The Prodigy system has been on the market for over ten years and in that time lots of additional features and functions have been added to it. When Gaugemaster first released the Prodigy for the UK market in 2007 it immediately became a hit with railway modellers in HO, OO and N scale.
There are now multiple different Prodigy systems available and all of them have their own unique features to help modellers control their railways – from beginners to the most complex layout. In this article we will look at all the key features of the different systems.
DCC01 Prodigy Express
The DCC01 Prodigy Express is an entry level DCC controller which gives the user an easy ‘way-in’ to the world of Digital Control. The handset (which is the same size and shape as the other Prodigy handsets) is very easy to use and can be used in a single hand. This system will allow the user to easily select locomotives and activate their functions. Although it has no capacity to run accessories such as points, it is the ideal starting point for both beginners and advanced modellers. Adding an additional DCC14 Prodigy Handset will unlock extra functions and point control.
The power supply for the Express system is rated at 2.1 amps which is ideal for controlling between 1 and 5 locomotives at once on smaller “home” layouts.
DCC02 Prodigy Advance
The DCC02 is the “bigger brother” of the Prodigy Express system and not only can it control locomotives it also has the functionality to control points and other accessory such as signals and lighting.
One of the main features of the Advance system is the route setting function, which allows multiple turnout motors to be set up in a group so that only one button needs to be pressed for them to operate. For example, if you had a four road station leading in from a single line rather than setting all the turnouts manually (Accessory 1, Accessory 2, Accessory 3 etc.) you can group the all into the platform numbers so that Route 1 could operate the correct turnouts to access Platform 1, Route 2 could operate the correct turnouts for Platform 2 and so on.
Another key feature of the Advance system is the ability to customise the handset to suit your own needs. For example, the rotary dial can be changed from continuous increasing and decreasing speed to a "centre off" mode, which is ideal for shunting layouts. The handset can also handle double heading, which gives the user the option to use two locomotives in a consist whilst keeping their decoder numbers separate, avoiding any unnecessary decoder programming.
Larger than the Express, the power output of the Advance is rated at 3.5 amps which gives the user a lot more power to play with than the Express, which means more locomotives running at any one time.
The DCC04 system shares all the same characteristics as the Advance system with one key additional feature – a wirelessly controlled handset. The Prodigy Wireless has a plug-in dongle included in the set which is attached to the main base unit. This allows you to walk away from the layout and not be tethered to one spot, giving you more flexibility in control.
DCC05 Prodigy WiFi
The DCC05 Prodigy WiFi unit is one of the newest items to be added to the Prodigy range of control systems. This module allows you to use a mobile device such as a tablet or mobile phone to control the railway. It can be easily installed and integrated into an existing system which means no complex wiring or setting up, just plug and play. It requires a software download onto the intended mobile device and can be used on both Android or Apple systems.
Prodigy WiFi can operate locomotives, turnouts and other accessories at the swipe of a screen which makes it popular with both beginners and advanced modellers. It also allows you to operate functions on locomotives and even customise them on the screen to your own preference. This module can run locomotives but not program them, so a handset will be still be required for this part. Click these links for articles on how to use the Prodigy WiFi on Apple/iOS, or Android systems.
The DCC05 can be purchased as a DCC06 Prodigy Express WiFi Starter Package