Are there NCE DCC users out there?

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Hi All,
I am running a NCE DCC garden railroad...and generally very happy with this DCC setup...but my lack of experience is showing. I am using ESU Loksound 5XL decoders in a USAT GP 38 and two Aristo SD45s, no smoke units. Power supply is Bridgewerks 15 amp. I've incorporated the PB-110A 10amp booster. It runs well until I lash up a 3rd loco and then the sound starts to fall out when climbing or pulling a long train. The Bridgewerks unit gets hotter than I would like...but maybe this is normal. Two locos lashed up works well with infrequent sound drop outs...so I am guessing I am just pushing up again a 10 amp limit in the PB-110A unit. For testing I have made sure all feeders are 10 to 12 awg.

Are there any other NCE DCC users our there that may be running consists with 3 or more locos and pushing the amp limits.

Thanks to all!
Greg M.
 

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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San Diego
www.elmassian.com
I run NCE.

Get an ampmeter first, and see what you are drawing... both on the rails and from the bridgewerks. That's 4 measurements.... do this with the 3rd loco.

Do you have a way to measure DCC voltage and current? Also the Bridgewerks is not a good choice, it is not a regulated DC supply. A meanwell or other quality switcher would be better, and depending on your target top speeds either a 24 or 27 volt unit.

Lets start with your measurements.... you can pull over 10 amps with that lashup if you pull really long trains...

Greg
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Greg....I appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Today I discovered a 6" wiring section between the power supply and PB-110A that was maybe 18awg and was certainly not helping....I'll blame that miss on bad eyesight. Will replace that with 12awg and make those measurements. I have a fluke multimeter with an amp setting so I'll try that. I don't have a good way of getting the DCC voltage and current but will see what I can get with the multimeter as an approximation. Lastly, a new meanwell 24V switcher is now on order.

Will report back.

Greg M.
 

Greg Elmassian

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www.elmassian.com
If you fluke has true RMS on the AC you can use it to measure voltage directly.

You can use the Fluke in DC amps to measure the draw on the bridgewerks.

My guess is that the bridgewerks was sagging. Also did you go to my site and see the tips on turning up the output voltage on your booster, it comes set from the factory for O scale, too low for G scale.

The best way to adjust it is to remove the cover, it's difficult to adjust it the last bit with a screwdriver, you cannot see what you are doing and it feels like you are going to break something just using a driver through the hole in the case.

Main NCE page:

Greg
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Oh man...I can't wait to try that adjustment on the booster. That, along with the new power supply are likely to work wonders.
 

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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San Diego
www.elmassian.com
You should achieve about 20-21 volts DCC, how many amps did you order, you don't need to go a lot over 10 amps, but I would recommend like 12 amps or so.

For a short while the NCE booster will put out 20 amps, so getting too hefty (amps) of a power supply can lead to heating issues.

Note that there are a number of sub-pages on that web page, and detailed instructions on adjusting the trimpot for output voltage.

Greg
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
I ordered the 14.7amp version (Meanwell LRS-350-24 Power Supply 24V 14.6A 350W ), By the way...this is my first time seeing all the NCE hints on your website. Its a gold mine.
 

Greg Elmassian

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8 Mar 2014
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www.elmassian.com
Product of a few years of experience, whenever I asked a question that was not in the manual, or "common knowledge" that was dead wrong, I put it there.

I did eventually convert the outdoor system to Zimo, I had too many 10 amp trains!

Greg
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Greg. Measured the track voltage leaving the PB110A, it was low (16.5V). I bumped up the booster to 20V per your suggestion. Its already better! Next step is changing out the power supply.

Thank you.
Greg M.
 

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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San Diego
www.elmassian.com
Yeah, I am guessing that your bridgewerks voltage sagged under the heavy load, and possibly reset the decoders.

The bridgewerks is a nice supply for people running DC in that it is not PWM, so very filtered variable DC, but it's actually like a big DC amplifier, so it works really hard under load. The output voltage is not regulated, i.e. it can vary under load. It's great for DC trains with old sound cards, or sensitive to PWM.

A fixed and regulated supply is best for DCC, gives the most consistent operation. When I started in large scale, everyone just bought the 10 amp transformer from NCE, but to me that did not make sense, in terms of operation from an electronic point of view (I'm an engineer)... at first people thought I was nuts, and I found the Meanwell line of inexpensive supplies... well fast forward to today, and most people agree that a regulated supply gives better operation.

Also something many people do not realize, until they notice this, is that many large scale diesels are geared very low, especially the 3 axle Aristo locos. At 16 volts, they are nowhere near 60-70 scale miles per hours, so you need the higher voltage on the rails.

With a transformer, and it's output sagging under load... to maintain 20 volts to the rails under load, you probably would have to have an unloaded voltage of 27-30 volts, and then you are in danger of exceeding the max input voltage for the booster. So with a regulated supply, you can get closer to the upper limit of the input voltage safely.

Greg
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Greg, great info. Now that you mention it, I think that my decoders may have been affected due a voltage sag. In particular, the accel and de-accel CV's were getting reset when lashed up....weird.
I am a geologist....I think about holes in the ground all day...not electrons. Thanks to you engineers out there who understand the details of DCC. I tried attaching a video from today of my first successful three loco lashup on a grade with a short train....the sound was solid. I haven't figured out how to attach MP4 files to this forum yet.

Kind regards,
Greg M.
 

Greg Elmassian

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8 Mar 2014
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www.elmassian.com
Depending on how you consisted, the settings for momentum may be ignored.. this is a wider discussion.

I'm not well versed on ESU, but Zimo decoders for example can be set to ignore CV 3 and 4 when consisted.

So, you may need to read up on the ESU.... did you use Advanced Consisting on your NCE to set up the consist? If so what you saw makes sense.

Greg
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Hi Greg,
I do use advanced consisting on the NCE since it is so easy. I will dig deeper into those CV overrides. As a side note, for fun, I use the NCE system seamlessly with the Iowa scale engineering throttle and also JMRI.

gm
 

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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San Diego
www.elmassian.com
Yeah, so many decoders will by default turn off momentum when in an advanced consist, so what you observed makes sense.

Been thinking about that throttle, how do you like the throttle, brake, horn etc? Looks a bit heavy to carry, but looks SO COOL!

Greg
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Greg, no joke, its one of the most fun model train purchase I've ever made. It really ties in the DCC to real work train ops unlike anything I've experienced. It works well with consisting too, but you definitely have to use a DCC cab to program and setup consists, in my case NCE cab. The ISE throttle is really just for driving. The notching sound synchronization alone is enough to make it worthwhile. Since it is modelled after EMD control stand, it really puts you in the driver seat with what seems like a prototypical throttle, braking, horn and light control. I set deaccell CV to 255 so the train coasts for a while, then apply the brakes. It just feels real, especially with big speakers installed in G scale EMD's. It took some time to get it setup just right....but thats half the fun. There we numerous CV adjustments needed to get the coasting and braking and lighting setup. It is a bit bulky, not too heavy and thankfully it comes with a lanyard. I usually set mine down on my adirondack chair arm, next to my cold poolside drink and push levers back and forth.

Greg M.
 

gman1

Registered
2 Sep 2020
14
3
53
TX USA
Greg, wanted to follow up on the new power supply for the NCE DCC system. Firstly, it was a great recommendation to go with a proper DCC power supply...thank you. It is substantially smaller and lighter. Secondly, consisted trains run great now with zero sound dropping and the trains just seem to pull harder. I am even tempted to try and run a 5 loco consist. What is interesting is that the locos seem to be less sensitive to dirty tracks with the right power setup. Also, a surprise benefit is the USAT SD40-2's with Soundtraxx TSU4400 decoders now run substantially faster. I was not expecting that benefit. Ok, here's the summary for anyone else running NCE DCC and you want to tune up your setup.

1. Make sure all power wire/cables are sized according to manufacturer specs. Usually nothing smaller on the power districts than 14awg.
2. Dial up the track voltage on the NCE PB 110A to 20V (using Greg E.'s procedure)
3. Get a 24V or 27V switching power supply rated for 10 to 15 amps. NCE has one too. I got a Meanwell 24V 14.7amp version.

....and Bob's your uncle.
 

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
5,058
708
San Diego
www.elmassian.com
Happy to help, I have had many "discussions" with people that have Bridgewerks, and believe they are the perfect power supply, but the regulation and consistency of power is very important, and as we have both found, makes a huge difference in performance.

Even though your Bridgewerks had plenty of potential, under load, it's voltage clearly varied wildly.

Just as feedback, did you see that little bit "extra" in the NCE voltage adjustment better when opening the box, it was good for about another half a volt.

As a last bit of interesting information, the top speed of a loco varies greatly with the last few volts of supply.

At 20 volts, my Aristo E8's would only go 62 scale miles per hour, at 24, they go about 94.

Greg