Summary: A list of hints relating to the NCE and Wangrow System One DCC Systems
NCE / Wangrow Serial Communications
The serial port works at 9600 bps. Setting it to a faster speed will not work, as the system lacks the handshaking capability to manage communications. JMRI does not allow speeds greater than 9600 for this reason.
NCE Serial and USB Interfaces
A number of commands present when using a serial cable are not available when using the NCE USB interface. Of the commands that are available, the computer interface can send any command it wants.
For connection to a computer, the following interfaces are compatilble:
- Power Cab
- Power Pro DCC System
A USB to Serial bridge can be used for this connection.
The NCE USB uses the SiLabs CP2102 chipset. Use the SiLabs CP210x drivers from SiLabs available here. There is a universal driver for Windows10. You also need to know if your OS version is 32 or 64 bit, and install the appropriate driver.
Limitations of the USB Interface
Clock unavailable. Turnout monitoring unavailable.
No multifunction decoder programming.
Auxiliary Input Unit (AUI) Support
- USB versions 7.x and above, Smartbooster with firmware version 1.65 and above support the AUI
- USB versions less than 7.x, no AIU support
NCE Power Pro Serial Port Issues
The jackscrews used on the DE9 socket may be too tall for the application making it difficult to secure the connector to it. This can be problematic when using a computer to communicate with the Power Pro.
This is a result of the case material being too thick, where the connector is meant to be mounted through a knockout on a thinner metal case. One solution is to cut the jackscrew so it is no longer proud of the connector.
- More Info at NCE Power Pro Serial Port Issues. Also on that page is a Loopback test which can determine if a USB Bridge cable is bad.
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 this to another bit rate will cause issues.)
See the Video.
This refers to the address of a device on the Cab Bus, not a locomotive's address. Up to 63 addresses are available on the Cab Bus, some of which are reserved.
This Cab Address is special. Cabs on other addresses can have their capabilities limited, such as preventing the ability to change CVs or use the Momentum key. The Cab on address 2 is the master cab, and retains all its functionality.
This feature is often used for operating sessions, preventing operators from accidentally (or deliberately) making changes to the programming of a multifunction decoder. The host (or a trusted associate) will keep the cab assigned to address 2 for himself, while limiting the functions of throttles on other addresses to what is necessary.
Your locomotive worked fine yesterday but will not respond today:
This can occur if the locomotive was part of a consist, and the consist was cleared. If the lights, bell and other functions can be controlled, but nothing else, it is possible that the decoder didn't clear the consist information. Press Del Loco to delete the information again. Another method is to reset CV19 to zero using Ops Mode programming.
If the headlight turns on and off as the throttle is changed, the reason is a multifunction decoder with only 14 speed steps operating on a DCC system using 28 speed steps.
The speed command in the 14 step mode uses one bit to control the headlight. This bit changes with the throttle changes, and toggles the headlight on when the speed step is an even number.
- CV29: This has to be set correctly for Primary and Extended Addresses to work
- Ensure that the CVs which control Acceleration, Deceleration and their adjustments are set to reasonable values.
Will Not Respond on an Analog Layout
If Power Conversion Mode is set to NMRA DCC Only, the decoder will not respond to a DC Voltage.
Function Keys Greater Than F9
To access functions above F9, follow this process:
- F0 − F9: Press the 0 to 9 keys
- F10 − F12: Press the F10-F12 key while pressing the SHIFT key
- F10 − F19: SHIFT 0. The display indicates F10-F19. Release the Shift 0 then press any numeric key to use a function from 10 to 19
- F20 − 29: Press and hold the SHIFT key, then press 0 twice. The display will indicate F20-29, numeric keys function as 20 to 29.
- To display the current state of a function, press the EXPN key. This does not work in Radio mode
It is possible to program the OPTION key to function as SHIFT 0 keypresses. This has the effect of adding 10 or 20 to the indicated value of the numeric keys.
Power Cab: Functions Not Working
This issue may appear after using the Programming Track Mode.
While operating a locomotive some functions do not work. If this occurs, unplug or turn the Power Cab off and wait a few seconds. Once it has completely shut down, power it up and allow it to reboot/restart. Everything should work normally after this.
Emergency Stop (E-Stop)
How the E-Stop function behaves is determined by the system in use.
- Power Cab
- E-Stop only affects the locomotive displayed on the Power Cab's LCD
- Disconnecting the Power Cab from the layout stops everything as power to the track is lost
- Power Pro
- Pressing the E-stop button three times on any cab will disconnect the track power.
Command Station Firmware
There have been numerous revisions to the firmware used by the command stations.
According to NCE's website the PH-Pro, Powerhouse and CS02 can use the most recent version firmware, 3/1/2007c, released in 2011. This firmware will not work with the older Wangrow and NCE Master Series command stations.
To determine the version number, starting at the regular locomotive screen on your cab:
- Press PROG/ESC five times
- The display shows Set Cmd Station
- Press ENTER
- The firmware version should appear on the display
- Main article: NCE Hints/NCE Firmware Command Stations
- (Master and Power Pro Series only.)
PH Pro / CS02 March 22 2021 Update
A new ROM with updated firmware titled March 22 2021 was released in 2022.
This is available for self installation.
Wangrow or NCE Master Series are not supported by this update.
- Support for new DCC time packet for simplified automation
- Optional ‘purging’ of unused cabs to speed up system response
- Setting of all 1024 CVs in any programming mode
- Improved startup for Cab06 cabs
- Ability to disable Momentum button on cabs
- Possible for two cabs to simultaneously create an advanced consist using the same consist address. In advanced consist setup when you accept the suggested consist address (or any other consist address that you enter) that address is temporarily marked as in use. This will cause another cab accessing the consist setup menu to get the next lower available consist address. If you cancel the setup process before a LEAD or REAR loco is entered the consist address is released.
- System, Macro and Consist backup would hang the system.
- 28 speed step mode commands from type C cabs (mini panel, etc.) were only sent to the TEMP Queue. Resulted in the speed commands being sent only 4 times. If a loco derailed or otherwise lost power it would not know what speed to go when power was restored.
- When using Program on the Main: If a loco with a long address below 128 was selected an asterisk was not placed in front of the address on the LCD display.
- The Cab bus 0xDB command only returned loco addresses 0-4095 correctly. Addresses in the range 4096-8191 were reported too low by 4096 and addresses in the range 8192-9999 were reported too low by 8192. The speed mode always reported as 28 and no differentiation between long and short addresses. This affected how the Cab06 and Cab07 reported the selected loco address. (This fix is also in the 3/21/2007B version).
- If Recalls were set to 1 a Cab06 would not react properly.
- When using the program track the system wouldn't program CVs above 256.
- The type C 'select loco' command (OP Code 0x00, data 0x00) inadvertently set loco speed to 0 and turned off all functions. This could cause problems with WifiTrax’ WFD30 WiFi interface and JMRI.
- If 0 was entered for the fast clock ratio the system would hang.
- On system power up fast clock was always set to AM. AM/PM is now preserved.
Pro Cab Firmware
When the Pro Cab is connected to the Cab Bus, it will display the software revisions.
For a Radio version (Pro Cab R), install the battery and press E-Stop to display the Radio version. If it has an external antenna, the version will be less than V1.5. Cabs with V1.5 or better have an internal antenna. Those versions appeared in 2008.
Power Cab Firmware
There are several versions of firmware used:
If the system has 1.65 installed, it should be upgraded to 1.65B, as 1.65 has serious bugs which will reduce the functionality of the system should a System Reset be performed. If the Power Cab reports this version of ROMs installed, you should contact NCE regarding an upgrade.
The revision can be seen on the second screen as the Power Cab boots up.
Power Cab Address Ranges
The software revision determines the available range of valid addresses for additional throttles
- V1.28C: The only valid additional throttle address is 3. Unofficially address 4 might be available
- V1.65: Valid addresses for extra throttles are 3, 4 and 5
- The NCE USB, Mini Panel or AIU also have access to addresses such as 8, 9 & 10. Following a System Reset, all extra addresses will be lost and the version 1.28C limitations will be applied
- V1.65B: Same as 1.65, with the elimination of the system reset issues
These issues are also present with the Smart Booster having an address range of 2-5 for V1.28 and 2 through 7 for V1.65B.
Some Power Cab Panels (PCP) have an issue with their design and manufacture. They may require an upgrade for reliable operation with extra devices on the Cab Bus.
This is important if you take your motive power to run on another layout which uses NCE equipment when you do not use an NCE system on your own layout.
- Always break up any consist you created with an NCE command station before removing your locomotives from the layout. Failure to do so will render the units immobile when placed on a layout which does not use an NCE DCC system.
If you forget to do that and find you cannot get the locomotives to move, write a value of "0" (zero) to CV19.
For compatibility and to avoid conflicts, it is preferable to use Extended Addressing (4-digit) mode for multifunction decoders.
Clear All Consists
The "Clear All Advanced Consists" command available in the NCE Power Pro sends a Clear Consist Address command, which causes CV19 to be reset, this is done using the Broadcast Address. All decoders on the track must obey Broadcast Address commands.
Consist is not Cleared
Pressing the Clear button in the consist group should clear all the consist information stored in CV19. Some decoders may enter a sleep mode, and may miss the Clear Consist command.
In this case, use Consist Delete, enter the locomotive number, and press Enter. Make at least two attempts to ensure success.
The PowerCab supports consist addresses from 112 to 127. This is also true for the SB5 Smart Booster.
NCE Decoders and RailCom
Moved to FAQs
The Mini Panel is a specialised throttle class device. It can instruct the command station to create commands to one or more preprogrammed loco addresses.
It cannot send messages outside of the Locomotive, Signal or Accessory messages. To communicate with JMRI an AUI Panel is needed.
The Auxiliary Input Unit provides connections for up to fourteen devices, such as the BD20 Block Detector, switch contacts, and other sensors. The AUI will supply notifications from the sensors to the command station via the Cab Bus. A computer can interface to the RS-232 port on the command station.
The AUI has 14 LEDs to indicate which sensor in operation.
The AUI must be connected to the Cab Bus, but daisy chaining is possible. It must also be assigned an address on the Cab Bus which is not in use already by another device. The factory default is 4, recommended addresses are in the upper end of the range, from 50 to 63.
To reset any NCE throttle including the Power Cab: Press SELECT LOCO button when plugging the Cab in, then release the button. Reading or changing the cab address is now possible.
With the cursor blinking, select a new address, or enter 00 to reset the cab to its factory defaults. Press ENTER when finished.
- Power Cab Reset Warning
- If you have a Power Cab with a firmware version less than the current V1.65B, approach the reset with caution. Doing so may create a new problem whose only resolution is to upgrade the firmware. If you have not upgraded the firmware to the current version, it is advisable to do so. Read the section regarding Power Cab Addresses for more details.
If no changes are desired, just press ENTER to exit.
Reset Cab ID Number: Power Pro
- Press the PROG/ESC key five times, to go to Set CMD Station
- Press the ENTER key 33 times, scrolling through the menu options. The last option is Clear All Cab Memory
- Reboot the command station
- Each Cab must be plugged in, one at a time, to register its existing Cab ID, which is stored in the cab.
Every cab must have its own unique address. Consult your documentation to determine which addresses are permitted by your system and software.
Many systems, including NCE, perform a blind write when programming in OPS Mode. The throttle may indicate success, when the write was not successful.
If you do not have a dedicated programming track, the load presented to the Power Cab may be too great, which will result in a failure to program and CV read back will not work. It is also likely that every decoder on the rails will also be reprogrammed.
Solution: Create a dedicated programming track.
Note: A program track booster should not be used with an NCE Power Cab
A firmware issue in the Power Pro affects programming track operation. Attempting to write to a CV greater than 256 will possibly corrupt the multifunction decoder. The Power Pro software will write to a CV which is less than 257, which could have unpredictable results.
There is no way around this issue. An alternate strategy is to use a Power Cab system to perform programming.
This problem will also occur using JMRI on the program track. The advantage to DecoderPro is that it understands the issue, and instead of corrupting the decoder's memory, will just return an error response.
This issue does not impact the programming of an ESU decoder, as they have an intelligent method of handling CV >256 in their firmware. DecoderPro uses that method to avoid the problem.
Ops Mode Programming
In Operations Mode commands can be sent to a specified decoder, which requires pre-selection via a throttle.
The serial interface (USB or serial) can send any command.
Notes and References
NCE Power Cab Extended Functions
Engineer Cab06 Battery Cover Removal
Update NCE Command Station with New Firmware
- The Momentum key makes changes to CVs 3 & 4 using Ops Mode Programming.