It also has jacks to enable expansion of the system via the Cab Bus. Only three additional UTP panels are supported. In addition, three additional cab bus devices are supported for a total of three throttles and three accessories.
Supports USB interfaces for computer control
- DCC Twin
This system features two throttles integrated into a single enclosure with the command station and a 3A booster. Limited programming options. Can also be used as a pair of throttles in another NCE system.
Power Pro compared to Power Cab
The Power Pro has additional features. While both units may look alike, there are some important differences:
- Computer interface: RS232, does not require a cab bus address to function, advanced features compared to other NCE systems
- Macro Capability Enhanced
- Accessory decoders last state is restored upon power up
- Control up to 250 locomotives
- Consisting: Up to 128 Advanced Consists possible, with additional consisting features.
- Pro Cab/Pro Cab R
- ProCab Deluxe
- Available singe throttle cab with radio and choice of rotary encoder or potentiometer. Four digit display. Can be used with YARD mode (center zero)
- Cab06r: Radio version
- A Pro Cab and a Power Cab look almost identical but they are two completely different products.
A Pro Cab is a Throttle only. It requires a DCC command station to function. It is a dumb terminal with a keypad and a display.
The Power Cab is a complete DCC system in one package. It is a Throttle, Command Station and Booster. All three in one (handheld) package.
- The Power Cab has a six-wire cable which connects it to the power supply, and also has wires which carry the digital DCC track signal and the throttle bus. This cable cannot be substituted with another. If you need a longer reach, the solution is to purchase a Cab06. They are available in tethered and wireless versions. The Power Cab must remain connected to the Power Cab Panel for the system to work.
- If you wish to run more than a few locomotives with your Power Cab, an SB5 booster may be required.
Each Cab must have its own unique cab address. Available cab addresses are based on the command station being used. Example: For a Power Cab system the available cab addresses are 3, 4, and 5. Addresses 8, 9, and 10 can be used for devices like the USB interface, AIU and Mini Panel.
- Power Pro System command station/booster
- Command Station Only for Power Pro
- SB5 Smart Booster
- Five-amp command station / booster for Power Cab system, up to six throttles. NCE radio compatible. Converts to booster only if needed.
See this page for firmware revisions applicable to their command stations.
NCE has used three product names in its manufacturing history.
- MASTER SERIES
- Power House
- Power Pro
- Five Amp
- 10 Amp Booster with Automatic Reverse. Recommended for large scales.
- Five Amp booster
- Replaced by the DB5 Booster
- Replaced by SB5 Smart Booster
The SB5 and DB5 are 5A units. They are current production as of 2017
Smart Booster Firmware
- Total number of Cabs supported is 6, Addresses 2-7.
- Supports three AUI, USB or Minipanels on addresses 8-10
- Improved USB functions
- Corrected issues with Dumb Booster modes
- Number of cab addresses available after reset corrected
- PB105. This model evolved into the DB and SB3 boosters. Available by special order only.
- PB110 10A booster, superseded by the PB110a
- PB205. Many PB205a boosters don't have the model's name marked on the front of the booster. Dual 5A boosters
- Main article: NCE/Circuit Protectors
AR10 10A Auto Reverser
|SWITCH-8 MK II
- NCE FAQs
- NCE FAQ - NCE Frequently Asked Questions
- NCE Hints - Hints and tips for NCE products
- NCE Products - a more detailed list of NCE's offerings.
- Wangrow - Early DCC manufacturer which used NCE parts and software.
It is not possible to program a CV higher than 255 using a Power Pro DCC System by NCE. This answer pertains to the Power Pro, not the Power Cab.
Attempting to do so may corrupt a multifunction decoder.
There is an issue within the firmware used by the Power Pro. The firmware lacks the ability to trap a value greater than 255. The issue is that the firmware is truncating the most significant bit. A value of 256 is equal to 2^8 in Binary (See note).
The firmware ignores this bit, only seeing 8 bits (numbered 0-7, maximum decimal value of 255). If a value such as 256 is entered, it sees the first eight bits as having values of zero. Attempting to write to CV285 results in CV29 being altered (285 –256 = 29).
Software such as JMRI DecoderPro has internal logic to trap any write attempts to CVs over 255. Some multifunction decoders may have workarounds in their firmware to prevent these issues.
The maximum value contained in one byte (eight bits) is 255, represented by the hexadecimal value of FF. The value of 256 is equal to 100 in hex. By truncating the most significant bit, the resulting value is 00.
There can be conflicts between address modes and DCC systems.
A common one is a restricted range: Lenz restricted their Primary Address range to 99. Some low cost, basic DCC starter sets limit the total addresses to ten or less. Which is perfectly acceptable, providing that limitation is clearly identified on the package and in the instructions.
Another is how the manufacturer interpreted the Extended Address range: Most use 128 as the beginning of the Extended Address range and their software works according. NCE allows values between 1 and 127 to be used as Extended Addresses, whereas most other manufacturers do not.
Digitrax's implementation of Extended Addresses ends at 9985, many other DCC systems allow addresses up to 10,240.
Conflicts usually occur in the Primary Address space, either caused by the limited range or the use of those addresses as an extended address.
If JMRI will not connect to the Power Cab using the NCE USB, try the following steps:
- Disconnect all cabs except the Power Cab first.
The best settings for any version of the Power Cab and NCE USB:
- All USB Jumpers OFF. Jumper #1 is ignored, but jumpers 2, 3 and 4 should be Off.
- System Manufacturer: NCE
- System Connection: NCE USB
- Serial Port: This is determined by the port the USB device is connected to
- USB Version: V7.x.x
- System: PowerCab
- Additional Connection Settings: Select this to get the next setting:
- Baud Rate:9600
- (Setting to another bit rate will cause issues.)
- Baud Rate:9600
- A Modeller's Life podcast, Episode 198
- Fall 2022
- Replaced by DCC Meter and Packet Analyser