Frequently Asked Questions, NCE

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Summary: FAQ for NCE DCC Products

NCE Inc., formerly known as North Coast Engineering

General FAQs


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Manufacturer FAQs


NCE FAQ Section

Command Stations / Boosters

The NCE starter system is the Power Cab. It comes with a UTP panel that will allow an additional cab throttle to be connected so that two people can operate up to three separate trains on the same model train layout. The Power Cab itself is the throttle, command station and booster all in one handheld package. As such, when the PowerCab is physically disconnected from the layout, all trains stop. When the connection is restored, trains begin moving again. For true walk around operation a second command station/booster must be added, the SB5. When a Power Cab is connected to an SB5, it acts only as a throttle, similar to the Pro Cab.

The Pro Cab system comes with an external Command Station/Booster


The NCE starter system is the Power Cab. It contains all you need to convert a model railroad to Digital Command Control. The Power Cab throttle can also be taken to your local model railroad club to use on their layout if they have a NCE Pro Cab system. The Power Cab is a command station/booster/throttle integrated into a hand-held unit.

The other throttle is the one with the Pro Cab set. NCE also makes utility throttles.

Power Cab as Throttle

A Power Cab Throttle can be used with another Power Cab. The second throttle must be connected using the cable meant for throttle only usage. The primary Pro Cab will function as the command station and booster.

The same is true when using a Power Cab with a Pro Cab / Power Cab system.

Read the manuals, as there may be a cab address conflict.

Power Cab Firmware Revisions

Original version was 1.28C


Main article: NCE FAQ/Power Cab Firmware for details.

Power Cab Encoder Replacement

Should the Power Cab's rotary encoder fail, it can be replaced. It is a simple matter to unsolder it and solder a replacement in its place.

The thumb wheel needs to be pulled off the defective encoder and replaced onto the new on.

Incremental Encoder: Bourns 3315C-001-006L 6 ppr 120rpm Solid.

One part number to try is the RS Components # 692-8465, or Digikey 3315C-001-006L-ND.

Indexed CV Programming Issues

Do Not Attempt to Program an Indexed CV using the Power Pro, PH-Pro or CS-02 system in Program Track Mode.

This issue does not impact the Power Cab.

There is a bug in the command station software which causes problems when attempting to program any CV above 255. See

Main article: Configuration Variable/Indexed Configuration Variables.

This only affects the Power Pro, PH-Pro or CS02 systems. This issue does not affect the Power Cab. Many will insist this will not work with the Pro Cab. Due to NCE's product naming, many confuse the Pro Cab (a throttle) the Power Cab starter set. The Pro Cab is only a throttle, the issue lies within the command station software.

JMRI can be used with the serial interface, as it understands the issue and can successfully program an Indexed CV with those command stations.

JMRI is a much better option for programming Indexed CVs, as the process can be laborious.

NCE recommends using JMRI and the serial interface with these systems. Another solution is Ops Mode programming.


Short Circuit Protection and the SB5

The SB5 lacks short circuit protection. It is advised to use an NCE or third-party circuit protection device with the SB5 to avoid damaging it should a short occur.

The included P514 power supply does have some protection for a short, but it will cycle on again after a few seconds. Allowing a short to persist more than a few minutes risks damaging the booster. The status LED on the booster will flash each time an attempt is made to restore power. When steadily lit, power has been restored to the track.

Source: Page 2 of the SB5 manual.

NCE Decoders and RailCom

With an update to the NMRA DCC Specifications, older NCE decoders which were compliant are no longer. The issue arises when RailCom is active on the command station.

When RailCom is enabled, older NCE decoders may operate erratically or with unexpected results. Disable RailCom to prevent these issues should they arise.

Command stations made with RailCom on board cause the issue. Not all manufacturers1 support RailCom. Most older systems lack RailCom capability. See your manuals to learn if your system has RailCom, and how to disable it.

(1) RailCom is often found on European DCC brands, such as Lenz and ESU.

Display Ammeter on Power Cab

It is possible to display the current draw on the display of the Power Cab.

Instructions are found on page 58 of the manual. This feature does not work if an SB5 is in use.

  1. Push Program/ESC six times
  2. When display states "Set Cab Parameters press ENTER
  3. Press 1 (Yes) for display track current
  4. Press Program/ESC

Discontinued Products

Main article: NCE FAQ/Discontinued

A list of discontinued products by NCE. This list does not include decoders.


Show Track Current with an NCE DCC System

See also