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Discussion Starter #1
My cheapo Bachmann controller has announced it's intention to retire early, (the arcing on start up is a dead giveaway:rolleyes:) so I'm in the market for a new power supply.
I don't really need DCC so I've been eyeballing the MRC Tech 7, but it might make sense to do a little future-proofing.
I'm not going to ask which system is "best," the universal answer to that is almost always NCE.

From the little bit of poking around I've done, the advantages to NCE are it's upgrade capabilities, and the fact that it's made right here in the good old USA.
MRC's Prodigy (Advance squared) disadvantages are lousy customer support and it's stuff comes from our favorite virus supplier.

BUT, specs wise, the MRC tops the Powercab in every category, and it's just as upgradeable.

I've used MRC's r/c stuff for years and they've been nothing but bullet proof.

What am I missing here?

Along those same lines, I've been curious about the Model Power (MRC) steamers-Spookshow.net and a handful of owners claim they're great runners and give them good reviews, but they don't seem to be a go-to for many modelers. Any particular reason for this?
 

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I have an MRC transformer made in the 50s. It lists the address of MRC as Brooklyn 26, NY. As a stupid kid, I recall running a thin wire between the fuse terminals, shorting the power terminals and watching the wire start to glow. The transformer still works quite well. I guess that speaks to them being bulletproof. But if they are made in China and there is an alternative made in the US, I think I would choose the alternative.
 

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Can't speak to the locos, I don't have any Model Power ones and have no plans to acquire any. MRC's ownership of Model Power is very recent, though. Just a couple of years. Before that, I don't know who made their stuff. The newer stuff could be much better or worse than the older.

I use an MRC Prodigy Wireless and love it. I've only dealt with tech support once, but it was painless. It's place of manufacture is of no concern to me -- my experience is that things made in China run the scale from brilliant and high quality to absolute junk. It's very easy to use. The handset is a little bigger than the NCze ones, but that allows a bigger display, more room between buttons, and a nice, beefy throttle knob instead of the delicate thumb wheel on the NCE handsets.

Their DC controllers are, of course, the gold standard for the smaller scales.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
But if they are made in China and there is an alternative made in the US, I think I would choose the alternative.
I tend to lean that way myself, always preferring to buy American when I can. (Not that we produce much these days) If the NCE were made in China this would be a no-brainer...my practical side can't ignore the specs.
Thanks for your thoughts guys. I'll mull it over and keep my fingers crossed the Bachmann unit lasts until I can decide.
 

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Overall I like the NCE Powercab, but it has its shortcomings.

The display is too small. I want to see all functions that are turned on and not have to guess if I re-pressed that to reset it for the next use, and without having to use the expansion screen that takes me off of the main screen.

The plastic mechanical thumbwheel is crap and so is the decoder attached to it. The mount for the wheel will crack under repeated moderate use and then your wheel falls into the case. This has not happened to mine, but the encoder is glitchy at best. I don't use it at all.

There needs to be made available either in the set or at extra cost, a coiled cord for use with the stand-alone hand-held unit. Who needs nine feet of flat cat 5 cable hanging in the way of everything? What if telephone handsets were connected this way 40 years ago? What were these people thinking?
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Michael thank you for that....I know the subject's been debated ad nauseum but the answer's always "Mines great buy it!" rather than an honest opinion of any shortcomings.

Your comment about the cord is something that isn't mentioned in the Powercab's sales literature. It may not be an issue with my tiny layout but I can see where that would cause problems on anything larger. They could have at least made it retractable!
 

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I have 2 of the MRC prodigy advanced systems and I think they are wonderful. I hade a digitrax Zephyr and it was way too complicated to use. However if I were building a giant basement empire with automation and signaling, then Digitrtax is the only option. I do have an NCE Power Cab and its much easier to use than the Digitrax however, its still complicated for the inexperieced and requires a fairly high learning curve. If I were runing a good sized layout but not a giant, id use the NCE due to its upgradeabilty and numerous other options. Now the MRC systems I have, they are simple, straigh forward, intutive and very well designed. I recommend the MRC system to anyone who is just getting into DCC and all they want to do is run trains. The system is so easy to use, the instructions are printed on the back of the handheld. The biggest thing i see people do when they buy a DCC system is to worry about all the things they think they want to do. In all actuality, most people just want to run trains and they want to get there in the fastest and easist possible manner, MRC does this. When getting into DCC, there is a lot of work to do and even more things to learn. The Prodigy Advanced system allows peopel to hook it up and get to runnign trains immedaitly and its just stupidly simple to use. That way, the newly initiated can spend time enjoying the trains and learning aboput the decoder and how to use them and program them. By taking away all of the nonsense involved in learning the intricacies of the more complicated sytems, people who dont have a ton of experience with DCC wont get discouraged and will have much more fun thus priming them for a future in DCC
 
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There is nothing complicated about the Powercab. Hook up two wires, call up the loco address and off you go. How difficult is that?
 

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As long as you dont have to do anything except enter the address and drive the train
 

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I also have the ESU ECOS system, that thing is bada**
 

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I have an MRC transformer made in the 50s. It lists the address of MRC as Brooklyn 26, NY. As a stupid kid, I recall running a thin wire between the fuse terminals, shorting the power terminals and watching the wire start to glow. The transformer still works quite well. I guess that speaks to them being bulletproof. But if they are made in China and there is an alternative made in the US, I think I would choose the alternative.
They all have circuit breakers...NCE DCC included, and v e r y fast.. An analog DC controller is called a power pack. Transformer is for AC ...
 

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I also have the ESU ECOS system, that thing is bada**
I bought a Bachmann Dynamis for my son's layout, which is essentially the same thing (or was when we bought it). We hated it. Way too many steps to do simple things. Sold it on eBay and got another MRC unit.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have 2 of the MRC prodigy advanced systems and I think they are wonderful. I hade a digitrax Zephyr and it was way too complicated to use. However if I were building a giant basement empire with automation and signaling, then Digitrtax is the only option. I do have an NCE Power Cab and its much easier to use than the Digitrax however, its still complicated for the inexperieced and requires a fairly high learning curve. If I were runing a good sized layout but not a giant, id use the NCE due to its upgradeabilty and numerous other options. Now the MRC systems I have, they are simple, straigh forward, intutive and very well designed. I recommend the MRC system to anyone who is just getting into DCC and all they want to do is run trains. The system is so easy to use, the instructions are printed on the back of the handheld. The biggest thing i see people do when they buy a DCC system is to worry about all the things they think they want to do. In all actuality, most people just want to run trains and they want to get there in the fastest and easist possible manner, MRC does this. When getting into DCC, there is a lot of work to do and even more things to learn. The Prodigy Advanced system allows peopel to hook it up and get to runnign trains immedaitly and its just stupidly simple to use. That way, the newly initiated can spend time enjoying the trains and learning aboput the decoder and how to use them and program them. By taking away all of the nonsense involved in learning the intricacies of the more complicated sytems, people who dont have a ton of experience with DCC wont get discouraged and will have much more fun thus priming them for a future in DCC
Not that I'm interested in automation but I was under the impression any of these systems could support functions beyond just running trains...is that not the case? To be honest I haven't really looked at Digitrax much, only because I'd prefer a handheld unit over one that has to take up valuable table/bench/layout space. They're not out of the running, just need to do a little more research.

I'll admit I'm still leaning toward the MRC but for two things: First, the idea of wireless greatly appeals to me, but it turns out MRC's wireless option only allows for control via your phone or tablet which is a no-go for me. I get a lot of calls, texts, and notifications and I don't want to deal with any of that during any "leisure" time.
Second, the Bmann box finally gave up the ghost so I replaced it with a Railpower 1300 and man does the knob on that thing feel cheap. Not at all what I'm used to from MRC, although it works fine.
 

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They all do more than just run trains. What I found when I used to sell a lot of DCC systems was that people would get hung up on all the things they thought they wanted to do and pick a DCC system was more towards their end game than thier starting point. Then when I would see them 6 months or more later, most of them had lost interest in DCC because it was just too complicated. Theuy spent more time messing around with the DCC systems than they did runnig trains and they lost interest. It setting yourself up for success, dont try to eat the DCC meal all in one sitting. take it in small bites. You really want to enjoy the features and options in the trains, not learn the vastly complicated arena of the DCC system. The MRC system is so easy to use that youll soon be having fun runnig your trains and enjoying the sounds and featrues of the locos as well as programming on the main and all that other fun stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks BLG, I appreciate the advice. Thing is I'm cheap so I generally don't like buying twice. I did finally slog through the manuals for units from the big 3 and none seem overly complex to me, although it was sure hard staying awake.
Still leaning toward MRC, just waiting for it to come back in stock.
 

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I’ve got an NCE PowerCab and an MRC Produgy Advsnced squares for sale if you’re interested
 

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I'll admit I'm still leaning toward the MRC but for two things: First, the idea of wireless greatly appeals to me, but it turns out MRC's wireless option only allows for control via your phone or tablet which is a no-go for me. I get a lot of calls, texts, and notifications and I don't want to deal with any of that during any "leisure" time.
Nope. You've definitely misunderstood the offerings.

MRC makes two different versions: the MRC Prodigy Advance Wireless (MRC 0001416), which uses a dedicated MRC cab (hand unit) to control trains, just like all the wired versions, and the Prodigy WiFi (MRC 0001424), which uses a smartphone or tablet.

Another important distinction: the WiFi version uses ANY phone or tablet that has Wifi capability. You can use any old phone you have lying around, provided you can connect to the internet to download the app. You can also buy obsolescent models very cheaply. My problem with the smartphone or tablet is the awkward ergonomics, the lack of tactile feedback, and the difficulty of making fine adjustments on a touch screen.
 
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