Mini Panel - The NCE Route and Automation Controller
The NCE Mini Panel allows the building of control panels without complicated wiring. Use one button to control multiple switches or macros on your NCE DCC System. Up to 30 pushbuttons, toggle switches, block detectors, etc. can be connected for control of turnouts, signals and other devices. The Mini Panel is easy to program with a ProCab. Hook up is simple: one Cab Bus connection and 2 wires for each pushbutton or other input device. It can be used to perform simple automatic train control and other layout automation tasks.
The Mini Panel has 30 Programmable Inputs. Each input can be controlled by a single push button. Each of the Programmable Inputs can have up to 4 steps each. Each Programmable input step can also be configured in a variety of ways:
- Control an accessory decoder such as a Switch It.
- Control a locomotive with a DCC address. This can be a speed, direction or activate a function output command.
- Access and Execute any NCE command station Macro. Example: Yard Ladder Routing.
- Trigger a Signal and set the Signal Aspect, works with the NEW NCE Light-It and Illuminator
- Other cool stuff like link to another input, add a timed delay, wait for an action to take place.
Advantages of using the Mini Panel
- Save up to 50% of the normal control panel wiring
- Use one button to control multiple switches or macros on
your NCE DCC.
- Up to 30 pushbuttons, toggle switches, block detectors,
etc. can be connected for control of turnouts, signals and
- Easy connections, convenient screw terminals.
- Easy programming, just plug in an NCE ProCab.
- Simple hook up, one Cab Bus connection and 2 wires for
each pushbutton or other input device.
- Can be used to perform simple automatic train control and other layout automation tasks.
- Control any turnout, accessory from a button anywhere on
The NCE Mini Panel is a special device designed to record and playback macros or scripts of DCC commands to control various layout functions. This allows one to build automatic control function capability WITHOUT the use of a actual computer. The Mini panel plugs into the NCE Cab bus and uses a Cab/Throttle address. It has the power to emulate a Cab/Throttle which is a big part of why it can do the things it can do.
What are macros? Go here: NCE
Unlike the capabilities of NCE command stations macros, the Mini Panel takes macros to a whole new level of control capability and can be triggered by the push of a button or external hardware events such as the NCE BD20. With push buttons you can build a control panel to control an interlocking or yard, setting up routes and simple signals. You can signal outputs from block occupancy detection, switch machine position status, DCC circuit breaker shutdown, and physical position detectors to cause other actions like automating running trains between designated points without an operator.
Connecting electrical devices to the inputs
design, the Mini Panel is designed to be used with
contact devices such as push buttons, relays and rotary
switches. These devices do not require any external power to
operate and are electrically isolated from other outside
circuits such that they can be connected without any electrical
Mini Panels share the same ground as the all the other devices on the cab bus. The cab bus gets it power from the command station which in turn is connected to boosters. If you are connecting an external device to a given button input, it must be electrically isolated from DCC track power from the boosters. Typically, this means the external device must have its own dedicated DC power source and NOT gets its power from the track. If the device can only run on DCC track power, it must provide some form of electrical isolation to break the ground loop path. Examples of compatible devices are transformer based current occupancy Detectors or opto-isolated signal outputs.
For a complete list of macro memory capabilities and command, go here: NCE Macro System Specifications
Using the Mini Panel with an NCE PowerCab
The NCE Mini Panel has 30
button inputs which can run 30 unique macros with each allowing
4 macro script commands. The user can adjust the memory
allocation to free up more memory to hold longer macros scripts
commands by giving up button inputs. See the
Mini Panel manual.
When using the Mini Panel with the PowerCab, there are two setup configurations that must be followed and switch between programming the minipanel and operating the minipanel. The diagram below shows the connections required. The Mini Panel draws power from the 12V cab bus power to operate. The 12V cab bus power is provided by the PowerCab's PCP panel and the power is independent of the PowerCab's existence or mode of operation.
The usage of the Power Cab itself changes depending on what you want to do with the Mini Panel. The reason why is the Power Cab is a combination Pro Cab and DCC command station and booster in a single Pro Cab throttle package.
Remember to install the programming jumper to enable the programming. The PowerCab is being used as a regular ProCab in this setup. There is no command station. Instead the Mini Panel is acting as its own command station to allow the PowerCab to do the programming. See Mini Panel Programming Mode schematic below.
This is basically the same setup as required by the PowerCab system by itself and shown in the bottom of the diagram. Remember to remove the programming jumper to enable the programming. The PowerCab is now operating as a command station in which the minipanel must talks to over the cab bus in order to send out its commands.
NCE-DCC@groups.io Thread re: Mini Panel
Post 1 • up49er • 5-JAN-2019
I have an 8 track yard with seven tortoise machines. The maximum switches is 4 to get to any track from the lead. I have the seven tortoise machines controlled from an NCE sw8 numbered 201 - 207. I have a mini panel ready to program positions 1-7 that are connected to a rotary switch and a push button. What I need to know is, what is next in programing with my Power-Pro cab. Plug what to what and start with what button and enter what???
Post 2 • David Richardson, Tucson • 5-JAN-2019
The input to the rotary switch comes from the ground located on the Mini-Panel. The 7 outputs are connected to any 7 inputs of the Mini-Panel. Turn your NCE system off and connect your hand held to the Mini-Panel using a "curly" cord as shown in the user's guide. Turn your NCE system back on. Now you can program any Mini-Panel input using the hand held while it is attached to the Mini-Panel. There are good programming examples in the user's guide and the Tech Ref Manual.
Post 3 • Steve • 5-JAN-2019
David is correct, that's how you program MP. There is no edit in MP so if you make an error start again. Keep a note on what you put into the MP for future use. BUT the Mini Panel has limitations; you can have 4 functions per selection. But I would only use 3 as it tends to confuse the M.Panel. But you can use Macros both work in a similar way. So when you program the MP you will be prompted Macro or accessories. eg. Point 10,N - 11,R-12,N. But with Macro you enter the same way but will accept more inputs. I would guess the M.P. has limited memory. The above example is: Point 10 to Normal then 11 to reverse then 12 to normal. I assume you know what Normal and reverse mean. Have fun programming.
Posts 4 & 5 • John Nuttall • 5-JAN-2019
If I understand the OP correctly, he has 7 switches feeding 8 tracks. He will therefore need to program 8 Mini Panel inputs not 7 – one for each track not one for each switch. Each of the 8 inputs will have either 1, 2, 3 or 4 steps corresponding to the switch(es) leading to the track in question. The push button needs to go between the rotary switch and the ground terminal of the Mini Panel. I’ve never had any problems assigning four steps to a Mini Panel input. I only use macros when I need more than four steps (I use all 30 inputs so linking inputs isn’t an option for me).
Post 6 • Dave
(Heap) in Australia
“BUT the Mini Panel has limitations you can have 4 functions per selection. But i would only use 3 as it tends to confuse the M.Panel.”
The only reason you may encounter problems with 4 steps per input is if you have inadvertently changed Location 3 (Continuous Memory) from its default value without understanding what it does. Otherwise there is absolutely no problem using all 4 steps per in input.The original poster said: "The maximum switches is 4 to get to any track from the lead." So he will have no problems programming each of his 8 steps (one for each track, not 1 for each Tortoise).
Program location 1 with the Tortoise numbers (and direction) required to get to track 1.
Program location 2 with the Tortoise numbers (and direction) required to get to track 2
and so on to
Program location 8 with the Tortoise numbers (and direction) required to get to track 8.
If any tracks require less than 3 Tortoise numbers, leave the unused steps at STOP.
One-off Post regarding Light-It • David Richardson, Tucson •
Regarding the Mini-Panel and block signals... I have a test bed of 4 blocks that does ABS signalling using Light-Its and Mini-Panels. It works, but I’m still tinkering with the Mini-Panel commands and some connections. I’m not going to export it just yet. I'd still suggest that you try something simple using a Light-It, a Mini-Panel, and a BD20 or 2. Have the Mini-Panel turn on one (or more) of the signal aspects when a BD20 (or BD20s) is/are activated (goes low). It's an easy hook up, and the Mini-Panel commands are straight forward. You should understand this before you move on to a real block-signalling project.
One-off Post regarding Light-It • Dave
(Heap) in Australia
One-off Post regarding Light-It • Dave (Heap) in Australia • 10-MAR-2018
"I have tried to get NCE to
provide a simple schematic combining
BD20, Mini-Panel and Light-it for idiots
like myself. Their manuals do not give
precise connections for interfacing to
each part. NCE seems adverse to
providing a complete wiring schematic
for these items. They have done it for
the EB1 and the. snubber, why not other
"I have tried to get NCE to provide a simple schematic combining BD20, Mini-Panel and Light-it for idiots like myself. Their manuals do not give precise connections for interfacing to each part. NCE seems adverse to providing a complete wiring schematic for these items. They have done it for the EB1 and the. snubber, why not other parts?"
- You connect either LR terminal to one wire of your DCC Track Bus and either RR terminal to the other wire (LR=Left Rail, RR=Right Rail) of the Light-It.
- You connect LEDs between the +5 and the G, R & R terminals of the Light-It, as per the manual. No dropping resistors are needed, they are already on the circuit board.
- You connect the Mini Panel via the Cab Bus socket(s) to your Cab (Throttle) Bus.
- You connect Pin 1 (GND) of the BD20 to any GROUND terminal of the Mini Panel.
- You connect Pin 2 (LOGIC) of the BD20 to any input terminal (1-30)of the Mini Panel.
- No other connections are required to the BD20.