Controllers

Post all your DCC only problems, solutions and discoverys here.
forest446
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Controllers

Postby forest446 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:22 pm

Ok so having spent the best part of a year
Looking at dcc controllers due to having a few tts locos on dc.
I have got down to 2 an can't find any comparison on them
Looking at the gauge master prodegy
Or the power cab
Won't be running more than 5 locos at once
So feedback on both systems be great
Thanks
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mjb1961
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Re: Controllers

Postby mjb1961 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:56 pm

Hi ,,,,I have not had a gaugemaster prodigy but I have the NCE powercab ,I can only say it's the best controller I've had ,before the powercab I had the select ,which I started with and then went onto the elite ,that soon packed up and refused to programme anything ,a common fault with the elite ,,the powercab on the other hand has in the two/three years I've owned it has been brilliant ,,no faults ,works all the time ,and you can do everything you need to do ,,there isn't a control knob but you have a thumbwheel but I soon preferred to use the speed increase and decrease button adjacent to the wheel ,,,I can only 100% recommend the NCE powercab ,it will be perfect for your needs ,,,shop around as prices vary ,,I bought mine from coastal dcc ,they are a main dealer for NCE ,,,,,Google search them ,,,,,good luck with which ever one you choose ,,,mjb

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TimberSurf
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Re: Controllers

Postby TimberSurf » Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:29 pm

When I ventured into DCC, my research (exhaust as ever) brought me to the same two.
A deciding factor is quite often the preference to the knob, old school prefer the notion. The thumb wheel is counterintuitive, but practice makes it just as usable, if a bit alien at first. Running speeds are actually mostly done by "clicks" on the speed buttons! Notch down and up is quite natural and very precise. I have had the NCE for several years, its brilliant. But even if the lack of knob does not appeal, a second (cheaper, non programming) one with Knob can be had (Cab06)! The best bit is that the NCE system is scalable and even when a booster is needed, the power cab converts to a procab! (future proof, without redundancy. But don't take my word for it, years of creeping round this forum has taught me that the vast majority on here are using NCE too! Seems to be the UK preference and no one has a word against it!
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Bigmet
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Re: Controllers

Postby Bigmet » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:16 am

Oh I do! Handset far too large, controls wear out quickly if used a lot, comes with a feeble power supply in the UK. But it is less expensive than a full system as an initial purchase and offers an upgrade path.

For comparison I can operate the small and lightweight Lenz 100 handset single handed, leaving other paw free for cup of tea or shunting pole. never yet exceeded its power delivery capability with over a dozen OO locos running at once; and after nearing fourteen years daily use, it's still going strong. Full system from the off with great expansion capability, and cost is now below £20 per year of use.

There are alternatives worth looking at in short, and especially so if long term heavy use is in your scheme of thinking.

GWR_fan
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Re: Controllers

Postby GWR_fan » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:41 am

I have the Procab (10 amp wireless) and while I like it I call it the "brick". It is totally devoid of any ergonomics, is cumbersome to hold and discourages one from holding it other than to make adjustments. Actually, my preference leans more to the basic starter set Roco Multimaus. This controller is built to be held comfortably and actually used. It does though have some limitations like being unable to read CV's and slightly complicated mixing of buttons to activate functions.

I picked up my units from Croatia including an amplifier modified to be a booster.

BananaRepublic
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Re: Controllers

Postby BananaRepublic » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:58 pm

forest446 wrote:...Looking at the gauge master prodegy
Or the power cab....


Which Prodigy system did you have in mind?
Gaugemaster sell 3 of the 6 MRC Prodigy systems under their own name.
These are the basic "Prodigy Express squared", the fully featured "Prodigy Advance squared" and the "Prodigy Advance squared Wireless".

The Express is cheaper (around £120), but has a similar limited 1.6 amp output to the NCE PowerCab (approx.£155), but is lacking on certain features (no advanced or universal consisting, no route or accessory control).
The Advance has a 3.5 amp output and is fully featured. It costs about £55 more than the PowerCab (best price approx. £210).

These two Prodigy systems sit either side of the PowerCab in both price and capabilities, so are not directly comparable, other than in how they feel in the hand and how you get on with them.

Note that if you need more than the standard 1.5 amp power output of the PowerCab, then upgrading with the 5 amp SB5 SmartBooster will lift the total outlay to around the £330 mark. However, if you are only running a small number of trains on a modestly sized layout, you may not need the extra power.



kebang
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Re: Controllers

Postby kebang » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:32 am

I use the Powercab with the supplied power supply. I have had 4 locos moving at the same time without any problem (apart from keeping track of them!). 12 years ago I had a Roco Multimaus & got on with it very well. As GWR fan says its biggest fault is its inability to read CV's.
You can probably pick a multimaus up on Ebay (some suppliers split the from sets quite cheaply) for less than the cost of a Hornby Select (which is not in the same class).

Bramshot
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Re: Controllers

Postby Bramshot » Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:07 pm

I had Prodigy express as a start up kit, came in a Dapol starter kit. Works fine ran at least 4 locos simultaneously, but needed to expand so upgraded to the Advance. First one faulty out of the box, would not programme. Second one also faulty, badly soldered power led which I fixed myself. However, all of these had a common problem. The speeed control knob action was awful. Sometimes you could spin away at it without the output changing, sometimes it would change in the opposite direction to the way it was turned, sometimes it would jump with a massive speed change. Seemed as though the encoder ( it's not a simple pot) was missing a lot of pulses. With the faulty ones and the original I have had 3 of the controllers and they were all the same, getting worse with use. From what I hear from my local shop, many people at exhibitions use them without complaint. All I can say is that the quality of the components used must have been reduced by the manufacturer. They are badged American Rectifier units, made in China. I doubt anyone at Gaugemaster inspects them or opens the boxes.
Also, the display on the Express is not illuminated, so no good if you like to run at night with the lights off. The Advance is illuminated, but has a very restricted viewing angle.
I changed to the Dynamis Ultima, mainly because of the price and because it has a USB connection and I now control, including points, from my Mac, iPad or even iPhone via (free) Rocrail software, as well as occasionally using the handset.

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Flashbang
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Re: Controllers

Postby Flashbang » Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:24 pm

Hi
I have both the NCE PowerCab and a Prodigy Advanced. (The Prodigy Express2 is a cut down version of the PA2.)

Of the two I own the Prodigy Advanced 2 is IMO the better system for the following reasons... Full 3.5Amp to track. Full 14.5volts DCC to track. Totally separate Programming track output. Clear easy to use controls. Personally I like the conventional control knob rather than the thumb wheel. But there is speed Up/down button options too. Gaugemaster in the event of a failure will repair/replace in the UK.
The PE2 has similar handset to the PA but the track output current is lower at 2.0Amp and it cannot operate DCC accessory decoders. Costs £120ish (Rails of Sheffield as of today)

NCE PowerCab is around £70ish less (Depends of suppliers) than the PA2. UK power supply is 12 or 13.5 volts depending on where purchased. Max current recommended is 2.0Amp but most UK power supplies that come with the set are a lower rating of 1.5 to 1.8Amp. No separate programming connections. In the event of failure its return to the USA as at this stage there is no UK repair agents AFAIK. Plug in panel has to be mounted somewhere.

If your budget is limited to around £155 (Coastal DCC as today) the the PowerCab is the way to go. Otherwise the PA2 is excellent value at around £232 ish (Track shack). If you're looking for the cut down Prodigy Express 2 then its cost is often less than that of the PowerCab.
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Roger (RJ)
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Re: Controllers

Postby Roger (RJ) » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:15 pm

The Powercab is £140 plus postage at Hattons, a bit cheaper than Coastal's price.​

BananaRepublic
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Re: Controllers

Postby BananaRepublic » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:41 pm

Flashbang wrote:Hi
....the PA2 is excellent value at around £232 ish (Track shack).


The Prodigy Advance squared is listed at £210 from Rails of Sheffield.

As others have said, the Roco MultiMaus is an excellent little system. If only it could read back CV's.
The short lived MultiMaus Pro could read CV's, but it was rapidly replaced after only a couple of years, by the Roco Z21.


m
Last edited by BananaRepublic on Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:01 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Flashbang
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Re: Controllers

Postby Flashbang » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:58 am

Thanks for the pricing information chaps.

I think anything imported from the USA, such as the Gaugemaster MRC Prodigy systems and all the NCE items etc will see a sharp increase in cost! Best to buy now at old stock prices than later when new imported stock prices hit the shelves. I note that Coastal DCC have increased the PowerCab from originally selling it at £135 to £155.
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ianjeffery
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Re: Controllers

Postby ianjeffery » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:32 pm

I have a SPROG3 and JMRI and an PCE Powercab.

Of the two, i use the PowerCAB when im playing with the trains, and the SPROG3 when i'm programming them.

I would love to use SPROG as the main railway controller, but JMRI is so slow for me. after a while, it becomes slow to respond and lags.

In terms of the powercab - mine came with a weedy 13.8v 1.8amp power supply, which i noticed made the trains run much slower than the sprog.

After a bit of googling, i found many people have changed their power supply - which is what i did. I now use the SPROG3's 15v 4amp power supply - but ill be getting this from Maplins which alot of people recommend..... and yes, because its a higher voltage the trains run faster ( higher voltage at the track ).

http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/worldwide-60w ... pply-l11bq

forest446
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Re: Controllers

Postby forest446 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:46 pm

So I got the power cab before the prices went up
Hooked up a bit of track to have a play.
Programmed a loco but how do i access the sound functions
Can't seem to get anything but a horn on 1 button
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Flashbang
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Re: Controllers

Postby Flashbang » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:37 pm

Turn sounds On via F1 (No 1 key) then you will find the number buttons will work seperate sounds features. To get to a function number beyond the basic 1 to 9 you use the Shift button once or twice depending on 10 to 19 or 20 to 28.

Warning.. don't use the Momemtum button with a sound loco. It will often cause the sounds not to work with the loco correctly!

The PowerCab should never by fed by a power supply that outputs more that 3.0Amp. and Ideally be rated at 2.0Amp. Reason is the PowerCab has no internal overload device and relies on the power suplly shutting down. The maximum the PowerCab can pass safely is 3.0 Amp and that's pushing its limits!
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