I have finallt taken the pluge and made the first step of transitioning from Zero 1, which I have successfully used for 25 years to Hornby DCC. I have started with the Select unit, and am anxiously waiting for the Elite unit which I am told from shops in the UK will be available in March. (Does anyone know why the delay, here in Oz, we heard software was still being validated in November)
I have been reading a great deal about the DCC deal and took a long time to decide which system to buy. Firstly, let me say I have a large layout, 8m by 5m, with 6 circuits and around 40 locos. There are 4 huge circuits on the lower level, two on the upper. The Zero One had no problem whatsoever powering all four lower level tracks, with only two wires connected - period. No droppers, power bus etc. And all circuit connections are made using Zero One point de-isolated clips.
I received my Select unit, installed a couple of decoders, and within 1 hourm had my upper tracks running DCC. Fantastic start. But it got better. Once I had completed installing decoders in 18 locos, I could not resist seeing how many the Select unit could run - being almost certain after all that I had read that it would barely run 4 locos and would struggle on the four lower circuits of my layout. Well, I removed the remaining Zero One equiped locos, used the two wire feed to the Select, and guess what? It ran 8 locos with no issues whatsoever! These included 4 Hornby, 2 Bachmann, 2 Heljans. Not bad for £39!
Last week, I visited an 'expert DCC' chap here in Adelaide - he has been using Lenz for over 10 years and has just bought the ESU all singing all dancing unit. His equipment was extremely impressive, but I have to tell you, he was amazed at the ease of use of the Select and it's features. There are a fwe things which I think Hornby should have done recognising this would have added some cost, but would have made for better system utilisation:
(i) 3 digit display, and whilst keeping the memory to 60 trains/40 points, have the ability when hooked by to the Elite to be assigned any of the 255 locos
(ii) When using the emergency stop, be able to re start things as they were - like Zero 1, and in fact, the same as what the Select does if there is a short circuit
I have researched all the major systems, and really loved the ZTC - but it is not supported here in Australia, and when I really considered my needs, decided against it.
What's the plan then? Well, another Select unit is on it's way and once it arrives, the Zero 1 will be used just for colour light signals and some points. Then it's an 'impatient' wait for the Elite unit, so I will be able to constantly have control over 4 locos, and then another Select to be used as a walkabout.
Of course, the really big thing to get into is the sound and lighting. I think the whole DCC thing makes you re-think what you want - in hindsight, I do not need 40 locos - proabably need 20, all sound equipped, all with lights etc - but this will not happen! Variety is the spice of life! But I think, 6 or so sound chips, including at least 2 for the steam engines which make guest appearances, and coach lighting as I love night time operation.
I have no intention of running droppers etc - if the Select unit can already handle what it has shown with 1 amp, the 3 amps of the Elite should cover sound requirements as well - where I may require a booster is when the coach lights are added, and oomph is needed to run the electric points. Comments are welcome!