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Reading up what Pat Hammond has to say about Hornby Zero One I did not realise that Hornby are considered to be the grandaddy of all DCC companies! Zero One was a £300,000 development by Hornby in 1977-79. Thats probably £1m to £1.5m or more in todays money.

It was not a technical failure and worked very well. It simply did not sell in the quantities required to justify continuing with the product at that time. You have to remember that at that time there was only Hornby Zero One and Hornby set up a major American distribution network to sell the idea of Zero One Command Control to the Americans. The Sinclair ZX81 still had not been invented remember and the white Sinclair polish notation pocket calculator was £20 to buy! We were all still using slide rules and log tables and the computer at the university took up a whole building! So Zero One was way ahead of its time.

Users at that time were put off DCC by 4 things:-

1) the need to keep track spotlessly clean to avoid signal degradation and the inconveniance of doing this daily.

2) the need to install chips into locomotives and all that this entailed.

3) the expense. Chips in 1980 were £15 each at a time when a large loco was £15!

4) the difficulties installing chips into non Hornby product which at that time had all sorts of weird and wonderful chassis wiring and pick up arrangements!

So with the lessons of history behind us how will the next generation of Hornby digital users fare?

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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It's strange really - those reasons for people not going for the Zero One system are the same reason that I don't really want to go for down the DCC route at the moment.

I have a feeling that the latest Hornby DCC offering will fair a lot better than the Zero One system did as there is already an established market for DCC
 

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[quote name='Gary' date='9 Oct 2006, 19:32' post='13394']
Reading up what Pat Hammond has to say about Hornby Zero One I did not realise that Hornby are considered to be the grandaddy of all DCC companies! Zero One was a £300,000 development by Hornby in 1977-79. Thats probably £1m to £1.5m or more in todays money.

Just think - if Hornby had continued development we could all just be using "Hornby based DCC" instead of Lenz.

Still, the new Hornby system looks good - it won't suit everyone of course but then neither does Lenz, or Digitrax, or ZTC or ..........

best regards
Brian
 

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I don't remember why I didn't take up Zero 1. Hindsight suggests that doubling the cost of a locomotive /and/ only being able to have 16 of them "chipped" would have been major drawbacks. I was a member of a club at the time and I don't remember anyone there trying it either.

By contrast I have noticed that you can pick up a "DCC on board" Bachmann 2-6-4T for an extra £6 or so (just over 10%) from Hattons. I am sorely tempted..

David
 

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I guess the lesson is don't get too far ahead of the pack. I remeber when zero 1 came out and it seemed like a good idea but Hornby was the only company doing it at the time. Now DCC is the norm and would have 30-40% of the market worldwide maybe. So it is not a small market.

The key differences now are that it is not a new concept, many companies do DCC product, there are effects like sound and lights, points can also be operated and the chips are comparatively cheaper. The system has been developed to use computer controller systems and has evolved considerably.

Hornby's only error was that it was too far ahead of everyone else at the time.
 

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Price.

All I could afford in those days was the catalogue. I used to walk past the hobby shop window and gaze at those fantastic sets - in the late 70's we were not as well off as we are now.

In middle class Wimbledon during the 70's, none of my mates then had or could afford railway sets. Perhaps a Scalextric set or two though bought for Christmas with only a few cars.

In those days the middle aged men were not like they are today either. They were either down the pub or at the races.
 

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Interestingly two stands at the Tring and District MRS exhibition last Saturday had items from the Triang Zero1 range for sale. One stand had the main controller and extension, another the Mimic Display. I did not look closely at the prices, neither did I see any takers.
Regards,
John Webb
 

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I did try Zero1 and it worked OK, but I never really developed it.

I think it was before its time and the technology available now makes DCC very much more attractive to the masses.

Of course you didn't programme the loco number into the Zero1 chip you set it by linking contacts on the chip with a little wire. Upward compatability may have been a problem with programmable chips now.

One of the main complaints was that it could only handle 16 loco codes but I know people found ways to circumvent that.

Its a shame really as Hornby had yet another ground breaking product.
 

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before my days. i did once pick up a second hand loco as a non runner. popped the lid off and found a chip! took the chip out and it ran beautifully. still got it somewhere. i think it was a battle of britain. spitfire. 21C166.

but my reasons for not converting would still be the same.
i simply cant justify the 2 grand on converting my 100+ engines. i dont mind spending £300 on a decent controller (when they make a DCC controller that feels like my H&M) but all the decoders are more money than i can justify on model trains.

Peter
 

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One thing that nobody has picked up on is that ZTC is the development of zero one. Another reason that it was not very successful is that the open frame motors used to hum or whine quite badly and on the steel hornby track the pickup let it down, not to bad on nickle silver though.

just though the comment had not been picked up

mike g
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Pat Hammond did mention in his book that some of the former Hornby staff who worked on Zero One went on to start ZTC. ZTC is the only DCC system to offer Zero One compatibility.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 10 Oct 2006, 22:11) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Pat Hammond did mention in his book that some of the former Hornby staff who worked on Zero One went on to start ZTC. ZTC is the only DCC system to offer Zero One compatibility.

Happy modelling
Gary
Is that a good thing though?
We're talking thirty year old technology.

ZTC are ridiculously over priced and offer an outdated product. I'm astonished they are still in business.
 

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QUOTE but my reasons for not converting would still be the same.
i simply cant justify the 2 grand on converting my 100+ engines. i dont mind spending £300 on a decent controller (when they make a DCC controller that feels like my H&M) but all the decoders are more money than i can justify on model trains.

Peter

You've got a 100 plus engines!!
No wonder you don't want to convert to DCC. For that amount of decoders you should be able to negatiate a substantial reduction.
 

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I went into Hornby's Zero One back in the later part of the 70's.
While it worked ok with most Hornby locos, I had real problems both with poor running and with the then Airfix loco's as they used five pole motors which when chipped caused their motors to overheat! I went to the Hornby service centre, which was then located in Ramsgate and remote from their main factory in Westwood Margate. Their staff were really helpful and even took time to look at the Airfix loco I took along as well as a couple of their own models. They agreed the module was the problem and tipped me off that a new module was immanent which would improve matters. I think this was eventually released, but by that time I had sold the Zero 1 and reverted back to conventional DC operations!
Around this time Airfix introduced their own DCC system which upon their factory closure I believe ZTC purchased and still use the original console. But memory here is fading!!
 

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"Around this time Airfix introduced their own DCC system which upon their factory closure I believe ZTC purchased and still use the original console. But memory here is fading!!"

Sorry, but the ZTC system inherited nothing from Airfix Multiple Train Control. The Airfix "console" came with 4 handheld controllers with sliding speed controls on curly wires. Like Zero One, it was limited to 16 addresses. Four different decoders were available, (A,B,C & D) each of which could be tuned to one of 4 addresses, so if you wanted to address a loco with a number 1 to 4, you needed to buy "A", similarly you needed to buy a "C" for numbers 9 to 12. I am not sure how the four numbers were set up for each letter but I don't think that it was with wire or paint like Zero One.

Incidentally, no one seems to have mentioned the Hammant & Morgan 5000 which was fully compatible with Hornby Zero One, sharing the same type of "chip". It came with a handbook which gave instructions as to how decoders could be fitted in non-Hornby locos which was very useful at the time. The controller was suitable for controlling two locos immediately but a slave controller was also available. It came in a metal case with a "touch "keypad rather than the slightly imprecise push button Hornby one.
 

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Hi Riddles
Your quite correct.

As soon as i read your text about the sliding controllers I remembered the Airfix system.
They developed a great module that only required one motor/wheel wire to be cut, So live chassis were easily catered for.

Here a link to the an Airfix site showing the GMR unit etc.
Airfix MTC
 

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As far as I remember the original ZTC511 featured three operating functions:
DCC
DC
Zero One mode

The orginal owner was, Robin Palmer who had a lot to do with the development of Zero One. So there could some truth in this rumour that the casing was developed for Zero one. I had the great pleasure of meeting Robin Palmer not long after he launched ZTC, he was a fascinating person to talk to. He also has a fantastic large scale live steam railway around his estate.

 
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