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DT
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Control Over 250 Locomotives on the Same Track with Hornby's New Digital Command System

Hornby Continues to Innovate and Bring Further Realism to Thousands

Hornby continues to embrace the digital age by bringing even more realism to thousands of model railway enthusiasts. The launch of Hornby's new Digital Command Control (DCC) system allows up to a staggering 254 locomotives to be 'called up' and controlled individually without having to worry about fixing up lots of messy wiring! The digital system, available at retail stores from October, incorporates two different control units to suit particular needs of the model rail enthusiasts - 'Select' and 'Elite' priced at £70 and £140 respectively.

The two digital units from Hornby are more technically advanced and offer far more features than any other comparatively priced product. A small micro chip processor fitted into each locomotive communicates with the digital unit and responds to any instruction issued to it, such as to move forward, reverse, speed up, slow down or to turn lights on or off. The digital units also allow the user to remotely control the track's railway points so that trains can be moved onto different sections of track at the touch of a button. The digital units allow model railway enthusiasts to get as close to running a real railway as possible!

Simon Kohler, Hornby: "This really is the next evolution in model railways and makes this wonderful hobby even more realistic. The new Hornby digital system is easy to install and means not having to use lots of messy wires and all the complication that this entails."

Both the Select and Elite Control units have been designed to make controlling locomotives a truly enjoyable and easy experience. Both units feature a simple keyboard which is used to programme or call up the locomotives and a LCD display to visually show which locomotive or accessories are being operated. Each unit has a rotary control which controls the acceleration and deceleration of the locomotive.

The key differences between the two units are the number of locomotives and track points that can be controlled. The Select controller can handle up to sixty locomotives and allow any ten of them to be 'on command' at any one time. The Elite controller can manage or call up to 254 locomotives on a track at any one time and allows any ten of them to be run simultaneously. The Elite unit also contains a USB socket which can be connected to a personal computer and using the internet receive any future software download features for the Elite system.

The Hornby Select digital system will also be available to buy in train sets which are complete with coaches, wagons and track. The locomotives in these sets contain the small micro processor chip already fitted. For those train enthusiasts that wish to convert their existing track and locomotives then they can simply install the micro chip into their current locomotives to begin all the fun!

Simon Kohler continues: "The hobby market looks to Hornby to provide the benchmark and I know that yet again we will not disappoint the many thousands of train model enthusiasts. This system is perfect for introducing a whole new generation of fans as well as further improving the experience of current Hornby train enthusiasts."

Nothing new here. Hornby have perhaps tested 10 locos on the track with their 3amp limit. I've had 6 locos up at once and after that it gets a little hectic, but this message is aimed at people with larger layouts with multiple opperators. In the case of some clubs, it may not be enough, but as we have agreed in the past, that is not their main market - Doug
 

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QUOTE The two digital units from Hornby are more technically advanced and offer far more features than any other comparatively priced product

Comparatively being the key word. Although at 70 quid the Select is left in the dark by the similarly priced Roco MultiMaus. So this statement isn't really true. The Elite is good in that it bridges the gap between the fully functioned Command control systems and the basic starter systems. There is nothing else in this middle ground, ....yet. The forthcoming information on the Bachmann Dynamis will be interesting. Will it be another overstated under dog or will it be as advanced as they say?


QUOTE Simon Kohler, Hornby: “This really is the next evolution in model railways and makes this wonderful hobby even more realistic
I think was would have been more accurate than "is". DCC, as a new thing, happened quite a while ago now.

QUOTE Simon Kohler continues: “The hobby market looks to Hornby to provide the benchmark and I know that yet again we will not disappoint the many thousands of train model enthusiasts.

The benchmark for what? Hornby must be the last major model rail manufacturer in the world to introduce DCC. Even if this statement is only intended for UK domestic consumption it's still bollocks. Bachmann and ZTC have had DCC systems for considerably longer than Hornby (unless you are counting Zero 1).

The release is aimed at Hornbys train set market. It is set at such a basic level that it really says nothing new to people already familiar with DCC.
 

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I was watching an episode of the TV comedy "Extras" last week with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

In the show expert critics were panning the popular "When The Whistle Blows" and claimed that the show writers were "having a laugh" with such non PC comedy.

The point was then made by Stephen Merchant that the more the critics panned the show the bigger and bigger the audience got! Ricky Gervais was not too impressed with this as he wanted a more "upmarket" acting part however one thing leads to another and the popularity of "When The Whistle Blows" got Ricky Gervais a role with Sir Ian McKellan.

Yes the TV show appealed to the lowest common denominator which was also claimed to be the largest part of the viewing public! But also the show got Ricky Gervais in the public eye and mind.

Now with Hornby Digital the self appointed "DCC Expert" critics may go on and on and on.....

Would those self same critics like to ask themselves why the biggest selling DCC system in the UK in recent times is Bachmann EZ-Command?


The Hornby product has been introduced with the mass UK market in mind. Hornby have had countless survey questionaires completed and plenty of feedback from Hornby customers and this new product very definitely represents a benchmark for a product having a mass market appeal at a pricepoint that is attractive.

The UK has never been so blessed before!

And Hornby Digital will do for UK DCC what "When The Whistle Blows" did for Ricky Gervais!


Hornby Digital does not have to be technically mind blowing (yet).

What is has to be is a product that makes very effective and reliable use of existing technology and takes into account that a large proportion of buyers will be operating on 6x4 layouts or smaller.

Happy modelling
Gary

PS There are rumours that one leading incumbant player in DCC is loosing interest in the UK market and may be reducing UK marketing spend. 2007 will proove this right or wrong.

PPS What I don't want to see developing is another of those "it doesn't do this and it doesn't have that" type of threads which effectively takes us over ground already covered elsewhere if you get my drift. If we are going to talk here lets talk more about what Hornby Digital does do as this is bound to be of more interest to DC users than a heavy debate among existing DCC users.
 

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QUOTE The forthcoming information on the Bachmann Dynamis will be interesting. Will it be another overstated under dog or will it be as advanced as they say?

I had a brief opportunity to see at a distance the Bachmann Dynamis over the weekend. The presentation was poor, being stuck in a crapped corner at the Railex show in Taunton Somerset. Low key would be an understatement. The Bachmann rep was saying this should be introduced in Febuary/March next year.
It certainly look like Hornby will steal a good march on Bachmann.
 

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QUOTE Would those self same critics like to ask themselves why the biggest selling DCC system in the UK in recent times is Bachmann EZ-Command?

Because it's cheap and it is manufactured by a familiar company, which is why Hornby's effort will also be very succesful regardless of whether it's any good or not.

QUOTE Now with Hornby Digital the self appointed "DCC Expert" critics may go on and on and on.....Gary, I am not the one making wild claims about how fantastic and ground breaking a pretty unremarkable system is. However I am an unbiased observer, something you are clearly not.

QUOTE PS There are rumours that one leading incumbant player in DCC is loosing interest in the UK market and may be reducing UK marketing spend. 2007 will proove this right or wrong.
Which ones that?


QUOTE The Bachmann rep was saying this should be introduced in Febuary/March next year. Their websites still saying January. I hope this wont be another one of these projects that keep getting pushed back.
 

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QUOTE (Dennis David @ 17 Oct 2006, 09:53) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I, look at it this way. If it gets more people to try DCC or even model railroads in the first place then it's a good thing. How it fares against other systems or what their PR says really doesn't matter to me because I wasn't going to buy their system regardless.
Same here, I just have problem with bullshitters.
 

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QUOTE Gary, I am not the one making wild claims about how fantastic and ground breaking a pretty unremarkable system is. However I am an unbiased observer, something you are clearly not.

I am not biased just realistic and Hornby have released a groundbreaking product on many counts but maybe not ones that lift the skirt of diehard DCC techies. Did Simon Kohler actually state that Hornby Digital is technically groundbreaking?


What he did say is that it that the two units are QUOTE more technically advanced and offer far more features than any other comparatively priced product and that would be in the context of what is on offer to the UK consumer.

Simon Kohler has been a senior marketing man at Hornby for over 25 years so if anybody understands the UK market and the sort of marketing language that UK consumers will appreciate then he does. He was there when Hornby were selling Zero One. Simon is NOT the marketing manager for Hornby International who will market the two units outside the UK possibly under Electrotren, Lima, Rivarossi, Jouef and Arnold branding.

Techies generally will buy everything and anything that is technically groundbreaking and pay the price. DCC simply has not taken off in the UK for one reason or another and it is a world that has an image among the modelling proletariat of being elitist and full of gobbledygook and techspiel.

Hornby have developed a product for the consumer and as such it will sell.

If Hornby help to dispell the image that DCC has then this will be the biggest step forward that DCC has ever made within the UK.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE I am not biased just realistic and Hornby have released a groundbreaking product on many counts but maybe not ones that lift the skirt of diehard DCC techies. Did Simon Kohler actually state that Hornby Digital is technically groundbreaking?

What he did say is that it that the two units are
QUOTE
more technically advanced and offer far more features than any other comparatively priced product

You've kind of answered your own question there.

QUOTE Hornby have developed a product for the consumer and as such it will sell.

It will definitely, but thats my issue. Hornby could stick a badge on anything and it will still sell to the bulk of it's clientel.

What I am getting at is that Hornby will only match what someone else, usually Bachmann, has done.

Simon is saying they are setting the benchmark. They aren't. Hornby only ever does what it has too to catch up with Bachmann. It never takes the lead. As a share holder you will appreciate that this is good business sense as there is no risk, but you can hardly claim to be setting the benchmark when all you do is catch up rather than make advances.
 

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In the last few years Hornby has also released a Digital Scalextric slotcar racing system. At at time when 4 other major brands were talking digital Scalextric were the first to market. Their system is regarded as being overall the best of what is available. One other brand basically went back to the drawing board when they saw the Scalextric product, but even now as their product is released and other competing products are in the marketplace the Scalextric system is still out in the front.

They have updated the hardware, firmware and software.

I agree that there is an amount of marketing hyperbole, but that is what marketing people do. They are aiming their text at the man in the street, not the converted or experts in the field.

Time will tell whether Hornby get this right, but they have the potential to become World leaders in DCC if they produce good stable products and listen to all those people using DCC. I'm not saying that they will compete with top end products the like of Zimo (at least not yet), but there is nothing to stop them going after Lenz and doing something better than them. Lenz had better get thir thinking caps on and produce some cool controllers if they want to do battle in this new expanding DCC market.
 

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Surely what Simon Kohler is doing is simply indulging in the kind of PR speak that every manager of a successful company would do to promote his own product. I would have thought that any sensible and informed person intent on converting to DCC would be wise to fully investigate the capabilities and suitability of each DCC system, including those coming from Hornby and Bachmann, before investing any money in DCC for their layout. PR speak, as was pointed out earlier, isn't intended for the experts, but the public at large. So what if large numbers of people buy the Hornby DCC system? That shouldn't adversely affect others. If it's no good as asystem there would be feedback about that and any problems would become well known. I'm sure the market is strong enough to support several different DCC systems and the more widespread familiarity with the concept could lead many fledgling DCCers to graduate to more sophisticated systems as well.

I'm sure that Hornby have thought long and hard about the way it will be made - perhaps the reason for the delay compared to other systems was observing the market to see how widespread DCC would become. Remember their earlier foray with Zero 1, where they were the first and it sadly didn't catch on - after that I'm not surprised that Hornby have been cautious! They're in a no win situation really! I'm sure the same people who are critical of them now would have slated them had they released a totally flawed system several years ago!

I'm wanting to use DCC on my layout, but with almost 200 locos to chip the cost and time for conversion will be enormous and I'm determined that I'm going to be cautious in my choice. I'd far rather find out for myself how effective a system may be and it's great when shops allow you to see for yourself a particular system in action, e.g. Mackay Models in Paisley. I remember the last time I bought a camcorder I spent ages poring over the specs in various magazines before I made a decision - the PR stuff didn't even register with me and it certainly didn't annoy me - and the result was that I got a model which has served me exceptionally well and does exactly what I want it to do.

So I'm not going to get hot under the collar about whatever PR material is generated from Hornby and Bachmann - there are far more important things in this world to get really agitated about! They're doing it to try and sell a product - that's what they're there for after all - and if they can popularise DCC in the process the what's the big problem?

Hopefully I'll be able to get a chance to assess the systems on their merits, compare them to others and then make an informed decision, without trying to get over-flustered about it!

Cheers,

Ray
 

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The shortcoming I see with the Hornby 'select' system as with Bachmann's efforts is the use of 2 digit addressing.
Outside of the UK, 4 digit addressing (0-9999) has been the standard for many many years.
The introduction of 2 digit systems as 'new' technology (it is often rebadged obsolete products bought from other manufacturers) is going to cause many compatibility problems for the UK market which have long since been confined to the anals of history in the global market outside of the UK. What we will see is that people complain they can't run locos from 4 digit 'full function, proper' DCC systems on the 'new' 2 digit systems without recoding them. This will be a major problem for clubs and simply re-introduces long since solved problems - we appear to be going backwards!
In my opinion, ALL new DCC systems should be 4 digit systems in order to maintain what is current worldwide compatibility. At least Gaugemaster got it right when they bought in the MRC product.

Graham Plowman (Not an Gaugemaster/MRC user)
 

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Graham, you're from SA/Oz and as you are aware the guys in the colonies tend to adapt to new technologies head on without having to start from scratch and also source them from any place in the World.

I think that in the case of DCC, the people in the British market have been left in the cold. There hasn't been a British DCC manufacturer and so all the thousands of railway modellers have been stuck with DC. Also the idea of adapting to technology from Germany or America may not appear to quite a few Brits.

In a way, the Hornby Select, goes back to basics and addresses issues that many of these DC people are looking for - it's cheap and simple and it's made by a trusted company. If they need to expand and upgrade, that same trusted company can sell them the Elite device whenever they want it.
 

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QUOTE ALL new DCC systems should be 4 digit systems in order to maintain what is current worldwide compatibility

It certainly looks like Hornby hav'nt thought this through properly, and if they did they got wrong! .Well said Graham and 100% correct. I think it's one area where Hornby should improve their spec. All major DCC manufacturers offer four digit addressing with their delux sets. Lack of compatability will cause major problems with swopping stock between layouts. For this reason alone the Hornby system must be considered non standard, and a not to be recommended for serrious DCC users, and converts. An opporunity missed.

Perhaps a word in Simon Kholers ear is required here. IMHO it represents a huge risk in marketing this product. Its probably also easy to recify with a change of software. It does illustrate a firm miss-understanding of what the market expects. It can be argued that the market dos'nt need four digit addressing in the toy market. But then neither do purchasers need highly detailed models. The models are aimed more at the adult market, so the delux control system should be targeted at that as well.

I remain a committed Digitrax user.

 

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MMaD, you were typing as I posted. I would have added you to the list of open minded people from the colonies... you have an American system with all the bells and whistles.

I'm not saying that Hornby is perfect at all, I'll leave that to Gary, but I really think that the Select device is a good stocking filler and perfect for adding to the railway sets. It will get the kids into DCC and then hopefully help swing the overall majority - especially in the UK.
 
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