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DT
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Gary stopped by with a box of goodies for testing. Before
getting down to running trains we had some time for a BBQ.

We like to extend our French hospitality to visiting guests (right).

I have now for the first time been testing the Hornby Elite and the Hornby Select (connected together) on my layout. I normally have a Lenz Set 100 running things with some Arnold Cab controllers and keyboards providing guests with their own control stations.

Some interesting points have come up. Firstly the Select IMHO is un-intuitive and has a limited display requiring the manual to be on hand. The Elite is better, but I'm not sure if the menu structure was designed my a DCC user. Before Hornby came along with their new DCC devices, I was not fussed about programming modes. I used a programming track for detailed CV programming and occasionally I'd use PoM to tweak a setting of one of the locos. What is all this fuss about Direct, Operational, Register and Paged modes?

I also have a large collection of decoders in my operating locos so some of them support PoM and some don't. My programming track is easy to get to and the locos can drive on to it under DCC and then a DTDP switch switches over to the programming track circuit.

We were thrashing about with the Select then the Elite on various forums as well as the Hornby loco decoder and accessory decoder and discovered that one had to use different programming modes to achieve different things. My Lenz did support these modes, but I had never had to use them before. I think that Hornby even used that fact that there were 4 programming modes supported in the marketing blurb as if it was a good thing. Well it has confused many...

The cyclic menus on the Elite are sort of logical, but frustrating when you get to know them and find that you are pressing far to many buttons repetitively to get to an embedded item. Lenz offers cyclic menus, but then offers direct access using a numbered menu system for direct access.

For some strange reason, it takes 5 or 6 seconds to program one CV with LED indicators flashing in a slow hypnotic fashion. To program the long address, it has to set 3 CV codes (CV17, CV18 & CV29) so it is a 3 x 5 second delay. 15 second for one address and it seems to take for ever. I like to dip into the CVs and modify things quickly and then test the outcome right away. The Elite makes this process very laborious.

What was the 1.1 firmware update meant to fix? Wasn't it the direction indicators on the device? Gary had some funny ideas about what they were meant to show. Because they are reversed and because most people will hook up a controller to a ring of set track and expect to see the trains go off forwards from right to left (why is this...?). So he and perhaps the Hornby designers thought that that was it all was well. Get the train and controller onto my layout where track goes everywhere, the direction indicators do not point in the direction of travel. Then should be showing right-arrow for forwards and left-arrow for backwards. They don't do that and it is confusing.

Hornby decoders do not reset to address #3 when the loco encounters an electrical short using the Elite. Based on this fact, the Hornby engineers let out into the world all their little decoders that do not work well with other systems. Testing Gary's locos on my Lenz DCC controller before we connected up the Elite, we had a slight problem with one loco and ended up having 5 locos on the track all on address #3 and all responding to one cab controller!

The Hornby Elite is not compatible with some reversing modules. We haven't tested it with a whole bunch, but the ones that I have from Tony's Train Exchange don't work. The reversing modules are used on reversing loops and on my turntable. With the Elite, the controller cuts out before the reversing module detects the short and switches the polarity. Perhaps I can find a way to either slow the response of the Elite or to speed up the response of the reversing modules. As they are, they work faster than my Lenz system, so the polarity is reversed before the Lenz cuts out.

The Elite does not connect to the LH100 Lenz. Sort of obvious, but we did try. The Elite does not connect to the Arnold cabs with their slightly older XBUS version of XpressNet. The Arnold cabs work perfectly with the XpressNet of my Lenz system. The Hornby Elite does not connect to the Hornby Select when using a flat 6-core telephone wire cable and RJ-11 or RJ-12 connector plugs. The Hornby Elite does connect to the Hornby Select however when using twisted pair CAT-5 Ethernet cable and RJ-12 connector plugs. 3 pairs are used and the inner pair is twisted, then the next two outer wires and finally the outermost wires - although they are not needed for XpressNet. We had the Select on a 5 meter long cable and are using it as a walk-around controller. It gives a good perspective of the track when you follow the loco instead of seeing it disappear into the distance from one position.

My overall opinion of the Elite so far is that it is an easy to use device. It is cheap. It is well made. It has a good feel and operating characteristics with the pair of rotary encoders. It is
intuitive and can be used without referring to the manual due to the well indicated menus. Note that the Select doesn't have a rotary encoder, but rather a dial with a min and max position.

I'm going to add to this topic with more findings over the next few weeks. More info and photos to come.

I was hoping that Bachmann could have sent over a Dynamis to run alongside the Hornby devices and my Lenz setup, but Bachmann is still not interested in supporting any web based publication - even one that has a tax registered company behind it and monthly readership similar to some paper magazine sales numbers.
 

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QUOTE the Select IMHO is un-intuitive and has a limited display requiring the manual to be on hand. The Elite is better, but I'm not sure if the menu structure was designed my a DCC user. Before Hornby came along with their new DCC devices, I was not fussed about programming modes. I used a programming track for detailed CV programming and occasionally I'd use PoM to tweak a setting of one of the locos. What is all this fuss about Direct, Operational, Register and Paged modes?

This doesn't surprise me. It's pretty much what you would expect to happen when you hand a bunch of designers a specification and say "Build me one of those". It's a bit like the quote (I believe it was Oscar Wilde) "Critics know the price of everything and the value of nothing". I think that's being too harsh on the Hornby system designers but I hope it conveys the idea of the "je ne sais quoi" that's missing from "version 1".

>BBQ
I travelled through the west midlands northbound on Friday, southbound on Saturday - it was raining each time. Today it's been raining all day - enjoy Gary!

David
 

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hi doug,

nice pic's. i seen an advert in hornby magazine. of a shop that advertized the dynamis. BUT. it stated that it will be release about aug/sept 07
however this issue there is not mension of it, in the same advert. this maybe why you did not get a pre-production model to try.

john
 

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QUOTE We like to extend our French hospitality to visiting guests (right). I don't see any meat on those kebabs?

I see from your turntable that you have wired the run off tracks. Did you come up with a solution to the wiring problem?
 

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DT
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QUOTE (john g @ 27 May 2007, 22:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>... i seen an advert in hornby magazine. of a shop that advertized the dynamis. BUT. it stated that it will be release about aug/sept 07
however this issue there is not mension of it, in the same advert. this maybe why you did not get a pre-production model to try...
I did ask Bachmann for a pre-production model or an early production model, but they replied saying that they were not able to contribute to our review program.

QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 28 May 2007, 00:31) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I don't see any meat on those kebabs?
Gary is vegetarian. We eat meat (as does the rest of France), but we can quite happily do veggie cuisine when required. Those kebabs were great. We grilled a few sausages too that night that weren't shown in the photo.

QUOTE I see from your turntable that you have wired the run off tracks. Did you come up with a solution to the wiring problem?
The turntable is working fine. I have isolated pieces that are connected to the active track section from the turntable bridge. All other track is connected to the DCC BUS.

As the Hornby Elite does not work with the Tony's Train Exchange reversing unit, I have to have the bridge facing a certain way, ie: not oposite to the track polarity. If it swings right around, it causes an error on the Elite.
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 28 May 2007, 08:58) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I did ask Bachmann for a pre-production model or an early production model, but they replied saying that they were not able to contribute to our review program.
Gary is vegetarian. We eat meat (as does the rest of France), but we can quite happily do veggie cuisine when required. Those kebabs were great. We grilled a few sausages too that night that weren't shown in the photo.
The turntable is working fine. I have isolated pieces that are connected to the active track section from the turntable bridge. All other track is connected to the DCC BUS.

As the Hornby Elite does not work with the Tony's Train Exchange reversing unit, I have to have the bridge facing a certain way, ie: not oposite to the track polarity. If it swings right around, it causes an error on the Elite.
The reason I ask about the turntable is that I have recently wired up mine and when it is rotating and passes the current in track it experiences a slight short. I had wondered if this had something to do with the wiring issue that you posted a few months back? Can the reversing unit resolve this?

I thought it was a bit unusual to be vegetarian South African living in France, which was why I asked. Neither country really took to vegetarianism.
 

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DT
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The Fleischmann turntable supplies current to the track that the bridge points to. Unfortunately, it shorts just before connecting to the track due to the contacts of the bridge touching the opposite contacts. This is solved by isolating the short run-off pieces from the turntable.



Re: vegetarians in SA. Actually I knew quite a few vegetarians there. That's where I learned how to cook with and for them. We don't do anything soya and we don't try and make veggie burgers, but we do make good vegetable dishes. I have yet to meet a vegetarian Frenchman. When Gary gets back from his travels, perhaps he can confirm that...
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 28 May 2007, 09:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The Fleischmann turntable supplies current to the track that the bridge points to. Unfortunately, it shorts just before connecting to the track due to the contacts of the bridge touching the opposite contacts. This is solved by isolating the short run-off pieces from the turntable.



Re: vegetarians in SA. Actually I knew quite a few vegetarians there. That's where I learned how to cook with and for them. We don't do anything soya and we don't try and make veggie burgers, but we do make good vegetable dishes. I have yet to meet a vegetarian Frenchman. When Gary gets back from his travels, perhaps he can confirm that...

Thanks for that. I'll re-wire my Turntable accordingly.

My memories of SA were eating vast amounts of meat breakfast lunch and dinner, bit like here actually.


I agree to forget the soya, vegetables are far better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I had a problem running my locos with old Arnold and older Lenz decoders with the Hornby Elite.

It turns out that those decoders set the second bit of CV29 to 1 to allow 28 or 128 speed steps or to 0 to allow 14 or 27 speed steps.

As part of the loco Features, the Elite sets the loco speed steps to 128 or 28 or 14. Resetting the loco speed steps to 28 allows them to work with the Elite. Hornby acknowledge this issue and explain the procedure for resetting the loco's speed steps:

 

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DT
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Some other points about the Elite

Emergency stop. A funny thing about this is that it only works when you press and release the stop button. Press and hold for too long (over 2 sec) and it doesn't work. Generally one would press and release.


When you press Stop again to restore power, the loco speeds are shown (as they were before the Stop button was pressed), but the locos are not active and don't start automatically. You have to nudge the control knobs slightly to re-send the signal to the loco. You do have time to rapidly bring the loco to a stop if you need to. I like the fact that all locos are stopped and then individually started again.

Loco Log. An interesting feature when looking for a loco. The Loco Log function allows you to search for a loco on the track. Type in the loco name or number. Apparently it is meant to move forwards and/or backwards. Well it moves about 6cm forwards with my locos. Fine if you don't have it parked to close to anything else. Even if favourites is on, you still have to type in the full number, you cant cycle through the list.

Favourites. When you power-up the Elite, annoyingly it defaults to loco#3 rather to the last loco address that you were using. If you use the Favourites setting, you cycle through your favourite locos instead of having to type the number in each time. Annoyingly again, when you call up a loco from your favourites list, it defaults to #1 even if you don't have a loco at address #1. Minor bugs, but irritating all the same.

Function setting. This is a real problem. To select a function, you have to press the function button, enter the function number on the keypad (0 to 13) then press the control knob button. Once a function is selected, you can use the on/off button above the function button to select the last used function. There is no setting to define the function as press-on, press-off or press-for-momentary-on. Running locos with sound decoders is a real pain. What is the point of 13 functions if it takes 3 or 4 key presses per function to sound a horn and then another press to reset the system so the horn can be sounded again. During normal running, the numeric keypad is not used at all and the keys do nothing. Why not assign them to functions like Lenz do.

Accessories / turnouts. Another long winded process. To throw a point, you have to press the Acc button, again if it is not the one you used last, then dial in the number of the accessory, press the control knob button to confirm, then rotate the control know to switch the point. 5 or 6 presses and turns just for one point. Just imagine if you had to drive the train through an engine yard of 5 or 6 points - what a pain.

Speed indicator. On the LCD display,the loco speed is shown. I get the feeling with my existing locos that even if the locos start off at the first speed step, the controller only really starts moving the train after the halfway mark. You have to bring the control knob and indicator to half way before any real movement is achieved. Then you only have have the speed step allocation to run the loco. Perhaps I have to reprogram the speed table to work with the Elite, but they were fine on the Lenz, and I've only got the Elite on loan from Gary so I'm loath to do so.

I hope that some of these issues can be addressed by firmware updates.

So what do I like about the Elite? I like the knobs, the display, the engine names, two knobs on one unit, the relatively cheap price. I think Hornby have gone half way with a DCC unit. Nothing revolutionary about it and I'll go back to my Lenz without feeling like I've lost anything amazing.

I am sorry that so many of the features are so complicated to use. This will put off quite a few new converts to DCC, but we won't know for sure for a few years yet. Perhaps Hornby could redeem themselves with a better system, but I get the impression that they are not really interested in what DCC users actually want from a system.

I was looking at the latest advert for the Hornby Elite. What a bonus - at least the Elite doesn't need batteries
 

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DT
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Voltages...

My Lenz outputs 16V as standard to the track. ESU ECoS outputs 17.2V. The Hornby Elite outputs 14.5V.

Is this perhaps why my locos seem a little lethargic on the track with the Elite after running on the Lenz?

The Lenz output voltage can be modified. I'm sure the ECoS output can be changed too, but not the Elite.
 

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Computer control with the Hornby Elite.

The printed manual that comes with the Elite mentions computer control in a small paragraph towards the end grouped together with other sundry topics such as XpressNet Connection and Firmware Update.

QUOTE The Elite unit can support a PC as a controller utilising the XpressNet protocol plus suitable
software via the USB interface.This will allow for the control of locomotives and accessories by the
PC.There are several software programmes available and to install follow the instructions supplied
with the software. A USB lead will be required (not included with the Elite) to connect the Elite to
a computer. Please check before purchasing that the software is compatible with the Hornby Elite.

Driver
Hornby USB driver available here: http://www.hornby.com/customer-support/dow...on,110,HAR.html

Software
I tried JMRI on Com 7 - system crashed 4 times - gave up.
Tried Railroad & Co. Elite not supported apparently. Next release perhaps...

Any ideas
 

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DT
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Elite Clock.
You would expect a clock to keep time... The Elite looses about three minutes every hour.

I realise that this is not made in Switzerland, but what's the point of having a clock if it can't keep time?

Whenever you turn it off, the clock resets to 00:00. A bit of a pain to reset it so most of the time you just don't bother.
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 29 May 2007, 19:07) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Computer control with the Hornby Elite.

The printed manual that comes with the Elite mentions computer control in a small paragraph towards the end grouped together with other sundry topics such as XpressNet Connection and Firmware Update.
Driver
Hornby USB driver available here: http://www.hornby.com/customer-support/dow...on,110,HAR.html

Software
I tried JMRI on Com 7 - system crashed 4 times - gave up.
Tried Railroad & Co. Elite not supported apparently. Next release perhaps...
Any ideas


Doug,

Not sure whether the USB driver your are using is the same thing, but you should probably use the one supplied by Hornby at:

http://www.hornby.com/customer-support/dow...on,110,HAR.html

We are currently working on a driver for our SSI software (http://www.gppsoftware.com/ssi) to work with Elite, but unfortunately, there appear to be problems with the USB driver and we are advised by Hornby that there will be an update of the USB driver available on their website very shortly.

During our development work, we tried using our Lenz 100 driver with Elite but found that it did not work due to timing problems - it is not presently directly compatible with Lenz. Further investigation found that our driver was actually timing out because either (a) the USB driver was not sending data to Elite, (
Elite was not receiving data or © Elite was not responding. It appears to be (a) causing (
and ©.

JMRI hasn't been updated for Elite. RR&Co like us, is in consultation with Hornby trying to get the computer interface to work.

Be aware that Elite does not support feedback, so in that respect, it is pretty much a ZTC equivalent at a much more reasonable price.

Graham Plowman
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Funny, messing about with Com ports reminds me of the good-old-bad-days of DOS. Why doesn't this thing just plug and play?

Hornby have told me that some software will be available soon that will run together with the Elite.
 

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QUOTE (Graham Plowman @ 30 May 2007, 05:02) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Doug,

Not sure whether the USB driver your are using is the same thing, but you should probably use the one supplied by Hornby at: ...

Graham, thanks for the info. I've edited my post and your quote (of my post) in an attempt not to create confusion between versions of the driver.

Neither of the drivers work...

JMRI doesn't crash now, but it says the Com port is being used by another device. Every Com port setting I use I get the same story.

Looking forward to some software updates. Hopefully to to far off.
 

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Just a thought, Doug, but when I tried to do the software upgrade on the Elite it wouldn't let me use a USB port on a hub - I had to plug the USB connection directly into one of the USB ports on the computer. Are you using a USB hub, by any chance?

Regards

John R
Bromsgrove Models
 

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QUOTE (BromsMods @ 31 May 2007, 06:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Just a thought, Doug, but when I tried to do the software upgrade on the Elite it wouldn't let me use a USB port on a hub - I had to plug the USB connection directly into one of the USB ports on the computer. Are you using a USB hub, by any chance?

Regards

John R
Bromsgrove Models

John, Doug,

The Elite manual actually says that you must NOT use a USB hub when doing the firware update.

Graham Plowman
 

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Missed that, Graham, but the instructions on-line for carrying out the download (which I printed out) make no mention of this!

Regards

John R
Bromsgrove Models
 
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