MRC Prodigy Express

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Herc Driver, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I'm just about to take the jump into DCC but need some LHS has the MRC Prodigy at a great price, but no one knows much about it. Has anyone used this product and could pass on a review? Here's my current needs/desires regarding the jump to DCC...I have a small layout built on a door. All my engines are DCC-ready (Kato, Atlas, Bachmann Spectrum, LL Proto N) but I don't have any decoders yet. I'd like to run multiple diesel units on the same consist. I'd probably run one train on the mainline (say a passenger train for example) while I accomplished some switching on the sidings (with some freight and switching diesels). I'd probably run no more than three seperate trains at any one time due to layout size requirements and track congestion. Based on these thoughts...I was thinking that this Prodigy would be a good starting product for me to learn on and add to later on when the layout expands. Your thoughts please?!?!?
  2. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I have it, Its alright, and would work for you when you get your decoders. Alot of people would insist on the digitrax zephyr.

    You just need to figure out that programming stuff with the prodigy stuff. on some, you can connect the locomotive to a computer and program it the easy way, but with the express and advanced you need to know the CVs and what numbers do what. You can't control switches with the prodigy express cab, and the only bigger and better thing is the advanced cab.

    It would be good for your layout for the most part.
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I appreciate the info Green Elite...I don't know enough about the various DCC makers to know what I don't know...if you know what I mean.:wave: But I'm going to look into the Digitrax too for comparison. MRC seems to make good electronics (or owns the company that does under the MRC name). I'd like a simple set that is upgrade-able when the time comes. And right now nothing I own has a sound card or is equipped with one, and I'm not planning on buying any diesel with that option for a while.
  4. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    then the prodigy isn't for you. There isn't anything upgrade able about it, except the cabs. You can either have the express ( basic) or Advanced ( full) cab. the advanced has more funtion buttons, a fast clock, switcher mode (where the speed dial also changes direction depending which way you turn it) and a few other things. Its not much of an upgrade. I probably would go look into some of the other systems.
  5. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I'll check out other systems too...thanks for the advice.
  6. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Member

    I also have the prodigy express. I haven't used it much yet but it is really not that bad for the price of it. I don't believe it is made for a large club layout, it is made more for what you have, a small layout. It seems pretty easy and is a good intro to DCC. Lots of people swear by digitrax, but you can't get a handheld throttle until you spend like a billion dollars. If you don't care about handheld, it seems to be the most popular. I wish I would have known about, checked out the New NCE Handheld, you might want to check into that. should retract that statement about putting off sound for a while, one loco with sound and you are hooked !
  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Iron Horse said:
    Lots of people swear by digitrax, but you can't get a handheld throttle until you spend like a billion dollars.

    Digitrax UT4 throttle $65.00 at Tonys
  8. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Oh, I'd like a diesel with sound...but can't afford one (or two, or three) yet. I know myself too well...if I get a sound-card diesel, I WILL be hooked!:thumb:
  9. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    you can afford one, you just need to save up for them!
  10. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    There sure are a lot of nice ones in HO...still not too many choices in Nscale, but more than there was before.
  11. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Herc, truer words have never been spoken!;). BEWARE of sound, after i put sound in one engine, there was NO turning back;). i didn't even want to run the other engines i had:(...till i put sound in them ALL!:thumb::D:D. BTW, i started out with Prodigy, problem was you couldn't adjust CV's with it, so i bought Prodigy Express, last year i found Prodigy Advance on sale at a show and bought it:thumb:. for ME, i wouldn't have anything else:thumb:, i have used it on the last large layout i had, and my current switching layout. i find it EASY to use, reads decoders-NO problem, EASY to do a consist, can run SEVERAL engines at once, and i adjust my CV's on the fly:thumb:. KEEP IN MIND, i am NOT trying to get you to buy one;), just saying i am pleased with mine:D. -Deano
  12. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    I went the whole hog!! :thumb: NCE Pro with 8 AMPs of power, radio cab, and tethered cab as well. Command station also has computer interface.

    I looked at it this way. By the time you decoder equip quite a few locos (specially with sound), the cost of the cab/throttles/command station etc will be a minor portion of the overall expense. And the total cost? Dunno whether to sign1 or :cry:
  13. rksstl

    rksstl Member

    :wave: Hi Mark,
    I've have the Prodigy Advanced for about a year now. I'm using it on a N Gauge 6x13x6 layout running 2 trains plus 1 switching industries. So far it is great I'm getting ready to add sound but from a couple of others I've talked to about it say it works great, it might be worth a couple of extra bucks to shop around for the Advanced. :wave:
  14. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Many many thanks for the advice guys. My LHS has the Express and Advance in stock and at a good/fair price. It seems like with both I can run multiple diesel consists, but with the Express, it doesn't run non-dcc diesels while dcc controled diesels are on the layout (according to the instructions inside the box). Does the Advanced get around this problem by assigning the non-dcc diesel a default address? There are a few diesels that I probably won't switch over to dcc, but would still like to run them. Also, what is a CV? I'm still learning the Dcc-lingo and a little slow on all the terms.
  15. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    There is no way you can "assign the non-dcc diesel a default address". A non-dcc loco does not have a decoder in it, so you cannot "assign" it an address. The only way you can run locos that do NOT have a decdoer in them, is on DC track. There is no other way of doing it.

    Do NOT put non-DCC locos on a DCC powered track. Your DC locos work on a varying track voltage of 0 V DC - 12 V DC. (Depending on how fast/slow you want your locos to go). DCC powered track is at a constant voltage of 15 V AC.

    Some DCC controllers (not sure which ones) will have a "DC mode", which will supply the varying 12 V DC voltage to the track instead of the constant 15 V AC that DCC uses. However all the functions of your DCC system will not be available, and the controller will function just like an ordinary old DC controller.

    DCC equiped locos (with a decoder) can run on DC track (12 V DC) provided they have the appropriate CV turned "on", and they will function as any other DC loco would on a DC track, otherwise they will just sit there and do nothing. You cannot "select" a DCC loco (when running on DC track), and ALL your locos will move according to your controller, as if it were a normal DC powered track.

    However, your 12 V DC loco, when put on a DCC powered track that has a constant 15 V AC............. well, I'll let you work out what will happen to your loco if you do that. :cry:

    Should you wish to still run your non-dcc locos (no decoder in them), then you will need to retain your exisiting power supply/controller, and unplug your DCC power supply/controller from the track, and plug in your old DC power equipment. Or have a switch, to switch from one to the other. Your DCC locos will function as if they did not have a decoder in them (in DC track) however the opposite is NOT ture. You cannot run locos (without a decoder in them) on DCC powered track. Make sure you remove ALL your DC only locos from the track before switching on your DCC power supply/controller.

    a CV is a "Control Variable". These are settings inside the decoder that contain what the decoder will do. e.g. the loco number, or when the headlight should be on/off, what the maximum speed of the loco should be. etc.
  16. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    BTW, Herc Driver, having "DCC ready" locos, does NOT mean they will run on DCC track. That just mean they are capable of having a decoder easily installed in them. Otherwise, they are still your ordinary old DC locos. Nothing more.
  17. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Woodie...Many thanks for all that information!!! :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

    My layout may be small, but I'd like the opportunity to run multiple diesels on the same train "passing through town" while switching on the inside tracks...that way my boys can work with me and add some alternatives to the way we run things now. DCC is surely the way to go, I only now need to decide on the model/brand. Thanks to the information you provided, which helped me break the code on what some of the manufacturers were trying to say in their instructions/advertisements. I'm closer to making the decision.

    I can see that just as I slowly added a design or running feature to may layout, even though I don't have sound equipped diesels now, I might as well have the ability waiting for me in the DCC unit when the time comes. Also, one day I'd like to have a bigger layout and it would be great if the DCC package was already big enough to handle multiple operations and had expandability when the time comes.

    One last question...I assume each locomotive has a particular DCC decoder that it needs and fits? Is there a good website/resource that lists various diesel makers and the decoders that fit them for digitrax or MRC DCC units? I have Atlas, Bachmann, Kato, Athearn and LifeLike there one particular brand that functions well with digitrax and/or MRC Prodigy Advance that fits in these diesel manufacturers? Or better you know of a site I can get some information about this? It seems like I'm stumbling up a mountain that so many of you have already did you (that use DCC) get your start and where did you pick up all the information?
  18. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    You can do this with DCC by setting two loco's CVs (consist address) with the same "consist" address. This is different from the loco address. Then you'll select the "consist address", and away BOTH locos will go. However, you will have noted that different locos perform differently. One will wiz around faster than another, start moving or not etc at the same setting on your DC controller. Not good for you locos to have a ""faster" loco dragging a slower one around the tracks when coupled together, or a loco dragging another around, that hasn't got enough power to get it moving yet. With DCC you can "match" your locos by adjusting the "speed" of each loco when the throttle setting is the same. i.e. The "fast" loco, should be set that when at 1/2 trottle, it only has 1/3 of the voltage applied to it. While the slower one, has 1/2 the voltage applied when the throttle is set to 1/2 speed. Thus "matching" the locos, so they move/start/stop at the same speed for the same throttle setting. You need to know a bit more about "speed tables" and start/mid/high voltage "CV" setting in the decoder to be able to do this.

    Any decoder will work with any loco that you install it in (except locos that have a "live" frame/chassis. i.e. the power is transferred to the motor, from the track, via the frame/chassis, and not wires.) The main concern is whether the decoder will fit inside the loco body/case. Most locos are filled with "ballast". i.e. steel weights to weigh it down, and leaves virtually no room for a decoder. A number of my locos, I've had to hack away with a grinder/hacksaw at the steel weights to make enough room for the decoder. Your main concern here, should be the SIZE of the decoder, not necessaily the make/brand. The smaller the decoder, the more expensive they are, or course. If your loco is "DCC ready", then your supplier should be able to recommend an appropriate decoder for that loco.

    Ummm..... I read a lot. Then read it all again. :thumb: Then read it backwards, turned the page upside down, and read it again. :D sign1 Anyway, you can keep it as simple, or as complex as you like. As simple as wacking your new DCC equiped loco on a DCC track, select loco number 3, and away you go. Nothing more needed. Or you can tailor your locos to perform like the prototype etc. i.e. It'll take a mile of track to stop, or slowly speed up to full speed etc.
  19. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I have the Prodigy Advance and love it. It was sound that got me into DCC. I purchased a BLI T1 with dc sound and loved it. Now I have DCC and sound in several locomotives. It also gives great control of loco. I don't mean more than one at a time I mean control of one. I can make it move at probably 1 scale MPH. I am heavy into switching and this makes it fantastic. I LOVE IT.
  20. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Member

    I don't think you can run any non-DCC locomotives with the express or advanced.....they are kind of doing away with that option....some of the older systems you could have only one DC locomotive. On my layout I am planning to be able to unhook the DCC unit and hook up a DC Power pack to the main track leads to run some old Tyco engines not worth converting. Maybe something like this will work for you. can try doing searches on the internet and come up with a million sites from are some good one's.... Athearns are easy and common.....just about every site has a demo on how to convert an athearn loco.


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