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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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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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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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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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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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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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Looks like we're in the same boat then...but my wallet has escaped intact.

I think the power cab "issue" may have gone undetected due to the various combination of it/smart booster/pro cab/whatever. Hardcore users will be using all the boxes which will increase this "stack" capability.

Plus, it may have been used on system running few function-equipped locos. Those who have all singing/dancing locos may be very keen modellers, probably using a top of the range controller.

Now that prices of dcc equipment and sound/light fitted locos have come down, plebs like me are entering the market and are using combincation of loco/controller that haven't been used. Obvioulsy serves me right for wantng me cake and eating it !

certaily re-reading some of these posts, people have been running the power cab on non sound fitted locos, or have just used a couple at a time. Maybe we can expect to see a lot more of this over the next few months.

BTW I have played with a Dynamis at my local, trusted model shop. I hated the joystick and found the display poor. He had sold out of Elites, and reckons they're selling well....so will have a butchers when he has some in stock
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Cheer Ian...well well well !!

So, are you going to contact NCE about this ? They've had emails from me, you, my mate with the system, and must be getting fed up with this !

I will buy one if this feature is corrected and no other negatives are introduced, so there is a money incentive...

Bloomin' upgrades !

BTW Which version is it now...and do Bromsgrove Models keep the old eproms ? Might I be the first to ask for one with the old firmware ? And was the old version satisfactory for you ? Why did you upgrade?
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
QUOTE (80class @ 17 Jan 2008, 19:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I must say I don't agree with that statement. Every low budget set will have limitations. Its a case of being able to put up with them, or spending a realistic amount of money to achieve what you want to. Ok so the select doesn't suffer from this particular problem, but lets now get into all of its limitations again...As for the Elite, I find the way it operates functions and its childlike interface put me off, but its horses for courses.

Re the power cabs limitations, realistically if you want to run more than two locos at once, for me you should not be looking at budget sets but instead going for a full system. Spend an extra £150 and you will see a big difference. Otherwise you will be back here in a few weeks time having discovered that budget set X has problem Y that you can't live with.

DCC is great fun, but you need to get the right set for you. If not it can get very frustrating. Don't close your mind to full price sets unless you are prepared to put up with the limitations.

Rob

And I don't agree with that ! This is an unacceptable problem, which the basic systems can get right. The problem has NOTHING to do with power output - Wiggy25 has proved that the problem lies with the upgraded firmware. Whether it has crept in accidentally or deliberately is a matter for debate.

We're not trying to run more than two trains at once - we're just selecting locos with functions already swtiched on. This new firmware seems to send out a "stop all functions" command to reselected locos, an undesirable trait. I know low budget sets have limitations - that's why I'm not buying a Select or EZ Command. But at least they let the functions continue to run until YOU decide to switch them off.

Lets see what NCE are going to do......
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Latest response from NCE.

Andy,

The Power Cab has 2 recalls. To run 3 trains at once, you will need to add an optional Cab 04P or to run 4 trains at once, a Pro Cab. The Power Cab as it is is operating properly.

Larry Larsen
NCE Customer Service


He's told me this already ! I politely replied he's missing the point here ! Even his answer is not quite correct - you can run more trains at one time, just not be in control of them all.

The point is it didn't do this before, and this alteration has unforseen actions on the functions.

As NCE don't seem to be capable uf understanding the problem , and Bromsgrove Models don't respond to emails about buying the NCE with "old" chips in, then can anyone confirm if the Elite works okay in this regard. I'll want to buy a power cab, but only with the old firmware.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
From Wiggy - "Alas it also sends a signal to turn off functions F0-F8."

Aarrgh !!!

So they've jiggered it then with this "fix" ! Thought something like that had been done......despite all this talk about "latching" commands on decoders etc etc. I can understand them putting a command in to stop the loco moving, but the "stop" on the functions........!!!!!

An easy fix though - should they be minded. For what its worth, my purchase depends on this, so I suspect they'll be moving heaven and earth to change this !!!!!

I'm still awaiting a response from Bromsgrove about buying one with old firmware.

So we have someone on "our side" (ie non-manufacturer) who can check what signals are being sent out from controllers ? Good stuff
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Good stuff all round.

Just goes to show how handy the internet and forums like these are in identifying and possibly sorting out problems like this, and fair play to NCE (and Bromsgrove Models) for being so receptive to customer feedback.

Its obvioulsy one of Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns - it happens - but good to see that things are happening. And interesting that DCC has "regional differences".

I'll keep rechecking on here and see what progress has been made, but with the early birth of my son over the weekend, I'll have something else to keep me busy....

PS Bromsgrove models - put me down for an NCE Power cab when the "revised revised" firmware gets through. Just out of interest - and I know an instant fix can't be done - but if NCE sorted it out say, today, what lead time can we expect between release and you getting one ? Do you stock the power cabs and could you "rechip" if necessary ???

And sorry John - I still haven't got an email from you, but this may be down to my firewall. Zonealarm keeps blocking access halfway through sending/receiving. Outlook tells me I have 6 messages to download, and halfway through Zone alarm sometimes blocks. The trouble is the ones after the "block" are then lost forever, cos the server thinks it sent them all......
 

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Cheers John - I appreciate your points and thank you for the swift replies on here. I know what you're saying, but NCE seem to have doen an unintentional step backwards with this fix (as far as UK modellers are concerned), but it is good to see that they can and probably will take this on board. Taking out the "switch functions off" command whilst leaving the "stop movements" command seems like a reasonable fix to me.

I'm going to wait until this is resolved before ordering, but my friend with the Power cab has done the fixes as shown above and says that it now all works fine.

I used to work in the computer field, and fully realise that a tweak here and there can have unexpected consequences "elsewhere". However, we also had a term called a "kludge" - an awkward work round a problem that is inelegant and goes against accepted practice.

I'd put all this reassigning stuff in the kludge category, but it works as a temporary fix so we'll put up with it.

I've noticed that some of the decoders (liekthe TCS ones) have an option to buy a UK version. So how many other functions/deocder sockets etc have different arrangments ?

And as for this "one handed" aspect of the Power cab - I'm left handed...do they do a LHD version !!!


Looking forward to doing business with you in the near future
 
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