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Totally perplexed by dcs explorer

I recently purchased a dcs explorer from a forum member.  I have tried to use this as a control source for the FCC, Filing cabinet Central.   I am using a 260e with ps2.  The engine works fine at home on full dcs and conventionally at home and FCC. 

I am powered from a z750 brick.  The track is just two straight sections of gargraves. 

The explorer powers up fine, and I can link to it via the wifi on my phone.

Sometimes it finds the engine,  sometimes it doesn't.   I have refreshed the app, which of course dumped out the other loco I had in the software. 

When it does find the engine,  forward and reverse works,  but no sound, most of the time.   One time it behaved perfectly normal including the ability to play the pfa announcements.  Today I was eventually able to get it to find the engine,  start  it, and move it, but no whistle or bell, even after a factory reset. 

What the heck is the secret to getting this thing to work right? I am so frustrated with this thing I can't believe it is included in starter sets.  At the moment I think it's total junk, but I assume I am doing something wrong.

   Fyi the only thing I can think of that is out of the ordinary is that I am just using alligator clips for power to the rails.

Please someone tell me how to properly use the explorer.   Somehow kids who get starter sets can do this but I can't.

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