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entry 11 Dec 2013, 01:23
God, it's an ugly interface. But it works well enough for my needs, and at 68 from Hattons (including eLink) it's given me a working mimic diagram, track programming, the ability to read and write CV values (although I haven't tried that out) and to program sequences of loco movements. And it gave me a use for an old laptop that I was otherwise going to get rid of; it's not fast enough for today's gaming requirements (hence my teenage son didn't want it!), but it is more than capable of running my railway!

Since my last blog entry over a year ago, I have actually laid all the (code 100) track and wired it up. Every track section has dropper wires tied into a DCC power bus. The eight turnouts (all Peco medium radius electrofrog) were all modified by isolating the frogs and soldering bridging wires between the stock rails and the adjacent switch rails. Turnout switching is by means of SEEP PM1 solenoids, the wiper switches of which change the frog polarities. The PM1s are fired by Hornby R8247 accessory decoders (which operate four solenoids each; hence two decoders), controlled either by RailMaster/eLink, or my old Hornby Select controller. The 8247s apparently incorporate CDUs (although that isn't obvious from the documentation) but you do have to leave a second or so between firing solenoids, to allow it to re-charge; it's no great hardship.

I run eight points and eight locos (not all at once, of course) using a single 1 A supply and have had no problems to date. I do have a more powerful old laptop power supply if necessary (the Hornby 4A supply is about 40, I think).

The only real problem I had with the electrics was in fitting the PM1s; there was a lot of trial and error in getting them at right angles to the point when fitting from below. Also, the actuator rods are extremely hard and, when snipped with side cutters, can become detached from the solenoid, I found.

As far as RailMaster goes, it works fine - except that, for some reason known only to Hornby, it reads decoder numbers three less than their true values (I think this has been mentioned on other forums). For example, using the Select controller I programmed the ports of the first accessory decoder as 60, 61, 62, 63 and the second as 64, 65, 66, 67. But RailMaster sees them as 57, 58, 58, 60 and 61, 62, 63, 64. Thank goodness for Google - Hornby hadn't mentioned this in the errata. I would have gone mad otherwise, trying to figure out why seemingly random turnouts were firing when I made commands from RailMaster!

The only thing that has been truly disappointing - and which I'm going to complain to Hornby about - is the mobile application. I paid 9.99 to enable my Galaxy S2 as a remote throttle (mobile devices can connect to a PC running RailMaster across a WiFi network, if you're not familiar with it) and, although it loads my loco list, it then loses connectivity (despite a strong WiFi signal). No amount of jiggery pokery with port numbers seems to lead to stable operation.

If Hornby fixed that, they would be on to a winner. I know there are more sophisticated DCC systems on the market, but at half the price of a loco you can't go too far wrong. That said, it should all work "out of the box" - especially if someone wants to get a train set up and running from scratch on Christmas Day.

And please, Hornby, get someone to re-skin RailMaster. It looks like a throwback to the 1980s (and not in a good way). I mean, haven't you seen how graphically slick modern applications are?

On the scenic side, I've now started track ballasting, but my next major job is to build (economically!) about eight feet of retaining walls. I tried gluing Slater's Plastikard brick sheet to foamboard (using the Scalescenes retaining wall pattern), but the whole thing has warped. So I'm going to try again with 3 mm MDF...

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post 25 Feb 2014, 12:56
Comment #1


Group: Members
Posts: 57
Joined: 7-April 12
From: Sunshine Coast, Qld
Member No.: 12,433


I am interested in the Hornby Railmaster and was wondering how yours was going now that you have had it operating for for a couple of months.

Are you still having problems with the Wifi link?


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