PowerPro SW Upgrade

This section talks about the steps to do a Software Chip upgrade for a PowerPro system.  Upgrade require taking the system apart and replacing a chip in socket that contains older software with chip from NCE that has newer software.


The steps are as follows.

1) Disconnect all cables and power.
2) Remove the metal lid.
3) OPTIONAL Replace the battery.
4) Remove the old SW Chip.
5) Install the new SW Chip.
6) Inspecting the Chip.
7) Checking the PCB board.
8) Replacing the lid.
9) Reconnecting the system and Powering up.


2) REMOVE THE METAL LID: The photo on the left show the PowerPro Command Station opened up by removing the 4 screws on the bottom and sliding the lid off towards the back.  There is a front and back to the lid.  The front side has the angled edge that provides a cover  extending forward at the top over the front panel.  The back is flush.

There are two halves to the Command Station.  The split is down the middle.

On the left side is a 5A DCC booster.

On the right side is the command station.  It consist of two PCB boards stack one on top of the other.  One the top is the main CPU board which contains the computer "Brains" the runs the system.   Underneath the CPU board is the Programming Track, Cab Bus, Control Bus and Power Supply circuits.

The CPU board connects to the bottom board with a tall connector in the back.  The software chip that need to be replaced in located on the main CPU board.

Left is a picture of the main CPU (processor) PCB board removed from the system.   The CPU (the brain) is the smaller square chip in the upper right of the picture.  The big chip in the center is called a I/O chip for it allows the CPU to control devices (the body).  The ram where setting and macros are stored is the small rectangular chip just below the CPU.  The chip in this picture that has the SoftWare (SW) is the chip that has a white label on it.  (The software is the knowledge the brain uses which teaches it how to be a DCC command station.)


3) OPTIONAL REPLACE THE BATTERY:  The battery only last 5 years.  Actual life depends on how long you leave the system off relative to it being on.   It is strongly suggested you replace the battery at this time. The battery is located on the bottom left in a battery socket.  The battery comes in the form of a coin cell.  CR2032

WARNING: With power removed, replacing the battery will cause the loss of all memory.  NCE recommends you do this will power on.  HOWEVER, one slip of the metal coin cell onto any of the PCB can cause you to damage the system and require repair.  DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I recommend you replace the battery with the system off.  A slip of the battery will NOT cause any damage.  If you followed the section on Preparing for SW Upgrade then you should be OK.

4) REMOVING THE OLD SW CHIP:  The official chip has a more formal NCE label on it than what is shown above in the photo.  This chip sits on a "Socket" which allows it to be replaced.  The chip has long metal legs which go into the corresponding holes in the socket.  The chip legs are often intentionally spread hair farther apart than the socket.   To remove the chip, pry the CHIP straight up from the socket with a small flat blade screwdriver.   Alternate prying on both ends of the chip so it comes up straight.  Be sure to pry only under the chip and not the socket it is mounted in.  Note as you lift the chip, the legs are comming out of the holes of the socket.  This is an important observation that comes into play when you install the new chip.

5) INSTALLING THE NEW SW CHIP:  Carefully bend the leads of the new EPROM until they are straight down the sides of the EPROM to line up with the socket holes.  This is best done by placing the chip on it side and pushing gently down on all the legs on one side.  Repeat with the other side.   Be careful because you can over-bend them and you will have to undo that and start over.   Best to go slowly and under-bend than over-bend. 
    Insert the new EPROM into the socket being careful to get pin 1 into the correct hole.  The end of the IC that has Pin 1 is indicated by a “half moon” depression in the top of chip package.  Make sure all 28 pins are going STRAIGHT DOWN into the holes of the socket.  Check as you push the chip down into the socket.   Make sure you push evenly so the chip does not go into the socket at an extreme angle.  A common mistake is to let one of the pins slip, bend and end up folding under the chip. 

6) INSPECTING THE CHIP:  Examine the installation to ensure all 28 pins have engaged the socket correctly.  Use a magnifying glass and good lighting.  The key is to make sure the pin are all straight down into the socket.  It is tricky because a bent pin will appear to be in the socket unless you look very closely.   If any pin is not in its socket, the system will not function when you restore power.  You can partially lift the chip out of the socket using a flat blade screw driver between the chip and socket to pry each end of the chip up a bit to help you check the pins.  Push the IC back down when you done.

7) CHECKING THE PCB BOARD:  One of the problems with the PowerPro is the back end of the PCB board can come loose out of connector socket.  The board must be firmly pressed down in the back and it is NORMAL for the board to have a slight downslope from the front down to the back.

8) REPLACE THE LID:  Replace the cover (angled edge goes toward the front of the Power Pro) and its 4 retaining screws.

9) Power up the system and check to see if it is working.  You will know right away when you plug in a ProCab.  It should go to the normal screen within a second or so.  It the screen stays stuck showing the cab address, then chances are the SW chip is not installed correctly.  If will work or it will not work.  There is no in between.  Suggested you remove the chip completely and try again checking all pins are striaght and not bent over.