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· Ian Wigglesworth
750 Posts
Quite a long post hope it proves useful for anyone going down this route!

I have the NCE Powercab and it really is very simple to use, for a fully featured controller for £95 it's amazing value as well!
I do prefer the console type systems but as I've made changes to my layout, the best way of controlling everything will be with a cab type control.

The Powercab, plugged into the PCP-panel (powercab power panel) with a flat RJ12 cable ALL 6 wires are connected!
Also supplied is a coiled cable with RJ12 connectors on each end but only 4 wires are connected, then there is the 1.7amp max transformer.

So this is all great and works fine, but I wanted to add another cab, the choice being the Cab 4e or a Pro-cab, the difference is £15 but the pro-cab is basically identical to the powercab, so it gives an extra controller with full LCD display and it can also have two locos stored in the recall stack as well. This means the Powercab will have two locos and so will the Pro-cab, 4 diffferent locos very easy to switch between all of them. This will cost £80+

So I thought do I upgrade to the full Powerhouse pro system box for £160, I can plug my powercab directly into that! but I would stil need to buy a 5amp transformer and the extra £80 on another Pro-cab, which is why I looked at upgrading in the first place!

I could just plug another cab into the right hand socket on the PCP panel as shown above using the 4 core coiled cable, cheapest option as I already have one coiled cable and the Pro-cab comes with one as well.
Two problems with this though:- 1) You can only have two cabs and no more.
2) This panel is on one side of the layout and I wanted to plug a cab in on the other side of the layout, ok it's not a massive room so I could quite easily just stretch the cable and use it, but I didn't want to have cables all over the place and when my dad comes over we can both run the different layouts without getting tied up in cables!!

I really wanted to be able to move the cabs about, so I bought a UTP-panel similar to the above PCP panel but is only used for connecting cabs, will not supply power to the track!!
I could now use a RJ12 connector cable plugged into the back of the PCP-panel and then route it round to the new UTP-panel, excellent I can now move the cab to a different part of the layout...well no you can't!

With this system you have to have the Powercab plugged into the lefthand socket of the PCP-panel at all times as this is acting as throttle and command station all in one, if you unplug the Powercab then everything shuts down.

The way round this was to buy the Smart Booster(SB3), this has to be powered with it's own 3amp transformer, (I have had the transfomer for some time that wasn't being used)
This allows a seperate supply to be taken to the track, and allows three cabs to be connected to it.
I connected a RJ12 cable to the back of the smart booster and routed the other end into the UTP-panel.
The powercab is completely disconnected from the layout the only thing this is now used for is the programming track.

The Smart Booster connected to the UTP-panel.

Terminal connections on the Smart Booster

RJ12 connections.

I can now unplug the cab as the power to the track is being fed from the Smart Booster.
The Smart Booster now gives me 3amps to the track and the possiblity to have upto 4 cabs connected.
The power from the Smart Booster to the track goes through a CP6 circuit protector first.
This is also from NCE, very simple just the supply in which splits into 6 districts each district is a FESTOON type bulb, 10 watt bulb gives a maximum of 1amp and the 21watt gives a maximum of 1.75amps
If you get a short circuit the bulb lights which prevents the Smart Booster shutting down so all other districts stay working.

Oh and this site you can get different wattages, can't find the 21watt type only from RS and they want an extra £10 handling charge as they are special order!

Festoon Bulbs

The large bulb second from the right is the 21watt 1.75amp.

All this is probably over kill, but I have got huge flexibility and will also have two christmas hey Santa

For the time being my dad can bring his Powercab with him and plug into my layout so we can both run.

You do loose the track current monitor using this setup though, this only reads when the Powercab is plugged into the PCP-panel and supplying power to the track.


Powercab £95
UTP-panel £13.00
Smart Booster £59
The 3amp transfomer that I already had £20

Total £187 add to this the cost of the Pro-cab @ £80 the total becomes £267(Having had the transfomer already, total £247)

If I had bought the upgrade PowerHouse Pro box then it would have cost:-

Powercab £95
UTP-panel £13.00
Upgrade box £165
5amp transfomer £20

Total £293 add to this the cost of the Pro-cab @£80 the total becomes £373

Not saved that much in the grand scheme of things but I have bought all of this over a period of time, if I knew then what I know now I would have waited and bought the Powerhouse Pro in the first place or maybe even an ESU ECoS?
Then I wouldn't have had a layout at all though!!!

I could have upgraded to the Powerhouse Pro box but I dont think I need the 3amps the Smart Booster gives me never mind 5amps!!
I could also have left the Powercab plugged into the PCP-panel and connected this up to another UTP panel and plugged the Pro-cab in to that, this would have saved the cost of the Smart Booster and the transformer, not sure that at a later date I would have needed more power though.

I was running the Hornby Turntable and that draws upto 0.1amps every so often, normally o.o6, but I now know I do have plenty of power available if required.

Hope this information is useful to any who are looking at upgrading and the costs involved!
I started off thinking I dont need it to do this and that it's way over the top for what I need, total spent so far......almost an ESU ECoS!!
So for those of you who have already got lots of gear....DONT PRICE IT ALL UP!!!!
Many thanks has to go to Richard Johnson at DCC concepts and John at Bromsgrove models for pointing me in the right direction!!
Chris at Digitrains for letting me set this up on his demo track and play with all of this before buying.

Any comments or questions just ask!


· Ian Wigglesworth
750 Posts

No problem, hope others have found it useful as well!

I bought the starter set thinking that will be enough, it does more than what I need......yeh right!

How things change, which is why I posted the above, for others with the Powercab it does show an easy way to upgrade, but there is the other way which is to buy the Powerhouse Pro box.
It's taken me over a year to get this far, so for me the way I've done it works, for others it may not!
Getting the Powercab first gave me a cheap way into DCC but with all the functions, it's also allowed me to play with different layouts before getting a fixed idea to go with. So for ME it was a very good choice!

From my very quick play with the ECoS it does seem a very easy system to get up and running, seems like it could be like the game Othello.....a minute to learn a lifetime to master!!! (with all the functions available)

There are so many functions that can be used all from one box, in the long run may well be cheaper than buying all different electronic components.

Now you could wait even longer and take a look at the Veissmann commander

I'm sure Richard has given you sound advice, it's down to you now though....let us all know what you end up with!

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