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NCE Powercab contollers in the UK





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#1 catflap

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:47

I'm thinking ? of my next controller after the Dynamis - I'm looking for two separate cabs so both my son and I can use it at the same time. I know there is an extension to the Dynamis (PRO) but this seems to be expensive. Looking in Model Railroader the NCE power cab seems to be good value and fits the bill. Anyone with experience of these in the UK? Have a mix of Hornby and Bachmann chips, a few TCS and the odd Lenz. Also have some sound locos. Is there a UK retailer for Powercab? I had a quick look on the web but didn't see anything.

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#2 RedgateModels

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:52

erm,


Retailer, Bromsgrove Models, a forum sponsor is a good start. Digitrains also stock them. If you are going form Dynamis you will find the Powercab a bit, well, crude. Function control is fiddly, especially higher F numbers that need extra key presses and the state of these higher functions is not displayed.

Very robust though and no IR to go wrong. I am considering one for Summat Colliery as my helper disco-dave has a PowerCab aleady and it's the cheapest way to get two cabs for exhibition use ....



#3 Ron Ron Ron

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 11:19

If you've already got the Dynamis, adding the Pro Box and one extra handset will work out a lot cheaper than a PowerCab and one extra throttle.

Pro Box - 131.25 UKL
Dynamis Handset - 52.50 UKL
Total - 183.75 UKL
(quoted prices from The Signal Box...Hattons price is 195 UKL )

NCE PowerCab - 126.00 UKL
Additional Deluxe Cab - 101.00 UKL
Total - 227.00 UKL
(quoted prices from Bromsgrove models)

To add the NCE Auto Switch to give convenient switching to a programming track (note the Dynamis Pro Box already has a dedicated Programming track output), adds another 17 UKL to the cost of the NCE set up.
This gives a total price of 244.00 UKL for the PowerCab option (i.e. 60 UKL more than the Dynamis option above).

Adding extra IR receivers to the Dynamis Pro Box will only cost another 15 UKL each.


.

#4 bizmad

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 11:19

I bought a Dynamis when it first came out but hated it almost immediately. My first try of a Powercab convinced me to buy one and I've never regretted it, I don't find it fiddly at all, quite the reverse in fact.

I have a friend who has started on the exhibition circuit, he purchased a Powercab after trying mine, plus a second controller which just plugs straight in, and he is delighted with the setup.

As has been advised on this and other forums many times before, try before you buy. I know that Digitrains have a number of different makes that you can try in their shop (they also frequently attend exhibitions with them), I have no doubt that Bromsgrove Models and others will also be pleased to help you make the best decision.

#5 Adrian Wintle

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 12:29

erm,


Retailer, Bromsgrove Models, a forum sponsor is a good start. Digitrains also stock them. If you are going form Dynamis you will find the Powercab a bit, well, crude. Function control is fiddly, especially higher F numbers that need extra key presses and the state of these higher functions is not displayed.

Not quite. The state of the higher functions can be displayed, but it requires changing a setting within the system. You can then press a key to display the state of all the functions, but you do have to revert to the main display to change anything.

Very robust though and no IR to go wrong. I am considering one for Summat Colliery as my helper disco-dave has a PowerCab aleady and it's the cheapest way to get two cabs for exhibition use ....


It is robust and intuitive, which is why we got one for our club to allow DCC-sound locos to be run on the upper loops of the layout (rest of the layout is DC). I can then plug my PowerCab in to give a second throttle. The PowerCab is actually my third DCC system, and is more intuitive than my current home system (Lenz Set 100).

Adrian

#6 flubrush

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 07:14

If you've already got the Dynamis, adding the Pro Box and one extra handset will work out a lot cheaper than a PowerCab and one extra throttle.

Pro Box - 131.25 UKL
Dynamis Handset - 52.50 UKL
Total - 183.75 UKL
(quoted prices from The Signal Box...Hattons price is 195 UKL )

NCE PowerCab - 126.00 UKL
Additional Deluxe Cab - 101.00 UKL
Total - 227.00 UKL
(quoted prices from Bromsgrove models)


The second NCE cab could be a Cab04P which costs ??61 on the Bromsgrove web site which brings the prices close. I use this combination and it works very well. In fact I prefer to use the Cab04P since it more closely replicates working with the DC hand held controllers I was used to.

Jim.

#7 GoingUnderground

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 10:35

The Dynamis has the capacity to hold up to 40 locos in the roster (or stack) at any one time and you switch between them easily (some say too easily) with the joystick, but I have seen references to the NCE stack being limited to less than that, 2 or 5 spring to mind, depending on the model. Can anyone confirm this limitation on the NCE system, or have I got it wrong.

#8 Nigelcliffe

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 11:43

The Dynamis has the capacity to hold up to 40 locos in the roster (or stack) at any one time and you switch between them easily (some say too easily) with the joystick, but I have seen references to the NCE stack being limited to less than that, 2 or 5 spring to mind, depending on the model. Can anyone confirm this limitation on the NCE system, or have I got it wrong.


Both right and wrong.

The Dynamis (both standard and Pro form) can hold 40 locos in its internal memory. If you want to drive the 41st loco seen by your system, you have to delete something else first. This deletion process takes some effort. The advantage is that the 40 locos can have names (eg. "Flying Scot" or "Blue 37") rather than just a DCC decoder address.
Selection is via a menu which has to be scrolled through to reach a loco. With a very short list in the memory it is fast; the list takes up little screen space and scrolling is quick. With 40 locos, it can take a little longer to scroll through 39 other locos (or 20 if you know to go "up" or "down" the list).

The NCE PowerCab can accept any number of locos. Just type in the decoder address and drive. Then type in another and drive, etc.. You never hit a limit. Additionally, there is a rapid recall stack of two. This allows toggling between two locos with a single button press, rather than having to type in the decoder address to gain control of a loco.

Both systems have a limit on the number of locos which can be simultaneously moving on the layout. This comes from three places; space on the layout, the current drawn by locos, and the capability (stack in some documentation) of the command station. I believe a PowerCab limit is 12, the bigger PowerPro is 250.


- Nigel

#9 Mr.S.corn78

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 11:58

Both right and wrong.

The NCE PowerCab can accept any number of locos. Just type in the decoder address and drive. Then type in another and drive, etc.. You never hit a limit. Additionally, there is a rapid recall stack of two. This allows toggling between two locos with a single button press, rather than having to type in the decoder address to gain control of a loco.

- Nigel



Hi,
just to add to Nigels responce

from my use of the power cab and the power pro you have to ADD the loco/decoder address to the recall stack to enable it to work properly. If you just call up the number of another loco/decoder it will revert back to its start position and by this i mean if you had lights on it will switch off and the same happens with the sound.

I have both systems and i like both but at the end of the day the best thing to do is to go and have a play with them at a show or at a shop that has them set up.
As each person is diffrent

cheers
Simon
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#10 catflap

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 12:37

Thanks everyone! Much food for thought. As I'm not in a hurry to change I'll ponder it a while longer. I also need to find a way of remembering which of my locos has been chipped - apart from the smoke coming out of the un-chipped ones :)

#11 mcowgill

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 12:47

from my use of the power cab and the power pro you have to ADD the loco/decoder address to the recall stack to enable it to work properly. If you just call up the number of another loco/decoder it will revert back to its start position and by this i mean if you had lights on it will switch off and the same happens with the sound.


I think that depends on the chipset on the PowerCab. A year or two back there was quite a debate on this both here and on the NCE-DCC group which identified that we use operate our layouts differently over here. In the UK we leave sound locos idling, locos are left in platforms and sidings with lights on and in both case when we take control back we want the current state to be maintained. In the US if you're not driving a loco it tends to be shutdown and have it's lights off.

NCE amended the chip to (IIRC) select maintaining the state of the lights/sounds etc as an option when taking back control. I know I was provided with a chip by Bromsgrove Models that cured all my problems.

I'd highly recommend the NCE system, it does everything I want it to do yet my 9 year old daughter can manage it intuitively with sound locos.

Martin

#12 StaffsOatcake

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 13:16

I think that depends on the chipset on the PowerCab. A year or two back there was quite a debate on this both here and on the NCE-DCC group which identified that we use operate our layouts differently over here. In the UK we leave sound locos idling, locos are left in platforms and sidings with lights on and in both case when we take control back we want the current state to be maintained. In the US if you're not driving a loco it tends to be shutdown and have it's lights off.

NCE amended the chip to (IIRC) select maintaining the state of the lights/sounds etc as an option when taking back control. I know I was provided with a chip by Bromsgrove Models that cured all my problems.

I'd highly recommend the NCE system, it does everything I want it to do yet my 9 year old daughter can manage it intuitively with sound locos.

Martin

I have been away from the hobby for a number of years and so I did lots of research into various DCC systems prior to embarking into the field. I was planning to build a small 00 layout and wanted to try this out. I initially bought a Bachmann dcc starter set with a 56xx tank two carriages and an unboxed Class 25 with DCC fitted from Hattons, this gave me a taster but I soon outgrew the EZ controller. After much head scratching and pondering I opted for the NCE system.


I have an NCE power cab system for my small layout and it was my first venture into DCC. The one feature that I considered vital when selecting the controller was cost. I bought mine before all the financial worries started and exchange rates were good and paid less than ??90.

The NCE system has the ability to set up 'macro's' which can be useful for setting routes. The Dynamis doesn't have this facility.

I'm interested in the chip that may stop the biggest bugbear. You can switch between sound loco's without them restarting if not on the recall button.

If you expand to the Pro cab you can have 6 locos on recall button I understand

#13 giz

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 19:53

I'm interested in the chip that may stop the biggest bugbear. You can switch between sound loco's without them restarting if not on the recall button.



The option is available with firmware version 1.28b or later. I understand that a replacement chip updates the firmware.

My PowerCab has a supplementary note in the manual telling you how to turn the option on.

#14 The Fatadder

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 21:16

I've had mine for a couple of years now, for the most part I would say I was quite happy with it. But it is very fragile, I tend to find that with a wired controller its inevitable that at some point it gets caught underfoot as you walk along the layout (particularly in exhibition conditions)
The result of the first drop on the floor, resulted in a lot of problems (programming dosnt always work (often it either says the decoder is dead when its fine, or dosnt save changes to the chip). Further to that some of the display functions stopped working.

In contrast, from the experience I've had of Lenz equipment thats had a much harder life still runs faultlessly.

#15 Robert Davies

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 02:13

I've had mine for a couple of years now, for the most part I would say I was quite happy with it. But it is very fragile, I tend to find that with a wired controller its inevitable that at some point it gets caught underfoot as you walk along the layout (particularly in exhibition conditions)
The result of the first drop on the floor, resulted in a lot of problems (programming dosnt always work (often it either says the decoder is dead when its fine, or dosnt save changes to the chip). Further to that some of the display functions stopped working.

In contrast, from the experience I've had of Lenz equipment thats had a much harder life still runs faultlessly.


That's odd.... and certainly not to decry your experience, but I've found my PowerCab, and several others', remarkably resistant to my butter-fingered cackhandedness (OOps! on the floor again!)

What I *HAVE* found great about the PowerCab, is that it will successfully program *ALL* the sound locos that I have, with chips from Soundtraxx Tsunami, to QSI, via BLI Blue Line to Loksound - no mean feat, trust me! :D

-Rob

#16 DIRTY DIESEL

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:41

The option is available with firmware version 1.28b or later. I understand that a replacement chip updates the firmware.

My PowerCab has a supplementary note in the manual telling you how to turn the option on.


Im going from memory as im in work at present, but I think you go to CMD STN on main hand set if Power Cab and select Y or N to Loco refresh, think its N and your lights stay on when you re select non sound loco (when not in the stack),iv notice soon as you do this with a sound loco, sound will turn off as soon as you press a function button, but not tried this for a while as I keep DS locos in stack.

I only seem to be able to get on RM Web in work but at home comes up with driver error for passed week, has anyone else had this problem? I take its linked to on going problems over last few weeks?

hope this helps

Stu

#17 Ravenser

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 09:13

I only seem to be able to get on RM Web in work but at home comes up with driver error for passed week, has anyone else had this problem? I take its linked to on going problems over last few weeks?

hope this helps

Stu


Yes this is the issue - the host can't seem to keep the servers up during periods of peak use (the evenings). Tuesday was the first evening for a while
when it didn't fall over (if you look at active content there's a tell-tale gap from about 7pm to about 3 am last night)

Thanks for the note on the PowerCab adjustment . I'm generally pretty indifferent about the idea of sound and lights (on Modernisation Plan stock I reckon lights are largely or wholly unnecessary). However the headlights do provide a useful visual indication of which way the loco is going to move if you turn the controller






#18 the fuzzler

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:43

Yes, the Powercab "resetting" the lights and sound was a problem when an update was made, but a further update to 1.28b solved it. There was a lot of debate on here at the time.

I liked my powercab when it worked, but it became a paperweight within a few months of VERY light use. I'm going to post it to Bromsgrove models one day, but I never seem to have the time.

The powercab seems to ba a very popular choice though. just go round any exhibition and you'll see plenty being used in anger, and I think that speaks volumes.

To be honest, the replacement Elite, (yes, I know) does the job well enough for me.







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