MRC Prodigy Express'2

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bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I thought I'd share the experiences I've had with this system, so others can benefit from my woes.
First, I got the system June 14, 2020, after a very lengthy Plague-induced delay. While that's neither here nor there, it did set the tone for what followed.
First, the good: It seems to be a very good, very basic system for anyone just starting out in DCC that doesn't have any sound equipped engines, or anything that will require any advanced operations. It was very easy to install and hook up, and the system itself functions well, as long as you don't want to do anything more than operate single locomotives. Basically, plug in the power supply, connect that to the base station, and plug in the handset to the base station, and you're up and running. You can access 13 functions at the press of a single button on the handset. Power is more than adequate for a single engine.

Now, the bad. I don't know if I got a dud one, and can't get a response from MRC about it, so I'm going to have to assume this is how it's supposed to be. There's very little, if any, info out there as far as support. This is the most recent version, released in the last year or so. If you have a sound equipped engine, F2 is essentially useless. You can make the horn blow a long blast. Response time for the handset is so slow you can't do anything that requires a momentary tap of the f2 key, or any other one I tried. The system defaults to 28 speed step for every address, and has to be reset to use 128 speed step with every address, every time the address is called up. That makes consisting and having it work correctly almost impossible. You can build a consist, but you then have to go to every individual address and activate any sound or light functions you want on every unit in the consist, then call up the consist address to throttle up or down, then back to the address of the lead unit to use horn and bell functions, then access the consist to change speed. If there is a momentary interruption of power, you have to stop everything, access all the individual addresses, turn everything off then on again, change speed step from 28 back to 128 for each address, then get the whole thing rolling again. To say this is an exercise in frustration is an understatement. I don't know if I got a bad one, or if they're all this way, and can't get an answer.

I originally got this to operate a small N scale layout, running a pair of engines together since there are very steep grades a single engine can't handle. The handset being tethered by a cable, and being able to move around the layout as needed was another plus, as far as deciding to get it.
I will repeat, maybe this is one-off, and other versions and models are better, but I would recommend caution if you want to do anything with this system other than simply run a single locomotive in speed step 28.
 

McLeod

Well-Known Member
Frankly, the more I read about DCC issues and complications on the forums, the more I wonder 'Why!?'. It been repeated more than a few times, that getting support is difficult, instructions are poor, and systems seem complicated. Saving on some wiring and hearing a locomotive horn just doesn't justify an indoctrination to DCC to me.
I'm new in the train hobby, as you know. Just seems to me from what I've read, that good-ol DC is a lot less grief.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
Simple DC is, well, a lot simpler. I've gotten spoiled in making my trains act and sound more like the real thing, but somebody that has never had that would probably be better off without. If you have a huge, complex layout, it would be a big help, but a single person with a small layout and three engines can easily not miss it.
 

wvg_ca

Active Member
I don't know .. don't have the trouble you have had ... and with the same system , normally run 3 to 5 locos, 2 or 3 with sound at the same time, no issues, don't run consists, no need to, by the way this is HO on mostly a 2.5% grade ...
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I don't know .. don't have the trouble you have had ... and with the same system , normally run 3 to 5 locos, 2 or 3 with sound at the same time, no issues, don't run consists, no need to, by the way this is HO on mostly a 2.5% grade ...
Mine is N and a 4% grade. One engine struggles with 3-4 cars, so consisting is required.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I thought I'd share the experiences I've had with this system, so others can benefit from my woes.
First, I got the system June 14, 2020, after a very lengthy Plague-induced delay. While that's neither here nor there, it did set the tone for what followed.
First, the good: It seems to be a very good, very basic system for anyone just starting out in DCC that doesn't have any sound equipped engines, or anything that will require any advanced operations. It was very easy to install and hook up, and the system itself functions well, as long as you don't want to do anything more than operate single locomotives. Basically, plug in the power supply, connect that to the base station, and plug in the handset to the base station, and you're up and running. You can access 13 functions at the press of a single button on the handset. Power is more than adequate for a single engine.

Now, the bad. I don't know if I got a dud one, and can't get a response from MRC about it, so I'm going to have to assume this is how it's supposed to be. There's very little, if any, info out there as far as support. This is the most recent version, released in the last year or so. If you have a sound equipped engine, F2 is essentially useless. You can make the horn blow a long blast. Response time for the handset is so slow you can't do anything that requires a momentary tap of the f2 key, or any other one I tried. The system defaults to 28 speed step for every address, and has to be reset to use 128 speed step with every address, every time the address is called up. That makes consisting and having it work correctly almost impossible. You can build a consist, but you then have to go to every individual address and activate any sound or light functions you want on every unit in the consist, then call up the consist address to throttle up or down, then back to the address of the lead unit to use horn and bell functions, then access the consist to change speed. If there is a momentary interruption of power, you have to stop everything, access all the individual addresses, turn everything off then on again, change speed step from 28 back to 128 for each address, then get the whole thing rolling again. To say this is an exercise in frustration is an understatement. I don't know if I got a bad one, or if they're all this way, and can't get an answer.

I originally got this to operate a small N scale layout, running a pair of engines together since there are very steep grades a single engine can't handle. The handset being tethered by a cable, and being able to move around the layout as needed was another plus, as far as deciding to get it.
I will repeat, maybe this is one-off, and other versions and models are better, but I would recommend caution if you want to do anything with this system other than simply run a single locomotive in speed step 28.
How does what you are experiencing compare with the sales "blurb" in as far the operations are that it can provide?
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
I have the same system and have noticed the same basic experience: Simple, easy to set up and use system with a fair amount of limitations. One of those things where you get what you pay for, I guess. My biggest "bug" was that you can't change the direction of a loco when consisting with the express throttle. With the advance or higher you can.

I've been running 28 speed step for the most part untill recently when I have started using 128. I am finding that I like 128 much better and have been switching all my locos over. I don't have the problem you do where I have to reset it each time, but It is still fairly common to have to do so at the beginning of a session.

For a couple of the issues you mention above, it may not be a limitation of the system, but rather a setting on the decoder. The lights and sound when operating in a consist, on some decoders, can be switched on and off. Basicaly, your second (or third) engine on the prototype wouldn't be running lights or horn anyway, and why would you want the model to do so? I can't remember the CV numbers to look at, and it may be different per manufacturer, but do a little looking around and you should be able to find it.

Short horn blasts with F2, like you say, are difficult. I have a couple of decoders (the Econami line - which I highly recommend) that use F3 specifically for a short blast. When running others, I just have to suffer.

And for my last comment, I will agree with your frustration about the extreme sensitivity to short circuits. A N Y L I T T L E S H O R T would send the thottle into ERR mode where it would have to be unplugged to be reset. And of course, while you have the throttle unplugged you can't control any locos - but they keep going - so if you have a small derailment causing the short, you can't stop the train without clearing the short first or picking the loco up off the track. I got around this by installing a Tam Valley DCC Booster (http://www.tamvalleydepot.com/products/dccbooster.html). They have their own built in circuit breaker, so they take the hit of a short instead of passing it back to the command station and shutting down the throttle. BEST $75 I have even spent on my layout.

All in all, if you are committed to MRC, my advice is getting the better Advanded system. Me personally? I am slowly making the swtch to Railpro.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
How are they going with the number of sound files offered and how good are they?
I only have one sound decoder so far and it has it's pluses and minuses. It's in a GP38-2. The engine sounds are far superior to the Digitrax decoder I had in it before, but the horn is very much so lacking. There are other horns I could download and try, though, I just haven't done it yet. That's one of the nice aspects of the system, though, it's all over-the-air downloads to the module (decoder).
 

Boris

Beach Bum
true, but you are then limited to the lower power output of the express system , but it can be 'boosted' up,
The use of a booster(s), is one of the advantages when expanding any basic DCC system, even the "more popular brands".

For my home layout, I should have invested in a booster, instead of upgrading to the full Advance² system, especially once the PC interface, and JMRI became supported, but that's hindsight.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
I only have one sound decoder so far and it has it's pluses and minuses. It's in a GP38-2. The engine sounds are far superior to the Digitrax decoder I had in it before, but the horn is very much so lacking. There are other horns I could download and try, though, I just haven't done it yet. That's one of the nice aspects of the system, though, it's all over-the-air downloads to the module (decoder).
I am not fond of the sound quality of Digitrax sound decoders, especially the prime mover files.

Greg
 

MHinLA

Well-Known Member
IT'S THIS SIMPLE: You get what you pay for...
IT'S THIS LOGICAL: DCC is way easier to hook up than analog DC as track block-wiring is no longer needed for independence of trains.. Even sidings, and yard ladder tracks don't have to have on-off toggles, as does DC..In fact you don't even need a control panel if you don't want one...
I bought an NCE PowerCab some 7-9 years back and never suffered buyer's remorse. It's operation has a learning curve via manual / buttons / screen / nomenclature..Soon the very important ones become second nature... A couple well made locos and you're rollin' near like the 1:1 scale..
Even a head-on or rear-end collision can occur if you're not minding your cabs..Cool.....
 




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