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It's not been one of my better days today, which I'll talk about more in another thread, but for my DCC specific woes, read on...

Had a late afternoon 2 hour round trip to my favourite local(ish) model shop.
One of my purchases, which was not originally on my shopping list, was a Hornby R2625X 'DCC Fitted' Southern M7.

Initial impressions were promising. Coming in Hornby's standard red and yellow box, the loco appears rather understated for what is really a rather ground breaking move for Hornby, one of the first 'DCC Fitted' locos. I would have thought such a release would merit an outer sleeve, perhaps with the 'DIGITAL' logo like the Pendolino.

However, the loco is nestled in the now 2 part polystyrene box, so removal was certainly a lot quicker and easier than last years M7. Two instruction leaflets are present. The normal Locomotive operating instructions, incorrectly headed 'Locomotive and Tender', and what might you expect the second leaflet to be


Do I here shouts of 'An instruction leaflet for the onboard decoder'
Well, you would think so wouldn't you, but no, the second leaflet was entitled 'Fitting a Decoder'. I considered this a little odd, but now of course, I realise that this is in fact brilliant foresight from Hornby, an example of their excellent customer care. Because I can assure you that on running the locomotive for the first time, the first thing any discerning customer is going to want to do is this....

Pull out the pile of electronic
that Hornby have fitted, and follow the instructions in the second instruction leaflet to fit a proper and decent DCC decoder
Upon placing the loco on the track and swtching the power on, it buzzes. On gently applying the regulator for a while nothing happens, until you reach speed step 30 of 127, then the loco started reasonably smoothly, backwards
I double checked with my existing DCC locos, but it's true, in the land of Hornby Digital backwards is the new forwards.

Now remember folks, there are no instructions for operating or programming this loco whatsoever, but having a fair bit of DCC experience I correctly guessed that the address would be the default of 3. Now, because this is undoubtably an R8215 there is no way of reading the CVs, but on checking one of my earlier instruction leaflets it appears that you can at least set Bit 1 of CV 29 to modify the default direction. I tried setting it to 0...no change. Therefore I concluded that the decoder has been fitted the wrong way round into the 8 pin socket. The loco runs OK backwards, but forwards it is jerky and inconsistant. Sometimes there is a long delay before the loco responds after changing direction. No, all is not well with the R8215 decoder.

Things really take a turn for the worse at this point. UK outline DCC users will probably know that before launching their first 2 DCC sound fitted locos, Bachmann carefully modfied the chassis and bodies of their Class 20 and Class 66. So that both the decoder and loudspeaker had somewhere to fit comfortably. As those of you who have tried to fit a decoder into an M7 will know, there is nowhere to fit one, the only solution was to remove one of the weights from the side tanks. Sadly on the second release of the M7, this is exactly what the fitting instructions advise, and indeed, exactly what Hornby have done. So you now have a loco that weighs significantly more on one side than the other.

The instructions also advise that the weight is only secured with doublle-sided tape, oh fantastic, I can't wait for the other weight to drop out. More worrying is the fact that Hornby have fixed the decoder to the inside of the tank not with a sticky pad, but with double-sided tape
Top prize tonight goes to the reader who can tell Hornby exactly what is going to happen to the loco body should any poor unfortunate customer let one of these locos run backwards(or forwards) for long enough for the decoder to get a little on the warm side
I know, it's a tricky one isn't it.

By this time, I decide that at the very least I'm going to fit the decoder into the socket the right way round. So I carefully turn the loco over and find that one of the 2 prongy bits(Don't know what they are called) from the front of the chassis is snapped off and missing (not in the box). I'm guessing, but it looks to me like these decoders are fitted after, rather than during initial manufacture, and somebody damaged this trying to get the body off. Exactly the reason I was tempted to buy a 'DCC Fitted' one in the first place!!. So to top my day off nicely, my chassis is broken.

So it's a definite return now, and I won't be going for a DCC fitted replacement, but the non X version of this loco, as I'm now confident that there is no way on earth I could make a worse job of making this loco 'DCC Fitted'. And I certainly will not be using an R8215.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Neil, I would really strongly advise you get the 'DCC Ready' version of the M7 and carefully fit your decoder of choice.

It is at this point unclear if there is to be a 'DCC Ready' version of the Pendolino, I hope so because I would like one, but I am not going to waste any more of my money on current generation Hornby decoders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My suspicion is that the decoders are fitted somewhere else, possibly in the UK. I don't know this for sure, it's mostly based on the fact that all the Pendolino boxes that I saw today are ripped around the end flaps, suggesting that they have been less than carefuly opened up after manufacture. (Plus others have reported the same).

This, and the fact that the chassis damage to my new M7 is right around the air tank that you have to remove to get to the second screw, in order to remove the body.

Also remeber, that my M7 came with an instruction leaflet for fitting a decoder, but no decoder instructions at all.
 

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I hope Ashley, that you have advised Hornby of these problems on [email protected] & into their Forum site together with Pat Hammond of MRE to let others know.

Ron
 

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It does sound a lot like they have had someone install them afterwards. There's a lot of concern about the way Hornby digital is developing. The reason I bought the Pendelino with the decoder was firstly that I thought I had better experience one of these Hornby efforts first hand to see exactly what they are like and secondly I am still traumatised from the White Knight experience. I will certainly be letting people know what my experience is when it arrives. Rails tell me it has been posted so I may find out soon.
 

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Boy am I glad I bought a DCC ready one. I guess the Chinese copy of who ever's decoder isn't exactly a winner. Oh and the prongy things are sand pipes.

Ozzie21
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ozzie21, it's the other prongy thingy directly in front of the sand pipes, they stick out slightly and the trailing truck also has two, one each side of the NEM coupling socket
 

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The prongy things are the track gaurds designed to knock debris off the track.

It is an interesting report.

When reporting feedback on new DCC Fitted models would it be possible for members indicate the make of console being used.

Hornby decoders would be expected to perform at their best (I would presume?) when Hornby Digital consoles are used and this should be the default console used for any report. I would presume the decoder characteristics are set up for Hornby Digital consoles.

Or does this matter?


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 25 Mar 2007, 11:09) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>When reporting feedback on new DCC Fitted models would it be possible for members indicate the make of console being used.

Hornby decoders would be expected to perform at their best (I would presume?) when Hornby Digital consoles are used and this should be the default console used for any report. I would presume the decoder characteristics are set up for Hornby Digital consoles.

Or does this matter?


Happy modelling
Gary

The Hornby website today @ 11.45 states (exact words) that Hornby DCC equipment is quote "Designed to be NMRA compatible", therefore the make & type of console being used is totally irrelevant, for this or any further test. By all means quote what is being used but it will be as relevant as what time of day it is.

If, however it turns out that Hornby decoders will only operate satisfactory with Hornby consoles then Hornby should clearly state that this is so. It may of course be that this is deliberate Hornby policy.

These strange compatability issues only seem to be effecting the real entry level equipment.
 

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Hornby decoders are designed to be NMRA compatible as are any number of makes of decoder and Hornby decoders do function with non Hornby consoles.

Its the characteristics of the various NMRA compatible systems that can have a variance and the console used may be relevant.

This may be said for any make of decoder being used with a console supplied by any alternative manufacturer.

The default power curve for the 128 steps may be entirely different from one brand of console to the next and there may be other default variations. I have noted performance differences when using the Bachmann EZ-Command and the Hornby Select so this does appear to be an issue.

I am not defending Hornby is any way whatsoever. I am simply reminding folk that it would be safe to assume that a brand of decoder and motor would be designed to perform at its best with the brands own console.

If the performance is not acceptable in these circumstances then there are certainly question marks. The fitting of a decoder the wrong way around is of course unacceptable and any customer who has this issue should take the loco back to the stockist or contact Hornby. I would want an exchange as I do not want my loco bodies to be opened up as an after sales thing to sort this if the model is DCC Fitted but that is me as my tolerance for this sort of thing is absolutely nil!

I 100% expect my Hornby kit to work perfectly out of the box when placed straight on the track and no messing! That is my total expectation and what I am used to from Hornby! I am paying good money and I have high expectations as a result.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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>The default power curve for the 128 steps may be entirely different from one brand of console to the next
I thought the power curve was stored in the decoder? Or, do the controller settings on consoles vary in how they translate their degree of rotation to speed step output?

David
 

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It has been stated by Stan Ames (one of the NMRA DCC founding gurus) that the output waveform on the Hornby Select have been found to difer from DCC standards. Please see direct quote below:-

"Be convinced! The Hornby DCC waveform is not an NMRA DCC signal.
Referring to this system as "DCC Compatible" is shall we say a looong
stretch.

I have also placed a system on a scope and performed a variety of other
tests using the published NMRA tests as a starting point. This is not
the only problem with the system. The problem being discussed here is
between +4 and -4 volts which is a well defined zone in NMRA S-9.1.
The waveform will cause more then one brand of decoder to ignore a
significant part of the bit which will result in the valid remainder to
be outside the allowable. Some decoders will decide to go into analog,
others will reject the bits. It is perfectly acceptable from a
standards perspective to ignore the entire signal as invalid.

Many of us would be happy to assist Hornby fix the bugs in their system
so that they at least could be legitimately referred to as DCC. While
I really like the system, it should in my opinion never been brought to
market in its current state.

Stan Ames

Founder of NMRA DCC" (Quoted from ZTC Controls forum, which itself quoted from the DCCUK Yahoo group)

So, Gary you may have a point that the Hornby R8215 wil only work well with a Hornby Select. I don't know as I dumped my Hornby Digital Starter Set a while back, after finding other things I was not happy about. Mostly the fact that you cannot cut the voltage to the track.

Anyhow, for the record I tested the loco with my ZTC 505, later I will try it again with the new Roco Multimaus system which arrived yesterday, and report back. Of course, for the DCC standard to mean anything, then the results should be consistent. It is interresting that I was getting similarly poor results with my M7 to the reviewer of the Pendolino pack.

AshleyH
 

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The speed curve is indeed stored in the decoder and can be changed by editing the decoder's CV's
 

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Whilst Stan Ames is an authority he and the NMRA may not be fully up to speed with certain aspects of EEC legislation. There is a simple remedy but it is not for Hornby to sort according to sources as their product fully complies with all current and future electronic goods EEC legislation. Information no doubt has been passed onto Stan and its best to await developments.

It would definitely be very interesting to get your assessment of how the loco runs with the Roco relative to the ZTC.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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>Whilst Stan Ames is an authority he and the NMRA may not be fully up to speed with certain aspects of EEC legislation. There is a simple remedy but it is not for Hornby to sort according to sources as their product fully complies with all current and future electronic goods EEC legislation.

How does complying with EU legislation / regulations for electroncs goods result in Hornby's units outputing a waveform which Stan Ames takes issue with?

David
 

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Regardless of any other consideration, the basis of the buyer's problem is in the nebulous phrase
QUOTE Designed to be NMRA compatible
It contains TWO major cop outs.

1. "Designed to be" does not mean "IS"
and
2. "compatible" does not mean "fully compliant with"

The only thing we can rely on with the phrase, "Designed to be NMRA compatible",
is that an item so deviously described is almost guaranteed to be NOT fully compliant with NMRA specification!
If it were, we can be very sure that it would say as much.

The wording seems very carefully chosen (in an attempt) to evade responsibility when/if the customer finds out the truth.
 

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QUOTE (dwb @ 25 Mar 2007, 12:58) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I thought the power curve was stored in the decoder?

David

You are quite correct David - power curves, as well as all the other CV's are stored in the decoder itself, so again the console used is irrelevant.

IMHO the comments & finding of AshleyH says it all.
 
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