Couple of DCC problems

Discussion in 'DCC' started by Iantha_Branch, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter

    Several of us including myself asked Ethan to keep us posted on his progress of solving the issues that he has. In retrospect, this may have caused some confusion and made it look like when someone has an issue with their system it becomes very technical with big terms such as BEMF, CV, etc. It is true that DCC does open a world of possibilities such as programmable sound, light effects, etc. One of the most noticeable and dramatic effects is how smooth and quite it makes an older locomotive run.
    Like with anything else, there is a learning curve, but it comes with tremendous support on the Yahoo Group that is affiliated with the system one chooses. Lastly, Ethan's situation helps magnify the fact that when someone is in the process of choosing a system one of the most important considerations is having people in your area with a system you are considering that are available to help you first hand or great people like those on this forum that are willing to asist all they can.
    For those of you that are not familiar with what seems to be technical jargon like setting certain CV's a certain way or adjusting speed curves, I can tell you that for a teenager Ethan has already amassed a great amount of knowledge about electronics and how they work.
  2. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Right on. I was trying to be funny with my one liner comment. I'm still edging toward that Bachmann Spectrum 4-4-0 and try out an entry level DCC system.
  3. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Like I said in my last post I have been swamped this week (after school weights on 3 days (which is normal) and then playing jazz band at basket ball games on the same 3 days, I'm tired, but I have tomorrow off, so I will work on it tomorrow.) I know it's a little off topic, but when I chose the NCE power cab I didn't stop to think about technical support. The problems I've had in the past are generic problems that aren't really attached to one system. I have gotten good support on those in the past on here (mostly our own Bob Wintle and Keith Robinson and several others.) When I chose the power cab, I was looking at features and price. More features than the zephyr and a little lower price was a winner for me. Some of the simplified programing on it has really helped me along in my knowledge.

  4. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Ethan; I use both the NCE Power Cab and the NCE ProCab and would like to help you if I can. The forum structure does not allow for a good question and answer session where the teacher and the student can communicate in a purposeful manner. I would prefer an instant messenger venue but we can give this a try. The first thing I would like to know is the firmware version your Power Cab is running. To find this press the program button and then the number 5 and then enter. It will be either version 1.28, 1.28b or 1.28c.

    The next thing I would like to know is if you could describe your steps to programming of one of your engines. You said you use a programming track but with the Power Cab the program on the main and program on the program track can be the same thing unless one is set up with an isolated piece of track. Please describe how you are programming the speed table. Are you using the standard speed table or are you choosing an alternate speed table?

    The last question for now is are you altering the motor control parameters or using the default ones in each individual decoder?

    If you can tell me these things we may be able to get you running reliably. I have seen the behavior you described on several occasions but until I know some things I won't give advice as there are too many variables.

    Dale S.
  5. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Dale, here is the steps I took on programming the decoder on my SD40-2 (the first one I have had luck with.)

    I hit shift+4 (programming track short cut.) It opens, I hit 1 for standard. Hit enter till it says "Setup up motor control 1=yes." Hit 1. Start Volts = 000, hit 100, enter. Max volts = 000, hit 150, enter. Mid volts = 000, hit 125, enter. Acceleration = 001, hit 0, enter. Deceleration = 001, hit 0, enter. Skip the next few steps. Skip through the rest of the options on programing track. Exit programing track.

    I don't have a separate piece of track that is isolated from the main. When I use programming track instead of program on the main I take all the locos off the layout.


    I looked at it uses V1.28C
  6. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Ethan; You have the latest firmware so your command station is up to date. Thats good. Your methodology to programming is also good.

    Are you changing the decoder setting on each loco to digital only? This is important to shut off the analog function. The Power Cab likes to see decoders that are not analog and weird behavior can be traced to this setting.

    Another question is where did you come up with your numbers you are setting on the motor control? For Vstart I have never seen any loco need more than 30 for the setting. 100 will give you jackrabbit starts as soon as you hit notch 1.

    You may be missing one step but let me know about your number selection first. We will go from there.

    Dale S.
  7. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member


    The story of coming up with 100. I have been doing trial and error with speed matching for a long time. Few months ago I relized the obveous. The higher the voltage is the faster it goes. So when the loco doesn't run fast enough for my taste I up the volts. On the SD40-2 I ended up turning it down to a setting of 50 75 100. The B30-7 has always ran slow so it may be all the way up to a 200 225 250 when I get it were I like it, just takes some fine tunning.

    I'll try shutting analog mode off and see if that helps.


    PS I am getting better support on this forum than through yahoo groups.
  8. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Ethan, going back to your root problems aside from power issues, if you are speed matching for consist operation you will want to turn off Back EMF. Speed matching without turning off Back EMF with result in a lot of frustration - just ask Rick McClellan. The behavior you describe of a sudden burst in speed at a given speed step is very symptomatic.

    Additionally when trying to speed match locomotives, you should first start with them all at default settings and determine which is the slowest and then match the others to it. It is much simpler to lower the performance of a locomotive than to boost it.

    Also, remember, locomotives moving freight trains don't spend much time running more than 40 - 50 mph and 60 mph is about 1 foot per second in HO.

    Since you are computer-literate, I would highly recommend putting a Sprog II on your wish list so you can take advantage of the ease of use of DecoderPro in setting CVs and altering locomotive behavior. Speed matching using the speed table becomes very easy.
  9. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Ethan; Let me explain to you what you are essentially doing when you change the start, mid, and max settings. The range of these settings combined is 0-255. The numbers these correspond to is 0=0 volts and 255=12 volts or the actual track voltage of your DCC track. On my Power Cab I have 12.05 volts on my track...measured with a Tonys Train Exchange meter used for checking this.

    Getting back to your selection process, the easiest setting to understand is the max setting. If you bump up the controller to speed step 128 it will be letting the full track voltage of the 12 volts to the motor and that loco will be doing 100+ scale miles per hour. Not prototypical or practical. So in order to slow the speed down we reset the max setting to something like 128 which is half of 255. Now when you turn the controller to full speed of 128 you will be allowing only 6 volts to the motor and the top end will be a managable speed. Following me?

    I learned years ago if you have a DC power pack and you ran a loco with it around a test loop with a voltmeter hooked up you could get the characteristics of that individual loco dialed in so when you DCC'd it you could adjust the start, mid and max voltage settings close and tweak it from there.

    On your B30-7 with the NCE D14SR that was giving you troubles, did you use similar settings as your example for your SD-40? I would try setting the start voltage setting at 20 and the mid voltage at 75 and the max at 128 and see how that reacts. Also turn off the analog setting. Also, do you know how to just read the individual CV's without changing them?

    Let me know and then I will have you read a couple of CVs and we will change a setting or 2 and see if we can get that loco to run like you want.

    Dale S.
  10. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Sorry it's been a little while since my last response, but I was sick this weekend (finally over it and can finally work on this situation.) Just did some tests. I don't know how to disable BEMF (checked the manual for the D14SR and it doesn't even say that it has it any were in there. I did disable DC mode on the B30-7, but still doing the motor control set up messed it up. But I decided I liked the factory speed table since it's running by it's self till I get my U30B. Next I moved on to getting my switchers matched up. I ran both and I decided I like the speed of the Sw1500 so I decided to program the MP15, which also has a D14SR. Same thing disabled DC mode and motor control still messed it up. So I tried programing just CV2, 5 and 6 and it works perfectly. Why programing the CV's works I don't know. So now I know how to program everything with out it screwing up.

    I want to thank every body for their in put. This has yet again proved to be the friendliest and most helpful forum out there and I am glad to be a part of it.


    PS I only got one response on the NCE yahoo group and it didn't help any.
  11. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Ethan; I wasn't done helping you with your decoder programming unless you want to be done. After you set that decoder to the values I told you I wanted to know how it ran. On your throttle when did it start moving at what setting and how well it ran and when it was going the speed you wanted what was the setting. The reason I wanted to you to do this is the next two settings are the most important fine tuning on that NCE decoder. But since you use your throttle to program and not Decoder Pro a pair of CVs need changed. They are the two that "wake up" the motor control characteristics of your loco.

    Let me know if you want any more step by step help, I am willing to teach as long as someone is willing to learn.

    Dale S.
  12. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Didn't mean to be done. Just posting an update.

    Quick note before I get started I run on 28 speed steps, not 128.
    Anyway after running the Sw1500 and the MP15DC back and forth a little bit I decided on the SW1500's speed table. So I began the long process of playing with the 3 CV's to get the right speed. It was speed step 8 that I liked so I was aiming for that.

    Before I continue I'll explain what exactly I'm looking for when I speed match. I start with one, get it were I like it, and then begin programing it (a well duh.) The next part I don't know if it is the common practice but its how I taught my self to do speed match. In stead of trying to get them to be exactly the same all the way up and down the speed steps, I aim both of them for one speed step, which is the speed I want them to run at. For instance my pair of GP38's the SS I run them at is 12, so I set them run at the same speed at SS 12. Why 12? Why 8? It has to do with the way the power cab is set up (I'm writing this part for the non NCE familiar people.) There are three different speed controls on the throttle. A knob (the one on mine doesn't hardly work, it's basically broken) and then there are two sets of buttons. A set that takes it up or down one speed step. And then a set that takes it up or down 4 speed steps (up or down 10 if it's in 128 mode). This is normally what I use to speed up and slow down. So when I use those buttons it goes up 4, 8, 12, 16 etc.... so 8 is a convenient number for me.

    Any how I think I got them matched up some what (it may still need some tweaking)

    I think may the CV's your referring to on the wake up may help.

  13. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Ethan; Thanks for telling me you are running on 28 steps. I wondered and so did some others why you wanted these locos to go fast and do it quickly. I assumed you were trying to speed match to consist...but I wanted to look at your programming of an individual loco before we went on to the matching them. Back to your example we were working with, the NCE D14SR, after you set the start, mid and max voltages the next tweak we must do to that decoder is the kick rate and the kick strength. These are very important to the ultra smooth operation that makes DCC so operationally desirable. In the case of the Power Cab the only way to adjust these are by changing CV 116 and 117. Try this just for fun, you can always change it back to 0. Go program CV 116 to number 3 and then change 117 to 10 and then go run the engine around a bit and see how it reacts.

    If this was a TCS brand decoder we would be altering the dither and it has the same effect as these 2 CVs in the NCE decoder. Each brand of decoder has its own way of making this happen and it is a good idea to read the manual for the decoder and then study it again. This NCE decoder doesn't have a BEMF control but the Digitrax decoders do and it is called "Scaleable Speed Stabilization". The others that responded were right, you don't want Back EMF turned on if you are consisting locos.

    I think you have good methods in your trial and error programming but sometimes it takes asking someone where a good place is to start. After reading all you have tried I can tell you your Power Cab is operating fine and it is individual decoders causing you problems. Something else you may not be aware of is there is a couple of CVs that get changed when you set up a consist and sometimes individual decoders must be manually conditioned(Individual CVs changed one at a time) in order for a decoder to behave so it doesn't go wide open crazy and you may have one in that decoder. It is annoying and only happens once in a while and a decoder reset usually clears it up but not always.

    The Decoder Pro program you have read about is great and best of all it is free to use. All you need to use it is the NCE USB adapter and an old computer. It lets you do your programming easily and very to the point. Some of those picky CVs can be altered with an easy to understand GUI in plain language. Once you play with it you will wonder why you didn't get it sooner.

    Let me know if I can help you any further.

    Dale S.
  14. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Dale, I had always seen the torque stuff but never messed with it. I don't use consisting. When I do speed matching I leave them on their separate addresses. Then once I have them set up I change the trailing loco to the same address as the lead loco and that's how I run my lash ups.

  15. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Ethan; I should of asked you what your final goal was with the speed matching. Now I know it is basic consisting and not advanced consisting. The torque compensation is very important to set on those NCE decoders. Your command station does not have the capacity built into it to "push" those locos around with the settings built into it. It needs help and changing the frequency of the kick and the strength of the kick is the only way that 2 amp system can compensate.

    You must remember that your system has only 2 amps and is limited. If you have a loco that has a tight mechanism it can make that system overwork and get hot and if it does that it will slow down all operations. It is a great beginner system but don't expect it to run 4 HO scale locomotives hour after hour. I have seen it run 7 HO locos before but the wall wart power supply got cooked after 20 minutes and then you are done. Just something to remember.

    I think you are having fun with the speed matching when everything goes as planned. But when it goes goofy it can be a pain. Just make sure you go thru and shut off the analog setting on each and every loco and you will loose most if not all of your runaway hell bent for election problems. If you want to run a loco on a DC layout remember to go in and change the setting back while on your DCC track so it works properly on the DC one. And then vice versa when you go back to DCC. Also if you have one loco with erratic behavior, it doesn't take much effort to reset it back to factory and redo it...just remember to write down your settings so you can change things to the way you had them. And most of all...have fun!

    Dale S.
  16. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter


    If Ethan were to choose to upgrade to the Powerhouse Pro System could he use his current paddle cab with it? If so would it add 2 amps to his system or just serve as an additional cab?

  17. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Bob; If Ethan would go with the Pro system his Power Cab throttle would become a handheld cab he could add to his 5 or 10 amp system and it would work exactly like the Pro's cab. The only exception is the Pro system has a recall of 6 locos or consists and the Power Cab has the capacity of only 2. NCE has been working on a eprom with new firmware and it will be released someday(it was announced last spring) that will give the Power Cab all the same funtionality as a Pro Cab.

    I know several people that have added the booster that is made for the Power Cab that brings it up to the same 5 amps as the Pro Cab but you need to buy the same power supply that the Pro system takes and it is slightly cheaper to go that route than purchase a Pro system. They both do the same thing so to save a few bucks I would go with the SB3 booster and a new power supply and use his same throttle and have fun.

    Dale S.
  18. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Dale, I did notice that the tip of the throttle was getting warm while I was running just the two switchers (and one of them has an N scale decoder!)

    When I tested the compasity of the system I got 4 loco's going and then as soon as I hit the speed increase on the 5th it acted like a short.

    I have ran 4 loco's at the same time for several hours before (on a club layout.)


    If it wasn't for the fact that all purchases have to be approved by dad I would have already upgraded to the SB3a a long time ago. Also is there any difference at all between the SB3a and the PH pro 5 amp box? They both put out 5 amps. They are the same price IMO.
  19. KMRwyCo

    KMRwyCo Member Supporter

    Ethan; The Sb3a can be bought for 100 dollars. I haven't seen the PH Pro for less than 430 bucks. They use the same power supply so that nullifies that cost. The insides of the SB3a are the same as the insides of the PH Pro side of the booster and the brain part of your Power Cab is a great unit when coupled to the SB3a. I have been to someones house that has that setup and he had lashed up 7 locos and they worked flawlessly and I felt the units to see if they were hot and everything was running fine.
    He is a Union Pacific modeller and they need lots of power on their trains. LOL. My PH Pro will run 10 or 12 N scale engines all day long if there are enough operators. I wouldn't want to run more than that because of all the animations I have working off of the DCC bus. If your Power Cab is in good working condition I would go the booster route. But it is yours and your Chief Financial Officers decision but with the money you save you can get a NCE USB adapter and a used computer and use the Freebie DecoderPro and use the throttles built into it to run along side your existing cab. Just remember to not get to serious about all is more fun to run trains instead of spend money.

    Dale S.
  20. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

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