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Boosters for NCE

Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:06 am
by dan8400

just wondered if I can use any manufacturers booster with my NCE power cab? I dont need the added benefit of the 'Smart' booster (ie: unplugging and moving around etc)

I am looking for 5 amps of power. The Power Cab has approx. 2 amp output. Is this added to what the booster can do.... seems difficult to get info on this subject

Any help appreciated


Re: Boosters for NCE

Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:38 am
by Bigglesof266
The short answer to your question if I understand correctly what it is you are asking is no.

It would benefit you to better understand how the PowerCAB works and what the SB3A is.

The longer answer is that unlike the 'dumb' PH ProCAB, the PowerCAB has it's own, -for want of a better description, mini-command station inbuilt, so it doesn't require a separate Command Station or integrated Command Station/booster like its 10A and 5A siblings. But, isn't there there's always a but? You can't put 5A into it. It is designed to work with an absolute maximum input of 2A, or it may be 3A ...I'd have to cross check spec, but no more. The PowerCAB's supplied PSU is rated at 1.35A, peak 2A. If you put more than spec into it you'll fry it.

Enter the SB3a.

The SB3a is a combined 5A booster and command station just like the 5A PowerPro, but a cut down version with less features. That's why it's marketed as a "Smart Booster". The now also 5A dumb booster DB3 lacks the command station part, so you can't use it with the PowerCAB's powered command station function because of that input current restriction, and it has no 'brain' of its own. You can use the SB3a because when you plug the PowerCAB into it, you use the 4 wire coiled cable so it behaves just like a 'dumb' PH ProCAB defaulting its CS function to the CS part of the SB3a. Clear as mud? :)

Unlike PSUs where output is seen in as its VA output spec by any brand booster, with controllers and command stations (abbrev CS) each manufacturer, eg: Lenz, NCE, MRC, Digitrax use their own proprietary connectivity, system functionality and bus protocols, so you can't use an MRC or LENZ controller interchangeably with an NCE CS and vice versa?

If you want 5A available to the track with your PowerCAB, the SB3a is not your only, but is almost certainly your cheapest option. Do you need 5A?


Re: Boosters for NCE

Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:17 am
by dan8400
Thanks for that Keiron,

I am going to need 5 amps. Possibly 5amps for the up line and 5amps for the down line (big layout)

see here: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=30117

I am spliting each line (up and down) into 6 block sections with DCC Bitswitches. I will have the capacity to run 5 trains in either direction automatically without them colliding.

Sounds like the smart booster (or two) is the way to go :)


Re: Boosters for NCE

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:54 am
by BananaRepublic
dan8400 wrote:Thanks for that Keiron,
Sounds like the smart booster (or two) is the way to go :)

You can only have one Smart Booster, because as explained by Keiron, it contains the Command Station as well as a Booster.
If you require more Boosters (which may be debatable with 5 amps already on tap), then you will need to use the DB3 instead.

i.e. one SB3a Smart Booster, then as many DB3's as needed.


Re: Boosters for NCE

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 12:59 pm
by Bigglesof266
Hi BananaRepublic

Although deploying a DB3a/s with an SB3a would be the conventional wisdom, the SB3a's command station portion can be disabled by the end user if needed so it can be run in booster only mode.

Thus as I interpret it from the SB3a manual, hypothetically an SB3a could be used coupled to another SB3a in this mode. I haven't tried it myself so can't confirm it from empirical testing. Although the manual's text specifically refers to booster only mode being for use in conjunction with "other DCC systems", I comprehend that as merely a figure of speech oversight. ie: NCE can't envisage anyone with an SB3a wanting supplementary boosters actually buying an additional SB3a for the task when a DB3a which sells for 22%~25% less is all that's necessary. The manual's text further infers my earlier assertion when it refers to the revised port function and behaviour of CABs attached to the SB3a with CS mode disabled. If memory serves accurately, Wiggy25 had X2 SB3 at one stage. If he's still around here and stumbles across this he may be able to confirm.

PS for dan8400: I checked NCE's spec. max. current input for the PowerCAB my own edification shortly after writing my previous post. Didn't rate an edit at the time, but as I'm here now, can confirm it's 3A.

Re: Boosters for NCE

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:16 pm
by Roger (RJ)
Just as a matter of interest, does anyone know if the Hornby booster can be used with the power cab? According to what I've read online, the Hornby booster can take it's input from the main track, so I'm sort of guessing that it should work with any other brand, including the NCE smart cab.