Anyone using the MRC Prodigy DCC System AD150

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by vanda32547, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    I am considering moving up to a DCC System since I am creating a new layout from scrath and wondered if anyone is familiar with the MRC Prodigy DCC System AD150?

    Is it true that it is as easy as the ad says? It is my understanding that NO blocks are necessary, you can run MULTIPLE trains at the same time and on the same mainline? What about turn arounds and polarity is this a factor also?
    What are the approximate costs for engines with decoders in them?

    I am sorry to ask so many questions but I want to do this layout right from the ground up.

  2. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    The Prodigy is about to be replaced with the Prodigy Advance. If you just have to have the MRC brand name, wait for the Prodigy Advance. It's really a Lenz, but it will say MRC on the side. And, it really is easy to use. A Digitrax Zephyr is cheaper, and also easy to use.

    The ad is correct. Blocks are not necessary. You can, if you want, run trains in the opposite direction on the same track, until they collide. However, if you want block detection and signalling, blocks are required. Yes, you can run multiple trains at the same time on the same mainline.

    Reversing loops do require a device to reverse polarity. They are cheap.

    A decoder equipped locomotive from Atlas has a MSRP of $129.99 Proto's with decoders are about the same price. Of course you don't need to pay that much. M.B. Klein sells at a substantial discount. Other retailers will do likewise.

    Cheaper still, an Athearn blue box loco can be equipped with a decoder for less than $20 if you are handy with a soldering iron. Otherwise, you can spend just a little more and put use a Digitrax no solder harness. Lots of ways to go with DCC, and it's the way of the future. (I've heard rumblings from Atlas that they may not offer any new locos without DCC.)

    Alan Bradley
  3. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

  4. Bob, I have the MRC Prodigy, BUT it is not operational yet as I am still building my layout, so I can't comment on how it operates.
    It is an entry level system, and priced accordingly. The Prodigy does have limitations, I was able to live with them, the feature I liked was that the contols are handheld (teathered) and I will have ports around my layout. I didn't want the controls on a base.
    I hope to have mine operating in a couple of weeks.

    Drawbacks of the Podigy,
    2 digit addressing.
    Locos must be numbered bewteen 1 - 32 only.
    Limited CV programming.
    Limited functions

    My choice was budget driven primarily, and handheld controllers a must.

    If your budget allows you may wish to wait for the Prodigy advanced.

    Decoder equiped locos - used on ebay $40 +++
    New - not sure as I haven't bought any, I would expect to pay about $75 - $80 +++
    I am still equiping my existing fleet with decoders.
    Decoders start about $15 - $20 for a 2 function decoder, 1.5 amp.

    Check out

    Good luck.
  5. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    Thanks for all the input. Since my layout will be rather small I am wondering which system would be best to invest in.

    Here is what I would like to do;
    -Run about 4-6 trains
    -Be able to control turnouts
    -Be able to have some sort of sound control in the engines
    -Have direction light control on the engines
    -Control some accessories (ie; crossings, track signals, etc.)

    After reading about the different systems it is my understanding that these things are possible with some systems but budget is also a factor. I am somewhat confused about what DCC can and will do considering which system I purchase. Digitrax seems the most flexible but I am still not sure. What is the most popular and used by more model railroaders? Digitrax, MRC, Atlas? Any help would be appreciated. I have a budget of about $500 for the DCC system and a couple of that enough to get started and what should I buy? I am new to DCC and have no idea.

  6. Bob, I believe you have quite a modest budget, certainly enough to get started with a good system.
    But no need to spend more than neccessary, I found that you can save alot of money by purchasing online, I bought mine through Mitch at HobbiesUSA and saved a ton off the Walthers price. I will send you his email if you wish, as it is not a store.
    Prodigy is limited but very simple, it controls turnouts using a separate "dispatch" handheld controller.
    It's sound capability is very limited I do believe.
    Light control is done by "functions" also the decoder must also be able to operate more functons. Now I think (remember Iam also new to DCC) each light you want to operate requires one function, so if you want to have headlight, rear light, ditch lights, rotating beacon, then the decoder in the loco must suport 4 functions, and so must the DCC system. Prodigy supports 4 maybe 5 functions, mid and upper level systems 10 or more.
    Accessory control, each accessory requires a decoder and each decoder requires an address, Prodigy offers the Dispatch controller for operating turnouts and accessories, but you will be limited to 32 as this is the number of address's Prodigy supports. Will that be enough for you? Digitrax offer systems that operate 99 address's, some systems go more than that.
    There is tons of info online that compare systems, good luck.
  7. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    New questions about MRC Prodigy DCC

    Hey Dweller THANKS so much for the link to the comparison chart. This will help me make the important decission on which system would be best for me.
    When you all say Prodigy is limited on sound effects...what does that mean? I would like to hear the engine running maybe blow a whistle or hear a bell...can it do that? Also can the trains be run from the dispatchers handheld or just the regular contorller?

  8. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    Bob, at 4-6 trains, assuming some MUs, you are right at the top of the Zephyr's capacity. If you don't mind 2 digit addressing, the Roco LOk Maus II might be a good choice. However, the better choice would be a Lenz Set 90. MSRP is $290 and a power plug will cost another $30 or so. You get 4 didgets, readback, 126 locos, and all the other Lenz goodies. Digitrax' Super Empire Builder just doesn't have the features.

    All the sets are discounted look at or Tony's Train Exchange. Both have a good reputation for support too. Lenz has a great reputation for after sale support. The factory even offers low cost upgrades rather than making you buy a new set.

    Good luck on the DCC
  9. jdscales040

    jdscales040 Member

    I have the Prodigy and for what I wanted it's great. It can accept up to four controlers and is easy to program. It will operate the bell and whistle. Like others have stated it uses a two number address from 1-32. Trains must use the regular controller and to throw switches you must have a dispatcher. That didn't bother me as all my switches are handthrows.
    I bought my Prodigy on E-Bay for $124.00 and that included two handhelds.
    I'm using the Prodigy as a learning tool and will most likely move on to something else later.
    John D.:) :thumb:

  10. Bob, I believe you have two choices regarding sound, John D can correct me if I am wrong here, first, the buttons on the handheld controller for bell, horn etc control a separate sound system (AD 751) that is syncronized to the throttle setting, the sound comes from a separate speaker that you can mount under the layout or in a building. The sound does not come from the locomotive.
    Second, MRC make decoders that have sound, these decoders have speakers that mount in the locomotive, I do not know if the Prodigy is capable of operating these sound decoders, you may wish to email MRC's customer service and ask them.
    The dispatcher handheld controller cannot operate trains, only turnouts and accessories, each turnout and accessory will require its own decoder also.
  11. jdscales040

    jdscales040 Member

    You may be right about the Prodigy sound. I don't use the sound and most likely won't for some time.
    My railroad is a small branch type set in the fifties and operates with three PK-2 Alco S1 switchers. Not much room for a decoder much less sound.
    The Prodigy was almost perfect for this layout as my locomotives are all numbered with two digits. The lack of other functions was not a problem either.
    John D.

Share This Page