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Rechipped two of my Hornby steam locos with the improved R8215 4 function Hornby decoders. They now run as they should and control is very smooth and sweet unlike the previous version of this decoder in the same loco`s which ran very erratic and did strange things.

The improved decoder is in a different style bubble pack with Hornby International Branding for Lima/Jouef/ Riverossi & Electrotren along the bottom. If you look into the bubble pack you will see a red dot on the largest chip.

I am very keen on this type of decoder because I like its very small size and it fits into the boiler of my King Arthur Locos plus the price is very cheap.

If its reliability holds up it will enable me to use it on mass for my large loco fleet instead of the Bachmann 36-553 3 function decoder which although is very reliable is rather large and difficult to fit into steam loco`s making it mainly suitable for mass installation on my Diesel loco fleet..
 

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When you look at the history of DCC it is now over 20 years old. The Europeans were the first to embrace it quickly followed by the Americans. Since then it has progressively flowed around the world and is now (?) being embraced in the UK by the UK outline modeller thanks to Hornby now producing the "Hornby" DCC system.

Now I appreciate that people do like the least cost option and considering that DCC is now being pushed by the main supplier of UK outline, there will be a tendency for the UK outline modeller who has not used DCC before to utilise the Hornby product. But as a "new" manufacturer of DCC equipment, I would be reluctant to use their product as they really are offering nothing "new" and IMHO are taking DCC a step backwards.

At this stage, I would draw a parallel between Hornby's system and Fleischmans FMZ. Ultimately FMZ failed because there were better systems out there. Do not lose site of the fact Motorola has survived due to the dominance of the Marklin brand, not because it is necessarily the best system. Hornby do not have the same options as Marklin. It is to far into DCC's life cycle, for Hornby to dictate what a DCC system will be like.

People collect a fair number of locomotives over time, and it is somewhat off putting when first taking the plunge and looking at the cost of putting chips into locomotives. In my view it is better to sort out what locomotives you use regularly and chip them first with the best chip that is available in terms of your expectations. Marklin had a "cheap" system called Delta. Believe me it was rubbish, yet people purchased huge numbers of "delta" chip equipped locomotives.

My concern with Hornby is that locomotive sound is now what I would consider an established product, but Hornby have not produced a sound chip. To me this implies that they want everyone to chip there locomotives them in 5-10 years they will release sound chips, getting everyone to then re chip their locomotives.

IMHO if I was starting today, I would look at what I wanted in terms of locomotive performance before I spent any money no matter how little or how much. Given my personal choices, I would be reticent to purchase a chip from a "new" DCC manufacturer with no "new" features when for twice as much money I could get a better one from a more well established supplier. I don't consider the fuel usage as a new feature, it is in fact a gimmick.

John
 

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Whatever happens in the UK one thing is certain - Hornby will sell a huge amount of Hornby DCC equipment. It never ceases to amaze me when we attend exhibitions the amount of people that think of model railways as "Hornby" & are surprised to learn that there are other manufactures of UK OO model railways.

It may be that, although Hornby are now making the effort to produce DCC equipment that is truely compatable as regards NMRA standards it seems that they are still trying to be a little different (maybe to keep people tied to their equipment) with the gimmicky "fuel & water" feature. IMHO it really is a gimick, but it will almost certainly sell.

I will try out the new Hornby decoder - I'm not interested in the "fuel" feature, but it may be an option where space is tight.

FMZ did not fail as such, more a case that it did not become the market leader in DCC, don't forget that (to Fleischmann's credit) that it is still supported. Most of the people that I meet that use FMZ are "Fleischmann People" in much the same way that those that use Motorola are "Marklin People".

Johns quote of "It is too far into DCC's life cycle, for Hornby to dictate what a DCC system will be like" is very true & one wonders if the intention was to dictate & "lock" people into Hornby, if so, an error of judgement or lack of experience ?

Many people use the number of locomotives in their collection as a reason that DCC is not for them, due to the costs involved. Often people then do some housekeeping & get rid of indifferent runners & others that never get used for various reasons.

IMHO Hornby will only produce locomotives with factory fitted sound when they can do so at the price that will sell to their main market.

When it boils down to it many people who have no experience of DCC will go for the household name. You have to remember too, that there are many model shops out there that sell the household name but have no real knowledge of DCC at all. Is the household name holding any dealer courses ?

The next couple of years should be interesting for the world of DCC.
 

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Hi Brian,

What is interesting in the continental aside is that the "difference" in price between a sound and non sound locomotive is EUR50. Considering that Hornby have never before released DCC fitted locomotives, the extra GBP60-80 pounds it would cost Hornby to install one may put off some of their customer base. That being said, in 5 years time, it will not be DCC pre-chipped locomotives the UK outline modeller wants, it will be sound equipped locomotives.

To make DCC a success is to get it on the exhibition circuit.

Unfortunately like everywhere "Brand" modellers will always find something wrong with a new product unless their "brand" produces it.

Small world

John
 

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Hi Brian,

what´s with the "fuel and water"?

That having been said, it is interesting whether UK outline will go DCC in the future as well. Over on the continental market, there are many mainly German companies offering DCC equipment; Uhlenbrock, Tams, Lenz, Zimo and ESU just to name some.

As for me, I buy ESU decoders only, because I know how to program them and wouldn´t want to adapt to a different brand. One of my friends only uses Zimo for the same reason, another one Tams. Maybe Hornby can get its market share the same way, by providing a well-documented decoder that has default settings for their own engines, like ESU´s defaults for instance are set for Roco motors. Not having to program the CVs to get an engine running fine with DCC may be the cutting edge for a Hornby decoder in the UK, along with universal availability.
 

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QUOTE (maybe to keep people tied to their equipment) with the gimmicky "fuel & water" feature. IMHO it really is a gimick, but it will almost certainly sell.

NMRA Recommended Practice RP 9.2.2 designates CVs 894 and 895 as Fuel/Coal and water respectively so the fuel & water feature is not a Hornby invention.

Whilst it might be a "gimmick" to us, to a youngster raised on consoles, the idea that you can buy a refueling point that your engines must visit if they are to keep going must add a lot of "play value".

I'm guessing that for a fully automatic solution, a RailCom detector is installed in the fueling point to read the locomotive ID. This then communicates some message like "seen loco ID x" back to the command station which then reprograms the fuel CVs to maximum.

For a manual version there's a menu option in the command station for "Refueling" which then tops up the CVs.

David
 

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QUOTE (ME 26-06 @ 9 Mar 2008, 12:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>what´s with the "fuel and water"?

It's the fuel usage facility - I was not aware that there was NMRA specified CV's for it (thanks David). I can see the play value though now.

Myself, I go through phases with decoders - I started off with the FLM Twin-Decoder (manly because I had just attended the Factory Course), then Lenz, then ESU (but don't like the attitude of the UK importers), then back to Lenz.

I tried a couple of ZTC & did not get on with them.

Strangely, I have tried a couple of TCS & have problems with runaways which I find very odd considering how other people like them.

As I said, I will give the Hornby ones a try when I get round to it.
 

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Hi all
I take it these revamped decoders still aren't NMRA compliant?
Even with a red spot, which apparently shows it's to the latest firmware!

Will they now work well with early versions of MRC Prodigy Advanced controllers and those other consoles which had problems with the early Hornby decoder offerings?
 

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QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 9 Mar 2008, 18:29) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Strangely, I have tried a couple of TCS & have problems with runaways which I find very odd considering how other people like them.

Were these the new versions with back EMF? If so, I'm suprised as they normally work out of the packet with no tweaking. Did the locos still have their capacitors intact?

Regards

John R
Bromsgrive Models
 

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QUOTE (BromsMods @ 9 Mar 2008, 21:03) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Were these the new versions with back EMF? If so, I'm suprised as they normally work out of the packet with no tweaking. Did the locos still have their capacitors intact?

Regards

John R
Bromsgrive Models

Hi John,

Yes, they are & there are definatly no caps fitted. Both Roco Loco's a CFL Series 900 Bo Bo Diesel & an SNCB ex DR44 2-10-0. Both would take off either full forward or reverse, sometime full reverse for about a second & then forward full, from the auto loops on SL - since posting I've had the thought that it may be due to the automation which simply powers off & then back on again. Lenz or ESU don't suffer from this.

We are using FLM Twin-Centres on SL.
 

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QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 10 Mar 2008, 06:27) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi John,

Yes, they are & there are definatly no caps fitted. Both Roco Loco's a CFL Series 900 Bo Bo Diesel & an SNCB ex DR44 2-10-0. Both would take off either full forward or reverse, sometime full reverse for about a second & then forward full, from the auto loops on SL - since posting I've had the thought that it may be due to the automation which simply powers off & then back on again. Lenz or ESU don't suffer from this.

We are using FLM Twin-Centres on SL.

There is the reason then Brian. The FLM twin centre puts out a quasi DCC signal that is less acurate than it should be - its actually not a very good DCC conctroller in fact.

The "work around" is two fold.

(1) add the bus termination I talk about all the time. 150 ohm 2~3 watt resistor and 0.1 micrifarad ceramic (monolithic) capacitor.

(2) turn off "run on DC" on the decoders. that usually means deducting 4 from CV 29

TCS are among the most stable decoders I've found with any compatible or compliant NMRA DCC system but do not like this quasi-DCC that the FL (or the Horby select) put out.

Whats happening? The critical point of the dcc signal is the zero crossing point. There is some bad hash on the FLM signal at that point that a DCC compliant decoder MAY misinterpret as a full voltage DC command, particularly as the first they will see is a bad signal suddenly turned on by your auto-loop control switching...

The ESU decoders are designed to take the existence of the FLM flakey waveform into account as whether they say it or not they are multi protocol to some degree, which is why they are OK with it.

My cheeky prediction... one day you too will become an NCE owner, like most of those more serious modellers who started with an expensive but "less than perfect digital system" such as FLM, ZTC and others..... You'd be amazed how many of your contemporaries have made the switch and are much happier than they've ever been with their railways runnng


Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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QUOTE (copierman @ 9 Mar 2008, 04:41) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Rechipped two of my Hornby steam locos with the improved R8215 4 function Hornby decoders. They now run as they should and control is very smooth and sweet unlike the previous version of this decoder in the same loco`s which ran very erratic and did strange things.

The improved decoder is in a different style bubble pack with Hornby International Branding for Lima/Jouef/ Riverossi & Electrotren along the bottom. If you look into the bubble pack you will see a red dot on the largest chip.

I am very keen on this type of decoder because I like its very small size and it fits into the boiler of my King Arthur Locos plus the price is very cheap.

If its reliability holds up it will enable me to use it on mass for my large loco fleet instead of the Bachmann 36-553 3 function decoder which although is very reliable is rather large and difficult to fit into steam loco`s making it mainly suitable for mass installation on my Diesel loco fleet..

** Hi: I was recently reading some email from a hornby dealer who cliamed to be "in the loop" info-wise about this.

He told me that he has been informed by Hornby that there will be changes in two changes, and that the current "red dot" version is not the full rework - only an interim patch so to speak - Following this in (est) April will be yet another software change in the chip which will be indicated by a yellow dot... so its good that the change so far is positive, but perhaps don't be in too much of a hurry to buy up, as the April upgrade will address other decoder issues....

As to why they'd do this I have no idea. Following bad with a "better" before releasing the "good" version seems to me to not be a really good approach......

Personally I'd stick with the TCS MC-2 - Still very much the best performing smallish decoder I've used, or the TCS M-1 if really tiny is wanted!.

Richard
 

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Hi all

I would have stuck with Hornby decoders but 3 things happened. They kept burning out. When I returned them to Hornby I was told operator error and I became aware there was other options out there. I will accept operator error for maybe 2 or even 3 but to tell me I have installed all of them wrong 5 in total. I think not.

My point once bitten twice shy, simple as that. I now run TCS, Loksound and 2 Bachmann decoders and between these 2 main brands I have now 19 locos and 1 failure in 7 months since I made the switch.

Im glad to see Hornby are getting it together with the new decoders but will they in the future offer a "goof proof" warranty like TCS.

I may try one in the future, and I would like to see Hornby do a good job here as most will buy because it is Hornby, we shall see......

m
 

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Thanks for the info' Richard - I'll give it a try.

I thought it may be something like that - too many people praise TCS decoders for it to be just the decoders - once they have "settled down" they are nice & smooth.

I have actually been looking at replacing the FLM Twin-Centres for a while. I very much like the look of the ECoS but two things put me off it ;
1) The need to keep updating it (just something I hate having to do in the world of IT & suchlike).
2) The attitude of the UK importers.

I may very well await to see what the Roco Multimaus Pro is like when it's available or go for a PC based system.
 

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Hi Brian,

Have you looked at the Intellibox? Smilar to the FLM twin centre (I think it was co-badged with the intellibox).

As to the ECOS I like the idea that it will be easily updated. Now if they would allow access to the MFX protocol on it...............

I hope to have a play with an ECOS at Easter, I will let you know what it is like.

Cheers

John
 

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Hi John,

The FLM Twin-Centre is indeed a rebadged Intellibox - they both operate in much the same way but have different protocol variations.

I've had a very quick play with the ECoS & am impressed with the unit, but not with the UK importers, so the latter will probably remove it from the short list - shame really. I can obtain ESU from elseware, of course, but would much rather have a UK contact for support (much in the way MacKay's support Lenz).

For SL I would prefer to use a desk type consul & also have to budget for two units !
 

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Currently thinking seriously about getting the ESU Ecos, who are the UK importers and what is wrong with them please? i.e. should I just buy from Germany?

My DCC is a complete mess really, ZTC 505 which is going on Ebay shortly, mainly because it only does 8 functions, and I already have 12 function sound decoders.......
Roco Multimaus - Brilliant, intuitive system, 20 functions, but CANT read CVs
Bachmann Dynamis - Another brilliant system, which would be perfect, apart from it CANT read CVs
Hornby Select ina starter set...cough....cough....going on Ebay shortly!

Many Thanks
Ashley
 

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Ashley,

Consider the MRC Prodigy Advanced 2.

It has 19 Functions, complete CV programming, and full read-back program.

I have had one for 6 months, and I think it is great.

tonystrains.com in the States is selling it at the moment for $199 - that is £100 at to-days exchange rate on a credit card. Even if you paid the maximum £30 customs duty, you will still be quids in.

Full details available on Tonys website. (I bought mine from there, but it was £25 more then).

AlanB
 
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