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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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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,

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 Brian,

If you want the ultimate controller, see if you can find a Uhlenbrock Profi control. It is a cool toy, unfortunately Uhlenbrock only made 500 of them.

www.uhlenbrock.de/3/1/I40C6D97-003.apd/Pro6021e.pdf

Nothing beats sitting at the desk watching a tv screen as the locomotive you are driving on the layout shows the view out of the cab. It is a great bit of kit. However it is a bit of an animal to program, but once done. . . . . . .

John
 

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Hi Richard,

You are correct about people being evangelical about "their" system. Marklinists love the Marklin control gear, Digitaxists are however probably the most evangelical of all. No doubt Hornby are hoping for the Hornbyist to become evangelical about the Hornby system!

I believe that there are really two parts to the whole DCC equation. First part is the control equipment. Without a doubt people have to be comfortable with how they control their trains. If you have a controller that you don't understand, then ultimately you are wasting your time and will get very frustrated with it. There is a big difference between fixed and handheld controllers. Personally I like the ESU handheld that has the wheel. I like the Marlin 6021 over the intellibox.

The second and no less important part is the locomotive chips that you use. IMHO there are two sorts, sound and non-sound. From the reading I have done, some non-sound chips behave better with some locomotives than with others. As long as the locomotive works to your satisfaction then I personally don't think it matters what sort of chip is in it. Of course I expect back EMF and adjustable acceleration and declaration as a standard feature nowadays.

In terms of sound chips my experience is limited. Loksound 3.5 is pretty hard to beat, and the Zimo sound chip is right up there as well. As for others, what I have literally heard is that they are not as well sounding as the loksound and Zimo chips. Again personal preference.

Now that the number of functions has grown there is more need than ever to have controllers that can consist and access lots of functions. Even though I do not double head trains, in the future I hope to put function decoders into wagons so That I can turn lights and sounds on and off etc. Consisting will allow me to put any locomotive on to any train and access all the functions under one address, the loco having some functions and the train having others.

The future is bright.

John
 

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Hi MMaD,

I hope I didn't offend. Like you I believe that DCC is great, and am able to do the things that I want to without being a slave to toggle switches.

I wonder how long it will take for the British outline modeller to embrace DCC. 15 years ago the Germanic modeller complained, "I can't afford DCC as I have to many locomotives to put chips into". The majority of them probably never did chip all their locomotives, but now have DCC layouts.

I will admit, that I always found it strange that very few British outline modellers used DCC. To the majority of modellers it is old hat and just an easier way to control the layout.

Cheers

John
 
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