Review Hornby Elite
I did this review when the Elite first came out, since then there has been another firmware update it is now at V1.2
So some things will have been changed from my initial review I will try and highlight these as I go along....I don't have the Elite anymore so can't confirm what has or hasn't been fixed.
To start with, I have been using the NCE PowerCab for quite sometime and it is a fully featured system and very easy to use but, I wanted to try a console type system and until the Hornby Elite became available there was nothing in this price range.
It really does pay to try as many systems as you can before you buy.
Yes the ECoS was out there, along with it's price, and I just can't afford that sort of system, and most of what that can do would be wasted on my layout.
When you get the Elite it only has 1 pair of wires to connect to the track, bit of let down really as you will need 2 pairs of wires, one pair for the main track and one pair for the program track.
You have to put the loco on the program track to program the address, so you can't do a lot without wires to connect it to a program track.
The instruction manual I found very clear and easy to follow, there are menues and by selecting the menu you will be presented with sub-menues.
These are all selected by pressing down on the control Knob 1 or 2 doesn't matter when in general programming.
The following menu chart makes things easier to find.
So to program a loco?
Very easy, it's just a matter of pressing the Menu button down the side of the screen to access the menu, by pressing control knob 1 or 2 will confirm your selections.
When running the loco, the top left hand of the display will highlight with TRAIN, when you enter a program mode this will stay lit but next to it another highlight will appear SETUP.
When you program an accessory then the TRAIN highlight will go out and ACC will light on the top right hand of the display.
The Control knobs turn very easily, but you can feel notches as they turn, all buttons and the control knobs do give a satisfying click when pressed not like some, when you have to wonder if you've pressed it or not!
The two pics show control 1 and control 2 identified by the number top right hand of the screen.
To switch between the two control knobs you just turn the one you want to control, which ever you turn becomes the active one, very simple.
I programmed controller 1 with a loco and set that off on it's way, did the same with controller 2.
I then just pressed loco entered another address and controlled that 3rd loco in a siding all very easy.
From the manual.
"The Elite can hold 254 locomotives in memory. At any one time the Elite can in theory have running(providing power is available) or on standby 64 locomotives, if you call up a 65th loco, one of the previous 64 will be removed."
By going into a menu you can also not only use an address but also name the loco as well as shown in the photo, TREMATON, which is Trematon Castle (will only fit Trematon.)
To enter the letters it's a little like text messaging just press the number keys until the letter you want is displayed. If you rotate control knob 2 though you do get some other symbols appear and lower case.
There are loads of features that are available and all are easily accessed using the function buttons and confirming with the control knobs.
The Elite has been designed with the newcomer in mind, but will also enable experienced users to make the most of the CV settings.
Take for instance the start up voltage, in the menu you can select START V and enter a value upto 255, (this depends on the decoder used and if it can be adjusted)
This will then program CV2 with the value you have selected.
CV2 is the start voltage, which you can also change in the direct programming mode.
Programming an accessory decoder is much the same as programming a train, it will also allow you to name the accessory, such as POINT1, POINT 2 etc, very useful!
This shows the accessory address, top right hand corner shows ACC so you know it's an accessory address.Once an address is selected, to change the point you just press the control knob. Press it will go one way and the direction arrow will change, pess it again it will go the other way and the direction arrow will change back.
The functions are one area that could be improved, you have to press function then select the function number which turns the function on.
To select another function you have to press funtion and select the new function number which turns that new function on.
So you select function 1 then select function 2, both are now on.
You can quickly switch off the last function, in this case 2 by using the on/off button.
To switch off function 1 however you have to press function , then number 1 to make it the last programmed function.
Also I have found that when you switch on a function for controller 2 it automatically switches it on for controller 1.
This bug has been fixed so that each controller turns on it's own functions, you still need all the buttion presses to operate function though
A little bit of firmware tweaking needed there, yes it works but it's a bit long winded, it would be nice as well to select if a function is a quick on off pulse or permanently on, for using bells and whistles.
Control 1 and 2 showing at the bottom are functions 1 and 2 which have been switched on for each controller.
A nice feature is the control knobs, turn them slow and the segments in the centre, where the RED ARC is take forever to black out, turn the contol knob quick and they black out quicker!
The start up direction has been changed along with the way the segements fill in on the new firmware
So it's for beginners?
Well no, not really it's also aimed at the more experienced user as well, all the CV values can be read and written to depending on the decoder used of course.
You also have DIRECT, PAGED, REGISTER and OPERATE(on the main) programming modes.
I did have an issue programming CV29 using a ESU Loksound decoder in DIRECT mode, it wouldn't read back the correct value I had entered.
I then used PAGED mode all ok, it does actually say that in the decoder manual though.
The Digitrax DZ123 was fine in direct mode, for both reading and writing values.
CV 29 read showing a value of 35.
I believe this has been sorted in the V1.2 firmware
I have also programmed my two SMD82 accessory decoders, which are programmed by CV's
I use these as they can be programmed to give routes, something the Elite can't do, to be fair a few systems can't program routes either.
It's nice to know though that by using the Elite with the SMD82 routes are possible.
I have had some strange things happen such as changing direction on the main or on the program track.
Lost complete control of the loco, it was like it wasn't there.
I found that in the CONFIG menu there is a setting for EXTENDED address, as I use 4 digit addressing I thought I had set this but have found when you turn the power off it resets to SHORT, which confuses the system.
This may have been fixed in the latest firmware update(V1.2)
Another firmware tweak! which I have to say is a very easy process.
Download the new firmware from Hornby connect up the Elite to the PC with a standard USB cable and follow instructions. New firmware installed.
Yep that easy I've already done it. The Elites come with version 1, I have updated mine to V1.1
I would recommend this system, for a good console type controller.
Two control knobs makes it easy to control two locos
3 amps to the track 1 amp for accessories.
Very easy to update firmware, at present they are also free!
Alpha Numeric display use name and address your locos.
Naming points, nice if you need to double check which one your going to operate.
Seperate output for program track.
Built in PC interface, works with RR&CO and Rocrail
Function control very long winded with too many button presses.
Looks a little bit plasticky.
Not as intuitive as some of the other systems.
Too expensive, compared to the competition.
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