NCE Power Cab or MRC Prodigy Express?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by KenPortner, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. KenPortner

    KenPortner TrainBoard Member

    These seem to be so similar that I'm having trouble deciding.

    Can anyone give some insight into which is better or at least which you prefer and why? Thanks.
  2. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

    I went with the NCE as it seemed to have more people supporting it. There has not been too much said about the MRC neither possitive nor negative. TheMRC decoders have had many negative concerns but are also improving with time, from what I hear.
  3. Jdvass

    Jdvass TrainBoard Member

    I have 2 MRC systems. I have a Prodigy Advance squared on my layout and a Prodigy Express on my workbench for programing and testing. I have absolutly no complaints. They are very user friendly and perform very well. As spidge said the decoders do have concerns but are improving. This is no problem though. Now that Digitrax are finaly pricing thier decoders within reason I use them. I have had no compatibility issues at all between the MRC and Digitrax equipment. Another bonus for the MRC system is thier new wireless throttle.
  4. KenPortner

    KenPortner TrainBoard Member

    Questoin for NCE Powercab users.

    I understand the cab only has a 2 loco recall. Let's say you've got a loco operating and you switch it out of the recall for another. Does the loco you've switched out keep running or does it stop. Also, can you just select a loco's address directly rather than selecting it from the recall?

  5. Another ATSF Admirer

    Another ATSF Admirer TrainBoard Member

    (caveat: I've got a Power Pro, but Power Cab should be the same, right?)

    KenPortner: There's two mechanisms here, the first is how many locos the command station can keep track of (Google tells me this is 12 for a Power Cab). Trying to have more engines than this moving at any one time is Going To Be Bad, with the best case being the 13th engine refuses to work. Of course, 1.5A isn't going to power 12 engines anyway :)

    The second mechanism is "recall", allowing you to quickly swap between two locos (Power Cab). Every other loco keeps doing whatever it was doing while you play with recall.

    For example: Imagine you have three engines, "123", "1204" and "5800".
    Power on the Power Cab, and Assign yourself #123, give it a speed and watch it go.
    Assign yourself #1204. Give it a speed and watch them both running.
    Recall to #123 and change it's speed. #1204 keeps running.
    Assign yourself #5800 and turn on the headlights. #1204 is now 'free' (but you didn't unassign it, so it may still 'belong' to your cab - not 100% sure on this one?)
    From here, all three locos are working, and #5800 is under your control, while you can recall #123. To get #1204 back you'll probably have to reassign it - quickly, before it crashes into something! ;)

    In summary, there is an engine limit which is a factor of the Command Station (Power Cab) and a separate "Recall" limit, which is a factor of the NCE Cab.
    If you expanded your Power Cab by adding a Power Cab handheld throttle, each would have a separate Recall list (the Power Cab defaults to 2 and can be set up to 6); so each throttle is now keeping track of 2 engines and the rest (up to a limit of 12) are just doing whatever they are doing.
  6. KenPortner

    KenPortner TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the explanation!
  7. Gats

    Gats Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The PowerCab has only a two loco recall. To run a third you can select it with the original two remaining running but the third will replace whichever of the first two was showing on the screen at time of selection. To recall the loco dropped by the third you need to use 'select loco' at which time it will default to the current speed which will be 0 and it will stop.
    By adding a second throttle you can add and control the third without affecting the original two. This is true of any NCE throttle, whether a ProCab or Cab04/05. A second PowerCab can only be connected as a ProCab throttle but you don't have it's recall function like it has in the full PowerhousePro system. This is due to the constraints within the command station portion of the PowerCab system.
    Another thought would be consisting. The PowerCab can remember 16 consists, 112-127. Again, you can only recall two consists as a consist is considered as one loco.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2008
  8. Lownen

    Lownen TrainBoard Member

    Digitrax Zephyr.

    Okay... second choice is PowerCab.
  9. Gats

    Gats Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    In addition to my post above, when a ProCab is added to a PowerCab system as the second throttle I believe only two recalls may be available on the second throttle. This appears to be a function of the command station (the PowerCab in this case) rather than the throttle. I can't find any confirming information either way online.

    One thing I should add about the PowerCab is it can be used away from the layout at the workbench when testing and installing decoders. All it requires is a second PCP and power supply. (I'm not certain whether this feature is available with any of the other walk-around style starter systems.)
    If you upgrade to the larger system, or take it to another NCE layout, the PowerCab throttle can be used as a ProCab with full features and walk-around functionality and can still connected to the workbench as a stand-alone PowerCab with the above additions.

    I have it and I like it. I understand and accept the design limitations as it suits what I need at this time and it has to be the most intuitive hand-held throttle available. Admittedly, I would like the recall list having the provision to increase to it's larger brother's six when running as a PowerCab, and the number of additional throttles to go from two to, say, four in standard trim (with a respective increase when adding the SB3) but I suspect the throttle limitation is to help maintain a lower current demand by reducing the number of running trains available, as is limiting the recall list.

    To answer the above question, yes the first loco will continue running as initially set. If you have two locos in recall and you want to select the hidden loco (ie, the loco not currently recalled) directly without using the recall function, you can but you may now have the same loco in both recall positions - the first loco is overwritten by the new (or second in this example) loco.
    What happens in this situation I can't recall (i'm certain I have tried it :D) but my PowerCab is packed for moving I can't try it. I would hope the system realises that the same loco has been selected twice and switch automatically to the recall position it already resides.

    Maybe someone can try it?
  10. Lownen

    Lownen TrainBoard Member

    To me this is its most important feature. On that alone I'd choose it over the Prodigy unit; forget the fact that it has more power than the Prodigy. Also, if I'm not mistaken the PowerCab has a backlighted LCD display and the Prodigy Express does not. I'm stuck with 7 segment displays. <sigh>

    I selected the Zephyr based on its greater amperage and larger loco roster. Another thing that sold me on it is that I can use up to two DC power packs as throttles. These are definitely tradeoffs; I'd like to have the walk-around portability of the PowerCab. And I understand that the PowerCab is more user friendly than the Zephyr, but haven't heard a comparison in this area to the Prodigy.

    Still, I'm happy with the Zephyr, and it doesn't have to collect dust if I go to a bigger system, it can be configured for use as a 2.5 amp auto-reverse booster.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2008
  11. KenPortner

    KenPortner TrainBoard Member

    By the way, for anyone interested, I called NCE about the Powercab being able to run more than two locos at a time.

    I was told the answer is no. So, if you've got loco 1 running and loco 2 running and then select loco 3, loco 1 will stop running.
  12. jcressaty

    jcressaty New Member

    I am not sure, but I don't thing anyone so far has mentioned that the Prodigy system (Express and Advance) will store the last 5 locos selected.

  13. Chuck_W

    Chuck_W New Member

    Have you consulted the user manual? I am looking for a DCC system and the PRODIGY ADVANCE Squared looks interesting to me. I would be interested in hearing more opinions on this system.
  14. GregK

    GregK TrainBoard Member

    I have a power cab, and I am not sure this is correct. I will try and remember and test this out tonight when I get home.

    I think the issue is that the PowerCab will only maintain 2 locos in memory at a time, so you would have to reselect the first one. I'll let you know.

  15. TrainsNTractors

    TrainsNTractors TrainBoard Member

    Ken I think NCE must have missunderstood your question. I just ran 3 locos with my Power cab. You loose control of one of the locos but you can run more than 2 locos at a time.

    Getting back to the orignal question I think you should have your answer of what most people would buy, NCE or MRC. From what I see lots of people have answers about there NCE systems but I see very few remarks about the MRC system.

    I love my NCE system and it is expandable and able to be used with larger NCE PRO system. It is easy to understand. I don't speek HEX or DOS but I do speed NCE. Try this with a Digitrax system.
  16. Lownen

    Lownen TrainBoard Member

    So the PowerCab has two throttles on it? Somehow I missed this fact. The Zephyr has only one throttle on it, but it has two ports that allow you to use DC power packs as throttles. So I can have direct control of three locos at a time... but up to ten will run on the layout.
  17. Another ATSF Admirer

    Another ATSF Admirer TrainBoard Member

    lownen: The PowerCab has a nifty little "recall" button. You can only control one loco at a time, per throttle, but by pushing "recall", you can switch to the last loco you were controlling.

    Imagine you have two engines, "123" and "456". "Select Loco", "123" and drive off with 123. Get it to the speed you desire, and then "Select Loco", "456". 123 carries on going and you can now control 456. If you want 123 back again, hit "recall". You can switch between the last two locos you selected as often as you like; effectively giving you two throttles, but you have to push one aside to get to the other one - fine normally, dangerous in an emergency (end of a siding, anyone?)

    ProCab (what I've got) makes it all more complicated and powerful - up to six engines in the recall list :D

    Does that help any?
  18. TrainsNTractors

    TrainsNTractors TrainBoard Member

    ATSF is correct in his statement. You can recall the last loco and have all of the setting as you left them. You can run several engines at one time with a Power cab but you only have direct control over the last 2 of them. You set them out running. If you could run 5 trains with out them hitting each other you could run them all with a Power cab. Once you set the speed of a loco now you can call up another loco and start it running. All of the other locos will continue running. It only take 2 seconds to slect a new loco number. As stated before it only take 1 second to crash. But if you had 5 loops why would they crash?
  19. jwils1

    jwils1 TrainBoard Member

    Just in case some are not aware of the MRC loco recall stack, all of their systems (Express, Advance2 and Wireless) have a 25 loco recall stack as compared to 2 for Power Cab. This means you can quickly cycle thru as many locos as you want in order to have full control of each one. You just push the recall button and as each loco number appears you can control it as desired and it remembers all settings when you come back to it later. For me, this is one of the best features of the MRC system.

    Also, be aware that on Power Cab Version 1.28, when you call up a running loco that is not presently in your 2-loco stack, that 3rd loco will stop and all functions turn off. This was not the case in the earlier versions and has now been corrected in Version 1.28b which apparently started shipping in December.

    As I've said before, the MRC Wireless is all that I hoped for, and more. The Advance2 or the Wireless will give many home users all they will ever need without having to upgrade for more power or throttles. Starting with the Express could require future upgrades so I strongly recommend starting with the 3.5 amp Advance2, or even better, the Wireless.


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