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Author Topic: NCE Powercab failed but confusing  (Read 433 times)

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Offline Graham65

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NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« on: July 15, 2017, 03:06:20 pm »
This seems straight forward but it's far from it.

I have NCE Powercab with SB5 power unit

12 DCCconcepts analogue point motors attached to DCCconcepts decoders, all these are attached to a fiddle yard.

20 DCCconcepts Cobalt digital point motors.

Wiring for Powerbus = 35/0.2 wire

All other wiring to point motors are 16/0.2

A few weeks ago I just started adding point motors to the mainline. Not a problem, 4 added, programmed them into the Powercab and everything works.
Come back the other day to add more and none of them are working. I program them into the powercab and nothing is happening. I try the locomotiv3es I have and none of them are working either. There is a solide red light on the power supply, there is a solid red light on the SB5, the powercab initiates up with everything ready to go but nothing seems to be registering, its as though every decoder has been removed.

I have tried everything, I have even been in touch with NCE help, and after 4 emails and suggestions to put everything into factory reset mode, which is what I have done with no success, they have suggested I contact a supplier here to see if they can help.

What makes this all the more confusing is I decided to try my fiddle yard, so I connected the wires and every point works through the Powercab. What the hell!!

Why is the fiddle yard working but none of the mainline? Why can't I program anymore, and if I add a momentary switch to the points they all work. But I have no trains working on the mainline or fiddle yard

I spoke to one supplier in this Country and the simple answer is, No train movement, powercab is broken

Can anyone offer any explanation

Offline Malc

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 03:25:32 pm »
I'm not familiar with the powercab, but does the bus run through the SB5? If so, try your setup without it.
I'm not sure if life is passing me by, or trying to run me over.

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2017, 05:46:33 pm »
Go right back to basics and hook the PowerCab to a separate spare length of track - do trains work? Need to confirm there's nothing wrong with the PowerCab.

Are the point motors on the mainline powered from the DCC bus or a separate supply? (if separate supply then they would work with manual switch even if DCC bus failed)

Same DCC bus for the point motor control and for track power? If no trains and no point motor control it would seem to point to the DCC bus being broken, subject to previous question? Can you test the DCC bus is live, with a meter or a test lamp?

Is the fiddleyard also powered through the SB5 or directly from the PowerCab?   Do trains also work in the fiddleyard?
 
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 05:48:51 pm by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Online Nigel Cliffe

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2017, 05:48:44 pm »
With the "fiddle yard", was this via the SB5, or direct from the PowerCab (as it comes on its own) ?   If it is via the SB5, you have shown there is no problem with the SB5+PowerCab combination.   Therefore the problem appears to be in the layout. 

If absolutely nothing works on the layout, then its probably a wire disconnected somewhere in the layout, or something connected which should not be connected that's distorting the DCC signal. 
Are your turnouts powered from the DCC track wires, or do they get power from a separate power supply ?  If they have a power supply, I suspect disconnected DCC wire.  If powered from the DCC track feeds, then suspect something which is distorting the DCC signal somewhere, which you'll have to find and remove. 

Try around the layout to find out where there is power - a 12v lightbulb (old-fashioned car dashboard lamp is ideal) or a multi-meter set to AC should show that there is power or not at various places. 



An important thing which appears wrong in your (Graham65) thinking - you don't program anything _into_ the PowerCab.  The PowerCab doesn't remember anything about your layout, turnouts or locos.   You can use the PowerCab to program values into devices, be they accessory decoders (for turnouts) or loco decoders.   Those devices remember the settings they are given.   
But, importantly, your PowerCab doesn't remember them - you need to remember what you set things to, so you can use them again in the future. 



- Nigel

Offline Graham65

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 06:03:13 pm »
Right let's address some of the questions

Everything runs through the powerbus.

The fiddle yard is controlled by the SB5 power unit.

All wires attached to the powerbus control the power for all point motors, when the SB5 is switched on I have live feed to all the track and all the wires already attached to the powerbus.

I have used a single piece of track attached to the SB5 power unit. I have constant voltage but no trains work.

Again I wired up a point motor to the SB5 and power is going to the point but can't control it through the Powercab.

When I turn the whole system on the points already connected fire up in the usual way, I can control all points via switches but not through the powercab. Every Locomotive I have which have Bachmann EZ 6 pin decoders do not work.


Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 06:07:40 pm »
OK, as per my previous post suggest test the PowerCab directly, not through the SB5.  Could be a problem with the SB5, or could be a problem with the control bus connection from PowerCab to SB5?
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 06:10:14 pm by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline Graham65

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 09:38:08 pm »
OK, as per my previous post suggest test the PowerCab directly, not through the SB5.  Could be a problem with the SB5, or could be a problem with the control bus connection from PowerCab to SB5?

Sorry I didn't know what you meant to start with until I looked up what I originally purchased. I found all the bits, hooked it up and yes the train now fires up and the point motors work. So it is the SB5.

The light is solid on the SB5, all wires are live but clearly something has happened between booster and the powercab :o(

What I have noticed after reading the problem pages on NCE is it states the SB% should have a solide red light and power supply should be solid green. Well the power supply is showing a solid red light not green, but power is going to the wires?
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 09:42:58 pm by Graham65 »

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 09:53:50 pm »
Probably your power supply just happens to have a red LED not a green one - has it always showed red?

Not having an SB5 I'm not familiar with that bit of hardware, but given that you're getting power out of it this sounds more like a problem with the bus connection between the PowerCab and the SB5.

If so, the first thing would be to try a different cab bus cable between the two units, but I seem to remember you have to use the correct cable of the various types NCE supply - for example there are different connections depending whether you're using the PowerCab as the command station or as a second throttle on a PowerPro system?  I don't have my NCE manuals to hand.

[edit]
Learning exercise for me! Looking at the SB5 manual online, you need to use the 4-wire curly cable when plugging the PowerCab into the SB5 (not the 6 wire flat cable used when the PowerCab is supplying the track directly).  So the SB5 is acting as the command station and booster in this configuration, and the PowerCab is just a throttle.   I'm sure you know this already as you've had the SB5 working before.
So maybe the curly cable is faulty?
On the other hand, if the SB5 is doing it's "smart" thing and being the command station as well as a booster then it could be the SB5 itself has failed.
[/edit]
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 10:15:39 pm by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline Graham65

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2017, 02:13:19 pm »
Right, this is what I have no established

I have gone back to the original start up set and I can now control my locomotives and points. However I was unable to use the curly cable I had originally used, instead I used one that was made up for me when I broke the original.

Nothing seems to be working through the SB5, doesn't matter what cable I use, nothing seems to be working. So it seems there seems to be a break in communication between the SB5 and Powercab, but it's not because of the cable

Any explanation or does it just mean the SB5 has given up the goast even though there is power.

Online Nigel Cliffe

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2017, 06:20:51 pm »
Right, this is what I have no established

I have gone back to the original start up set and I can now control my locomotives and points. However I was unable to use the curly cable I had originally used, instead I used one that was made up for me when I broke the original.

Nothing seems to be working through the SB5, doesn't matter what cable I use, nothing seems to be working. So it seems there seems to be a break in communication between the SB5 and Powercab, but it's not because of the cable

Any explanation or does it just mean the SB5 has given up the goast even though there is power.

It *might* be the SB5.   But, earlier in the thread you said the fiddle yard was working correctly, and presumably this was powered via the SB5 ?

Therefore, I suggest the next test is to disconnect the SB5 from the layout, and connect only two wires from the SB5 to an isolated length of track (or two wires onto an upturned loco) and see if it can control a loco.   If yes, then back to looking at the layout wiring - just possibly you have put something on the DCC wires (or track) somewhere which is scrambling the DCC signal.  All sorts of things can do that.    If the SB5 cannot control an isolated length of track, then that suggests the SB5 (or its power supply) is at fault, or the cable from PowerCab to SB5.

If it appears to be the SB5 - check the "booster" switch underneath, that might have been moved to the wrong position, see the SB5 manual for this switch.    If its not that, then I think its time to talk to retailers about repairs, tests and possible replacement. 






Offline Graham65

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2017, 04:17:04 pm »
Nigel

I am now totally stumped.

I followed your suggestions and connected a piece of track to the SB5 and the loco works, also tried a Cobalt digital and that also worked.

However nothing still works when connected to the layout. I have gone through every piece of wire to see how it's attached, there is nothing touching the rails or wires underneath the board shorting.

I still have live power through the powerbus, all wires from this to the points also has power but I have no signal to control any points or loco's.

Any suggestions of what could be scrambling the system?

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2017, 05:45:39 pm »
Sounds like this may be tricky to track down, but it seems to me you must have something dodgy in the bus wiring or a faulty device (accessory decoder / cobalt)?   

Can you split the bus down into sections  to narrow down where the fault lies?  This is probably easier done on a layout that's designed to be portable, but on a permanent layout I'd still want to be able to isolate sections of wiring for fault-finding.

The clue must be the most recent work (adding point motors to the main line) if everything was ok before. I fear you'll have to unpick/undo that work until you find the fault?

So the SB5 is powering up and not reporting a short, but there could still be something drawing way more current than it should.  Might even be something like a frog polarity switch not matching the way the point is thrown, but not causing enough of a dead short to trip the SB5?

Not sure if it's possible to put an ammeter on DCC, as you'd expect little current draw from the Cobalts just sitting on the bus? Or measure the current draw into the SB5? 

I do have an RRAMP unit specifically designed for measuring DCC voltage and current - super bit of kit though rarely used now my G scale line is lifted.


« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 05:58:08 pm by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline Graham65

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2017, 06:06:10 pm »

your reply is exactly as I feared. I will start the strip down to find the fault. Fortunately I have built my layout in sections so I can isolate certain parts.

You say a frog polarity, that is something I will look at first and just carry on until it starts working again

Online Nigel Cliffe

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2017, 07:35:27 pm »
If you are certain there is voltage to the track (test by deliberately shorting the layout rails!), but the locos don't respond to instructions, then the fault is most likely to be some sort of device which is scrambling the DCC signal very badly.   

Have you connected anything to the DCC bus to take power from it, other than a DCC decoder ?   Have you used an old "power clip" from a trainset to connect power to the layout anywhere ?  Or, even, reused a bit of track with a "power clip".   Quite a lot of old power clips have suppressors inside them (couple of electrical components) which *WILL* scramble the DCC signal, but let the power through.   Even their presence attached to the track, but without power leads in the side is enough for them to be a problem. 


Identification is a slow process of splitting the layout into chunks and testing each one until fault found.  Once found, try smaller chunks, etc... 



Offline Graham65

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Re: NCE Powercab failed but confusing
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2017, 08:00:13 pm »
Everything is connected to the power bus

All along the powerbus  I have soldered wires, these wires then feed to electrical connectors. I keep them in blocks of 8. I wire up one side with red 1,3,5,7 and then  black 2,4,6,8. Wires from the bus then connect to 1 and 2. I then add 3 or 4 live wires from the track and connect to 3, then 3 or 4 wires neutral from track to 4. Then I add the wires from the cobalts to 5 and 7, 6 and 8.  I have done this throughout the layout, nothing else is attached.

I then divided the layout into 4 sections which are isolated from each other, Mainline, Fiddleyard, MPD and Goods.

Something has happened since I added the 4 cobalts to the manline. One of the points is actually a double slip, so that is were I am looking first.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 08:04:28 pm by Graham65 »

 

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