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SouthernTom

NCE Powercab.

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Right, i am looking at getting the NCE Powercab, i have been looking at getting a DCC system for a while now. The power cab is possibly the best one i have seen for the price, what i need and it's usability. I thaught i'd post a tread to see what people think of it. I would really like to know what problems people have had with it. i have also looked at the Gaugemaster Prodigy Express. that is also a great looking system but as i'm still 'on the line' i need some advice on what's the best system. they can both operate 2-3 loco's at once, which will be alright for now, but i will have to get a power booster at some point.

http://www.gaugemaster.com/item_details.asp?code=DCC01 <- this is the address of the Gaugemaster one, at the best price i can find.

http://www.bromsgrovemodels.co.uk/pd-670066615.htm?categoryId=71 <- and this is the Powercab at the best price i can find.

any advice would be great.

Tom

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Not judging either of those Tom, because I don't have the experience.

I bought a Digitrax Zephyr Xtra DCS51 and a PR3 programmer because I like the idea of using Loconet &JMRI to interface, program decoders and control trains. I used JMRI's Decoder Pro to program a recently acquired Walthers Proto 200 RS27 Union Pacific sound equipped loco. Setting advanced speed tables is a doddle, it is just a matter of moving sliders just like a graphic equaliser.

The amount of control you have over CV's with Decoder Pro is amazing. I have tried a basic loconet on the kitchen worktops, to see trains moving under computer control is just sublime! Also, when you use JMRI & Loconet you really don't need any more throttles, you don't need to use the controller to jump between loco addresses as with JMRI each loco can have it's own on-screen throttle, you just mouse between them.

Whichever one you buy please look into how you can interface to it. You may not want to use computer control straight away, but believe me, you will get the bug once you see it working.

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Cheers for the info George, just did a quick seach on that system, i think i hadn't seen it becasue it's not that avalible on most UK sites. but saying that, for the price of it, it looks very user friendly! and the spec's, it is something every special! i think though i would rather go for a system that is easier to get hold of, therefor finding support much easier. Both of the systems i am looking at can be expanded and can be connected to a pc.

as for me being my age, i have grown up with the technology advancing rapidly, and i since having my first hornby train sets when i was alot younger i have always wanted to operate trains with a computer, and now its so easily avalible i would love to be able to do it. and as for something Chris said, a while ago where he can connect his ipad and iphone to his DCC system and control trains from them, that would be a huge success. i think his DCC system was something to do with the NCE Powercab. another thing is i do have a few locos that i would like to sound chip too, so a DCC system where it is easy to control all the fuctions is a priority, unlike i have seen on a few lower market DCC systems.

Tom

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All good points, Tom.

I bought my system from Digitrains when they were 'oop north' at the Hornby show at Hartlepool. They are a great bunch of guys, they let me play with a number of systems so I could make an informed choice. I went for the Digitrax system as it has a 5 amp output, where most of the competition is only 2 or 3 amp. As garden railwayers we have a lot of track at our disposal, why limit ourselves to running just 2 or 3 trains simultaneously? The Digitrax system will run up to 10 trains from the console, you can even plug in your old DC controllers (2 of them) to use as throttles!!

They seem to have thought of everything.

If I have one criticism it is that the manuals, while comprehensive, are a little difficult to understand first time around, but their website is good and there is a Yahoo user group which is well supported.

JMRI allows you to use an iPod, iPad or Android phone app to act as a throttle (using your home WiFi).

Digitrax also does a sound and loco decoder for around £37 with a generic steam and diesel sound pre loaded. (I haven't tried one yet, but I'm going to), This can be re programmed with your own sounds using the PR3 - also there are loads of free sound projects to download.

As I say, I only have experience of my Zephyr Xtra, but I don't regret buying it one little bit. (I am beginning to sound like a digitrax salesman :) )

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traingeekboy said:

I've never heard a complaint about NCE power cab. It's top of the line stuff.

Absolutely, and I wasn't implying otherwise, Griff. The NCE system has a better readout (more information).

I looked at the NCE system, but for my needs Digitrax Zephyr Xtra was the system to go for.

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i see what you mean about how good that system was, i had a good read on there website and it is top stuff.

Griff, you are right, that's one of the reason why it's so appealing to me. but, as my track will be so long, i will need to have two control's one at opposite ends. so for the price, the Powercab this is more acceptable. but, for the time being, and for my open day i will only have one track running DCC and another DC so my fellow club members can run there DC loco's on one line and others on the DCC line. FOR the time being untill i get a second controller on the system. as it will still be very expensive to buy 2 systems and chip all my locos.

i still would love to hear some thaughts on the Gaugemaster system.

Tom

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Hi,

I love my PowerCab.

Could leave it there.

But...

I've detailed my set up in the DCC Automation thread in this section of the forum, give that read to get an idea of what I'm up to.

The PowerCab is great because its the perfect starter kit. It's also everything that most people will ever need.

The addition of the USB connection (£40) to a computer makes it very easy to expand it up to multiple throttles. If you already have a laptop and a smart phone / iPod Touch / iPad (or your friends have them) this is a very cheap and easy route.

I've not had to worry about the amps. I haven't completed my loop yet so I can't leave trains running while I shunt etc. I have had 5 trains moving at once and I wasn't drawing 1.5amps. All my stock it new, older motors may pull more current.

The upgrade to the PowerCab is the SB3a. This has 5 amps and costs about £100. I've got a feeling that you could run a system with a SB3a and a USB interface, but that would be jumping in at the deep end.

A real show off thing I do when friends come round is to get them to download the free app on their iPhones and then get them to control the train on their phone. They love it.

Not sure that any help... Feel free to ask specific questions.

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i agree that the idea of connecting your ipod and ipad is a great idea and i am really excited for when i get to that stage. but for the time being, the Powercab is ideal for me. may buy it tomorrow.

I will have a read of your tread Chris, i think i have read it before but now i'm interested in the Powercab it may be a good read! :) if i have any questions i will post them on this tread.

Tom

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Have you bought your DCC controller yet? I am also thinking of investing in a Powercab, so would be interested to hear of your experience so far.

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i'm sorry to say i still havent ordered it. some unexpected expenatures have not aloud for it. besides, i havent had the time to test it out should i have baught it either. so it may have to wait a little while longer which is a little bit annoying.

Tom

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Tom

My old DCC unit blew up (PIC processor went completely short circuit - all pins and took out the on board fuse...pretty much unrepairable short of writing a new PIC but i don't think i fancy coding DCC in assembler though i did look into that at one point). So i decided to change brand...NCE Powercab was my choice as i have a panel for outside and one for the loft...perfect. I tried one at my local shop (they don't sell them, just use one on their layout) and i liked the layout and features.

When i bought it i was very impressed with the comprehensive and well structured manual too. Not that you need that until you get stuck! :lol:

Great unit, i like them.

John

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