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I have four 10A NCE power districts on my railroad (2200' of track).  I want to subdivide an existing power district to reduce a very long bus run.  My existing 10 amp boosters are powered by iron core transformers purchased years ago from Tony's Train exchange - they are no longer available.  I note that NCE now offers their BRUTUS 10 amp 18v power supply but it is quite pricey - MSRP $189.95 .  I have been offered a used 180W Lionel Powerhouse at an attractive price and wonder if anyone has successfully used one with an 10A NCE booster.

Last edited by Keystoned Ed
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Landsteiner posted:

Not familiar with DCC, but I assume the power source is expected to be DC for these NCE DCC units.  The Powerhouse puts out AC.  Unless someone knows better, I wouldn't do that based upon these assumptions/facts.

Below is the recommended AC input power recommendations for the Digitrax Super Chief, which should be close. I’m sure that NCE has the same information poster about their power requirements. 


For their DCS100 systems, I would use the 135W bricks, and for the DCS200, the 180W bricks.




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Unless something has changed, I heard that NCE is very good about answering these types of questions if you contact them.

I use the Lionel PH180 bricks with my MTH DCS system. They are rock solid and a great value. If they work here for you with DCC, I would think they'd perform great.

I am not sure how to get the DCC signal out of each AC brick though? I would think the boosters do it internally?

Unless you can have multiple power supplies on the base station?

Last edited by Engineer-Joe

You can use either AC or DC to power the booster, within the specified voltage ranges, of course.

Here is what I use:

It's a 13A fanless DC switching power supply. Runs nice and cool, and fits nicely in a stack with the other NCE gear. Under $80.

If you use a DC supply, there is also a simple mod you can make to the booster, which is to bypass the giant rectifier that the power input goes through. This cuts down dramatically on the heat generated in the booster itself, just in the process of rectifying the AC input.

Last edited by thor73

There's no reason you shouldn't be able to use that power supply. Looks like the 4 pin for the booster gets wires doubled up. I'm sure you'll have to phase it properly to matchup with your other transformers but other than that it should work. its 10 amps and 18 VAC output. You should be fine.


NCE has indeed been very helpful over the years.  Awhile back I called NCE and asked about the suitability of using a Lionel 180W brick.  The tech was non-committal saying they hadn't tested one with their 10 amp booster.

  Other background info:   Input power to a NCE 10 amp boosters can be AC or DC but must be at least 18V and provide a minimum of 10 amps under load. .  The DCC output to the rails is a special AC wave form superimposed with the DCC command packets.  With NCE 10 amp boosters the output voltage to the rails is adjustable by a pot in the booster (I set my boosters to 15.5 v).  Phasing the DCC output among multiple NCE boosters is handled by the system when you connect the booster cases to one another with a wire - creating a reference "common".  NVE cautions not to conned the DCC booster common to the house 120v service ground wire. 

In the past I've tried a NCE Brutus as well as a low cost imported 24VAV switching power supply.  Both had internal fans that could be heard when trains weren't moving.  I'd like a power supply that can't be heard - and is electrically protected (I uses DCC SpecialtiesPSX  PowerShields between each boosters and the layout).  Does the Lionel 180W brick have a fan - if so is it quiet?  Based on Thor73's post I'll also look into the switching power supply he cited in his post. 

Thanks all for the feedback.    

I asked this question years ago. I couldn't find the thread. I went back to 11/14 in my posts and my eyes couldn't scan at anymore. 

As I remember, the answer was that there was someone that was successfully using a 180W (10A) brick with an O scale DCC layout that was a portable layout that traveled to shows. The only reason I didn't go further with it was because that was the only person I came across that used that setup. I wanted a little more conformation. 

I believe forum member AGHRMatt had some knowledge of that setup.


I have run my NCE 10A booster with my Lionel ZW-C powered by 4 180W Powerhouse bricks.  I set the booster to 18V as well and ran a Legacy locomotive and a recent LokSound conversion at the same time.  I had no problems and all worked well.

I do have the NCE PSU (Came with the booster when I bought it.), but have no plan to use it as I have the Lionel PH180s instead.

The Lionel Bricks could be used as a parallel power source.  (There is a cord end adapter package).  Increases capacity to 20 amps.  Dead short derails at this point could be intense, if the thermal overloads did not open quickly.    PH 135's, pre-date the PH 180's.   Silver box is a TPC 400, track power controller.  (big remote OFF/ON switch) or it could be used in conventional mode as a variable voltage power source.    PH 135's lower left.   Black box, lower right is Lionel TMCC signal source (Command Base) That links to a hand held remote (Cab1) (Old technology).  This has been upgraded to Legacy Command system with different remotes and base.  None of this is DC.  


Portable power supply used with modular train display.  Small Power source, lower left, is DC used to power a modular turntable.  PH 180's picture center. Left is a Lionel TMCC command base. Right is a Track Power Controller (TPC 400) 



Last edited by Mike CT

Thanks for the feedback -  Our club has several PH 180 bricks that we use on a modular 3 rail modular layout we set up for display in Williamsburg, VA on Grand Illumination Weekend (first weekend in Dec)  each year.  I've arranged to borrow one of the bricks and give it a try. If it does a good job in powering one of the districts on my 2 rail DCC railroad I'll buy one.

Last edited by Keystoned Ed


I use the Lionel Powerhouse to power my NCE 10 AMP system with no issues at all.  I using an aftermarket connector purchased on Ebay to adapt to the NCE power connections.   The NCE system use an 18VAC power supply.  I had intended to use (and purchased) the NCE Brutus power supply but it arrived damaged.  The guys from TTX were great, have been using them since 1998 when I got into DCC in HO. 

Kind regards



I purchased a used Lionel 180W Powerhouse  brick on the "bay" at a nice price  and can report (as others have)  that using a 180W brick is a viable option for driving a NCE 10 amp DCC booster.  I like that the Lionel brick is internally protected and is quiet (no fan).  As previously posted I protect the output (track) side of my boosters with DCC Specialties fast acting/auto resetting PowerShield digital breakers.

Brendon - I adjust the output (DCC voltage) of my 4 NCE PB110a's to the same voltage (I use 15.6v ) so that there are minimal differences at the gaps between power districts. When I replaced the noisy fan cooled switching power supply with the Lionel brick I didn't make any voltage adjustments at the booster.

  If I were to add a 5th booster I'd also consider the power supply Thor mentioned (under $80).  Thanks all for your input.


PLEASE do not cut the cable.  The newest PH-180's have an interlock in the connector which was apparently added in order to meet the latest safety standards.  If you cut the connector off, then off goes the interlock as well, which will render the PH-180 useless.

Now, it can be fixed but the process adds a great deal of extra work that isn't necessary.

Click on the following for more details:

         Lionel 180 watt powerhouse 6-85226- Problem & Solution (7/8/20) | StevefromPA


Hi John

I purchased a Molex 3 pin connector to mate with the Lionel brick's plug.  I simply ran the outputs from the Molex to the input of the NCE 10 amp booster.  I believe some call the 3 pin Molex a motorcycle connector.  I don't recall exactly who I purcheased the 3 pin Molex from on eBay, but I found similar male and female ones on Amazon.  Recommend you read the thread referenced in Mikes' thread above for a discussion about the role of the 3rd pin in the connector.  It doesn't carry current but serves in an interlocking role.   


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