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Gaugemaster prodigy and Hornby decoders

9513 Views 51 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Oakydoke
After visiting my local model shop and talking to one of the owners about various bits and bobs he mentioned that the Prodigy had been withdrawn from sale as they had found an issue between it and the Hornby Decoders (issue not fault). Apparently the Hornby decoder frequency is out of the range of the prodigy and they are having to change a chip in the controllers to expand the frequency range of the dcc signal they use to enable it to work with the hornby chips.

Can anybody also in the trade confirm this as he has tried ordering one for a customer and they have been given a lead time of 2-3 weeks before they will be available again.

Maybe this could explain other issues we have seen with controllers and Hornby chips?

They are very well up on DCC by the way.

Thanks Darren
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There are a many decoders which do not have an NMRA conformance warrant. It is the Prodigy set up that appears to have the issue and this appears to have been recognised. There have been issues with other decoders and Prodigy in the USA and so this should come as nothing of a surprise to DCC experts. Gaugemaster know that if their console will not function with a Hornby decoder then they will reduce their potential UK sales considerably and they only have a licence for the UK.

I would guess that every console supplier to the UK market has by now tested the Hornby decoder with their system and as we have not heard from nearly any of them then it has functioned. Any console supplier who offers a console that will not drive a Hornby decoder is at a serious commercial disadvantage in the UK.

Therefore I am puzzled by the tone of one or two Model Rail Forum members but what is new.

Model Rail Forum has Digitrax console users yet none of them have yet tried out the Hornby decoder. How about trying out a Hornby decoder with your Digitrax consoles to give us all first hand experience with Digitrax?

Considering Digitrax users claim it is a fantastic system and one of the worlds top selling systems (and I have no doubt that this is the case) then it does seem a little odd that we have yet to have feedback from a UK Digitrax user!

QUOTE I have used the decoder with my Lenz system with mixed success, but without any full NMRA compliance/conformity, who can say if it will work with other DCC systems?

Hornby decoders do work with other DCC consoles. They work with my Bachmann console which has a conformance warrant and they work with ZTC and Lenz consoles and others as has been reported here and elesewhere. If a DCC console has a conformance warrant then the Hornby decoder will work as Hornby have indicated it has been designed with this in mind and apparently has been benchtested against the Lenz system.

Hornby have said their decoder has been designed to be NMRA compliant. Hornby have said it has yet to receive a conformance warrant.

Do you have to submit your decoder to the NMRA to be NMRA compliant?

Happy modelling
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QUOTE why should other makers have to change to suit hornby

They don't.

Why should other makers have to change to suit Marklin and German DCC?

Germany is the 3rd biggest economy in the world and the UK the 4th so the answer may be linked to this.

Hornby have implied during conversation that they have benchtested their products with Lenz who created the standard and that the Elite will function with Railroad software.

How do TCS, Digitrax, MRC. NCE and others get on with Lenz?

Is there a devide between European product and American product?

What we don't know is how many systems and decoders Hornby have sold relative to online feedback. It is human nature to report issues and to keep quiet if there are none. Also a large number of Hornby digital users may not be members of any forum and this is very likely. Yes there is a lot of forum chit chat about Hornby Digital and is this because they have sold a very large number of digital bits and bobs before Xmas? After all there are a lot of "sold out" messages.

Happy modelling
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A Digitrax representative has said this in the Digitrax faq section:-

QUOTE In general, DCC compatible decoders can be programmed from any DCC compatible command station. Programming compatibility problems do occur from time to time and for the most part, there are work-arounds available. These problems were caused because several different programming strategies are allowed by the NMRA RP's and not all of the strategies are supported by all systems. The RP's call for paged mode, direct mode and physical register mode. Digitrax uses paged mode as the preferred programming method so be sure decoders that you purchase support this method. If you experience programming problems, contact the DCC company for assistance.

The representative confirms that NMRA recommended practices are not compulsory and that it is the lack of support for recommended practices by systems that can lead to compatibility issues. It does seem slightly odd that the NMRA permit a choice of programming strategies.

Any reason for this?

Happy modelling
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Do you have a feeling that Hornby are victims of their own success?

Far from Hornby launching a system that nearly everybody here said would be limited in its use to Hornby customers it does seem that everybody in the wider DCC community is using Hornby product.

Has this take up taken Hornby by surprise I wonder?

If there is only one issue with one console (and it is yet to be determined where the issue lies) then you have to say that given that Hornby are the latest entrant to the world of DCC they have actually done pretty well!

No other company in the UK has stirred up DCC like Hornby and everybody is now talking DCC. Formerly it was a backwater subject among a small band of dedicated followers in the UK and now it is almost mainstream.

Happy modelling
Gaugemaster claim that the Prodigy conforms to a standard and yet the console and its MRC cousin is not on the NMRA list of products with conformance warrants.

What does conformance mean in these circumstances?

Gaugemaster do offer decoders for their product.

Do these decoders function with the Hornby Select console?

Ask ourselves why Gaugemaster Prodigy Console owners and other higher end console owners are purchasing and using Hornby decoders. Hornby must be offering something that DCC users want.

Hornby decoders are sold out at a large number of online stockists.

Its a bit silly to say that Hornby Digital has not been an instant hit with customers.

The only negative remarks here seem to eminate from folk who by their own admission are never going to use Hornby digital products and are basing their judgement on heresay and the comment of others who may have an agenda.

At least the Prodigy owner who raised the issue with his Hornby decoder and his Prodigy console had the balls to go out and buy the product! He has every right to comment and provide feedback.

How can your opinion count if you have not owned, used or tried the product?

There are Hornby Select owners who say that the console works remarkebly well and these comments are conveniently and routinely ignored. It could be that some of the reports are linked to owner inexperience with digital and DCC.

Model Rail Forum have reviewed Hornby decoders and they perform well for a budget decoder.

Click HERE to read the review.

If a Model Rail Forum member comes here to seek help lets use our experience to offer help and stick to that agenda rather than go off on any other.

Happy modelling

PS Warley MRC are having an open day on 11th February. A large O gauge Class 47 Loco with sound was being tested last night with the Digitrax DCC set up used on the O gauge layout. It sounded absolutely fanatastic as it cruised around the large layout. Those who visit on 11th February are in for a treat!
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Some interesting and fair comments and observations there Gordon. Many overlook the fact that the Hornby Select is a basic starter budget product and expect it do more than it or its accessories are capable of.

Still slightly confused on the conformance question. Are there two levels of NMRA testing as Gaugemaster claim conformance. Can a manufacturer claim this if they do not have a conformance warrant for the product?

Happy modelling
I'm not too sure what points you have made dbclass50 except to agree with the commonsense remarks of Gordon which anybody would have difficulty taking issue with.

Happy modelling
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