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NCE Boosters

This section talks about the history, specifications and performance of all NCE boosters produced.

There are multiple topic here.  They are:

1) BOOSTER FEATURES
2) POWER PRO BOOSTERS SPECIFICATIONS AND COMPARISONS
3) POWER CAB BOOSTER
SPECIFICATIONS AND COMPARISONS
4) PICTURE OF BOOSTERS
5) NCE BOOSTER OUTPUT VOLTAGE HISTORY (PB105/205/PowerPro)
6) PERFORMANCE TESTING OF VARIOUS NCE BOOSTERS


1) BOOSTER FEATURES

If you do not understand what booster features are or mean are, go here first:Booster Features

1) Full Track Voltage Regulation
2) Current Limiting
3) Current Overload Protection
4) Thermal Overload Protection
5) Input Under Voltage Protection.
6) Shutdown/loss of command signal from command station detection.
7) High Efficiency Power Supply Design
8) Adjustable Track Voltage.
9) AC and DC inputs support.
10) Autoreverse Loop support on LIMITED MODELS.

A RED LED status Indicator on the front of booster will indicated various faults by turning on and/or blinking at different rates.  Normally the LED is off.  Refer to the manual to see what specific status indications are supported.


2) POWER PRO BOOSTERS SPECIFICATIONS AND COMPARISONS
Boosters intended to be used with the PowerPro system.
Models in bold are in current production.  Note numbers are in (x) and found below.

 Model
Rated
Amps
Label
Name
(1)
Input
Max DC
Voltage
(6)
Input
Max AC
Voltage
(6)
Output
Voltage
(Factory)
Output
Voltage
Adjust
Range
Auto
Reverse
?
(7)
Years
Produced
Notes
PB2052 x 5A
Dual
Master

14.25V
Yes
Replaced by
PB205a
PB11010AMaster

16.00V
Yes
Replaced by
PB110a
PB1055APower24V18V14.25V9.5 to
18V
Yes1999 to
2004?
 
Replaced by PB105a
PB105a
(4)
5APower24V18VSee
Note
9.5 to
18V
No2004? to 
2013
See Voltage History
Special Order
PB205a
(2)
2 x 5A
Dual
Power24V18V14.25V9.5 to
18V
No
Discontinued
PB110a10APower32V22V16.00V11.5 to
22V
YesCurrent
PB55APower12V or
13.8V
N/ASame
as Input
12V or
13.8V
NoCurrent











3) POWER CAB BOOSTER SPECIFICATIONS AND COMPARISONS
Expansion Booster intended for use with the PowerCab system.
Models in bold are in current production.  Note numbers are in (x) and found below.

 Model
Rated
Amps
Label
Name
(1)
Input
Max DC
Voltage
(6)
Input
Max AC
Voltage
(6)
Output
Voltage
(Factory)
Output
Voltage
Adjust
Range
Auto
Reverse
?
(7)
Years
Produced
Notes
DB33A
(3)
Booster

32V
(5)
22V13.8V
No
Replaced by
DB3a
DB3a
5A
(8)
Booster24V18V13.8V9V to
14V
No1999 to
2013
Replaced by
DB5
SB33A
(3)
Smart
Booster
32V
(5)
22V13.8V
No
Replaced by
SB3a
SB3a5A
(8)
Smart
Booster
24V18V13.8V9V to
14V
No1999 to
2013
Replaced by
SB5
SB55ASmart
Booster
12V or
13.8V
N/ASame
as Input
12V or
13.8V
NoCurrent
DB55ABooster12V or
13.8V
N/ASame
as Input
12V or
13.8V
NoCurrent












NOTES:

1) NCE has 3 product names used in its manufacturing history.   a) MASTER SERIES b) PowerHouse  c) PowerPro

2) Some if not all PB205a have no model name/number markings on the front.

3) The DB3 and SB3 were NOT thermally rated for continuous 3A duty and required an external short circuit protection in the form of light bulbs to be added. See manual.  HOWEVER, the DB3a and SB3a replaced these non "a" versions addressing the thermal issues and adding more current at no additional cost.  Unfortunately not caught in time, the first release of the DB3a/SB3a manual did NOT remove the reference for the need for light bulb protection.  The new DB3a and SB3a designs are based on the PB105a.   See note 8 below.
  
4) The original PB105 can be special ordered from NCE for those who wish to use this version to match the ones they already have.  However, the PB5 is the intended replacement. 

5) This specific number is missing from the manual.  Value is extrapolated based on the design.

6) These specification is the maximum power supply voltages recommended for use as stated in the manual.  The ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM voltage rating in the manual are slightly higher but those are the voltage ratings in which if exceeded for any reason or moment in time runs the risk of  destroying the booster instantly.  Stick with the recommended ratings.

7) The presence of absence of the "Normal/Loop" switch on the front panel is the defining indication of the booster capable of supporting reverse loops directly.

8) The DB3a and SB3a are rated at 5.1A*.  Unlike the PB105a booster, the SB3a and DB3a cannot sustain a continuous 5A load longer than a few seconds.  HOWEVER, there is NO damage to the booster and no external protection is required.  The booster will simply shutdown acting as if a short circuit occurred and self clear after a small delay.  In practice on the layout one should never see this happen unless one test the booster on a Test Bench.  *= With fan cooling and nothing is said about how this is to be done properly.  In bench testing I find no need for it when the booster is place in open air.


4) PICTURE OF BOOSTERS

 PB110.  All metal box with support for an external Amp meter option.

  PB110a.  New power connectors and front panel options removed.

 PB205.  Looks like a PB110 except it has 2 track outputs.

  PB205a.  Literally nothing more than a dual PB105 in a single box.

 PB105.  This is the exact same booster used in the 5A PowerPro system. 

 DB3.  3A low cost booster in a plastic box.  Not very reliable.
    DB3a.  A modified PB105 in a plastic box.  No Loop/Normal Switch.


5) NCE BOOSTER OUTPUT VOLTAGE HISTORY (PB105/205/PowerPro)
Only applies to PB105, PB205 (includes "a" versions) and the booster used inside the PowerPro command station.

All voltage setting are set at the factory to be +/- 0.1V.

1995: Initial production setting is 14.25V which was the target voltage for HO scale.
2004: Voltage reduced to 14.2V
2006: Voltage reduced to 14.1V
2009: Voltage reduced to 14.0V
Eventually the track voltage will drop to 13.8V to match the DB3 boosters and PowerCab voltages.

Why?  Modern decoders use very efficient rectification diodes (Schottky) that have "LESS voltage drop" than a standard (Silicon) diodes and consequently generate far less heat for the decoder for a given load current.  Any reduction in heat improves decoder reliability and life.  There is also a slight downside.  There is now MORE usable voltage to drive the motor and light functions that is really necessary which means they will get hotter.  Hence the purpose of dropping the voltage is take back the extra voltage.  The benefits are as follows:
 
1) Restores the bulb life for 12-14V light bulbs to the level they were before.
2) Less heat for the decoder and motor.
3) Reduces voltage noise levels on the track improving DCC communications.
4) More voltage safety margin for electronics components when working with noisy environments.
5) Improved Booster track voltage regulation for a given input voltage.

It should be noted that none of these benefits individually are all that great, but collectively there is a overall improvement that is significant for the layout at large.


6) PERFORMANCE TESTING OF VARIOUS NCE BOOSTERS

To see the performance testing, go here: Booster Performance Testing

02/17/14