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Cab Radio Updates

In this section, we cover the hardware and software changes of the Cab portion of the  NCE radio System.   To learn about basic radio system itself, go here:

IN THIS SECTION:

1) RADIO SOFTWARE VERSIONS.
2) PROCAB SOFTWARE VERSION vs RADIO SOFTWARE VERSION CONFUSION
3) ENGINEER CAB SOFTWARE VERSION IDENTIFICATION
3) RADIO HARDWARE VERSIONS.
4) HISTORIC BACKGROUND OF OLD RADIO PROBLEMS


1) RADIO SOFTWARE VERSIONS.

The following are the NCE Radio software revisions for for all NCE throttle/Cabs.  These number version are independent of the type of cab/throttle your using.

 Radio
Software
Version
Radio DescriptionAntenna
Configuration
Version Status
1.4Original Radio Software Release
External
Obsolete
1.5Major Radio Bug Fix Software Release.
Major Range Improvement
Faster Key Response.
External
Released
Oct 2007
Discontinued
1.5ASave as V1.5 but the PCB was redesigned to support internal antenna.
Internal
Discontinued
1.5BSame as 1.5A with internal antenna but includes a bug fix specifically for Cab06.  Layout ID menu option has been removed.
Internal
In Production







2) PROCAB SOFTWARE VERSION vs RADIO SOFTWARE VERSION CONFUSION

When a given ProCab powers up, at the very start, you will see at least one software version number on the LCD display depending on the power up sequence used for the ProCab and/or DCC system.  The ProCab will briefly show the software version of the ProCab.   

However, if a Radio board is installed, you may observe two difference software version number on the LCD displayed.  When you first turn on the the Radio Throttle in Radio mode and look at the LCD display during startup, the first Vx.x show the ProCab software version number followed quickly buy a second Vx.x showing the radio software version number.  Then quickly the “normal” operating throttle display appears. 

Fortunately NCE makes sure the Radio version numbers and the ProCab version numbers are all unique to eliminate confusion.

For this reason, I show as a reference the ProCab software numbers below so you can tell the difference of what your looking at.

ProCab
Software
Version
ProCab Software Description Keyboard Version
Radio
Support
Cab Model Number
 Version
Status
1.0NCE "Master Cab"
Same version as Wangrow/Ramtraxx
33 Key
NoneCAB01
Obsolete
1.1NCE "ProCab"
33 Key
None
ProCabObsolete
1.2Radio Prototype.
Limited Production.
Yard Mode Beeper Support
Cab Signal Support
New 34 key keyboard replaced 33 Key
34 Key
Limited
Pre-Radio
ProCab
Obsolete
1.3Same as 1.1 +
Brake -> Option button change +
 Programmable Shifted Key Functions.
Beeper and Cab Signal support removed.
34 KeyRadio Ready
ProCabIn Production

The difference between the 33 and 34 key keyboards is the number of accessible features.  Example: Only the 34 key keyboard allows you to:

1) Access to decoder functions above 9.
2) Shift key allows 2 commands for any given physical key allowing more access to more command features.
3) Programable Option key to allow one button press to any very important command feature you want to use.
4) Momentum Key to change the momentum of your train between switching mode and drag freight.



3) RADIO HARDWARE VERSIONS.

There are two version of the Radio PCB board you may see inside you radio throttle/Cab.
 
1) External Antenna.  Discontinued.
2) Internal Antenna.  In Production.

There are no hardware revision numbers that you need to know about.  They simply have different NCE part numbers.  

Both version of the PCB boards work the same way with ANY version of the Radio software.   However if you purchase a brand new Radio board for a cab, it will be V1.5x with an internal Antenna.

The reason for moving the antenna internally was the elimination of all the antenna warrantee work due to broken antenna connectors cause by unintentional physical damage in handling the cab.  Example: Drop on the floor.



4) HISTORIC BACKGROUND OF OLD RADIO PROBLEMS

If you have any of the following problems, you need to update your radio to at least version 1.5.  See above for more information.

One of the cronic problems with the original NCE radio system was slow keypress response.   You were sometime left guessing if you pressed the key or not.  Pressing the key might solve the problem or create a double keypress command sequence.   The slow keypress response and short range issues were directly related to an design problem on cab's radio module.  The problem was traced back to the lack of clear Datasheet documentation.  With the original datasheet, there were no specific signal interlocking rules about how to control radio transceiver chip when NCE designed the original radio module.   An updated Datasheet acquired much latter showed said that the radio transceiver Tx data line must be held low (OFF) in receive mode.  The interlocking signal fix was installed in all cab/throttle radios with version 1.5 radio software.

In the pre version 1.5 cab's the Tx data line was high in receive mode and as a result part of the transmitter circuitry was still on when in receive mode.  Stated another way, the radio transceiver was attempting to transmit and receive at the same time and this caused the radio chip to work incorrectly.  It is not designed to do both at the same time.  This caused the very poor sensitivity that limited the range of the original radios to 25 ft or so.  With a version 1.5 radio software upgrade installed, the range of the external antenna cab was GREATLY increased to somewhere in the range of 600 to 1000 ft.   The need for one to install NCE radio repeaters is practically eliminated.

Included in the radio version 1.5 software upgrade was a small hardware upgrade.  The voltage regulator circuit NCE designed to power the radio tranciever chip was not meeting the chips regulation requirements.  The old circuit was replaced with a regulator IC for better regulation. This change improved the sensitivity a bit more but this was a minor improvement compared to the TX line fix.

7/31/17