DCC Installed

When I got home from vacation yesterday, I had a package from Action Hobbies Kingsville waiting for me.  It was my new DCC system!  The timing couldn’t have been better.  I spent about a 30 minutes breezing through the manual and then made a plan to have it installed before noon today.

I bought the NCE PowerCab system for two reasons:  the convenience of having the same system that’s used on the WRMRC layout, and NCE’s convenient expandability.  My entire layout plan is premised on three roughly sketched-out phases of growth, and the NCE system allows for very inexpensive entry with complete functionality, and no wasted products when the layout grows up to be big.



The system is powered by a wall-wart and controlled by the brick of a throttle pictured above.   It includes an interface card that is intended to be attached to the layout facia.  I don’t like having things mounted to and protruding from the layout facia, mostly because I think it disrupts the clean look of a finished facia, and also because it’s really easy to bump into and break off knobs, jacks, and switches that are mounted against the front edge of the layout.

IMG_9504I don’t plan to build a separate test track on my workbench, so the layout will do double duty.  For that reason, I inserted a DPDT switch that allows me to select between DCC and DC for test running locomotives.  I have some ideas for a programming track at the workbench in the future, but I’ll try programming on the layout for now and see how that goes.

The setup of the NCE system was simple and quick.  In no time I had the thing all neatly hooked up and running.  Here’s a shot of my most recent milestone:  the first DCC-operated movement on the layout.


I’m also pleased to have taken another step closer to having more plausible equipment operating on the layout.  An ALCO S2 was typically assigned to switch the paper plant during the era I’m modelling.  I’ve also seen photos of an RS-1 doing the honours.  This P2K S3 is a much more accurate representation than the C425 I was running in DC mode a couple of weeks ago.  The chlorine tank car is accurate, as is the CN boxcar loaded with wood chips behind it.

The few switchers I currently own are DCC equipped, so this is the first time I’ve run a switcher on the layout.  One benefit of running a short wheelbase locomotive is that I found two short pieces of rail that don’t have feeders.  Guess what I’m doing tomorrow.




4 thoughts on “DCC Installed

  1. I presume that your PowerCab is the stock model without radio. I don’t think NCE advertises it, but it is possible to get your PowerCab retrofitted with radio, in case you want to use it wireless at the club. I think it costs $100.00 to get it modified.


    • I’ve heard about this. I plan to get it modified in due time. Do I send it back to NCE to have the mod done?

      It’s a novelty just having the hard-wired unit on my home layout, so I’ll have to wait until a time when I can be without it.

      • You can bring it to the club to have Dan Kirlin send it in, or I suppose you could contact NCE directly. The radio feature is only of use at the club or some other layout anyway, since you have to leave the PowerCab plugged in all the time when it’s being used as the command station on your layout. The cords will allow you to use it at the club as it is.

        At some point you will probably upgrade to a different command station, and then this cab won’t be indispensable like it is now, assuming you have some other cabs around. The other option is to borrow one of the PowerCabs other members have in the meantime while you get yours upgraded. We seem to have an ample supply of cabs at the club for now and could spare one for a while.


        • Ah, good plan. It would be convenient to bring my own cab to operating sessions.

          I’m noticing that a couple of my locomotives are a bit erratic or they move a bit too quickly in the first speed step. I think you’re going to have to show me how to work on speed tables.

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