Re: Programming track "short" message on NCE Powercab

Mark Gurries

On Dec 15, 2018, at 7:49 PM, Greg Elmassian <greg@...> wrote:

So the full manual (not the quick start) talks about a programming track, how to isolate it from the main layout with a switch, and in several places encourages you to use the program track.

That is correct for it will prevent a lot of problems.   The higher end DCC system typically include a set of dedicated programming track terminals so one can implement an isolated programming track.  The PowerCab does not.

It also indicates that if you have problems you could be drawing excessive current, or have lights on, etc.

The main problem with the programming track has to do with “reading" the settings stored inside the decoder such as the locomotive number (address).  If there is any electrical load such as a light that draws power from the programming track that is not under control of the decoder, then it will interfere with the reading process and result in errors.

So, while it does not explicitly say "don't use the whole layout for a programming track" it does encourage you to have a separate programming track.

Because if you take the time to remove ALL of you engines and lighted cars off the layout prior to programming so there is no current draw, you can be successful in the programming track reading.  Just place the engine on the track you wish to program and go.

The PowerCab's lower price comes at the physical expense of asking you to take time and prepare your layout for programming before you start to program.

Just makes sense that if you try to use the whole layout, it's easy to leave some other loads on it... in my case, I had DCC switch controllers from Tam Valley, and have to cut them out when in program track mode.

Yes that will interfere with the programming track.   NCE does offer a solution.   The NCE Autoswitch allows the PowerCab to have a dedicated set of programming track terminals.   

By installing the Autoswtich between the PowerCab and the layout, you will:

1) NOT have to disconnect the Tam Valley controller 
2) NOT have to remove any locomotive or lighted cars from the layout.
3) HAVE a dedicated set of terminals like a high end DCC system has to setup a dedicated programming track.   

If you want to go one more step to create a truly flexible programming track go here:

Now you can have the same dedicated programming track not only program locomotive successfully, but you will also be able to test them with a flick of a switch on the same track.


Best Regards,

Mark Gurries
Electrical Engineer
DCC Website & NMRA DCC Clinics:

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