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Hornby Elite a Worthy Upgrade?


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I have a starter DCC Controller a want to upgrade my dcc controller for a serious(ish) layout, with Dcc sound, is Upgrading to Hornby elite worth it for this?. 

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There’s a wide range of brands and types on the market. Some are desk panels, some are handheld. Besides locos, what else do you plan to run by Dcc, eg accessories?  The size of your layout may be a consideration. I can’t help but think the better choices may come from specialist Dcc manufacturers, rather than a model manufacturer who happens to produce a controller.

Best advice would be to go to a good retailer and try out a few, as the look (ie the screen and its content) and feel are important to the individual in different ways. 

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1 hour ago, Someone said:

I have a starter DCC Controller a want to upgrade my dcc controller for a serious(ish) layout, with Dcc sound, is Upgrading to Hornby elite worth it for this?. 

 

Short answer is No - avoid Hornby DCC equipment completely. They might be a leading brandname in model railways but their DCC equipment leaves a lot to be desired. My personal recommendation would be a NCE Powercab but it depends on your budget. Dont skimp on control equipment

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1 hour ago, Someone said:

I have a starter DCC Controller a want to upgrade my dcc controller for a serious(ish) layout, with Dcc sound, is Upgrading to Hornby elite worth it for this?. 

 

In short, no.

I would personally void this clunky system, particularly if you want DCC sound and quick access to triggering functions.

 

The Hornby Elite DCC system, has been out of stock for over something like a year anyway.

Some retailers will let you order one on reserve, for delivery sometime in 2022....if they eventually turn up. 

 

 

 

.

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18 minutes ago, LaGrange said:

 

Short answer is No - avoid Hornby DCC equipment completely. They might be a leading brandname in model railways but their DCC equipment leaves a lot to be desired. My personal recommendation would be a NCE Powercab but it depends on your budget. Dont skimp on control equipment

 

49 minutes ago, ITG said:

There’s a wide range of brands and types on the market. Some are desk panels, some are handheld. Besides locos, what else do you plan to run by Dcc, eg accessories?  The size of your layout may be a consideration. I can’t help but think the better choices may come from specialist Dcc manufacturers, rather than a model manufacturer who happens to produce a controller.

Best advice would be to go to a good retailer and try out a few, as the look (ie the screen and its content) and feel are important to the individual in different ways. 

I have a few locos but want to make a big collection in the future. 

 

My max budget is 500 GBP at most, i plan on using Point motors and Maybe layout lighting, i haven't figured the layout size yet. 

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It depends on your budget and what you want. I have both a Hornby Elite and a Bachmann Dynamis and both have features I like and ones I'm less keen on. My Dynamis only covers functions up to F19 so doesn't allow access to the higher number sound functions. 

The F-functions are very handy to use on an Elite running system 4.15 - the good news is that the Elite operating system can be upgraded (unlike the Dynamis) so even my 2009 model was able to be updated. 
Both are pricey if bought brand new but good secondhand ones are quite a bit cheaper than the next stage up for the professional systems. 

A lot is down to personal preference so access to dealer that can let you see and ideally play with some alternatives is a very good idea.

Edited by andyman7
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4 minutes ago, andyman7 said:

It depends on your budget and what you want. I have both a Hornby Elite and a Bachmann Dynamis and both have features I like and ones I'm less keen on. My Dynamis only covers functions up to F19 so doesn't allow access to the higher number sound functions. 

The F-functions are very handy to use on an Elite running system 4.15 - the good news is that the Elite operating system can be upgraded (unlike the Dynamis) so even my 2009 model was able to be updated. 
Both are pricey if bought brand new but good secondhand ones are quite a bit cheaper than the next stage up for the professional systems. 

A lot is down to personal preference so access to dealer that can let you see and ideally play with some alternatives is a very good idea.

I need a system which i can once my collection is large but also now while i have a tiny collection, so i need a system that will be suitable for years before needing an Upgrade, 

 

Maybe a Roco Z21. 

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DCC specialist systems are much of a muchness I think, in that they are all competent.  Personally I wouldn't touch a system produced by a model manufacturer.  My system is NCE Powercab and I've had it for at least 20 years and am well satisfied.  I upgraded a couple of years ago with a 5A booster.

 

I'm not going to tell you to get NCE, that is a personal choice.  I think all things being equal, it comes down to how the system feels in your hand.

 

I'm doing 0 gauge and all my locos have sound.

 

John

Edited by brossard
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I bought my Hornby Elite in January 2009 for £123.50. It has had all the upgrades - currently 1.45, and works for me. I run an end-to-end layout (about twenty seven feet), and usually only one loco working at a time. The sound operation is ok - when I use it. All of my Cobalt iP point motors are programmed in, but are also wired for toggle switch (on a mimic board) operation which is much quicker. It is a bit of a toy in many peoples eyes, but it works and has never let me down. For a large layout I'm sure there would be better controllers.

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1 hour ago, brossard said:

.....Personally I wouldn't touch a system produced by a model manufacturer.  .....

 

John, please don't use this tired and partly nonsensical cliché.

 

One of the most comprehensive and advanced DCC systems on the market is the Roco Z21 - As we all know, Roco are primarily a model manufacturer.

Before that system, Roco produced the very competent Multi-Maus and Multi-Maus Pro.

 

ESU and Lenz, both specialists in DCC systems and products, are also RTR model manufacturers.

 

Bachmann's now rather dated Dynamis, is a rebadged ESU system.

 

Piko, a large RTR model manufacturer, have sold both the  SmartControl and SmartControl Light systems, sourced respectively from ESU and Uhlenbrock, both DCC specialist manufacturers.

 

 

.

Edited by Ron Ron Ron
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Personally, I have abandoned my Hornby Elite for the Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance system. 

I prefer having the handheld controller for running my layout and the Prodigy allows use of the active brake functions provided on most sound chips. A caveat to this is that on F2 is momentary, and cannot be changed on the Prodigy, but I believe can be on other systems.

As others have said, it is down to personal preference, there is much more than cost alone to consider.

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I need a system that has a Aux Output for accessories.

I want a sizeable layout, but it won't be really huge like Michael smiths lakeside. 

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Does your Aux actually need to be integrated to the controller though? I understand that may be a benefit of the Elite, however there are many splitter boards suitable for 12/15V that can be powered by a simple laptop supply.

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8 minutes ago, Someone said:

I need a system that has a Aux Output for accessories.

I want a sizeable layout, but it won't be really huge like Michael smiths lakeside. 

For DCC you don’t really use an aux output for accessories, although you may opt to have both a track bus (wiring circuit) and an accessory bus separately. Opinion seems to be split, some just opt for a single bus. That said, there are options for how you choose to control accessories, such as:

1. using the buttons on your Dcc device

2. adding separate switches or mimic panel but still running off your Dcc device 

3. using a separate DC power source for accessories with no connection at all with your DCC system, but obviously would still need switches etc.

For options 1 & 2 you will need decoders for those accessories, either individually or in ‘banks’, ( units with several decoder outputs, but a single input from your controller).

 

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14 minutes ago, Someone said:

I need a system that has a Aux Output for accessories.

I want a sizeable layout, but it won't be really huge like Michael smiths lakeside. 

It’s not so much the size of the layout (in solely dimension terms), but what length of track and how many locos and other DCC driven stock and accessories). Always better to invest either upfront in extra capacity or a system which can be upgraded.

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5 hours ago, Someone said:

 

I have a few locos but want to make a big collection in the future. 

 

My max budget is 500 GBP at most, i plan on using Point motors and Maybe layout lighting, i haven't figured the layout size yet. 

 

Key questions before jumping into "whichever system someone else bought and thinks is great"....

 

1 - do the throttles do what you want, and fit well in your hand.   Some are an absolute pain in the arse to set higher function keys or operate turnouts.  Others are easier.    Some people like using phone screens as throttles, others dislike them.  

 

2 - do you plan to have sound locos ?   If so, how will you handle the multiple sound function keys ?   Will a handset which only has F2 as non-latching (ie. you press and the sound plays, you release and it stops) work well when you want multiple non-latching keys (so you end up pressing button once to play the sound, let it play, then have to press button again to clear the button).   As a general rule, its European handsets which allow you to customise the latching/non-latching behaviour, US designs tend to be fixed.   Smartphone and tablet throttles generally allow customisation of this.  

 

3 - turnout control.  Turnouts through most throttles are difficult and awkward to use.   So many people end up back with either switch panels or computer screens.   If planning to control turnouts through your DCC system, make sure you can add a button or computer screen system without too much difficulty.   Most can have that added with some extra stuff (sometimes from third party suppliers), but some don't.    

 

4 - any possibility of using computers to assist at some point ?  Be it signalling/turnout control on a touch screen.   Or full-blown computer-drives-trains automation ?  If so, how complex is it to add such stuff.   Some makers are pretty poor when it comes to computer interface feature; either down-right hostile to the idea, or have an interface which doesn't work properly. 

 

5 - any possibility you might want RailCom to identify locos on the layout in different places ?  If so, buy a system which works with RailCom (lots don't, general rule, if its European it may work with RailCom if its US-designed it probably doesn't (or doesn't unless you add a load of hassle)). 

 

 

And the Hornby Elite system isn't worth spending your pennies on.   

 

 

- Nigel

 

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I just need an either an upfront Pro system or an expandable one. 

 

I also need a system i can directly plug the Kato DC AC converter into for switch control. 

 

I was thinking of the roco Z21 full set that comes with the Rooter and the Wlanmaus, does The Z21 support latching and multi-start sound decoders?.

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I would add that having instructions you can understand is a boon too for a beginner - we used to sell a lot of Elites as the destructions are quite good - as for Dynamis....aaagh!  

 

Do you want walk-around style, or panel based?  Makes a big difference in choice.  I like walk-around, and personally use Lenz plus a Roco Multi Maus because I have had it over 20 years and it was probably the best quality unit available at the time - it has been faultless.

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11 hours ago, Someone said:

I just need an either an upfront Pro system or an expandable one. 

 

I also need a system i can directly plug the Kato DC AC converter into for switch control. 

 

I was thinking of the roco Z21 full set that comes with the Rooter and the Wlanmaus, does The Z21 support latching and multi-start sound decoders?.

 

If planning to use Kato turnout motors, with their own switches, then these are outside of your DCC setup (which is completely fine, lots of people keep their turnouts outside of the DCC setup).    Therefore, don't put the need to power those onto the DCC system - a cheap AC transformer will power the Kato turnouts without hassle.  Or, they can be powered from DC with a little more thought.    
And, with the move to using DC power-bricks as power supplies (rather than transformers delivering AC), you'll find few DCC systems with a low voltage (approx 15v) AC output anyway.  

 

The Roco Z21 (black box) system is very good, and very adaptable.  The design does assume a phone/tablet as the controller interface, though the WLanMaus is a decent piece of kit.   Plus a computer is useful for updates (they come out reasonably regularly).  

The main issue with the Roco Maus designs is the control knob being "centre-off" :  some like it, some loathe it, its very much like Marmite.  Remember that it is "turn right to send loco forwards,  turn left to send loco backwards".   And, critically, forwards is "chimney end of loco (or cab-1 if its a diesel)" - it is not "clockwise around my layout",  you will find sometimes you're turning the knob clockwise and the loco will move to the left.   

The WLanMaus will do 28 functions, which covers all sound decoders.  Someone else who uses one needs to comment on how the latching/non-latching works on the device.  

 

 

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I am a tad mystified by the Elite bashing that goes on on this forum. I have an Elite running the locos and an eLink running the accessory bus (both4 amp supply) and the whole thing is run by Railmaster Pro. My layout has about 40 locos and 60 sets of points and has been working swimmingly ever since I set it up. My railway loft is 30ft long so I have 4 computer screens set up at various points, a wireless mouse so I can run the railway from anywhere in the room plus throttles on my iPhone and iPad. I take the point that some prefer a hand held throttle that has buttons to press but that aside my own experience with Hornby stuff has been fine. The advice about visiting a model shop is good, however where I live the nearest model shop where I could try stuff is about 200 miles away (deepest rural France!) so I looked at what was needed for my layout, plumped for Hornby and have not looked back.

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I want a pro system preferably, but i won't ever be DCC control my points, i quite happy running with good old fashioned levers. 

 

My dcc will be for trains and lighting accessories. 

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What do you mean by a 'pro' system? 

 

Many excellent, top quality systems, do not recognise the term 'pro' and if you will only accept items deemed as 'pro' then you will inevitably end up with poorer quality because you have fallen for marketing and branding hype use by less able systems to claim that they are better than reality suggests.

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4 minutes ago, WIMorrison said:

What do you mean by a 'pro' system? 

 

Many excellent, top quality systems, do not recognise the term 'pro' and if you will only accept items deemed as 'pro' then you will inevitably end up with poorer quality because you have fallen for marketing and branding hype use by less able systems to claim that they are better than reality suggests.

What i mean is a system which is pretty powerful and can do some pretty advanced stuff like automation, i like the Roco Z21 for this reason, that but also because although a laptop can be used, its not required for operation, i currently have a DCC++ system buts its irritating because i constantly have to plug in a bulky laptop during operation, and i only did dcc++ as an emergency Controller because my elink that came with a starter set broke. 

 

My only concern with the Z21 is that i won't withstand being powered off and on in between running sessions. 

 

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