Trains are Running Again

I’ve been working and playing with my new NCE “Hybrid” DCC system for a couple days now, and things seem to be running smoothly.  The installation was mostly straightforward, with a few glitches in figuring out the polarity of certain wires and connections between NCE and my existing Lenz equipment.  The power input, and the track and cab buses were literally a simple plug-in and all worked fine.  The biggest challenge was hooking the control bus from the Lenz boosters to the NCE command station.  Lenz uses the Euro style wire connectors for everything, whereas the NCE uses that style for just the power input and track outputs.  The NCE box utilizes a telephone type plug for the control bus, so I had to figure a way to go from a twisted single pair cable to that telephone connector.  I had an old telephone out in the garage that I had retired probably 20 years ago, so I took the receiver jack out of its base (with wires attached) and I secured it to the backboard at my controls area.  I already had a barrier strip there where the control bus terminated, so I soldered a couple spade lugs to the appropriate pair of the jack’s wires, and simply attached them to that barrier strip.  Then I was able to use the telephone handset cord to plug the NCE box into that jack, and -voila!- I had signal on the bus.  Today I finished off the installation by hooking my computer up to the NCE box, and then cranking up DecoderPro.  After doing the configuration for NCE, I was up and running.  Other than a little tidy-up work, I’m done with the new installation.

In my last post I neglected to mention the other big reason I became disillusioned with my Lenz system.  My favorite thing about the Lenz was that LH90 throttle with the big knob.  The thing I liked the least about the system was that LH90 throttle with the big knob.  Huh?  How’s that you say?  Well, the LH90 throttle doesn’t have a full keypad.  It can only access five functions directly (that is, with a single key press).  Getting to higher functions (up to function 8) requires pressing a shift button before pressing the desired function.  Getting to functions up to 28 requires as many as a dozen button presses!  With my earlier decoders, this wasn’t any particular problem.  But with the advent of sound decoders, that shortcoming was quite disappointing.  I generally need between eight and ten “instant” function buttons to set things up the way I prefer . . . easy to do with a full keypad.  Even the small NCE throttles I have satisfy that requirement.

And last, I failed to mention the fast and convenient service Art Houston (my NCE dealer) provided when I called to order the system.  Thanks, Art!

Can’t wait to get back out in the train room tomorrow to run some trains!

-Jack

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