DCC Control



There are plenty of different DCC controllers available. I studied the available options and advice and settled on the NCE PowerCab as being the best option for me. There's lots of advice out there, which I won't repeat, but this page may explain my decisions.

I was fortunate to pick up a nearly brand-new set from Ebay for a very good price, complete with the AutoSwitch. I then purchased the USB Interface and, by mistake, the Auxiliary Input Unit. The mistake is that the latter will not work with the PowerCab and USB Interface! I've put this to one side for now though as it may still be used later, and used a separate input board.

Why DCC?

For me this was a no-brainer. I want to computer control the layout, and DCC is the only practical way to do so!

Why the NCE PowerCab?

I needed a system that would provide the computer control I wanted, but that was sensibly priced. One of the main things with the NCE systems was the readily available information on the commands to be sent via the USB interface. Equally as I'm building a small N Gauge layout I didn't need the higher power capacity of the ProCab systems. I've found subsequently that the PowerCab is very easy and intuitive to use, and the computer control works well (with a few limitations - see the software section).

I don't regret the decision to go with the PowerCab at all, and will continue with it even if/when I have to add a booster if the layout ever extends.

Point Control

As the layout needs to be automated I wanted to control the points (or more accurately turnouts) as well. Although this control didn't have to be DCC it made sense if it was. I bought a Team Digital SMD82 board from the same person as I got the PowerCab from, however it turns out that not all the outputs on this board work! I've put it aside as it will be useful later and bought an NCE Switch-8 instead. I'm using DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors, which work fine from the Switch-8, either from the PowerCab itself or under computer control.


Although it would be quite possible to swap the PowerCab and hardware between the two layouts it would be a bit of a nuisance. I really didn't want to spend out a lot mof money for a second set-up but I found an alternative. The SPROG was primarily intended for simplifying DCC decoder programming and running small test layouts. Later they added the SPROG 3 whihc has a higher current capacity and is capable of running a larger setup. This looked ideal for the purpose, the downside is you have to control it with a computer it doesn't have any form of manual throttle. For what I'm doing I didn't see this as an issue.


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