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NCE Technical Support in Australia for USA purchased equipment

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NCE Technical Support in Australia for USA purchased equipment
Posted by Denver on Sunday, August 06, 2017 1:54 AM

I purchased a PH-PRO-R Power Pro 5 amp Wireless DCC Starter set from the USA (MB Klein) about 18 months ago and I have been very pleased with it. However it stopped working a couple of weeks ago and the left bred status light contineously blinked. After taking all the steps recomended on the web I contacted NCE in New York who advised "The right side of the box (command station side) is not functioning.  You will need to get the box serviced. That is a very odd occurrence. We have an agent in AU you may contact, if not then send it directly to us in the US."

They went on to say that there would be a 6 week delay in looking at the box after receipt. They also indicated that if the fault was found to be a factory fault they might not charge a fee for fixing it.  However 6 weeks is a long time so I contacted their Australian Service agent - MRRC Shop (Gary Spencer-Salt) in Blacktown, NSW and asked him what his lead btime would be to fix. Instead of responding with a time he demanded to know who I had bought the NCE Power Pro from. I asked him why he needed to know and he replied that there was a $100 surcharge on NCE equipment puchased outside of Australia. Note here that i live in far North Queenland and Blacktown is for me as far away as the USA. There is no local NCE dealer up here.

Anyway surfice to say that $100 easlily covers the postage to and from NCE in New York and I had no confidence that this local Service Agent would (a) be able to fix the problem (b) have the parts and (c) charge me a reasonable price for fixing, as well as the $100 surcharge.

Has anyone else puchased NCE equipment from the USA and had the same problem? I realise now why a dealer in Melbourne told me he was not allowed "by Gary", to sell me a 240v 15vAC 5amp power supply for my unit when I first purchased it from Klein's. In the event I bought a very good power supply from Tortech in NSW (http://www.tortech.com.au/power-supply-australia/ac-power-supply) for half the price. At the same time I also tried to buy a 2nd Throttle from this Ausxtralian dealer but he did not have any in stock! So I had no choice but to again buy from MB Klein.

Given not only the lower pricing of MB Klein, but also their surperior stock levels (of throttles, circuit breakers, block detectors, panel sockets, etc) and the support from NCE in New York I have no regrets at not buying from a local Australian dealer who, in the absence of local technical support at a reasonable price, is just another importer, like me.

 
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Posted by Alantrains on Sunday, August 06, 2017 6:34 AM

Hi Denver,

Unfortunately you've been unlucky to get a unit go faulty. I'm in Brisbane and bought my NCE PowerCab in Australia because of the possibility of the problem you have encountered. I have dealt with MRRC and they have been fine, and I can understand that they would charge extra to fix a foreign purchased unit, although $100 seems a bit steep. Sending you ProCab to the USA seems like a drastic step.I wonder if a local electronics tech or MR club could check it out? Worth checking everything inside is plugged in correctly yourself, depending on your ability. Hope you can get it fixed. NCE seems like a good company.

 

Alan Jones in Sunny Queensland (Oz)

 

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Posted by maxman on Sunday, August 06, 2017 9:16 AM

Before you do anything else  open up the box and make sure that the chip in there is seated properly.

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, August 06, 2017 10:03 AM

I have gotten in the habit of taking electronics of all sorts to a good tech shop to get fixed. Electronics are electronics, I have had expensive circuit boards from automobiles (high-end cars) fixed for pennies on the dollar. I also started sending my wife's very expensive medical equipment to a tech, instead of back to the manufacturer and they also have fixed things for $45.00 that the original manufacturer would want $1500.00 to repair. I opened up an electronic gadget that had failed on us and had to order two little circuit boards from China for $.10 each and fixed them myself. To buy the parts in Canada they wanted $27.00.

Like I said electronics are electronics. 

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1

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Posted by Denver on Monday, August 07, 2017 4:17 PM

Alantrains

Hi Denver,

Unfortunately you've been unlucky to get a unit go faulty. I'm in Brisbane and bought my NCE PowerCab in Australia because of the possibility of the problem you have encountered. I have dealt with MRRC and they have been fine, and I can understand that they would charge extra to fix a foreign purchased unit, although $100 seems a bit steep. Sending you ProCab to the USA seems like a drastic step.I wonder if a local electronics tech or MR club could check it out? Worth checking everything inside is plugged in correctly yourself, depending on your ability. Hope you can get it fixed. NCE seems like a good company.

Hi Alan
It really depends on how you view manufacturers support. NCE told me that I could take the unit to their "authorized service agent" in Australia to have it fixed. They made no qualification and they were aware I purchased it in the USA. You can buy an Apple product - and dozens of other brand name electronic products - from anywhere in the world and their local agent will honor warranties and fix Problems. Why should NCE be any different? It is just normal support for the brand in this age of globalization.
I had already checked that everything inside was correctly plugged in before I contacted NCE (to whom I sent photos of the inside). They advised that my problem was unusual! The NCE command station has two circuit boards which can become separated slightly in transit, so a problem can occur straight out of the box. However my unit had not been moved from its spot for over a year. As it is a Radio system there are no cables involved.
 
What was writing with your PowerCab and how much did MRRC charge you For the repair? And how long did it take them to fix? 
 
When you are used to importing all the time (and in Townsville there is no difference buying from Sydney or New York) sending the unit back to the USA is no big deal - just a case of how much you want to pay for the postage vs the time it takes to get there. 
 
Unfortunately in Townsville we only have one Electronics repair company (who support every HiFi electronics brand you can think of) and they take an age to fix anything. I also would not feel confident expecting a general electronics technician to be able to find a fault in a box designed to run trains. I feel much happier sending it back to the manufacturer, although I am surprised that they have a 6 week backlog of repairs.
 
Consequently I have bought a PowerCab (it will also function as an extra cab on my ProCab and costs about the same) to use while I wait for the ProCab to be back in action and to give me backup should anything happen to the ProCab again in the future. 

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Posted by maxman on Monday, August 07, 2017 7:18 PM

If you do mail the unit back to NCE, please let us know what the problem turns out to be.

Concerning the $100 surcharge, what did NCE have to say about that?

 

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Posted by Alantrains on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 4:26 AM

Hi Denver,

Good idea to buy a Powercab while waiting for repairs. I wonder if NCE know their agent charges that much extra.

I've had no problems with my powercab, but I did get an upgraded chips set that I installed and the serial adaptor from them quite a while ago now. They came to one of the Brisbane train shows too, but ages ago and seemed quite helpful..

 

Alan Jones in Sunny Queensland (Oz)

 

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Posted by Denver on Sunday, August 13, 2017 7:59 AM

Alantrains

Hi Denver,

Good idea to buy a Powercab while waiting for repairs. I wonder if NCE know their agent charges that much extra.

I've had no problems with my powercab, but I did get an upgraded chips set that I installed and the serial adaptor from them quite a while ago now. They came to one of the Brisbane train shows too, but ages ago and seemed quite helpful..

Hi Alan

I actually formally complained to NCE about the lack of support for equipment purchased in the USA and the $100 surcharge. My comments were ignored even though I continued to exchange emails with the NCE Technical Support Engineer, who otherwise responded to my emails overnight every night - unlike MRRC who took 4 days to respond to my first email. 

I received the PowerCab a couple of days ago (it only took 15 days by First Class Mail to reach my mailbox - it generally takes 7 days for mail to reach Townsville from NSW or Melbourne) and too my dismay it would not work when i first plugged it in. However it had a single plug for connecting to the track (unlike the PowerPro which has a double plug for 15v power input plus output to the rails) and so i plugged in the plug to the programming track and it worked 100% ok - and even allowed me to use my Radio throttle by plugging the curly cable into the RB02.

So i started looking for a short circuit and sure enough one of my power districts (the last one i worked on of course) has a problem. However what is strange is that the Circuit Breaker did not prevent the short circuit shutting down the Command Station. I have circuit breakers on all my power districts and have had a great many short circuits over the last few months (converting wiring from DC to DCC breeds short circuits by the dozen) but the Command Station/Booster has never been shut down before. At this stage i have not isolated the actual track feeder that is causing the short and although i have added another circuit breaker between the Booster and the track affected the Command Station still shuts down if the short is present.

However on reflection I reckon that there was nothing wrong with my PowerPro and the fast blinking left status light was an indication of the short circuit. The system also froze in the same way as the PowerCab. NCE have a page at https://ncedcc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201797455-flashing-status-light which reads:

A slow flash indicates a track short. shut down the command station. remove the two wires connecting to the booster to the track. restore power with the track disconnected. if the light is now solid you have a short in your wiring or track. check the last item you installed or modified.

Now I had a fast flash, which is suposed to mean a problem between the Command Sation and the Booster ...  but I wish I had removed the track wires before assuming a fault with the box. I maybe wrong, the NCE Tech guy did not suggest a short as the cause but the coincidence is great. I now will have to wait another 4 weeks before NCE will even open my parcel to examine the box and give me the verdict.

Leaving aside the wasted postage costs, i do not regret buying the PowerCab as a backup and I am doing a couple of clinics on DCC at the N Scale Convention in Adelaide next month and this experience is giving me practical examples to include in my talk, as well as reminding me to TEST after EVERY wiring action that a short has not been created.

What do you guys think?

 

 

 

 

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Posted by nealknows on Sunday, August 13, 2017 8:48 AM

NCE support is great as I've used them many times. The time time I sent my Power Pro system to them, it took close to six weeks (I live in NJ / USA). They were busy and go backed up. Their normal turn around is usually about a month. Things happen. Like everyone says, it's an electronic device. 

Some things are worth waiting for. I'll wait for NCE to do as they do it right, they're fair. They did not charge me for the Power Pro issue, it was a loose connection on a new item, and the only charge was to ship the entire system back (I had the Pro Cab made into a radio version while up there).

I have no financial interest in NCE. Just a very satisfied customer.

Neal

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Posted by Alantrains on Monday, August 14, 2017 2:34 AM

Hi Denver,

Glad you got your Powercab and found the short on your layout. And a shame they didn't respond on the Aussie surcharge. What current are your circuit breakers set at? Remember the powerCab only has a 1.7 amp output and the plugpack provides the protection for a short. The circuit breakers for a PowerPro are usually set much higher as it has a 5 or 10 amp output and will never shut down if the power source has a lower capacity such as the PowerCab.

I'm not sure how you connected the powerCab as you mention a booster. Normally the powerCab comes with a 1.7amp plug pack power supply with builtin overload protection. Buying it in Australia you get the correct 3 pin plug plugpack. I don't know what you get from USA.

Hopefully your PowerPro will get a full checkup and be back soon.

Alan Jones in Sunny Queensland (Oz)

 

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Posted by joe323 on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 6:26 AM

My experience with NCE service in the USA is that I sent the broken part in they repaired it and sent it back to me in a week.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 7:18 AM

 They are pretty good at fixing things, the problem here is the shipping time. These guys are about as far away from NY as you can get and still be in a habitable area of the world (though depending on precisely where in Australia, that could be debatable Big Smile ) Do you have any idea how hard it is to train a homing 'Roo to carry packages in its pouch? Laugh And not just wander off.

                             --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Denver on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 5:31 PM

Alantrains

Hi Denver,

Glad you got your Powercab and found the short on your layout. And a shame they didn't respond on the Aussie surcharge. What current are your circuit breakers set at? Remember the powerCab only has a 1.7 amp output and the plugpack provides the protection for a short. The circuit breakers for a PowerPro are usually set much higher as it has a 5 or 10 amp output and will never shut down if the power source has a lower capacity such as the PowerCab.

I'm not sure how you connected the powerCab as you mention a booster. Normally the powerCab comes with a 1.7amp plug pack power supply with builtin overload protection. Buying it in Australia you get the correct 3 pin plug plugpack. I don't know what you get from USA.

Hopefully your PowerPro will get a full checkup and be back soon.

Thanks for that Alan, you have probably explained why the PowerCab is having problems with my layout. Connecting the US wall transformer in Australia is not a problem - you just need a US to AUS plug ($8.50 in Bunnings) which i had on hand in my travel bag. It is a 110/240 volt input device. However the 1.7amp is another matter. I have had to disconnect all my circuit breakers from the PoerCab expect the one for the power district i am working on, otherwise it just shuts down. So maybe there was a fault with the PowerPro after all - we shall see.

Do i gather that the PowerCab is only a Command Station without a booster? That would explain a lot.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 5:48 PM

Denver
Do i gather that the PowerCab is only a Command Station without a booster? That would explain a lot.

Yes, you could think of it as a self contained lower power command station/throttle. 

From the front, the fascia panel, that comes with the power cab, https://www.ncedcc.com/online-store/PCP-Power-Cab-Connection-Panel-p38322159 looks like the that which comes with the Procab, but it is not. 

You need a UTP panel https://www.ncedcc.com/online-store/UTP-CAT5-Cab-bus-fascia-panel-with-CAT5-rear-connections-p38322170 to connect your Power Cab throttle to a booster

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 6:04 PM

Denver
I have had to disconnect all my circuit breakers from the PoerCab expect the one for the power district i am working on, otherwise it just shuts down. So maybe there was a fault with the PowerPro after all - we shall see.

Something doesn't sound right here.  When you have the PowerCab connected to the track, do you have the PowerPro box disconnected from the track?

If the answer to that is yes, then you have something going on around the layout.  You should not have to disconnect the circuit breakers as they are not going to be doing anything unless there is a short someplace.  The fact that the PowerCab shuts down means that something is drawing more than the capacity of the PowerCabs built-in breaker.   You say that you only have the breaker connected to the section where the PowerCab is connected.  What I would suggest is connecting the other breakers one at a time until you find the one that causes a short.  Then remove all the cars and locos in that section and see if the short goes away.  If that doesn't help, then you have some sort of wiring problem or turnout issue in that section.  As someone said, you need to divide and conquer.

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Posted by Denver on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 4:17 PM

maxman

Something doesn't sound right here.  When you have the PowerCab connected to the track, do you have the PowerPro box disconnected from the track?

If the answer to that is yes, then you have something going on around the layout.  You should not have to disconnect the circuit breakers as they are not going to be doing anything unless there is a short someplace.  The fact that the PowerCab shuts down means that something is drawing more than the capacity of the PowerCabs built-in breaker.   You say that you only have the breaker connected to the section where the PowerCab is connected.  What I would suggest is connecting the other breakers one at a time until you find the one that causes a short.  Then remove all the cars and locos in that section and see if the short goes away.  If that doesn't help, then you have some sort of wiring problem or turnout issue in that section.  As someone said, you need to divide and conquer.

Maxman, I agree with you. I have a large-ish N scale layout with work in progress in a number of different areas. Right now i am converting a DC Yard to DCC track by track so as to fix wiring errors as i go. I am 80% complete. So i have the PowerCab powering just that power district (PD) through an NCE circuit breaker (CB). So far its working fine.

When i have finished i will add the two completed PDs back onto the PowerCab one at a time and see what happens. I have another 8 PDs already wired to CBs but with little or no track. I will not add them to the PowerCab.  In passing I would comment that I have recently read of a PowerCab which melted because a short occurred that exceeded the 3 Amp overload capacity of the 1.7 amp power supply. Once my Power Pro is returned from NCE i will assign the PowerCab permanently to the program track.

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 5:24 PM

 Those little wall power plugs typically have a one-shoot fusible link inside that melts in the case of what would be nearly a 2x current overload - generally not fixable, toss it and get a new plug pack. The ones sold in the US have, of course, US plugs on them, but may be universal voltage. The person who melted - I wonder if they were just using an adpater plug, or if they had a totally different plug pack for 240V with proper Aussie plugs. If the latter - if using a higher capacity plug pack, I can see that frying the PowerCab if the current draw didn;t exceed the plug pack's rating.

 What circuit breakers are you using? The EB1 won;t work with the PowerCab, it's trip current is too high. What will happen in case of a short is the entire PowerCab will shut down. They will work fine with the 5 amps of the PowerPro.

                                    --Randy

 

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Denver on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 11:25 PM

rrinker

 Those little wall power plugs typically have a one-shoot fusible link inside that melts in the case of what would be nearly a 2x current overload - generally not fixable, toss it and get a new plug pack. The ones sold in the US have, of course, US plugs on them, but may be universal voltage. The person who melted - I wonder if they were just using an adpater plug, or if they had a totally different plug pack for 240V with proper Aussie plugs. If the latter - if using a higher capacity plug pack, I can see that frying the PowerCab if the current draw didn;t exceed the plug pack's rating.

 What circuit breakers are you using? The EB1 won;t work with the PowerCab, it's trip current is too high. What will happen in case of a short is the entire PowerCab will shut down. They will work fine with the 5 amps of the PowerPro.

                                    --Randy

The melted Power Cab story was a post to the Australian chat site Railpage and read in part "The Australian power pack is partially responsible - while its rated for only 1.2 amps, it wont fail until you draw 3 amps off it continuously - and at that level, the powercab will fail first." When he took it back to the Australian NCE service agent he was told he was not the first customer to bring in a melted unit.
 
My Power Cab comes from the USA and has a standard NCE supplied universal 110/240v power supply. According to the unit it is rated at 1.8 Amps. I do not think the actual "plug" supplied (either Aussie or American) matters much - its the output that is important. I use just a cheap travel adapter on my US supplied unit. It works fine and at 1.8 Amps it is rated higher than the power supply NCEs Australian service agent is suppling.
Thank you for reminding me that the EB1 was not suitable for the Power Cab (its a minefield isnt it). I have a spare DCC Specialties PSX1 Circuit Breaker which is suitable so I will swap them.
 
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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 6:57 AM

 Nooo, the plug on the wall outlet side doesn't matter - I thought the unit supplied with the PowerCab was universal voltage, so all you need is one of those plug adapters and you can use the official NCE adapter - basically I was wondering if the melted unit had the official supply or a locally sourced one which would just plug in with no adapters. Hopefully the official NCE supplied one won't put up with a 3 amp overload and would fail so as to protect the PowerCab. I've never seen anyone post that they melted their PowerCab in the US, using the power supply it came with.

                                        --Randy

 

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Denver on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 5:42 PM

To close this thread which started with my NCE Power Pro locking up with the red status ligot showing a fault:

  • NCE in New York found a "faulty internal connector wire" and fixed it for FREE even though it was 6 months out of the 1 year warranty. They did not even charge me for the return postage to Australia.
  • It took NCE only 21 days to fix - comapared to the quoted 42 days.
  • If I had sent it to the Australian distributor he would have charged me a $100 surcharge + a fee to fix out of warranty + return postage. And would probably have taken as long to fix.
  • If I had purchased the Power Pro in Australia I would be out of pocket by the extra $225 odd they charge over the US$ price + the repair costs.
  • I was at the Australian N Scale convention last week and met another person who purchased a PowerCab in Australia and it melted due to the supplied power supply. That's the 3rd reported melting.
  • However it should be noted that the "Universal" power supply provided by NCE with the power cab in the US is not approved for use in Australia. Catch 22.
  • My Power Pro did not come with a power supply and so I use it with an Australian approved power pack from Tortech. 
  • At the Australian N Scale convention I met an Australian Reseller who has apparently sold a lot of NCE systems sourced from a wholesaler (Walthers I am guessing) in the US.
  • If he has a technical problem he just returns the unit to the US for repair, just as I did.
  • Bottom line: Why pay the extra to buy from an Australian reseller? What added value are they offering?

If anyone is interested I have quite a bit of DCC product information on my web site, plus heaps of reference info on Western US Railroads from the 50s onwards. The site can be found at: 

http://denversrailroads.com

Dennis

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