Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

MRC prodigy advance 2 vs express

6272 views
19 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • 23 posts
MRC prodigy advance 2 vs express
Posted by afboone on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 12:57 PM

Hi everyone,

I'm looking to get into the DCC world and decided on the MRC systems.  But not sure what I need.  I have read as much as I could stand using the search forums but it seems it turns into a bashing and I don't really want to wade thru that. 

So here is what I have:

10 x 10 HO layout.    I plan on running 2-4 engines at a time, mostly older Athearn blue box engines, when I add the decoders I may add some with sound.  Not looking to run accessories.  Only looking at one cab. 

My biggest worry is the power with the Express.  Does it have enough to run that many trains with sound?  The Advance 2 seems alittle overkill but after you pay for a booster, if needed, then you might as well go with the Advance 2.

I looked at the others and don't like the set-ups, features, or lack of, NCE can only support 5 engines in memory.  I have several engines and plan on keeping them on the sidings and use them if I want.

 

Thanks in advance.  Steve.

  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • From: Christiana, TN
  • 1,649 posts
Posted by CSX Robert on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 1:12 PM

I'm an N-scaler, so I'm not as familiar with the current draw of HO scale engines, but I seam to remember reading that the old Athearn Blue Box engines were a little high.  If so, you will definitely want more  than the 1.6 amps the Express will give you.

 

You can keep as many engines as you want on the sidings and use them when you want with NCE(or Digitrax, or Lenz, or EasyDCC, but not EZ-DCC).  You have a limit of  how many you can run at a time and how many you can keep in recall, but not what you have on the layout.  If the engine is not in recall, just punch in the number to select it(once you get more than a few in recall, just punching in the number is quicker anyway).

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,078 posts
Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 5:23 PM

 WOuld you like to eventually add signals? Possibly run your trains from an iPod, iPhone, or ANdroid phone? Program ANY decoder in an easy to use manner with plain English definitions? Automate part of you layout? Then don't get ANY MRC DCC system. MRC is the ONLY major DCC manufacturer who will not share their system with the developers of JMRI (free) or RR&Co(not free) software which enables you to do all that. Instead they have some half-baked homegrown application which doesn't even do a tenth of what the others can do.

                        --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Metro East St. Louis
  • 5,743 posts
Posted by simon1966 on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:22 PM

afboone

I looked at the others and don't like the set-ups, features, or lack of, NCE can only support 5 engines in memory.  I have several engines and plan on keeping them on the sidings and use them if I want.

 

Steve, you have a misunderstanding here on how a DCC system works.  With any of the major makes of DCC system you can have as many locomotives as you like sitting on the layout..  Lets say for example that your roster extends to 20 locomotives.  All 20 can be on the layout in sidings.  You simply call up the one(s) you want to run and use them.  Then later you can call up other ones and run them.  I think you are confusing a feature called "recall stack" in which the last few locomotives that you have called into use are kept in memory so that you can "scroll" back to them and re use them.  This does not mean that these are the only locos that you can run, just that they are ones that numbers are kept on board.  If you want to run one outside of that list just simply key it in to select it and run.

Many of us on the forum use the loco road number as the code that we key into our DCC system to select a loco.  Personally, I don't even bother with the memory stack and just key in the one I want and run it.  My boys have gone a bit berserk and there are currently 44 locomotives physically placed on the layout.  Anyone of them can be selected and run regardless of "memory stack"

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

  • Member since
    January, 2008
  • From: Stockton, CA.
  • 333 posts
Posted by Truck on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:17 PM

Well afboone,  As you may have noticed MRC is a very BAD WORD to some people on these forums. I am still growing back some of my behind from the last time I made a comment about MRC, Thanks to Mr. rrinker. I have an MRC PROD. ADV.2 with the computer interface. And I see no desire to use an ipad or a phone to run trains. And how can you call it OPPERATING a layout if it is all automated ? Whith that said . I run both HO & N scale with my system and it powers two Digitrax DS54's for 9 tortiose's with no booster and it has no problems with overloading. The only thing I added was a Soundtrax program track booster. And as far as JMRI & RR&co go, I dont need someone else to tie my shoes for me.

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,919 posts
Posted by fwright on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 9:14 PM

Randy

Instead of throwing out all the garbage, just say that your real objections to MRC DCC systems are their incompatibility with JMRI and MRC's refusal to play ball with JMRI.  Signaling can be done via any number of methods besides Digitrax.  And running trains from a cell phone is just a gimmick.

There are workarounds to getting Decoder Pro on an MRC layout if it is really wanted.  Either use the Digitrax PR3 or a SPROG 2 as both computer interface and stand-alone DCC system for the programming track.  But what percentage of Digitrax and NCE owners actually use Decoder Pro?  I'll bet my last dollar it's well under 50%.  Although I consider Decoder Pro important, there are plenty of DCC users who don't.

Whether you want to admit it or not, if obtained at the $100 to $120 mark, the Prodigy Express is the least cost way to get full-featured DCC.  And the ability to add the PA2 features to the PE for the cost of the PA2 add-on throttle ($80) is quite a bargain.

Back to the OP's question. 

The BB Athearn's will probably not be good candidates for sound decoders due to the locomotive's inherent "growl" and the motor's relatively high current draw.  The high costs of sound decoders combined with costs of remotoring and possibly regearing would be considerably more than the locomotive is worth.  A straight, non-sound decoder rated at 1 amp/ 1.5-2 amp surge would be a much better solution for the Athearn BB.

For power, the 1.6 amps of the PE should handle 4 older HO locomotives simultaneously - but barely.  If one engine is drawing more current than the norm, or you are running passenger cars as well, it won't be enough.  The question is are you really going to run 4 locomotives simultaneously?  If yes, the PA2 would be the better starting point.  A Zephyr would be the cheaper way to get 3 amps power, but gives you a non-walkaround configuration unless you spend the same or more money compared to the PA2.

just my thoughts

Fred W

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,078 posts
Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 9:20 PM

 There's more to it than just JMRI compatibility, but since everyone seems to think I am spouting nothing that could be construed as a fact I'll leave it alone.

                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • 4,612 posts
Posted by Hamltnblue on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 9:25 PM

MRC makes decent quality systems but as noted you should consider them only if you plan on sticking with what you buy and no upgrading or computer control in the future..

Personally I just keep them off the list of potential equipment buys for any of their products.

Springfield PA

  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • From: Christiana, TN
  • 1,649 posts
Posted by CSX Robert on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:55 PM

fwright

...And running trains from a cell phone is just a gimmick...

 

Have you tried WiThrottle?  I'm sorry, but in, my opinion, here you are just plain wrong.  I have used the WiThrottle on an iPod and it makes for a very good throttle, and everyone I have heard from that has used it has agreed.  If you already have the computer hookup and and iPhone or iPod and router, then you can get a wireless throttle for $10.

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,919 posts
Posted by fwright on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 7:57 AM

CSX Robert

 fwright:

...And running trains from a cell phone is just a gimmick... 

Have you tried WiThrottle?  I'm sorry, but in, my opinion, here you are just plain wrong.  I have used the WiThrottle on an iPod and it makes for a very good throttle, and everyone I have heard from that has used it has agreed.  If you already have the computer hookup and and iPhone or iPod and router, then you can get a wireless throttle for $10.

You are right, I haven't tried it.  The kids have the Wii, and I don't use it except to play games with them.  They do run Netflix through our router and the Wii.  They also have iPods, and I don't.  I will accept your explanation of how great it is.

Fred W

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • 23 posts
Posted by afboone on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 9:25 AM

Thanks everyone for the inputs.   Yeah 4 engines will be only every once in awhile.  I think I will be getting the Advance 2 just for the power coverage.  I don't plan on replacing my BBs anytime soon.

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Metro East St. Louis
  • 5,743 posts
Posted by simon1966 on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 10:48 AM

Truck

As you may have noticed MRC is a very BAD WORD to some people on these forums.

It does rather make you wonder how a company that 10-15 years ago was one of the very best regarded companies in the hobby, managed to destroy its good name and engender so much ill will within the ranks of model railroaders?

MRC would make a wonderful case study on how corporate miss steps and arrogance took a once proud name and tarnished it.

Take for example the multiple false starts in DCC.  The release of systems that were then superseded and left with no upgrade path or even support.  I think perhaps MRC has now learned from this lesson at what, the 3rd or 4th attempt?

Take for example the horrendous quality and reliability problems associated with their decoders?  Is quality control spectacularly better on the DCC command stations?

Take for example the arrogance exhibited in the print advertising and the refusal to allow their system to interface with applications like Decoder Pro.

Having used a current model PA2 it is without doubt a decent system and I really think that MRC may be finally getting its act together.  But I could never bring myself to buy one or even recommend it because I simply don't trust the company and would prefer to purchase an American made product.  Since DCC is one of the few parts of the hobby where I am not forced to by cheap Chinese made goods I have been happy to let my wallet talk for me.

But if you are an MRC fan, good on you, but don't be upset that there are others for whom the MRC name is forever tarnished.  Instead marvel that what should be one of the shining lights in this hobby is in fact the source of much ridicule instead.  This my friends was a self inflicted wound.

 

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

  • Member since
    February, 2006
  • From: Mesa Arizona
  • 341 posts
Posted by mokenarr on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 3:55 PM

Just my 2 cents worth and I do not know the cost difference but I have a Wireless MRC system and not being teathered to one or more spots is really cool

Old Steam loco's never die, they just lose thier fire.
  • Member since
    October, 2016
  • 1 posts
Posted by JTyler on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 7:52 PM

I see this forum is 6 years old!? In any event, I've moved often over the years and have started numerous layouts in N-Scale. I'm now retired and am thinking DCC would be the way to go, but.....which system? MRC Prodigy+Squared+Advanced+DCC+system+MRC seemed good, but comments and info cast some doubts. Any advice? 

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,078 posts
Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, April 05, 2017 2:45 PM

 Over the past 6 years of this thread, MRC finally broke down and worked with the JMRI team so MRC is now support in JMRI like all the others. What was fact is no longer the case.

                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    October, 2007
  • From: UP main line Echo
  • 25 posts
Posted by sabaj on Saturday, May 06, 2017 11:34 PM

Check out  the MRC 1530 Prodigy WiFi Module

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/MRC-1530-Prodigy-WiFi-Module-p/mrc-1530.htm

http://www.jimsmodeltrains.com/MRC-WiFi-Module-for-Prodigy-Advance-DCC-Systems-Smartphone-Tablet-Control-1530_p_2423.html

Then go to the MRC Yahoo group

 https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/MRC-DCC/info

They are friendly to MRC and don't try to tell you how stupid you are for even saying the name MRC. 

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,078 posts
Posted by rrinker on Sunday, May 07, 2017 6:19 PM

 You do realize this thread is SIX years old? Much has changed in 6 years. A little hitorical background would be helpful - priot to their current lineup, MRC had at least 4 other DCC systems - each one INCOMPATIBLE with the one before it - meaning to upgrade you had to throw out the old one and buy the new one. That is indeed no longer the case, you can buy a Prodigy Express and later make it an Advanced^2. But prior to the current lineup that was nt the case. They sold DCC systems like they sold DC power packs. You couldn;t upgrade a Tech II to a Tech 4 so I guess they figures why would you want to do that with a DCC system - never mind that all the other DCC vendors had this figured out, that you might only have a 4x8 today but in a couple of years maybe you would filla  bedroom. And then a basement.  

 One thing that hasn't changes is their decoders still stink. I'm not going on hearsay, I bought one. It's supposed to have 16 (or maybe 32) different horns, all selectable with a CV. I wrote to MRC tech support, asking what value in th CV corresponding to what kind of horn. Their response was that they don't keep track of that information.

 6 years ago, they were the ONLY DCC manufacturer who wouldn't work with the JMRI team to add support. They had their own very poor piece of software. I guess enough people kept harping on it here and on other forums that they finally relented and worked with JMRI developers to get MRC added. And it's a two way street, as you can see by the WiFi interface uses the JMRI WiThrottle protocol because that's the app you use to control trains directly via MRC's WiFi module.

 They still leave out important information, especially for those with large layouts. It's almost a secret that you need special powered cab panels when you have above a certain number of throttles (just like all the others - only the others come right out and tell you this). All the instructions do NOT fit on the back of the throttle, tht's just the basics and the basics for ANY popular system can fit on the back of their full size throttles. That complicated technical mumbo-jumbo that the other brands put int he back of the manual, MRC leaves out entirely - but that information is useful for a larger system.

 So no, I'm not particularly a fan of MRC's DCC offerings. For quite a few fact-based reasons. Let alone subjective things, like I think the sounds on the sound decoders is absolutely horrible, but that's a subjective.  

                              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

SBX
  • Member since
    March, 2008
  • From: Ipswich, UK
  • 79 posts
Posted by SBX on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 3:06 PM

Are you confusing a Wii and WiThrottle? WiThrottle is an app that runs on an iPhone (EngineDriver is the equivalent of Android). You can control your locos and switches (if any are connected to your DCC bus) using WiThrottle but you need JMRI running on a computer and a USB connection to your DC setup.

BTW, it isn't quite true to say that only the chosen loco is taking amps - if you have sound, then any other loco that is currently making noises is also drawing power.

 

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,919 posts
Posted by fwright on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:00 PM

I'm more in agreement with Randy than I was 6 years ago when this thread started.

My reasons for avoiding MRC DCC systems is support.  As Randy points out, MRC documentation leaves a lot to be desired.  And because there are relatively few users of MRC DCC, finding a local expert to help you with issues isn't going to replace the lack of manufacturer support.

Both NCE and Digitrax have been used on large layouts, large club layouts, and in large modular setups.  The problems and shortcomings of these 2 systems are known, documented, and work-arounds developed.

On a small-to-medium home layout that seldom has visitors, you may never enocunter problems regardless of which system you pick.  But if you do, there is precious little help to resolve MRC-specific issues.  On a larger layout with multiple users you can count on encountering occasional (or even frequent) problems.

I now have considerably more experience with NCE, and limited experience with Digitrax in modular layout settings.  Thorough documentation, user groups, and local gurus make a difference.  I have read on MRC, and though their system is much like NCE in many respects, I'm always left with unanswered questions - like Randy's how many throttles will overload the command or throttle bus.

Fred W

just my thoughts and experiences

  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • From: Christiana, TN
  • 1,649 posts
Posted by CSX Robert on Thursday, May 11, 2017 2:04 PM

SBX
WiThrottle is an app that runs on an iPhone (EngineDriver is the equivalent of Android). You can control your locos and switches (if any are connected to your DCC bus) using WiThrottle but you need JMRI running on a computer and a USB connection to your DC setup.

 With the new WiFI module from MRC, you do not need the PC and JMRI.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

Users Online

There are no community member online
ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook