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Where to start?

4924 Views 17 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  greenfingers
Hi, I have recently got back into model railways. I have the Hornby pullman set plus all the track packs.

Looking at the Hornby catalogue for 2006 I have noticed the DCC stuff that is due in Q4.

Is this a good place to start?

I would ideally like to have digital trains with sound and lights if possible.

I also have the backmann digital start set. Can this be upgraded for sound and lights or is the EZ command unit really a beginners one.

What makes and models do you all use/recommend?
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If you are in no rush, the Hornby systems look good, but the details on them are not out yet (expect more info in the next few days).

Look in our Resources section under the DCC heading.

Take a look through the DCC section here. Remember that some of the topics are quite technical, so try not to get too 'distracted' by issues that don't apply to you just yet. It is addictive so I'm sure you'll be getting involved soon.
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QUOTE (Ace Grace @ 24 Jan 2006, 22:41)I would ideally like to have digital trains with sound and lights if possible.

I also have the backmann digital start set. Can this be upgraded for sound and lights or is the EZ command unit really a beginners one.

What makes and models do you all use/recommend?

If you already have the Bachmann digital set you are well equipped to get going with DCC. The Bachmann unit works perfectly well with the SW digital sound chips and was demonstrated with them at the Warley show.

If you get going with the Bachmann you will have a lot more knowledge by Q4 to know whether the Hornby set is what you wish to have.

As I understand it the Bachmann unit can only cope with 10 locomotives & has very basic programming but that may not be a problem for a while! SW Sound chips are £110 each so start saving. I would start with the Bachmann until I found out what I needed that it would not do. Your loco decoders/ sound chips will work with any replacement that you choose. I too am a beginner at DCC & think a few months of using anything would help me considerably.

As Doug says read the posts here as I have found this a very valuable resource. Just remember that DCC can be as simple or as complicated as you wish & don't let yourself get confused by some of the fairly technical discussion that you will find here.

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Ace Grace,

Your first thought is the best one. If I were going into DCC this year I would wait for the Hornby Elite. It has everything you want at a great price.

Keep reading around the subject (see book thread here)and play and test with the Bachman unit (find out what the function buttons do for a start!).

Lights and sounds are coming. Once Hornby gets going, more of their models will have lights, and, I suspect, we may even get a generic steam sound decoder from them in a couple of years. The Hornby Elite is ready for all of this. Be excited. But..

Keep cool - you develop as Hornby develops over the next couple of years we/you cannot have everything at once (unless you have a lot of dosh).

If you want a look to see where Hornby will be going in a few years, take a look at www. Broadway Limited - Americans ha!

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QUOTE Sound chips are £110

That seems a little steep. Tony's Trains sells them for 51.95.
If you look around you can get sound decoders for less than £40 delivered!
Thank you all for your advice. I will tinker with the bachmann set and keep an eye on what Hornby do.

I will also read the DCC information.

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As usual cost depends on what you want. The SW Digital sound/power chips are £110 but they do sound like the locos that they are supposed to sound like & have all the nice bits like correct start up & shut down, correct overrun, power, momentum sounds, correct horn etc etc. Do those at £50 have all this? The cheaper ones that I have heard sound nothing like a UK diesel. I don't want my Class 20's to sound like my Class 37's etc & I do want them to sound like the loco that I have modelled rather than some generic noise - normally US. Now I know what was meant in another post where sounds were described as annoying. I model diesel so that may well make a difference. I know of someone who converted the sound board out of a toy tractor - there you are sound for £5 if it turns you on.

If you know of a £50 sound board that allows me to shut my eyes & tell you which of my models it is at idle, full power etc etc please let me know as it will save me a fortune!

Certianly with steam this generally isn't a problem unless you want a chime whistle like on the A4's or Britannia. I think 110 quid for a sound decoder is over the top. I'd rather have another loco.
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I think £110 for a sound board is over the top as well. Trouble is that they are the only ones that I have heard that I think are worth buying. I would love to be persuaded otherwise. Just to prove that I am not alone they are the ones fitted in the New MRM magazine to 3 locos.


Thats the sort of thing I was thinking. A steam decoder that offers a general range of sounds for most users. E.g. a big Pacific, a medium standard, and a tank loco. As long as they all steam and hiss nicely in my MPD. Oh yes - and a generic clanking sound of wagons being slowly shunted would be nice. all for less than fifty quid please!


You need to look at the new Bachman details above!!

Hattons are advertising the "HORNBY ELITE" at £95 well worth waiting to see what its, like before spending your money on a DCC system
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You serriously think it's worth waiting for Hornby's system, which will be mid range at best. You could be waiting 12 - 18 months. It's an untried system at that point. Who knows what bugs maybe in the system. Several well known manufacturers have major revisions of software. Buy on features, and don't let your judgement be clouded by nice pictures for PR purposes. The true value of a system is in it's handhelds not in the command station it's self. The vast majority of DCC users hardly ever look at the command station. Hornby's effort looks more like a ZTC 511 or 505, fine for a tiny 8 x 4
table top, or shunting plank, but you could'nt cope without handhelds on a larger layout.
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I think you'd get most of what you want sound wise out of a Soundtraxx SDX sound only decoder. I've got 10 or loco's with these in and they sound OK, their well suited to Hornby as they sit nicely in the tender.Adding Sound
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and others that the expense of spending a couple of hundred pounds is out of the question. Why do you knock Hornby DCC when its isn't even released this seems to me very biaised
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Not bias at all I think the Hornby effort when it will arrives will be great for DCC as a
whole. The point is it isn't here yet. Yes if your on a tight budget then wait.Perhaps wait and save would be better. I don't care if you have a shunting plank or an 8 x 4 the point I have consistantly expressed is if you go DCC buy as many features as you can afford, more if possible. One of the great things with DCC is you arn't limited to sitting with you control unit just watching the trains bo by, you can be right there with you handheld while shunting. the Elite might be OK for an 8X4 but to get the best out of it you will still need a relatively expencive handheld.
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QUOTE the Elite might be OK for an 8X4 but to get the best out of it you will still need a relatively expencive handheld.


The large demo layout that Hornby had at the London Toy Fair (see pictures in news story) operated without any handheld device. And if you do want one then you can plug the small Hornby Select console into the big Hornby Elite console. According to Hornby by far the greatest proportion of UK modellers at home operate within an area the equivalent of 8x4 or less. Lets not call this a small layout as it is the most common layout in the UK.

On the subject of stockists offering up the Hornby Digital system at what seems to be bargain prices it may be that they are offering this as a loss leader to draw new customers to their stores. I suspect that they know that this is going to be a BIG draw for new customers at the price offered and they are hoping that once the account is opened by the new customer that repeat business will occur.

Pre-orders also help stockists to predict demand for the new product and when the Hornby sales rep turns up they can place an order in keeping with their predicted sales for the year based on pre-orders received.

Happy modelling
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Well said Gary, Well unless Mr.Brown gives us oap a decent rise this year
and the council tax demand are less than the usual huge rise , I will wait for the Hornby Elite because at that price I can afford it,and I can add extras to it as and when required
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