NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

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NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby trerod » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:24 pm

Hi, i presently run a end to end layout in OO gauge.I have been toying with the idea of converting from DC to DCC.
My question to fellow memmbers is which of the following two entry level systoms are best!
NCE 2amp Power Cab, or Gaugemaster Prodigy Express 1.6amp.
Is it true you can run lights on Loco's but no sound on these entry level systems?

George Stein
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Re: NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby George Stein » Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:43 pm

First, I assume you know that any locomotive will need a DCC chip. And any locomotive with a DCC chip can be operated by any DCC power system.

So, I am quite happy with my NCE Power Cab. It is entirely appropriate for any smallish (e.g., 12' x12') system and would be quite appropriate for an end-to-end of oh, say, thirty feet. Given the power demands of current OO locomotives, even equipped with DCC sound, you can easily run three locomotives at the same time with the Power Cab.

As for the Gaugemaster. I am writing from the USA and it seems to me that the Gaugemaster Prodigy is identical (save for 110 vs 220 mains input) to the American MRC Prodigy. Most folks I know would recommend the NCE and consider the basic Prodigy as a "train set" system.

Both NCE, MRC and, I'm sure, Gaugemaster have the option to "upgrade" to more powerful systems. Another USA DCC system is "Digitrax." Also quite good, a bit more expensive, but much more complex to master. Most USA modelers would recommend the NCE for (1) price, (2) expansion potential, and (3) simplicity of learning and operation. Again, my opinions, but I'm very happy with my NCE Power Cab.

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Re: NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby SRman » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:03 am

I have no experience of the Prodigy, but it is the MRC product rebadged, so details may be more freely available if you look up the MRC product.

Both NCE Power Cab and Gaugemaster Prodigy have similar 'hammerhead' shapes which are good for handling, but I think the NCE is a little better ergonomically - it can be operated single-handedly, whereas the Prodigy appears to me to require two hands because the speed control knob is at the bottom.

The Power Cab will operate several sound locos at once - 2 amps is quite sufficient. I have had six locomotives operating light engine (with lights) with sound on an exhibition shunting layout with one Power Cab and its standard power supply of a little less than 2 amps. That means that the answer to your question "Is it true ..." is "No, it is not true". :D Several of those engines I referred to were Heljan products, not noted for low power consumption! The Power Cab can be set to show an ammeter instead of its fast clock - the ammeter is far more useful to me.

I cannot speak for the Prodigy, but the Power Cab can be upgraded later with no redundancy of components. My system started with one Power Cab, then a second one, then upgraded to a 5 amp Power Pro system which simply uses the existing Power Cabs as Pro Cab controllers on the bigger system. For exhibition use, I take one or two of the Power Cabs along to use in their native mode - the change is seamless.

Ideally, you should try to have a look and feel of the systems in a shop or at friends or club layouts using them, but I don't know your circumstances or location, and these things may or may not be possible for you.

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Re: NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby mjb1961 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:57 am

I have had the powercab and it is a great controler,I now have a MRC prodigy advance 2,between the two you are comparing I would definitely go with the NCE powercab.

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Re: NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby Bigmet » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:23 am

A question that hasn't been asked is what exactly you operate on the layout?

These starter systems will operate a number of (currently in production) can motor and LED lighting models, sufficient to run an end to end layout without difficulty, because they will have very modest current draw.

But if there are older mechanism designs on the layout with open frame motors driving directly on axles and light bulbs, it's a whole different story, as these can be very current hungry. The typical 4 to 5A output of a 'full system' is more appropriate in this case.

To give an idea I currently have a H-D 8F to play with. The motor is in excellent condition, and with a 2A continuous output decoder installed runs beautifully, drawing between 500 and 800 mA when on a full length freight. Two of those running would be the practical limit for a 1.5 to 2 A starter system. By comparison with the modern locos on the same job, each draws 150 - 200 mA, so the starter set will comfortably operate half a dozen, with some headroom available.

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Re: NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby Paul-H » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:45 am

One thing to think about is were to send it for repair should you ever have a problem

The Prodigy is repaired here in the UK

IIRC the NEC has to be sent back to America, that may be old data but worth checking before you buy

If going down the Prodigy route I would suggest saving up for the Advance2 instead of the Express, the extra options are worth the extra.


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Re: NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby trerod » Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:42 am

Hi again, many thanks for all of your replies regarding my DCC question.
I think my next step will be to go to a model shop and have a look at both
examples. My layout is end to end and measures 17ft in length x 2ft width.
All of my motive power is of the modern variety with the oldest being a couple of years old.
The layout works pefectly well on DC but would just love eto try DCC, i do understand the
wiring aspect ie,bus and feeder wires etc.and each loco will need a decoder.
Again thanks for all of your help.

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Re: NCE Power Cab V Gaugemaster Prodigy.

Postby Flashbang » Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:35 pm

The main difference in the two - NCE PowerCab and Gaugemaster Prodigy Express (re badged MRC unit) is that the PowerCab can operate all accessories where the GM PE cannot, it can only operate the locos.
Gaugemaster located in Ford, W'Sussex can repair the Prodigy units and I now understand Coastal DCC can repair NCE items, but if not then should a repair be needed to a NCE item these would have to go back to NCE in the USA.

Which would I purchase as DCC starter system? No hesitation, The NCE PowerCab wins hands down. :D
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