Power Cab

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Starter Set by NCE:

Power Cab

Summary: NCE's Power Cab is an integrated throttle, command station and booster in the form of a handheld throttle. It can be used as a throttle when connected to an NCE command station / booster.

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NCEpcab.jpg
General information
Manufacturer NCE

MSRP 249.95 USD254.45 EUR <br />222.63 GBP <br />377.75 AUD <br />337.21 CAD <br />
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Manufacturer
Part Number
5240025
Release information

Product URL External Product Link
Product Manual URL External Product Link
Product Manual File File Link
Has computer
interface
None
Firmware
Upgrade Possible
Yes
Details

Max Current 2
Continuous
Current
1.8
See command station for additional features of this starter set.

History

This product was created to provide NCE with an entry level starter set, allowing NCE to compete with Digitrax's Zephyr series.

Description

NCE's basic starter system is the Power Cab.

The Power Cab is a full-featured DCC starter system intended for small home-size layouts. It has a full two line, 16-character LCD display using easily understood English words and phrases. An integrated menu system guides you step by step on what to do and when.

The NCE Power Cab has two modes of operation:

  1. As a Pro Cab, which is a full-featured NCE cab which can be used with any NCE system as a spare throttle.
  2. In Power Cab mode it becomes a complete standalone DCC system.

Firmware Updates

The firmware for the Power Cab comes in the form of a replacement chip. See the Power Cab Firmware product page for details.[1]

Power Cab Mode

The Power Cab consists of a single unit combining the functions of a cab/throttle, command station and booster. In this mode, it must be connected to the layout at all times since track power flows down the Power Cab's cable.

In Power Cab mode, the NCE Power Cab supports a full-featured programming track capability but does not use a dedicated set of terminals. Instead, it internally switches from normal full-power booster mode to limited current Programming track mode using the same track terminal wires. It can run up to 12 trains simultaneously but the actual number of trains is less due to the limited 1.5a current rating. Smaller scales will be able to run more trains than larger scales.

Included with the Power Cab

It comes with a UTP panel that allows an additional cab throttle to be connected so that two people can operate up to three separate trains on the same layout. The Power Cab itself is the throttle, command station and booster, all in one handheld package. As such, when the Power Cab 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.

An external 'wall wart' type power supply that provides 13.6v DC to power the system, necessary cables for the Power Cab and second throttle, and a control panel that the Power Cab, power supply, optional second throttle and additional NCE UTP panels for remote connection of the second throttle.

Functionally the Power Cab is a Pro Cab throttle with the command station and booster within the same package. When connected to a Power Pro system, the Power Cab disables its internal command station and booster. When fitted for Radio operation, it will operate in Pro Cab mode.

If one pays attention during the boot process, the display will indicate the Pro Cab is booting, then a few seconds later the Power Cab boots if no command station was detected.

Consists and Trains

NCE Intelligent Consisting

  • Sixteen consists, unlimited number of locomotives per consist
  • Four Old Style consists, up to two locomotives each
  • Consist Address Range: 112 – 127

Supports twelve simultaneous trains, using addresses 1 – 9999.

  • Primary: 1-127
    • Adding a leading zero to a primary address will cause it to become an Extended Address. Example: 0127 versus 127.
  • Extended Addresses: 1-9999
  • Accessory Address range is 1 – 2044

Components

Power Cab Panel

The Power Cab Panel is the main interface point between the layout and the Power Cab. The Power Cab must remain plugged into the PCP for the system to work, as the Power Cab has only one DCC output. (See Smart Booster below).

There can be only one Power Cab on the layout, as it supplies power to both the handset and the track (via the handset.) If a second cab is desired, it can be added via a Universal Throttle Panel (UTP), to a maximum of three cabs.

The PCP is a passive device, so it would be rare for it to fail. It also supplies power to the (optional) NCE USB interface. The NCE USB interface is specific to the Power Cab.

Power Supply

The power supply is a 13.6VDC switching type power supply. The output voltage of the Power Cab follows the input voltage of the power supply, so adjusting for different track voltages can be affected by changing the power supply. NCE lists a voltage range of 10 to 15 VDC at up to 3A of current. Track voltage is the power supply voltages less 0.5V.

Cables

Two cables are provided with the Power Cab system. A six-conductor cable is provided for the use of the Power Cab in 'master' mode. The outer two conductors carry track power. The inner four are the normal NCE cab bus. An additional four conductor cable is provided for the optional second cab, or to use the Power Cab as a cab on another NCE system. The cables are normal RJ11/12 style telephone style cables.

Types of Cables Used with NCE DCC Systems

See the Cab Bus page for more information

Control Bus Cable

RJH 4P4C cable, used between boosters and a command station, Maximum 300 feet.

Cab Bus
  1. RJ12 6P4C 4 conductor cable used for tethered cabs
  2. RJ12 6P6C 6 conductor cable used between the Cab Bus and the Power Cab.

The heavier six conductor cable carries both track power and the Cab Bus. NCE's recommendation is to purchase a replacement cable from them, as third-party cables lack the heavy gauge conductors required by the Power Cab.

Expandability

Additional Cabs

The Power Cab system can support up to three additional cabs via additional UTPs. Any NCE compatible cab may be used. If the optional USB interface is used it counts as an additional cab.

  • Cab Addresses must be in the range of 3 to 5
  • USB, AUI and Mini Panels use addresses from 8 – 10

Smart Booster

SB5 Smart Booster.

The Power Cab, when used with the SB5, can be unplugged and used in true walk-around fashion. It no longer needs to remain connected for the system to work. Up to 6 cabs can be used with the SB5. Additional 5 Amp boosters (DB5) may be added to the SB5 for even more power handling on larger layouts.

Computer Interface

The Power Cab does not come with a computer interface. The NCE USB interface (specific to the Power Cab) connects the Power Cab to the NCE Cab Bus The Power Cab has a limited set of available commands compared to the NCE PH Pro systems. These commands are sufficient for normal operation and programming. The USB interface can also be used with the Smart Booster.

The USB interface can be used with PH systems resulting in an even more limited set of commands, which are insufficient for programming purposes.

Auto Switch

The Power Cab comes with a single-track power output. When the Power Cab is put into service (programming track) mode, the entire main line is energized as the programming track. The Auto SW (Auto Switch) provides separate track power and programming track output. The Auto SW can be used with other DCC systems that do not provide separate programming track output.

The Auto SW monitors the DCC track bus, when it detects the DCC Packets used to initialize Service Mode programming it disconnects booster power and connects a dedicated programming track to the system. It will also change modes if a computer is used for programming.

UTP Panel

NCE UTP Cab fascia panels can be used to provide remote locations for attaching the second cab. Note that the Power Cab itself must remain plugged into the PCP panel.

Radio Throttle Modification

Radio Base Station (RB02) and any other radio-equipped cab are required.

  • RB02 Wireless Base Station 916.50 MHz
  • ProCab-R: ProCab with radio
  • CAB06r: CAB06 with radio

The Power Cab set is not available with a Radio feature. This must be purchased separately.

Further Expansion

  • Add a CS02 or SB5 command station, for support of up to 63 cabs.
  • Set up the Power Cab as a programming station (isolated from layout).
  • Change the SB5 to dumb booster mode to power a 5amp power district.

Additional Information

Decoder Reset Issues

After resetting a decoder to its factory default, select address 3, not 0003. The system sees an address with leading zeros as a long address.

Power Cab as Throttle

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

The same throttle only cable is used when using a Power Cab with a Power House / Pro Cab system.

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

Power Cab Firmware Revisions

Main article: Power Cab Firmware

Original version was 1.28C. This can be upgraded to the latest version.

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 Indexed CVs. NCE offers a firmware update which may address this issue.

This only affects Power Pro, PH-Pro or CS02 systems. This issue does not affect the Power Cab. Many will insist this will not work with the Power 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.

Power Cab Related Videos

Main article: Power Cab Videos

A number of short videos explaining various features of the Power Cab.

Power Cab FAQs

Search for more Power Cab FAQs

See Also

Articles Referencing this Page

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Related NCE Starter Sets

  1. When used as a Pro Cab. the firmware version reported is that of the Pro Cab, not the Power Cab's current version.