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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Listed on another thread, but worthy of its own I think.....

My mate has a problem with his Power cab, which seems not to be unique to him - other forums have similar messages.

Basically, it concerns function control. If he puts light on on a loco, and/or sound - without even setting the loco to move, then selects another loco, and then goes back to the first one (by entering the address), the first loco "resets" - i.e. lights and sound off. It even does it it you select a loco, switch on lights and then input the loco number again - it swtiches all selected functions off.

He is aware that he can swap between two locos using the recall button - and as wiggy points out in his review on this site "The recall stack just means that when you run two locos, by pressing the RECALL button will swap between the two running locos, the speed and direction are remembered and stored so if you speed it up it will speed up from its current speed, to add a 3rd loco you will need to press SELECT LOCO then the loco address then enter.
When you do this one of the other locos will be forgotten by the cab, it may still be running but the speed and direction will not be saved you will need to re enter its address to control it again, but as its not in recall memory as soon as you change something it will default to a stop and start from a stopped position.".

But that should only apply to speed and direction, not the functions. His previous systems (even the Hornby Select) let you do this without affecting functions. If this was "correct", then pie man largers "mass startups" couldn't be done, because going back to a previously selected idling loco would shut it down.

he's spoken to the supplier of his system who is trying to replicate the situation on his own system......

So, is this a "feature" or a problem of the power cab ?

I would assume that the decoders should remember "running" functions (such as lights and sounds) and only switch them off only when an "off" command is received ?
 

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Ian Wigglesworth
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It's not a fault, it's the limitation of the PowerCab.

When you press SELECT LOCO, it automatically drops one of the locos out of the recall stack, so ALL settings, speed, direction, functions are all forgotten.

I have tried this myself, hence my reason for wanting a few more locos in the recall stack!
Problem is this takes up memory, which needs to be bigger, in turn will need more physical space, of which there isn't any more room in the PowerCab.

The Powerhouse Pro can store only 6 locos in the recall stack, it's something NCE really need to work on now, as the newer systems seem to be able to store many more, I don't know if this means they will store all the function settings though!!

I would be quite happy with the unit being able to store 10 loco's in the recall stack and remember ALL settings so you could flick between any one of the 10 and they would continue from where you left them, any more and you take forever scrolling through the list to find the one you want!
Also how many could you have running at any one time?

Just my opinion!

I'm not sure how the Elite worked on that didn't really try it, you can though set up a favourites list and store locos in there, when the FAV list is switched on only the locos in that list are shown.

I just can't remember what happened when you had say 2 running one on each controller then selected a 3rd, all you needed to do was press LOCO and enter the address then press either one of the control knobs to confirm.
The new loco would be assigned to the control knob just pressed, if you went back to the other loco would it continue from where you left it with functions still active....crap memory!!

Maybe Richard can test this when he gets his Elite.

HTH
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sorry Wiggy, but I think I've not made it clear in my post.

I understand that the recall stack function applies to speed and direction of locos only, and accept that should you select a third loco, the controller will forget the settings for the first one.

But the problem seems to be the Power cab sending a "function" stop signal to the loco when it is reselected. His much maligned "select" had no stack function, but let you swap from one loco to the next without switching all running functions off when a new loco was selected.

I'll state my understanding again. A decoder should run the functions (ie sound and lights) unless it receives a stop signal, specifically telling it to stop something (ie "switch lights off). Calling up an "idling" diesel model to tell it to move should not switch off lights and sounds unless you tell it too, but this is what happens here - as if the power cab is sending out a "reset" or "stop all functions" code to whichever loco is called up.

My mates two "inferior" controllers worked perfectly in this regard, so why should a power cab show this disappointing and annoying feature ?

Does yours do it ?

My mate is disappointed with his, and I think this has spoiled the power cab for me - unless, of course, he has a rogue sample.........
 

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Has this "problem" been put direct to either NCE or the NCE DCC forum? or just thrown around forums in the UK?
 

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***There's also the decoder to consider here. The ESU decoders can be set to have "persistent function" so they stay on without further command station prompting or to have them turn off when the loco is de-selected.

Read the ESU manual and it'll become clearer.... (open the manual as a PDF and ask acrobat reader to search for the word persistent - easier than scanning all the text)

Also.... you really do need to be aware of the limits of the power handling of the PowerCab - so activate the ammeter )how to is detailed in the manual, and it will show on the powercab screen. Its decoder active polling memory is matched to its power output so to speak....

There's some logic failure here to me - limit the controller to a hundred quid and buy lots of sound decoders at nearly a hundred quid each... The power supply will deliver 2 amps if needed but the manual rating is what you should be looking at - thats the "long term use" level and with each sound decoder equipped loco needing appx 200mA to stay alive, I think you are pushing "reasonable expectation" a little too far.

To me, looking to buy a low current start set and then running lots of high current loc's is not sensible - sorry. I'd always recommend buying a system to suit the application, and yours is NOT a start set need!

If you want the full stack and large memory of a full system, then add the 5 amp NCE command station/Booster which is available separately.... It has huge memory for all sorts of things and a serial port on the side of the box for direct computer interface - helpful with tuning sound decoders!!

All in all A far more sensible investment than the next two sound loco's you were thinking about.

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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DT
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I keep quite a few locos on my layout - I'm too lazy to put them away. I don't have the sound locos on all the time and locos with lights I turn off - just to be economical, but I wouldn't want the controller resetting the decoders due to a limit in the loco stack capacity or power output capacity.

I would expect that a decoder, once set should do it's thing. If too much current is drawn then the system should cut out, not switch-off decoders of locos not currently called up on the cab.
 

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Ian Wigglesworth
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QUOTE (dieselweasel @ 17 Jan 2008, 06:47) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Sorry Wiggy, but I think I've not made it clear in my post.

I understand that the recall stack function applies to speed and direction of locos only, and accept that should you select a third loco, the controller will forget the settings for the first one.

But the problem seems to be the Power cab sending a "function" stop signal to the loco when it is reselected. His much maligned "select" had no stack function, but let you swap from one loco to the next without switching all running functions off when a new loco was selected.
I'll state my understanding again. A decoder should run the functions (ie sound and lights) unless it receives a stop signal, specifically telling it to stop something (ie "switch lights off). Calling up an "idling" diesel model to tell it to move should not switch off lights and sounds unless you tell it too, but this is what happens here - as if the power cab is sending out a "reset" or "stop all functions" code to whichever loco is called up.

My mates two "inferior" controllers worked perfectly in this regard, so why should a power cab show this disappointing and annoying feature ?

Does yours do it ?

My mate is disappointed with his, and I think this has spoiled the power cab for me - unless, of course, he has a rogue sample.........

No it's clear, it's the same on mine even when I use the Smart Booster.
It's very easy to prove, just have ONE loco on the track turn the lights and or sound on and just leave it sitting there.
Now instead of using the recall button you just press SELECT LOCO and re enter the loco address above...which is what you would need to do if this was sitting in a siding and you were controlling 2 other locos.

As soon as you enter the address and press enter all of the functions to that loco will turn off, if it was running it would stop as well.

This is nothing to do with the decoders or the power requirement, the loco with sound is drawing less than 0.20amps it happens on ALL of my decoders.
This is a limitation in the PowerCab, the recall stack saves all of the information speed, direction and which functions are on or off.
If you need to reselect the address without using the recall button then the above will happen.

I still have the old firmware chip so I will fit that back in and try again as I'm sure that with the old version if you did use the SELECT LOCO button then the loco wouldn't stop, not sure if functions stay on or not as I din't have any functions on my locos at that time.

HTH
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 17 Jan 2008, 13:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would expect that a decoder, once set should do it's thing. If too much current is drawn then the system should cut out, not switch-off decoders of locos not currently called up on the cab.

Very well put Doug - and what I expected was standard practice. So am I right in thinking that a decoder should perform an instruction and keep doing it until told specifically to stop ?

Richard - I've said on other threads - I'm not going to be running lots of engines on my proposed small layout, so don't need wireless/infra red/accessory control/computer interface/power boosters - just a good reliable, honest basic DCC controller. I can't justify £300 on a DCC controller, becasue I wont use all the functions. but I will spend my money on locos.

Power cab was top of my list, but if this is a feature of it then I'm really put off, and think it is more offputting than the fiddly controls of the Elite.

Can anyone confirm if other systems suffer this limitation. As my friend syas, even his Select worked better than this.

Eg Loco one, switch lights on. loco two switch lights on. Move loco three...then select loco one to move it. The lights are still switched on ! On power cab, they've turned off. Imagine how annoying that is if you've started the engine too......

I'm getting a little frustrated with this DCC thing. All systems have their good and bad points - some obvioulsy more hidden than others. It's like George Orwell's 1984, some DCC compliant systems are "more compliant" than others.........
 

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QUOTE (wiggy25 @ 17 Jan 2008, 13:26) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>No it's clear, it's the same on mine even when I use the Smart Booster.
It's very easy to prove, just have ONE loco on the track turn the lights and or sound on and just leave it sitting there.
Now instead of using the recall button you just press SELECT LOCO and re enter the loco address above...which is what you would need to do if this was sitting in a siding and you were controlling 2 other locos.

As soon as you enter the address and press enter all of the functions to that loco will turn off, if it was running it would stop as well.

This is nothing to do with the decoders or the power requirement, the loco with sound is drawing less than 0.20amps it happens on ALL of my decoders.
This is a limitation in the PowerCab, the recall stack saves all of the information speed, direction and which functions are on or off.
If you need to reselect the address without using the recall button then the above will happen.

I still have the old firmware chip so I will fit that back in and try again as I'm sure that with the old version if you did use the SELECT LOCO button then the loco wouldn't stop, not sure if functions stay on or not as I din't have any functions on my locos at that time.

HTH

Ian - can you let me know how you get on with the old firmware chip before I put my Powercab on Ebay? (Have just ordered a Dynamis which doesnt have this annoying "all functions off when you select a loco whether you like it or not" facility!!) I concur with you that its NOT the decoders or the power draw - with 4 locos all with lights on and one with sound on I am still only registering 0.5 amps max and the problem is there with all my decoders too: NCE, Bachmann, TCS and LokSound - seems most odd (and very frustrating) given that there are several entry level systems out there that do not have this rather fundamental issue - the Dynamis being one of them.

Have e-mailed NCE several times regarding this, but no joy.
 

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QUOTE (dieselweasel @ 17 Jan 2008, 22:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>some DCC compliant systems are "more compliant" than others.........
***No, all compliant systems are equally compliant.
Compliance simply indicates ability to act and react properly irrespective of brand.

Operating features beyond those mandated in the NMRA standards are totally at the choice of the manufacturer.

Its a real problem I do understand, but there will always be some compromises in a starter priced system. NCE chooses to give far more than most in the areas of programming and direct control...

Having said that, the way to get anything like this changed is to write a polite letter to the Mfr. NCE releases regular software upgrades and if you see this as a disadvantage then you should explain why and also explain what you'd like to see to them. You might just be surprised how receptive they are to positive suggestions.

If you'd prefer, then call them direct - Its always a better idea anyway: Larry is the Service manager and troubleshooter, Jim scorse is the No1 man and he is also happy to talk.

Having said all that:

(1) have you checked whether the sound decoders/anything from esu (not sure about all brands, but some others also have this choice in the software) have functions set as persistent?
(2) have U considered just the smart booster addition - this is quite well priced and will increase the stack to the level you want. It will also give you useful added power & full walkaround ability so it has other advantages too....

Food for thought - this is genuinely the first time I've seen this comment re the lighting & powercab and I've been selling powercab since it was released..... so its certainly not an issue many are seeing...

However, I have more arriving soon and I will try to both reproduce your problem and see if I can find a resolution when they arrive. I can tell you now that any "limits" of PowerCab disappear when the PowerCab is plugged into the PowerPro base station or smart booster.... more will have to await my tests.

I'm sorry U are frustrated... but I have no other direct answer to your problem.

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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QUOTE (dieselweasel @ 17 Jan 2008, 13:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>.. Can anyone confirm if other systems suffer this limitation ..
As a Lenz 100 user, wasn't even aware that such a limitation existed.

I usually have 20 to 30 locos on the layout. They all keep responding to the last command sent out. Lights if selected 'on' stay on even if the loco is parked in a siding and hasn't been called up for two weeks. Start one moving and it keeps moving, however many other locos you then go on to call up and move around, call up the first loco again, and it will not change what it is doing, until a command is issued. Trip the system out with a short, and once reset, all the locos resume activity based on last command received.
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 17 Jan 2008, 13:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>***No, all compliant systems are equally compliant.
Compliance simply indicates ability to act and react properly irrespective of brand.

Operating features beyond those mandated in the NMRA standards are totally at the choice of the manufacturer.

Its a real problem I do understand, but there will always be some compromises in a starter priced system. NCE chooses to give far more than most in the areas of programming and direct control...

Having said that, the way to get anything like this changed is to write a polite letter to the Mfr. NCE releases regular software upgrades and if you see this as a disadvantage then you should explain why and also explain what you'd like to see to them. You might just be surprised how receptive they are to positive suggestions.

If you'd prefer, then call them direct - Its always a better idea anyway: Larry is the Service manager and troubleshooter, Jim scorse is the No1 man and he is also happy to talk.

Having said all that:

(1) have you checked whether the sound decoders/anything from esu (not sure about all brands, but some others also have this choice in the software) have functions set as persistent?
(2) have U considered just the smart booster addition - this is quite well priced and will increase the stack to the level you want. It will also give you useful added power & full walkaround ability so it has other advantages too....

Food for thought - this is genuinely the first time I've seen this comment re the lighting & powercab and I've been selling powercab since it was released..... so its certainly not an issue many are seeing...

However, I have more arriving soon and I will try to both reproduce your problem and see if I can find a resolution when they arrive. I can tell you now that any "limits" of PowerCab disappear when the PowerCab is plugged into the PowerPro base station or smart booster.... more will have to await my tests.

I'm sorry U are frustrated... but I have no other direct answer to your problem.

Richard
DCCconcepts

Richard - thanks for that - it sounds like the NCE Smart Booster may be the most economical answer - can you confirm that it increases the size of the recall stack beyond 2 locos and if so, to what number of locos?
Many thanks, Phil.
 

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QUOTE (34C @ 17 Jan 2008, 23:11) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>As a Lenz 100 user, wasn't even aware that such a limitation existed.

*** you'll never see any limit with any full system - Set 100, PowerHouse Pro, Digitrax Super Chief, ESU, Uhlenbrock etc etc.... they all use the very generous memory of the base station for things like that, so you'd be close to 9999 loco's before problems exist.

The memory is retained by a battery in the base station when the system is off, so it'll still be there in a year if necessary.... (Mind you, when it goes, you WILL see limitations unti its replaced - unfortunately Lenz solder theirs in


The Powercab has it all in the handset with NO base station - It is live memory wise ONLY when physically turned on - same with most entry level systems - so long term memory can't exist. Adding the Smart booster takes it closer to "big system ability"

regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Richard - yes Ive emailed them a polite email, and stated that a purchase depends on a satisfactory response.

Maybe this is going into things too deeply, but how do the function commands work ? I had thought that a decoder would do something until it was told to stop. Eg - lights on - they'll stay on. If you move the loco, the controller starts telling the DCC chip to increase to speed step 11, 13, 17 etc - and stay until told otherwise.

Having chips with "latching" functions should not be necessary if that was the case.

If you operate a horn, this should send a "play sound" code until a stop signal is received. On the power cab, with its dedicated "horn" button, I would say that a play code is sent with the button pressed, and then a stop code when the button is released....or am I being a bit naive here.

Otherwise the DCC controller would need to be sending constant "run" signals to however many locos were operating (lets say 20 idling diesel locos) and I cant see it doing that.

Accessory controllers (ie points) would only need an "move" command anyway, and not a constant feed - are these different ?

Or is, as I suspect, the Power cab sending out "stop" codes when a loco address is typed in ?

Sorry to go on, but I'd put the power cab down to be controller of choice. if this is a "feature", it may be the Elite for me now.

Looking forward to wiggys response with his older firmware.....
 

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QUOTE (dieselweasel @ 17 Jan 2008, 23:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Maybe this is going into things too deeply, but how do the function commands work ? I had thought that a decoder would do something until it was told to stop. Eg - lights on - they'll stay on. If you move the loco, the controller starts telling the DCC chip to increase to speed step 11, 13, 17 etc - and stay until told otherwise.

Having chips with "latching" functions should not be necessary if that was the case.

***It really depends on the function. In most cases, a decoder should do as it was told until it is told not to. Some functions however are constantly refreshed.

Its important that all commands do not need repeating as the overall amount of data on the bus would very quickly increase to the point where data collision and error would create chaos. This cab be seen sometimes on club layouts as it is, as lots of members adding and changing loco's all the time can actually choke the stack memory of some units requiring a "purge" to be done - its sort of a routine housekeeping job on many big layouts with big operating crews, and is easy enough to do...

Decoders.... ESU has a choice in their decoders as do others. In otherwords, you can choose to have a loco dead until it is addressed by the controller and dead when it is "dispatched" after use, or choose for funtions like lights to stay on.

Not so silly really - not all stabled loco's have them on, and some people can't be bothered turning them on and off....

Again - I'm actually quite interested in the topic as its not been raised as an issue before now on any of the many lists I inhabit and with US models lit up like christmas trees this surprises me a LOT. (US modellers are very quick to bleat about things <sorry to any US modellers on list> )

....so I'll see what I can find and report back when its done...

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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QUOTE (dieselweasel @ 17 Jan 2008, 14:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks Richard - yes Ive emailed them a polite email, and stated that a purchase depends on a satisfactory response.
...

...
Looking forward to wiggys response with his older firmware.....

Can you let me know what NCE say to you when/if they get back to you? I went for the Powercab instead of the Dynamis (same price) not thinking that something as fudamental (in my opinion) as this would be an issue. However given Richard's latest post it does seem odd, given that as he says, US modellers do like their lights!!
Thanks, Phil.
 

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I agree with you stating this is fundamental.

I'm handicapped by not having a system (yet!) so can't test it. But NCE have come up trumps, and have sent this.....

Refreshing functions can be turned on in our Power Cab system by going to the SET CMD STATION menu then turning FUNCTION REFRESH to 1=Y or yes. If the speed is zero after a power outage, or interruption or if all the functions have been turned off, then the functions will not go on.

Decoders also can have a "remember function status" as our NCE decoders do. Some decoders on the market do not.

Larry Larsen
NCE Customer Service


Now, I don't know what the default as supplied setting is, nor whether fiddling with this will cause/remove this problem.....but it sounds down the right lines.

I've sent this to my mate for him to try, but anyone able to try it out ???? And let us know yeah/nay ??!!

Yours expectedly
 

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Sadly turning on "FUNCTION REFRESH" doesn't solve this problem - tried that last night - I believe the default function is function refresh "off" however. The problem also happens with NCE decoders and judging by the response I have just had from NCE (see below) this is simply a limitation of the Powercab system - and a fairly fundamental one in my view, given that the Hornby DCC systems and the Dynamis do not suffer from this and they also cost less. The issue is that when you select a third loco it will default to all functions off no matter how the decoder is set - this is a Powercab issue not a decoder issue - I can set my LokSound decoder to keep all functions on and if there is a power outage or if its loses power over points, sure enough it will remember the function settings and restore all functions when power is restored and even restore sound where it left off - but when I try to select it as a third loco with the Powercab, all functions switch off, end of story:

"Dr. Porter,

That is the way the low cost Power Cab works. If you select loco 1 then press RECALL, then select loco 2 then press RECALL, then press select loco 3, the first 2 will continue to run until you select loco 1 again. This will stop loco 1.

We had to minimized SOME of the functionality of the Power Cab to make it sellable at $189.95.

If you add an optional cab you can increase your constant running of locos to 1 more with the Cab04p and 2 more with the Pro Cab."
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Now THAT is a shame - and maybe should appear in the review on this site.

I'd say that is a major drawback. Piemanlargers multi sound locos would be annoyingly frustrating to play with if the functions kept switching off when selecting different locos.

If wiggy25 considered the elite to be awkward with regard to swtiching funtions on and off, I suspect that the power cab will give me arthriitis to match my wifes.

I might be tempted to go the Elite route now.

this seems to be a fundamental defect, perhaps only coming to light now we have more and more light and sound fitted locos to play with.

And to those who think I should expect this with a "starter system", I'd say a firm NO. The much criticised Select manages to run functions without this misbehaviour, as does the roco multimaus. Other users say the Dynamis can, and I hope someone will confirm the elite will.

Back to drawing board lads.
 

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Have to say that I agree with you - if I had known this before I wouldnt have gone for the Powercab and will now be selling mine or sending it back to the supplier for a trade-in. Have ordered a Bachmann Dynamis (which doesnt have the "everything off when loco number 3 is selected" function!) but very annoyed that I will almost certainly be losing money here. Why has this issue never appeared in any of the reviews?
 
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