DCC Welcome Page‎ > ‎NCE Info‎ > ‎

NCE USB Adapter

This section covers:

1) WHAT DOES IT DO?
2) NCE DCC SYSTEM COMPATIBLITY
3) HOW DOES IT WORK?
4) WHAT SOFTWARE VERSIONS ARE THERE?

5) HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY WHICH VERSION OF THE USB ADAPTER YOU HAVE?
6) BACKWARD/FORWARD COMPATIBILITY
7) JMIR DECODER PRO FUNCTION LIMITATIONS
8) LEDs
9) JUMPER SETTINGS, SOFTWARE VERSIONS & BUGS
10) USB ADAPTER LIMITATION SUMMARY (Compatibility Matrix/Table)
11) CONNECTING A DB-9 RS232 BASED COMMAND STATION TO A MODERN USB PORT ONLY PC

HAVING PROBLEM MAKING YOUR USB ADAPTER WORK WITH THE POWERCAB?  CHECK HERE: PowerCab Expansion

1) WHAT DOES IT DO?

This NCE USB adapter allows NCE DCC systems (command stations) to be connected to a computer to run PC software such as JMRI Decoder Pro and/or Panel Pro.  However the capability varies with the version of the NCE USB board you are using relative to the version of software used by the DCC system.


2) NCE DCC SYSTEM COMPATIBILITY

The NCE USB adapter works with ANY NCE DCC system but that does not mean you get everything you might expect. 

The NCE USB adapter is designed to work specifically work with the PowerCab, SB3, SB3a and the SB5.


The NCE USB adapter is not recommended for use with the high end PowerPro, PowerHousePro, CS02, Master Series CS01 or Wangrow System One (SYS1).

Why?   The USB adapter board has very limited functionality when used with the high end DCC systems.  Less than the PowerCab.   You will NOT be able to access all of the capabilities of these systems.  Use the RS232 port instead.  See section #9 for more information on a suitable USB to RS232 connection setup.

VERSION 6 & USING A SB3A/SB5?  See NCE V6 USB Adapter information about a software bug and what to do.  In short, use PowerCab jumper settings.


3) HOW DOES IT WORK?  

The NCE USB adapter acts like its own mini command station which is why it has very limited capabilities.  It does not "inherit" the capabilities of the DCC command station it is connected too.  Instead it pipes (tunnels) most commands "around the command station" and on to the track without the DCC command station knowing anything about what is being sent.  On boot up, the adapter acts just like a regular Cab and has a Cab address.   Once it is recognized by the Command Station, the USB adapter sends Cab commands to the command station or sends DCC packets directly to the track depending on what USB command is sent by the PC software.


4) WHAT SOFTWARE VERSIONS ARE THERE?

There are two software versions of the USB adapter.   Version 6 and Version 7.  There are no prior versions below 6.

Version 6:  Version 6 was the version introduced with the release of the NCE USB adapter.   It feature set matched the capabilities of the NCE PowerCab and SB3 Smart Booster upgrade.  It is compatible with Version 1.28C or newer SB3/PowerCab software.  Version 6.0 is being discontinued by NCE with version 7 taking its place.  To upgrade V 6 to V 7, go here:
Upgrading USB Adapter  To learn more information about Version 6 of the NCE USB adapter, go here: NCE V6 USB Adapter

Version 7: In October 2012, NCE released V1.65 software upgrade for the PowerCab along with introducing version 7 of the USB adapter to access the new capabilities of the PowerCab.  
Version 7 is the current production version of the USB adapter as shipped from NCE today.   Your favorite DCC dealer V 6 adapters are not automatically upgrades by NCE.  To learn more information about Version 6 of the NCE USB adapter, go here: NCE V7 USB Adapter


5) HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY WHICH VERSION OF THE USB ADAPTER YOU HAVE?

Normally the packaging that came with the USB adapter will identify the software version of the USB adapter you have.  But unfortunately nothing is marked on the PCB board unless you label it yourself allowing one to forget the version number.  There are two ways to figure out the version number.   Time of purchase and using a PC.

Time of Purchase:  The first place to start to get an idea is when you purchased the USB adapter and from whom.  Using the date given in section 4 above, you will have a time frame.   Chances are if you purchased it on-line from a high volume DCC vendor, they should have the latest version in stock.   If it you got it at your local hobby shop, chances are it the older version but sold as new "old stock".  In other words it has hung around the store in an unopened box so long it became a discontinued version.

Using a PC:  To read the version number, you will need a PC and a program that can talk to the USB adapter.  The version number you read is actually a combination of the version number and the jumper settings in a number.  The first number is the USB version which will look like this: V7.x.x or V6.x.x.   The .x.x value or numbers depends on your jumper settings.  Below is a list of programs that can read the USB adapter and the steps you need to perform to read the version number:

JMRI: 
When you connect your NCE USB to JMRI and look at "Help->System Console" you will see the USB report the version number.


6) BACKWARD/FORWARD COMPATIBILITY

NOTE: At the time of this writing (3/2/13), NCE has not released a V1.65 for the SB3a/SB5.

The V7 USB board is backwards compatible with any product that worked with the V 6 USB board.  However, if you attempt to use any of the new V 7 USB commands, with these older DCC systems, you will get an error of some kind.   Unknown what will actually happen at this time but crashing the system is possible.  All you have done is become "ready to use" the new features offered by a V1.65 software.   I recomend waiting to do any upgrading until you have a PowerCab/SB3a/SB5 system with 1.65 software.

Version 6 is compatible with the V1.65 PowerCabs.  However, you will not be able to access the new feature offered by the V1.65 software. 
To see more information about Version 7, go here: NCE V7 USB Adapter


7) COMMON JMIR DECODER PRO FUNCTION LIMITATIONS

The NCE USB Interface doesn't support all of the current JMRI features and functions.  Examples:

a) Clock functions found in JMRI tools is not available.  
b) When connected to a Power Pro system, the USB Adapter doesn't support any type of loco programming.
c) Connected to a SB3/SB3a/SB5, only operations mode "OPS Mode" is available for loco programming.  SB3/SB3a/SB5 do not support a programming track function.

Features & Functions not supported for a given system are disabled or grayed out on the JMRI program IF you have the jumper settings done correctly.  This protects you from attempting to access features that can cause you confusion and/or hang the system.


8) LEDs

There are two LEDs on the Adapter Board.  One near the USB port and one near the RJ12 connector.  They will only light up when communication is taking place.  There are no power on indication LEDs.

When commands are being sent to the command station, the LED next to the RJ12 Cab bus jack lights up.

When information is being sent back to the computer, the LED next to the USB jack lights up.

Normally both LED appear to blink at the same time when communication is taking place.  If you only see only LED blink, there is something wrong in the communication setup on the other port with the LED that is NOT blinking.


9)  VERSION JUMPER SETTINGS, SOFTWARE VERSIONS & BUGS 

To see more information about Version 6 of the NCE USB adapter, go here: NCE V6 USB Adapter
To see more information about Version 7 of the NCE USB adapter, go here: NCE V7 USB Adapter


10) USB ADAPTER LIMITATION SUMMARY (Compatibility Matrix/Table)

To see more information about Version 6 of the NCE USB adapter, go here: NCE V6 USB Adapter
To see more information about Version 7 of the NCE USB adapter, go here: NCE V7 USB Adapter


11) CONNECTING A DB-9 RS232 BASED COMMAND STATION TO A MODERN USB PORT ONLY PC


One can use a RS232-USB adapter with any RS-232 based DCC system to connect to a PC that does not have any RS-232 ports.  Although many generic RS232-USB adapters will work, some do not.  The one adapter that has been proven to work consistently over time is the Keyspan Serial to USB Adapter, Model Number: USA-19HS sold by TRIPP-LITE.










Last Revision:  5/29/14