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I get the impression this DCC debate is going along the same lines as the 'scale, fragile models of quality' one.

One of the points SK made in the Hornby interview was, basically, there is a world of difference in size, between the scale model fraternity[ and collector], and the ordinary buyer of 'hornby' trains.

He made the point that the market for the basic 'railroader' Hornby range is vastly more in terms of quantity, and hence income, than the market for 'scale' models.

He also made the point that the basic DCC range is actually very popular, with defect returns not being anything like the 'forummer's would have us believe.

therefore, despite the techno critics, there must be an awful lot of satisfied customers out there....customers whose trainsets perhaps don't aspire beyond the trakmat stage?

those same customers who are quite content with a basic Pendolino?

As for the 'smaller', more specialised manufacturers?

Perhaps their compliance with NMRA standards (whatever they are?) is more to do with the fact that their particular market might well encompass the huge US one?

I wont entertain DCC

I don't need it or want it.

same with my PC...I don't NEED all-singing all dancing stuff....and I don't care if its a sod to upgrade.....

perhaps there are thousands out there with trainsets who don't need the technology?

In these arguments, I sense this market factor is conveniently forgotten?

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QUOTE Hornby need to wake up and fix this before it is too late. Yes, lots of people are buying the digital sets and select controllers, but how many will pack it away, never to see the light of day again and forget any railway modelling aspirations they may have had because they became disillusioned after using the select?

My big concern is that instead of widening the hobby and making digital more accessible, it will act as a turn-off for the 'train-setters' who end up with a troublesome and unreliable system

the gist of the above issue has been noted before by the larger(?) manufacturers.....very much pre-DCC.

A time when trainsets....the usual [and popular] route into model trains.....could be found containing cheap and basic, controllers....obviously 'built down to a price?

The policy seemed to be...''it'll do to get something running on Xmas day?'

Perhaps Hornby still have this attitude?

perhaps Hornby didn't feel 'serious' [DCC} enthusiasts would give their cheapo system a second look?

Wil Hornby actually worry about this critisiscm?

I doubt it, for the reason, I doubt the average parent looking at a Harry Potter trainset , or its ilk, a basic set as sold in every Argos catalogue,would dream of investgating forums such as this one, with a view to garnering opinion.

call me cynical, but I believe enthusiasts' needs are but the icing on Hornby's cake....

now, if Which? magasine had gotten hold of the undoubted evidence from the likes of Richard Johnson, et al, perhaps Hornby's pigeons would have been well and truly done.

as was observed early on...(and I believe, indirectly referred to in Model Rail's editorial) , Hornby, like any modern commercial concern, is not above a bit of spin,to deflect critics?

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QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 18 Jul 2007, 10:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>You missed the point we don't regard Hornby as a producer of DCC equipment at all. It's a propriety band called Hornby Digital. To call it DCC if a gross exaggeration at this stage.


am I missing something in that description?

Is there a close definition of what constitutes 'DCC?'

or is it simply a generic term defining a type of control exercised over independant electric motors (in engines?)

I feel it is the latter.....therefore it matters not HOW that control is achieved (and I suspect in the future, DCC equipment may well look, and be constructed from, very diferent components to what we find today....)

Thus, Hornby are quite entitled to call their systems 'DCC' if they so the same way they can call their products 'model railways'....

Their control MAY have considerable limitations, compared to others.

They may NOT be compatitble.....just like Lionel 3 rail is incompatible with Peco track....

The above comment smacks a bit of ''Reliant Robins aren't REAL cars?''

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2,202 Posts
QUOTE The car thing was also great, I've been fortunate to own a string of fabulous cars over the years but no way on gods earth would I ever had a Robin, they do not handle they have poor performance lack features and are condsidered by most, not to be a real car. It kind of reminds you of another product doesn't it?

yet..the Reliant IS a car,'s definition only changes because of some peoples' PERCEPTIONS of what they consider to be a 'real' car?
These perceptions are often clouded by more material views....when the reality is within the definition?

The example above is the view the reliant doesn't 'handle'...has 'poor performance'....lacks 'features'.....and the ultimate supposition.......QUOTE and are condsidered by most, not to be a real car.

the reliant's handling issue is largely due to the inadequate driver skills......the performance is relative.(consider that an entire racing formula...which spawned some ofthe truly great motor racing based upon the Reliant engine), etc....what are 'features?' to attract a buying public?..........the list goes on.....

the example of the DVD player doesn't really more than one sense.

leastwise, no more than the Hornby one....

what I am railling against is the creeping idea of DCC to actually mean a product, rather than simply a decription of a type of control system.

a simple, old-style trainset controller with provision for a few D-type batteries for a controller in exactly the same sense as the finest feedback item from, say, Gaugemaster.

They both do the same move a loco.

the difference lies in the quality of that control.

In the same way, the difference with the Hornby basic DCC system, compared to other stuff, lies, to me, with the quality of control.

whether it mixes and matches with other makes, is not likely to be an issue with a potential buyer, in Hornby's view.

Because that buyer may well view 'electric trainsets' (notice terminology) and ''railway modellers'' with much the same attitude, as has been displayed regarding, for example, the opinion of the Reliant Robin?

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2,202 Posts
QUOTE Dumping the reliant commnet as I see it as adding confusion.....

placed to denote an 'attitude' rather than a sound opinion.

QUOTE I agree that a trainset buyer doesn't know or understand the difference. In itself that is fine, if its both sold and bought as a short term toy.

Given the [apparent] volume of items shifted by Hornby, by their own admission.......and seeing the evidence that ongoing progression to 'railway modelling' [in the UK] is in fact conducted by a small minority of those buyers......I sense Hronby consider this market as 'short term'...therefore, their 'digital' two engines or more, but 2 wires only...controller , for them, is adequate.....equivalent to the battery things included in sets in the past.

QUOTE BUT, when the same set is bought by a more aware / committed modeller and both the retailer (in words) and Hornby (in writing) tell him it is a DCC system as he buys it, and it isn't, then that is WRONG. In that case, it is serious as it starts to become a consumer rights issue.

although an 'aware' modelling buyer is likley not to rely on a manufacturer's/dealer's blurb, but have already made their own minds up regarding the type of not made the purchase simply 'on the spur of the moment, because they like the idea'......the Hornby system does seem to work, (maybe not to an enthusiast's standards) by itself, ie as a stand-alone setup, and within the trainset limitations.

just like the old battery controllers.....which were included for the same reasons as Hornby's digital were as cheap as chips to make, therefore improving profit margins.

as such, it does what most non-cognoscenti understand DCC control does, ie two wires only, and each engine moves on demand?

which is very much what DCC control did in those early days way back in the 80's/90's?

except that DCC control has seriously moved on since then?

since no-one seems to have a financial or legal 'claim' to the defintion of being an umbrella term to define a type of control , as distinct from a rheostat and transformer.........I cannot see a problem with Hornby's usage. for the cheapo end of the overall trainset market, they've jumped on a band wagon........but, to quote your automotive example of the S100 and S110R Skoda....using a term which was ONCE upon a time understood as meaning something else, isn't a crime....seeing as GM, Ford, and everybody else did the same thing!
and skoda did rectify any performance situation with the 110R....later moving to the Rapid..which is quite a bit lighter than it's 4 door cousin.......which in itself isn't necessarily a useful attribute.

plus, I don't think Hornby are/were actually alone in doing what they have done.

Other mainstream trainset makers have done similar with their low-end products....Hornby are perhaps a little late joining the fray?

The factual side of this discussion I have no problem with.

Since it's introduction I have read critical reports on the Hornby product.

therefore, as an 'aware' enthusiast,I would not consider purchase.

not because of an incompatibility problem...we face that issue every day in modelling terms...couplings, wheelstandards, track standards, even different types of motors...

but because I cannot see the 'point', for my purposes.

it was a 'brave'..or cheeky?...attempt by Hornby to produce a control system cheaply enough for trainset usage.....

would we have had this outcry if they had simply provided a cheaply-made battery controller?

I think not.

because enthusiasts EXPECT to find such an item in a trainset, not aimed at THEIR market sector.

and there lies my's a system produced to a price, for a trainset.

why every body is getting up-in-arms at Hornby I fail to comprehend.

If it doesn't suit, don't buy!

After all, we apply this same purchasing logic to other model products? (Vitrains #37 v Bachmann's??)

Hornby have already gone some way to re-dress the issue to pacify the enthusiast?

but it costs!

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QUOTE Thats pretty much what Chris Leigh said in his Model Rail editorial

I really must read what he says more often.........

Hornby produced Zero One years ago........whilst I have little electrical knowledge beyond that necessary for models and vehicles....wasn't that system a 'digital' system?

did it not move individual loco's 'on demand?'

I have seen large layouts operated using zero one...and they work.

I do believe double deck buses used a similar system once, to allow the driver to change gear,electrically....with but one wire going to the back (where the gearbox lived?),
I feel that with the Hornby systems, it is going to be down to the dealers to advise anyone wishing to expand......and possiby mix and match brands?
In the same way, in the past, a dealer advised on compatibility of stock and track?

only downside, is that many retailers of Hornby sets aren't actually model shops.

I will now go back to building a Highland Railway locomotive out of scraps, card and wood.....but I wont 'show it off' when finished.....I don't want it being denigrated as not being a 'proper' scale model railway engine, because it ain't made of brass......

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QUOTE The accepted standards have been laid down by the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) an American Association.

that is a stand-alone statement of fact.

QUOTE Given the above, and the failure of the select to comply with the NRMA standards, the Select is probably not fit for the purpose for which it was sold.

'compliance' requires 'submission for testing?'

Has that been done?

also to be borne in mind, whilst the NMRA are an august body, their 'standards' are not a legislative requirement.

merely a 'suggestion' for manufacturers/suppliers to follow to achieve across-the-board compatibility.

[A 'suggetsion' , I might add, supported by the sheer numerical buying power of the US model railroader market?]

The aim of the NMRA standards, across the whole spectrum of modelling railroads, in my view, is to make life easier for the modeller.

If Hornby does not wish to comply, or even be 'compatible' with other makers, that is their business.

I may have missed something, but I haven't actually seen Hornby make a claim that their system are 'compatible' with any other maker?

In the same way, Hornby don't claim their couplings are 'compatible' with other makes?

As for 'fit for purpose?'

the question is...does it work for Hornby products?

does it work in the trainsets?

If so, it's fit for purpose.

If not, then the customer has recourse, from the dealer who sold the item.

If the Select system does not meet the standards required by an enthusiast customer, then they should look elsewhere?

[an anology..I bought a Vitrains#37....out of preference to the Bachmann model. My choice, it met my needs. I'm not over sure whether the Vitrains item meets NMRA standards...I don't actually care....but like the Hornby product, it does 'what it says on the tin?' For me.]

Hornby's Select system IS DCC control.......

If it works in its context as sold by Hornby, it is fit for purpose.

If the box is opened, trains set up, and it doesn't do what Hornby says it will, then it's not fit for purpose.

like an engine that doesn't run properly from the box?

as I've observed before.........just because a car doesn't have 4 wheels, doesn't stop it being a car.

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QUOTE Q. Is the Hornby system compatible with other systems?

A. Yes! It can be integrated with other similar systems currently on the UK market, i.e. Lenz and Gaugemaster, for instance.

Only ommision seems to be, Hornby haven't ACTUALLY stated which system they are talking about.....Select or Elite.

perhaps they should add ''only the Elite system can be etc'?

QUOTE Designed to be NMRA compatible

This is mentioned solely under the Elite specifications....not Select!

It doesn't state the system IS NMRA compatible, just that they have DESIGNED it to be so.......if it fails to meet the NMRA criteria, IF SUBMITTED FOR TEST......then they WILL need to re-write things.

from the above, I see no problems.

It IS advertising blurb at the end of the day..and I am well used to kidology...but they don't actually tell porkies.

I agree there is an issue of waveform....but that appears only to be with the basic, Select I right there?

this in mind, a query I raise is Hornby's statement

QUOTE The "Select" can be used as a Walkabout Unit when connected to the Hornby "Elite" Digital Unit.

would the Select waveform superimpose itself over that of the Elite system?

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QUOTE Hornby's selected system is not DCC as defined by Hornby.

Hornby define what they mean by DCC (in product glossaries and manuals and elsewhere) as being the NRMA standard.

If it they claim it's DCC (which they do), define what they mean by DCC (which they do), and the product fail to meet that standard, then it probably isn't fit for purpose.

how so?

QUOTE Digital Command Control.The application of computer technology to control the movements of locomotives.Each locomotive is fitted with a decoder (or 'chip') which is uniquely programmed and recognises its own identity and responds only to those control signals which are addressed to it. DCC also allows a wide range of extras including controllable lighting and on-board sound.The accepted standards have been laid down by the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) an American Association

Hornby describe WHAT DCC control is.

The NMRA do NOT define DCC control!
They merely publish a set of VALUES for various components or functions.
If makers follow those published values, they ensure compatibility with others who do likewise.

that is all.

Just because a wheel does not follow NMRA standards in its dimensions, doesn't make it 'not fit for purpose'...

what is really being said herein, seems to me to be..'if Hornby's Select does not FOLLOW or comply with NMRA standards, it's no good to me?'

Which is a wholly different idea to the legal one of 'fit for purpose?'

Incidentally, reference the part the internet has played in allowing folk to express their views easily.....I wonder what would have happend...what would have been said, all those years ago, when Marklin sold model trains that ran on stud contact, with AC current, and I'm pretty sure I'mm right, not using 12 volts?

would they have been villified as much?

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2,202 Posts
QUOTE Inded - and they describe it as being the NRMA standard.

I have quoted from Hornby's Glossary of terms.

Hornby define DCC as a 'concept', describing in basic terms, how DCC is achieved.

The 'accepted' standards laid down by the NMRA are values.

The NMRA have not, as far as I can read, laid down any 'defintion' of what 'DCC' should actually BE.

Hornby state QUOTE Designed to be NMRA compatible...for definate with the Elite...nowhere do they state this or imply it on the blurb for the Select.....[I've just had a local dealer go throught the instructins in a Select box!}

If this is wrong, then the mistake should be pointed out to Hornby?

They dont say the Elite IS nmra compliant...just that they 'designed' it to be.

As Richard says...playing on words?

the problem seems to be the 'perception' of what Hornby state?

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2,202 Posts
QUOTE As to my post, what emotional card is that Paul? Each example was real life and actually happened, and those sorts of things continue to happen. I simply said it as I see it, as I always do

to be fair, Richard, you have played an 'emotional' card.....simply by listing the types of disappointed customer you have had contact with.

Putting that list into a commercial context, they all represent a very tiny minority of do all enthusiasts.

what might be interesting to know, is Hornby's figures for returns/rejects from dealers, etc...on the Select system?

If even Hornby find those figures unacceptably high, then there really is an 'issue' over their product.

But, if those figures fall inside Hornby's idea of an acceptable level of failure..either their criteria are unacceptable, or the problem is more 'isolated' than is thought?

I think a read through Hornby's guarentee (note the 'lenght' idea of how Hornby view the Select?) will give a clue as to where things have gone astray...from a consumer's viewpoint.

The fact is, the Select is cheap and cheerful.

just like £15 DVD players.

it should have been viewed as such....not by commentators herein, but by the consumer.

I suspect a lot of folk were hoping to get more than they were willing to pay for?

which is an attitude many a small producer/business person can complain about these days?

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QUOTE If someone is ordering a Select Based trainset from Hornby directly - they would have right to assume that it is NRMA compatible

in just the same way, if ordering a locomotive described as a 'scale model', folk may have a 'right' to expect it to be so.

but this is a whole different fishkettle to an accusation based on 'legal' principles?

'fit for purpose' means, does it work, doing the job claimed?

and for a reasonable length of time.

If the conditions of the guarentee are adhered to, and the product works, then what is the argument?

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2,202 Posts
QUOTE Which Highland Loco are you making?

I'm having a crack at an '18' class small goods.....a 2-4-0 tender engine..probably# 27......since I have a photo...also probably kitted out as per post 1902-3!

Nice plain green lining....less complicated cab roof.....'Crewe' influence, so motion partly hidden by an outside frame ....which handily doesn't actually involve the drivers.

no immediate plans for mechanism....if I can't find my stock of small old motors, I might use a small long as it's cheap!
But I do fancy one of those multi-stage gearbox things.....a ratio of around 108:1 appeals....tedious for fly shunting...but if I build a layout that is tiny, then it'll take longer from bufferstop to bufferstop! DCC.... I still haven't had decent mileage out of the little feedback handheld controllers I bought 15 years ago!

[mind, all this talk about Hornby reminds me of how I discovered the shortcomings of one controller, nearly brand so hot running a couple of Athearn diesels on a British Region NMRA modular layout years ago.....part of the casing melted, onto my thumb! Got short shrift when I complained to the makers.....something about 'what d'you expect with two Athearns?''.....I learnt to let it cool down after 30 minutes!]

small businesses need to have a very different approach to customers compared to large one's.

large one's seem to employ someone specially to make all the right noises....regardless?

Perhaps ,in reality (commercially?) we are lucky that Hornby does actually pay attention to our needs as enthusiasts?
After all, they don't, commercially, have to?

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2,202 Posts
QUOTE so why are people continuing to defend Hornby Digital?

I don't think it is a case of 'defending' Hornby..or its digital control.

If they wish, they can do so themselves.

for my part, there is an issue with HOW Hornby [digital, Select] is being 'attacked.'

I agree there may be issues of compatibility and reliability.....but to go further and challenge Hornby's position regarding description and use of defintion is pushing the envelope a bit.

QUOTE I asked this question earlier but will ask it again, and I hope most of you will respond with what you can consider to be your honest reply. If you were a retailer and somebody asked you (and bear in mind they come with the select unit) "Is this Hornby Digital set compatable with other DCC systems?" how would you answer?

Firstly, if I were a Hornby retailer, but having the [limited] technical knowledge 'I' have, I would suggest either they [or I] contact Hornby for an answer.

or, suggest they go online to here
for a specification for the Select unit.

I would then make the observation that Hornby do not mention compatibility with other makes.

However, as a retailer , personally I would ensure I 'knew my product'...and would be aware of the above issues with Select....and answer honestly.

But I would not refer to the product as [email protected], or any other such generalisation.

However, I would ensure the customer had enough understandable information to make a value judgement as to which way to jump.

After all, 'Select's'limitations may be acceptable to them?
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