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DT
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I've been looking at the info on Hornby Digital with interest. Remember we talked about wether Hornby may use an old technology or borrow technology from other manufacturers. It has been confirmed by Honby that they have developed this system from the ground up and that they have not used the Arnold DCC system as a starting point.



The Hornby Digital Elite (above left) and Select (above right) are two very simple systems that can manage the basic DCC needs of most modelers. They are aiming at entry level and conversion modelers. It would make a lot of sense to pick up a Select unit with a set and then add an Elite unit for advanced programming and extended control.

Perhaps later they will bring out other units - I would like to see wireless cab control, dedicated point switch keyboards and feedback modules.

Power will be a big issue. Extra transformers and the available power of the Elite unit will be hot topics. Interesting to see the the unites take DC power. DCC is a form of AC so usually the transformers are AC. We'll have to wait a few weeks for more specs.



It will be interesting to see what they propose to supply as a PC control suite. I hope they keep it simple, but allow it to grow and develop. Some existing PC control systems suffer from developer burn out and a lack of support.

The prices for the digital componants are great. Not at all overpriced - sending a signal to those other companies to get real or get out.

On Track's prices:


DCC System
[TD]

226R8213 DCC Basic Unit - "Select"
[TD]
£50.00

226R8214 DCC Senior Unit - "Elite"
[TD]
£99.93

226R8215 Loco Decoder
[TD]
£9.33

226R8216 Point Decoder
[TD]
£26.00

We can look forward to more news on this system in the next month or two.
 

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This is what Hornby say about the Select Digital Control Unit:-

QUOTE Capable of controlling up to 60 locomotives and 40 accessories, the Hornby Select digital controller is the perfect way to enter the digital world of model railways. the Hornby Select digital controller is the perfect way to enter the digital world of model railways. Each locomotive can be coded with up to 99 levels of acceleration or deceleration speed (inertia). The LCD display screen of the Select shows the number of the loco or accessory which has been selected. Power is through a standard wall mounted transformer which supplies 1 amp 15V DC power to the track; a larger 4 amp transformer is available which will provide additional power to the track for more locomotives to be run at the same time.

And about the Elite Digital Control Unit:-

QUOTE For those who wish to take their train control to a new and advanced level, the Hornby Elite is the ideal companion. Capable of answering the needs of most railway layouts, this advanced unit with twin control and wide function LCD screen can carry 255 registered locomotive addresses and the same number of accessories, plus a USB portal for linking to a personal computer. Once inputted and assigned, the unit will also display the names and running numbers of locomotives, as well as train direction, speed and function indicators. A clock is also included on the display which can be set to real time or up to 10x faster. The Elite is supplied with a 4 amp transformer which is capable of providing enough power to run approximately eight locomotives at any one time.

There is more info on the Hornby website.

The display has a real time clock which can be accelerated permitting timetables to be created. Only a small thing but interesting. Train speed is shown also. For modellers not used to observing the actual speed a train is going it might come as something of a shock how fast they have actually been operating! The inertia function should not be overlooked. Proper acceleration and braking so that you feel that you are "driving" the train. Some of this may be old hat to those who already have fully featured systems but to have this sort of thing available in a unit for under £100 is a bonus.

The 4amp transformer is part of the package with the £99 Elite unit. The £50 Select unit has a 1amp transformer supplied with a port that can take the 4 amp transformer if required. Hornby claim that 4amps is sufficient to run 8 locomotives at the same time. Now setting aside locomotives parked up in sidings or in a fiddle yard I wonder what proportion of home modellers would actually have 8 locomotives running at the same time? Power is needed to operate accessories such as sound and smoke and lighting and this is one reason why you may need increased power.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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DT
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Hornby have said that their 4-function decoders will support 99 levels of inertia.

That means acceleration momentum (CV3) and braking momentum (CV4).

They must - If I'm going to use them - have minimum (CV2) maximum (CV5) and mid-point (CV6) speed values OR use a speed table (CV67 to CV94), enabled with CV29.
 

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Doug, any chance you can get me sufficient details to add the systems to the comparison table?
Shall have a hunt around anyway, but if you just happen to have all the details on hand...

On the subject of decoders, I'd put money on their decoders having Vstart CV2, as this is a recomended practice along with CV3 & CV4, Vhigh CV5 & Vmid CV6 are only optional practices at present, but finding a decoder without these is quite hard to do these days so it would make sense for Hornby to include them if they want their decoders to be competitive among the masses. Personally I'm all for loadable speed tables, however don't forget kickstart CV65, Forward Trim CV66, and Reverse Trim CV95 which allows for differant performance characteristics in each direction.

Hornby's use of a DC input voltage is interesting, but could in fact be part of what is keeping the price down, it is generally easier to create a false AC wave form from a DC input than it is to vary a preset AC form. Although some systems rectify the AC form soon after it enters the Command station then encode the DC into a false AC wave form, much as Hornby have done. Hornby's method makes use of DC power packs and as such results in less components in the Command Station, not much I grant you but you'd be suprised what differance 1 (or in this case probably 4) less component/s on a circuit can make to the end price. It's just a shame they got cheap and chose XpressNet for their Comunications protocol, heavily limiting the expandability and functionality of their system, of course there's pro's and con's to it, so it's cheaper but not future proof.
 

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Interesting to note the use of 15V DC power - this makes the DCC system start off with the same volts, but lower current, than Hornby's Live Steam system. Regarding the latter, although the power supply is referred to as a 'transformer' it is actually a switched-mode power supply to save weight and cost over a large torodial transformer. (Admitted by Hornby when I asked them about the power supply.) So one day might we see 'trad' 12V locos running under DCC control on the same tracks as the 'Live steam' locos?

Regards,
John Webb
 

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It's not stated either if the output voltage on the Elite is variable. This is common on most high end systems. Lack of variable voltage will limit application ruling out small scale application.

QUOTE It's just a shame they got cheap and chose XpressNet for their Comunications protocol, heavily limiting the expandability and functionality of their system, of course there's pro's and con's to it, so it's cheaper but not future proof.

Although I'm using Digitrax & Loconet I'm suprised, what exactly do you see as the limitation of XpressNet then Lisa ?. I thought that Lenz et al were now peddling a fully expandable sytem.
 

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QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 3 Jan 2006, 20:02)Although I'm using Digitrax & Loconet I'm suprised, what exactly do you see as the limitation of XpressNet then Lisa ?. I thought that Lenz et al were now peddling a fully expandable sytem.
The simple fact that they rewrite the protocols everytime it's found lacking (remember X-bus, X-bus2, XpressNet, which is now on it's second upgrade) says it all I believe, it is expandable, within limitations and everytime those limitations are reached they rewrite the protocols and send out software upgrades, if your into constant upgrades then go for it. A system that has limitations which it's own designers say they just happened to want to include sounds suspect to me, if XpressNet is as good as they say it is why do they have to limit the number of devices connected to it? And then try to tell everyone that they don't have to put that limit in place, but they thought it was a good idea? hmm, sounds a bit fishy to me!

You know what they say... It does what it says on the tin, only problem is it doesn't come in a tin!
 

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Let us remember that Hornby Digital is priced up as an entry system and the typical customer may not have a clue what this is all about and more than likely will never go beyond the base system anyway.

So the Xpressnet feature is a nice to have but not a must have and its good that Hornby have decided to offer something. It does allow those who want to experiment outside the box to do so but how many will?

How about looking at the other basic features which entry level customers are more likely to use from day one.

Trust is a key word in the hobby industry among enthusiasts and certainly in the UK its something that Hornby has earned among its customers over a number of years. For that reason hobbyists may decide to move to digital if for no other reason other than Hornby have offered a system.

Lets nurture those with a new interest rather than put them off with a highly technical discussion!


Is this a reasonable request to make?


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 4 Jan 2006, 10:28)For that reason hobbyists may decide to move to digital if for no other reason other than Hornby have offered a system.

Lets nurture those with a new interest rather than put them off with a highly technical discussion!


Is this a reasonable request to make?


Happy modelling
Gary
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well said Gary.

As a newbie myself, still using the basic Hornby set controller
, I am now considering moving to DCC, instead of a good quality analogue controller.

I can say without doubt, this has only come about because of the proposed new Hornby DCC systems. The fact that Hornby is embracing this technology gives me a comfortable, warm feeling, coupled with the mainly 'positive' preliminary reviews by members here and on other boards.

Before this Hornby announcement, I was intersted in DCC but couldn't really be bothered to do research and compare different systems, so just left it at that.

Surely the Hornby 'Elite' system will cater for most 'moderate' layouts will it? I mean Hornby have had several years to cherry pick the best bits of other systems, and listen to critics of other systems.

When this discussion about expressnet arose, it got me wondering whether I should research the subject further. Now knowing it is only 1 feature of the system, and I probably will never use it, I feel comfortable again.


I think Hornby have got it absolutely spot on. A choice of systems for the absolute beginner (to draw people in), or the elite system for a bit more functionality. I am an absolute beginner but fancy the elite system anyways.

I also hope that the highly technical discussion about the 1 feature that is expressnet doesn't put people off. (like it very nearly did myself)


Paul
 

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If you think you'll never use XpressNet you'll be sorely dissapointed, as soon as you apply power to the unit you are using XpressNet.

The idea that 'it's Hornby so it must be good' seems to me to be more of a problem than a solution, it's a bit like buying a pair of shoes just because they're Nike's or Reeboks, if the shoes don't fit it doesn't matter how popular the brand is. This is nothing against Hornby, as indeed some of their products are quite good, but buying something simply because it is a certain brand will not get you the best results.
Incidently if you want to talk trusted brands then for DCC that's Digitrax, Lenz, NCE, and perhaps Zimo (alphabetical order BTW), these are the brands which have the well deserved reputation of being the best in the business.

As numurous people have said before you need to buy the system that has the features and functionality you want, look around and compare, if you find Hornby's system is ideal for you then by all means buy it, if not then don't buy it just because it's Hornby, if it doesn't do what you want then it is about as usefull as that pair of Nike's that don't fit!
 

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As someone giving VERY serious consideration to digital control, I clearly have a 'new interest'. The very last thing I want is for intelligent and informative discussion to be stifled under the guise of 'nurturing'. Good, bad or indifferent, we need to know the facts.

'Trust' is built on real world experience as opposed to blind faith in a name - any name. When any manufacturer introduces a product that is new to that manufacturer, it would be most unwise for uninformed newcomers to buy on the basis of blind faith. If people don't choose to read critical facts, that is certainly their right. But let us not rob them of their ability to choose by depriving them of the opportunity to do so.

Before spending my money on anything, I NEED to be in a position to make intelligent and informed decisions that are soundly based on what that product can actually do for me. It is even more important that I know for certain what it CANNOT do! Frankly, the purchase cost remains wholly irrelevant until I can assemble that essential performance information. If it cannot do what I need it to do, no matter how low the price, it is still money straight down the toilet.

This topic discusses a brand new Hornby control system and I would much prefer to discuss that system's significant pros and cons right here. It would be the opposite of helpful to be diverted to another topic and have to shuttle back and forth trying to tie complex information together from several sources if it can be achieved in one.

A specific case in point here is a possible limitation on the number of units that the
new Hornby system can address. It's clear from previous posts that some confusion exists. That single factor is so critical that a system purchase choice can stand or fall upon that alone. I, for one, can't afford to make expensive mistakes through lack of crucial data and I thank everyone who is taking the time to provide it here. It really is appreciated
 

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QUOTE Incidently if you want to talk trusted brands then for DCC that's Digitrax, Lenz, NCE, and perhaps Zimo (alphabetical order BTW), these are the brands which have the well deserved reputation of being the best in the business.

These are brands that a very, very high proportion of Hornby customers have not heard of with very little customer support in the UK.

QUOTE I, for one, can't afford to make expensive mistakes through lack of crucial data and I thank everyone who is taking the time to provide it here.

I don't understand the issue. The basic Hornby Digital unit is around £50 moving up to £99 with chips at under £10. It would be an expensive mistake it it was a £500 system but it is not. Lets get this into perspective. Its the cost of one locomotive and an introductory system.

It seems my plea has gone on deaf ears so there we are! Please carry on with your highly technical discussion rather than using your superior knowlege to advise us of the advantages of the Hornby Digital system over a current 12v DC Hornby analogue controller.

We are here to help beginners along such as Rail-Rider. Even he seems to be getting confused judging by the comments towards the end of his last post!

All I want is to be simply told what Hornby Digital will do for me. Forget the comparisons. There is another topic dedicated to comparisons pinned at the top of this DCC forum. This topic is dedicated to Hornby Digital.

Once I am clear in my own mind what Hornby Digital will do for me, then if I need something that will do more then I can start looking. I am sure that others here feel the same way.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Returning to the Hornby discussion. I'm sure the Elite will offer good value for money.
I think I would wait until I've seen one in the flesh and tied it out. What is good is it will spread the use of DCC to a much wider base. There isnt much cost difference between a Hornby H&M and an Elite ignoring of course the cost of Decoders.
Programming limitations can be overcome with the cost of decoder pro and an interface for the PC as I don't see this as a problem.
 

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It might be useful to remind ourselves what Hornby have officially said on their website. Are there any visitors who would like to know more about the list of features and benefits? Model Rail Forum may well be attending the official launch of Hornby Digital at the London Toy Fair and so we may be able to bring you further information later this month. I wonder if Hornby will have a demo that we can try out?:-

QUOTE Digital control from Hornby can allow the user to do following:

Multiple train control on all parts of a model railway layout with minimal wiring.
Independent control or double heading control.
Coaches with lights stay lit when the train is stationary.
Realistic train movement with each model able to be given level 1 to 99 inertia settings.
LED display shows at a glance what locomotive is under control and with the Hornby Elite even more info is available.
Locomotive decoders are simple to code and program.
The keyboard is straightforward to use making assigning a locomotive simplicity itself.
Point operation means fewer wires than with conventional control and no switches!
Facility on the Select for a larger power pack. More power means more trains running at one time!
Up to 8 locos can be run at one time on the Select.
Designed to be NMRA standard.
The Hornby Elite supports RailCom ID detection.
Both the Select and Elite will support 14, 28 and 128 speed steps.
The Select may also be used as a walkabout companion to the Elite.

Two questions from me really:-

1) What is RailCom ID detection?

2) What are the implications of being designed to be NMRA standard?

Those who may be looking at this area of Model Rail Forum for the first time may need some guidence here.

The typical user might be a father and son living in a small semi somewhere in Dudley in the Black Country with dad being a real ale drinker so simple answers in the style of Fred Dibnah would be appreciated!


Now they may not yet be typical Model Rail Forum members but we don't know that for sure do we! And if you are already members then welcome to the board!


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 4 Jan 2006, 13:42)Two questions from me really:-

1) What is RailCom ID detection?
Have a look at Loco Number Readback here for an explanation.
QUOTE 2) What are the implications of being designed to be NMRA standard?
Basically it means you can use decoders from any DCC manufacturer, not just Hornby.

As for Gary's list of features for Hornby's DCC system, all systems have these features. These are the basic standards and recomended practices for DCC, not just Hornby DCC.
 

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QUOTE These are brands that a very, very high proportion of Hornby customers have not heard of with very little customer support in the UK.
True - and so it might well remain were it not for free, informative discussion on independent boards such as this. Spreading knowledge is one of the board's primary functions. We should also remember that there are people here who are not already "Hornby customers" and want to know the pertinent facts.
Knowledge should be encouraged to grow and expand to the benefit of all, not be confined and constrained to a single customer base or one manufacturer.

QUOTE I don't understand the issue.
Sorry if I didn't already make it clear enough - I'll try again.

The 'issue' is that no matter how 'cheap' a system may appear to be, IF it has built-in limitations that prevent achievement of a customer's aims, it is money straight down the toilet. Informed discussion is a way to clarify this. It might not be an 'issue' at all, but a potential customer must be granted the right to know before buying.

The cheapest possible setup would appear to be a £50 base unit plus two £10 chips, totalling £70. That's on the reasonable assumption that it's pointless to go digital with only one locomotive. While individual budgets may vary considerably, most people would not be at all happy to discover they had wasted £70 on something that eventually proved to be unsuitable, some way down the line. Unfortunately, without benefit of informed knowledge, it would be quite possible for that limitation to remain concealed until considerably more than £70 were spent. That is why any potential limitations MUST be clearly known in advance.

It puzzles me why anyone might actively wish to be less than fully informed or advocate that others should be put in that position. A complete newcomer to digital would likely not have any idea of how to assess any system and the great value of a free discussion, such as this, is that it raises very important questions that newcomers would not even know they needed to ask.
 

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QUOTE As for Gary's list of features for Hornby's DCC system, all systems have these features. These are the basic standards and recomended practices for DCC, not just Hornby DCC.

The list is Hornby's list and its not strictly accurate to say all systems have these features. If we can turn the focus back to Hornby Digital and what it offers as this set up up will have been designed with the typical Hornby customer in mind. Remember that every Hornby Digital set will have a track mat included and it could be that many hobbyists start with the 6' x 4' Hornby track mat.

It is nice to know that Hornby Digital has adopted standards used globally.

QUOTE It puzzles me why anyone might actively wish to be less than fully informed or advocate that others should be put in that position. A complete newcomer to digital would likely not have any idea of how to assess any system and the great value of a free discussion, such as this, is that it raises very important questions that newcomers would not even know they needed to ask.

Information about Hornby Digital has only been released into the public domain.

To be blunt Hornby Digital will be offered in every Hornby stockist in the UK and this will very likely include Argos and other major national chains as well. Do you not feel that Hornby Digital merits its own discussion? It will almost certainly have the widest user base in the UK within 12 months of release. I would like every Hornby Digital user to join Model Rail Forum!


Hornby Digital will create a rub off effect and all digital companies who supply products within the UK will benefit. It will increase interest in digital and it will be mainstream which it has never before been in the UK. Once we have the 100,000 Hornby Digital users here as members then we can discuss the options for expansion. It seems a bit premature to do this even before Hornby Digital is available for sale!

Nobody is yet fully informed about Hornby Digital and yet a few here are already declaring that they speak for everybody and that nobody actually wants to learn more about Hornby Digital.

Is this the case. How do others feel?


I would prefer to keep it simple and look strictly at Hornby Digital in this thread.

If others wish to start a new thread in which comparisons are made then please do. I don't yet admit to being fully informed and simply want to learn more about Hornby Digital. And if I learn we all learn. Lets be ahead of the game with this!


Now to get back to the topic what will Hornby Digital do?


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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There has been a lot of technical talk on DCC on various forums, started really by Hornbys' announcement.

As a new dabbler in DCC and with a 2nd hand Lenz to start with , I have to say that I would still consider selling it and buying the Hornby system as it seems to have all I want.

What do I want as I am "Mr Average" ?. Basically the ability to drive trains , have lots of locos on my layout but be able to select one without affecting the others and drive it. Minimise my wiring and have the lights working on my superb Hornby Pullmans all the time. Now thats very basic and its what DCC does albeit with lots of other things as well.

I have never had a DC controller with Inertia or Braking for example and I suspect many other people in DC are the same, they want to turn the knob and drive the train.

My feeling is that the average person who will buy the new digital sets whether from Hornby or Bachmann won't want a whole lot more, but will be buying the option to do a whole lot more if they wish.

Having said that I do appreciate the technical information that is on this forum and it is often a help to novices like myself so keep it coming but please appreciate that lots of us will still only use a small proportion of DCCs' capabilities and still be exceptionally happy with it.
 

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To Gary and anyone else who is thinking of taking the lunge into DCC

There is a lot of technical garbage quoted on many Model Railway Forums which can and should be totally ignored. You buy the system that does the job you want done. If you have a train set style layout with 2 or 3 loops, perhaps a couple of sidings and 4 or 5 locos then the chioce is Bachmann or Hornby. If you need more functions then go to your local model railway shop and ask them to show you Lenz, Gaugemaster, Digitrax etc.

You don't need to know how electronic ignition and fuel injection work on a car before you buy one, only how many miles per gallon it does and how fast it goes.

Please don't be put off by the technical stuf just accept it works out of the box, is simple to install and cheap to buy.

Dave
 

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QUOTE ou don't need to know how electronic ignition and fuel injection work on a car before you buy one, only how many miles per gallon it does and how fast it goes.

Please don't be put off by the technical stuf just accept it works out of the box, is simple to install and cheap to buy.

I agree with this but only as long as you talk starter sets for the mass market. The really obvious advantage of DCC over DC in this market sector is you can improve the operation of the smaller layout, and satisfaction of the user. No more complex wiring
drive the loco anywhere without section breaks, who knows it might just attract some young new comers to the hobby. In this regard I think its great news for the hobby.
 
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