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Hornby HM 6000


The Johnster
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  • RMweb Gold

It’s a big ask, though, to be fair.  One would have to devise a method of sensing the revolution speed of the locomotive driving wheel in order to synchronise the correct number of exhaust beats, chuffs, 4 for 2 & 4 cylinder locos, 6 for 3 cylinder, and some means of sensing the load on the motor to emulate lower regulator settings or coasting.  You are probably talking about a chip aboard the loco to do this, and one might as well go for full fat DCC.  
 

 

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Your absolutely right to doubt such a development, but I’m sure an algorithm could be devised to match the output voltage, which the tablet/phone knows,  to wheel size, etc through a separate control slider- to select the appropriate sound sample for the wheel revolution .  Perhaps  in an update - one day!

 

I belong to a large population of DCC avoiders, and used to be content with the chuffs from my Q kit controller and now see an inexpensive replacement!

 

 

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But it’s not the output voltage that the chuffernator needs to know, it’s the current being drawn by the motor at any given time, in amps.  Not sure the controller knows this, though the motor does, and not sire how this information would get to the phone/tablet.  It needs to be automated, as if you are driving you need to be concentrating on that rather than manually matching chuffs to wheel speeds. 
 

It can be done, of course, but it is early days to assess whether there is demand (Hornby clearly do not intend the chuffs to be used by ‘serious’ modellers, whatever they are), and many train set users will be happy with the system as it is.  Even if there is demand, and it would be unwise to assume that because you and I would like to see this anybody else is interested, there would then need to be an assessment by Hornby as to profitability and cost effectiveness before any money is spent on developing it.  
 

But we are at the inception of a new type of DC controller; Hornby have taken a bit of a punt on putting it out there and us early adopters are taking a bit of a punt in buying it.  In a year or so, there may be competitors offering different features, and possibly competing apps to download that enable different functions.  Or the whole thing will have sunk without trace, and we will join the Betamax/8 track cassette community with their Blackberries...

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Hello there,

I have recently gotten into this hobby. I do not yet have a fully built layout, but have ordered a a full set of HM6000s, 6010s and psus. My intention is now to build my full layout with this kit in mind.

Having tested 1x HM6000 connected to 2x loops of track running 2x trains simultaneously I can say they work very well. Possibly smoother than my old Hornby controllers etc.

I also like the speed slide bar controls on the app and find them very responsive.

Its early days yet, but I would say I’m fairly impressed with this kit.

The all is fairly basic at the moment and does what it’s designed to do, as in control your trains. However I think over time the app could be improved and added to. Maybe more features and functions and more sounds etc.

The only issue I have had so far is that my sounds stopped working. Not sure if this is something to do with my phone settings or the app, but I’m sure it will be resolved.

I aim to max out and have 8x locos running and lighting etc all controlled by this.

It was a bit of an initial cost, but not if I look at the price of a single new train etc. and certainly far cheaper than DCC which for now I can’t ever see me getting into.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Uvbntangoed said:

Hello there,

I have recently gotten into this hobby. I do not yet have a fully built layout, but have ordered a a full set of HM6000s, 6010s and psus. My intention is now to build my full layout with this kit in mind.

Having tested 1x HM6000 connected to 2x loops of track running 2x trains simultaneously I can say they work very well. Possibly smoother than my old Hornby controllers etc.

I also like the speed slide bar controls on the app and find them very responsive.

Its early days yet, but I would say I’m fairly impressed with this kit.

The all is fairly basic at the moment and does what it’s designed to do, as in control your trains. However I think over time the app could be improved and added to. Maybe more features and functions and more sounds etc.

The only issue I have had so far is that my sounds stopped working. Not sure if this is something to do with my phone settings or the app, but I’m sure it will be resolved.

I aim to max out and have 8x locos running and lighting etc all controlled by this.

It was a bit of an initial cost, but not if I look at the price of a single new train etc. and certainly far cheaper than DCC which for now I can’t ever see me getting into.

 

 

Welcome to the insanity, I mean hobby!  You’ve certainly gone in full bore with the app control.  
 

I think you may have made the right decision regarding DCC, as I suspect that it will become obsolete over the next decade or so, as will this, in favour of an NFC control system in which the locos carry an on board rechargeable power source and no current is supplied to the track at all.  This app control has been the only advance in DC for 50 years, and is not a change in the basic technology, only in the control interface, in which the phone screen replaces the old knob. 
 

But the actual technology of DCC has also barely advanced over the same period.  It has been refined and on board sound is particularly improved, but there is I feel a reservoir of demand for something better, especially something that would replace pickups. 
 

I’m knocking on a bit and won’t live to see much of it, but I reckon this is the way that things will go.  Mind you, I predicted back in the 80s that mobile phones and prepaid phone cards would merge into cheap disposable phones, so my crystal ball is known to be a bit wobbly. 
 

We’ll see. 

 

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12 hours ago, The Johnster said:

But it’s not the output voltage that the chuffernator needs to know, it’s the current being drawn by the motor at any given time, in amps.  Not sure the controller knows this, though the motor does, and not sire how this information would get to the phone/tablet.

 

 

If the controller has back-EMF sensing it can determine the loco's speed. There are other ways to do it too :)

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  • RMweb Gold

Epic fail in terms of psu; I was hoping to get one from the electronics stall upstairs in Cardiff Indoor Market, but the guy didn't have anything 15vdc with the right plug under £25, and I thought Hornby were a bit pricey.  He was fascinated when I explained what it was for, though, and thoroughly enjoyed the tutorial video!  He's a knowledgable bloke, great for a chat, and over 70 so must be thinking of giving it up soon; I will miss him, it is a very useful little stall though it is possible that his daughter, who sometimes fills in for him, will take it on.  Antics didn't have anything either, so I did the bus schlep down to Lord & Butler's and shelled out the £20 for Hornby's psu.

 

There was then a short sabbatical of several hours, as this is pension day and the first day I've been out since the pubs opened in Wales.  I reckoned it was going to be counterproductive to try to set anything up for a while, so forgot it and had my dinner, followed by crashing out for a couple of hours.  But I've been in to the railway room and connected it all up now.  I am impressed!  Control feels very refined, natural, and intuitive, and is very smooth; much better than the crude running of the Princess on the tutorial video.  I have yet to investigate the inertia features, but have set them each to half the slider and the loco seemed quite happy with that; the rest is fine tuning.  The reaction to the slider seems a little dampened compared to my Gaugemaster, but this is no bad thing.  There is a slight buzz from the loco before starting off, but one is told to expect this in the quick start guide.  I don't mind; it is a good indication that a loco not yet moving is taking power.

 

Early days yet, but I'd say Hornby are on to something with this.  Assuming no issues arise over time, and there is no reason that they should, I unreservedly recommend it.  I use an iPhone 11, and it may react differently on other phones of course.  Happy Johnster tonight!

 

The noises impressed The Squeeze, but the chuffinator is far too delayed in action and out of sync to be any use, as was expected.  The whistles and other noises are fine,  though, and I may well use them, but with headphones or I'll drive her bonkers!

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Compared to my standard Guagemaster controller, with no bells or whistles, I have found the slow running of the HM600 as impressive as my old ECM feedback controller, yet it works well with coreless motors. The downside is the pulsed growl which I prefer to mask with the out of sync chuffs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15vDC output and the jack plug is 6.3 mm OD x 3.1 mm ID hollow centre positive x 10 mm long shank.

You will find the closest available is 6.3 mm x 3.0 mm x 9 mm which does work. (amazon).

 

The missing link is a cable mounted matching socket.

I have found a panel mount one in Mouser but with a hefty one-off charge per order to supply from the states.

Hornby need to make a four way power splitter so the 4-amp power pack could feed 4 modules. You can get them for CCTV systems but not in the correct plug/socket size.

 

Avoid those multi-use power packs supplied with several tips as the output amperage varies with selected voltage and the tip connections are not good at handling high amps.

Edited by RAF96
Extra dimension added.
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See my epic psu fail.  My view was that I could out-manoevre Hornby's somewhat pricey psu but in fact the combination of the large plug and 15v output defeated me; Hornby's unit proved the cheapest eventually and that is what I have.  So, the total cost, as I got the HM6k discounted from Kernow, was £43, still acceptable for what is a very good product.

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38 minutes ago, Preston Guild said:

If I have two circuits with various points and sidings, does the switching of points still work to isolate trains as in standard DC control so that two locos can be on one circuit at the same time? 

 

Short answer, yes.  Longer explanation, the HM6k is a normal DC controller operating up to two circuits independently of each other, and the layout wiring needed to isolate locos, either behind insulated from points or in isolated parking sections, is the same as it would be for any other DC controller.  The difference is in the way the trains are actually driven and points/signals operated, because there are no physical switches, buttons, or control knobs.  All this is done on the smartphone or tablet screen by the app, which uses Bluetooth to tell the controller what to do; the app is a free download. 

 

Each HM6k can feed two separate circuits, as would a conventional DC controller with two control knobs, like the old HM Duette.  The app can also be used to switch point motors, signals, lighting and so forth, for which you need to buy one or more HM6010 accessory controllers.  Each 6010 can only power one accessory with a motor, so you need one per point for motorised points and one for a turntable or such accessory.  It will additionally power 3 switched items such as signals or lighting, or 4 such items if no motorised accessory needs to be wired to it.  As each unit needs a £20 Hornby proprietary psu, the cost for a complex layout soon mounts up to the point where DCC becomes a better option, but for relatively simple layouts the app system is fine. 

 

Let us take as a typical example a BLT layout; there may be need for two feeds so that the yard can be shunted while activity is taking place, so a single HM6000 control unit is adequate.  But, if points are powered by motors, and one wishes to use the phone/tablet app to control these, each point motor needs a HM6010 accessory controller, £50 a pop with the psu, and such a layout might easily have 9 or 10 turnouts by the time the fiddle yard is included, 4 or 5 on the scenic section, so you are looking at between £250 and £500; I suspect many will continue to use whatever point operating systems of switches they already have, maybe powering one or two turnouts from the app where there is a need to operate from a postion away from the point motor switch.  But you will have plenty of capacity in the accessory controller to operate signals and other accessories. 

 

On my layout, just such a BLT, the points are hand operated and signals are Dapol operating ones, so the question does not really bother me; a single HM6000 with a feed for the BR line and one for the NCB is adequate.  On a small and relatively simple layout such as this, or a basic 2 road up and down continuous run, the system has I believe a lot of potential, and larger more complex layouts can be controlled with it, but there comes a point at which the cost renders DCC a better option.  I believe these more simple layouts are what Hornby had in mind when they developed the system, but it is my view that a power supply unit that could feed several HM6xxx units simultaneously and a more powerful accessory control unit that could handle a number of point motors would enhance the system's flexibitlity.  It's early days yet, mind, and there may be all sorts of things in the pipeline for all we know, wating to respond to whatever take up the system generates.

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Each 6010 module has four ports hence it can handle up to four solenoids or signal lamps or street light strings or the beefed up output of port 4 can handle a turntable or other heavier motored device.

The app can handle four 6000 modules and three 6010 modules so a reasonable range of control is available.

 

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On 25/04/2021 at 21:41, RAF96 said:

You don't need a track plan to run the app

So you don't. Not sure where I got the idea I needed that from which means even though Android 7.2 is technically not supported i can use my mobile (old Samsung S6). Also the fine control on the mobile is better than on the tablet despite the smaller screen. Spent a good hour running trains yesterday.

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Perhaps you picked up the notion that some sort of control board with a track plan was part of the deal.  The 'layout builder' feature is something that might be developed further in future, but in it's present form is intended as a track planning aid, using Hornby set track pieces and with a feature to list the track pieces required for a layout you have planned on it.  It is not part of the control system.

 

I've had my HM6000 for a few days now, and feel justified in putting some of my thoughts out there.  I am still delighted with it, although it takes a little of getting used to if you have been using knobs to control your trains for the last 60 years or more.  I suspect each user will set the sliders up to his/her own tastes and requirements, and that this may still be a work in progress in my case.  There are 3 slider controls in a 'setup' menu accessed by a 'crossed spanners' icon at the bottom of the phone/tablet screen, and you can preset speed range at any point between zero and full (100, but this does not relate to scale speed, it is just a graduated reference scale, much the same as the values on your traditional knob).  A second slider controls the inertia for accelleration, and a third for braking.  Then there is a choice to click on for sound profiles, steam, diesel, and electric.  These are replicated for a second circuit, and may be set differently and independently from the first.

 

These slider settings are set and then left unless/until you want to alter them; you cannot alter or access them from the control screen, which is accessed through the control dial icon, screen bottom.  The control screen gives you two separate controls which you scroll between, consisting of single sliders to control the power to the track, which will each work according to your predetermined setup settings, a button bar for < direction, brake (tap button to slow train in incremental steps), stop (what it says on the tin) and > direction.  Below each of these is a big red EMERGENCY STOP bar. 

 

In this screen, there are icons at the bottom for your chosen sound profile.  If you have chosen steam, you get 'steam noise', a general hissing if the loco is stationary and chuffs at increasing speed if it is moving, but the delay as the loco starts off and lack of synchnonicity with the wheel revolutions (see earlier comments) make it a bit gimmicky for my taste.  Of course, if you don't click the icon there is no sound.  There is then a locomotive whistle, which is not too bad at all and is not unlike the GW whistles I need for my layout, a 'loco slipping' button icon, a 'shovelling coal' one, a 'blowing off brakes', which is not very convincing IMHO, and a guard's/platform staff Acme Thunderer whistle, which is spot on.  The icon for this is very similar to the loco whistle icon, the only difference being that the eyelet that the Thunderer is attached to it's chain by is featured on it's icon. 

 

Ah, the Acme Thunderer; now that was a man's whistle...

 

In use, it is surprising how quickly you forget that you are controlling the loco with a slider on a phone screen, and react with your slider finger/thumb to any alterations in it's speed.  You can control you loco down to a very slow crawl, and the performance in this respect is as good as my Gaugemaster, which is to say very good indeed!  At present I have setup sliders as follows; speed, 0-40, accelleration, 25%, and decelleration 90%; these are going to be subject to further tweaking I am sure.  Not that I'm unhappy with the current setup, just that I might be able to do better. 

 

Driving is very smooth, the inertial decelleration being very good, but you have to think ahead a bit.  Of course, you can simply set all the setup sliders to zero and control directly from the controller slider with an instantaneous response.  I found this a tad jerky and 'overreactive' (opinion not criticism) and overcame it with the inertia features.  The locos draw more current though, compared with a tradional knob controller, evidenced by the brighter firebox glow on my Bachmann 94xx and by increased noise levels from the motors at low speeds and immediately prior to taking up power.  I do not find this objectionable, I am simply reporting it.  I assume that it is because there is an element of feedback or modulated pulse width control with the HM6000.  Whatever it is, the coreless motor in the aformentioned 94xx seems to be unharmed by it, and responds well, touch wood...

 

I am finding the untethered aspect of this controller a great benefit; it has effectively made more viewing points available while maintaining full control.  This may lead to more attention being paid to areas of the layout hitherto neglected, especially the village square, and a recent rationalisation of the fiddle yard has given me about 10" of extra scenic space before the scenic break. 

 

Well done Hornby.  This has rapidly established itself as my go to controller, though the Gaugemaster is still connected up.  It will trigger a short circuit on the HM unless the direction switch is centred, even with the knob fully turned widdershins, so the two controllers cannot be used in conjunction with each other, only as 'either or'; again, this is acceptable to me.  Short circuits require a 'reset' button on the screen to be pressed, as does an emergency stop.

 

I have minor criticisms, quite carping really, but in fairness I will record them here.  The indicator led lights are insanely bright, enough to take out your retina at half a mile, and the blue Bluetooth light strobes when the phone is turned off at night, a particulaly pertinent point with a bedroom layout (or, more correctly, a layout room bed..).  They should be reported to Air Traffic Control.  I have toned things down a bit with  blackGaffer tape, masking not being nearly enough.  There is really no need to have these leds as annoyingly bright as this and I respectfully suggest that Hornby tone them down, considerably.  They need to be clearly visible in normal room light, but no more than that. 

 

I think that the unit is too light and easily moved about, though it is designed to be hung from screw fixings, and, a purely personal taste matter this, I don't like the cream colour, which reminds me of rubbish 80s computers.  I will probably be repainting mine in a sober, cool, dark grey acrylic which will completely fail to represent my actual character...

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2 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Perhaps you picked up the notion that some sort of control board with a track plan was part of the deal

I think its the wording when you start the app about an active layout - "There is no active layout......" that made me think that. Should have watched a few more videos before jumping in.

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On 26/04/2021 at 17:57, The Johnster said:

But we are at the inception of a new type of DC controller; Hornby have taken a bit of a punt on putting it out there and us early adopters are taking a bit of a punt in buying it. 

 

Although the Blue Railways system doesn't have the sounds, track plan or accessory functions, I'd hesitate to describe the new Hornby offering as a new type of DC controller.

 

I'd say it's an extension (and possibly better implementation) of something that Blue Railways have been selling for some time. 

 

(Edited for clarity)

Edited by Coryton
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I’d forgotten about Blue and didn’t realise that there was an app-based element with screen interface; thought it was a knob operated but untethered handheld.  It does not have the ability to control accessories and does not support IOS, the latter being essential in my case.  
 

I see Hornby are now marketing a basic train set with the HM6k. 

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6 hours ago, The Johnster said:

I’d forgotten about Blue and didn’t realise that there was an app-based element with screen interface; thought it was a knob operated but untethered handheld.  It does not have the ability to control accessories and does not support IOS, the latter being essential in my case.  
 

I see Hornby are now marketing a basic train set with the HM6k. 

Had a DCC fanboi on Hornby Facebook page announcing the new HM set having a flap about how rubbish the HM6000 was and how DCC is the second coming! Apparently all you need to know to fit a dcc decoder is how to remove the loco body......

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On 24/04/2021 at 08:50, Hroth said:

A neat looking unit!

 

Hornby never included anything in their photos to indicate size, so the small dimensions of the controller are something a surprise.  The other thing that irritates me about Hornby is the use of captive output power leads. They manage to provide screw terminals on the Accessory controller so where's the problem for the Power controller?

 

Rather than chopping off the plugs if you don't use their power tracks, I've found that the plugs will fit easily into 3A terminal strips, which only leaves a length of overlong connecting wire to deal with...

 

 

 

That's what I've done in the past with one of the old black train set controllers, with the wire tidily looped round the back of the controller several times (it's recessed into a panel so the wire is out of sight).

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8 hours ago, The Johnster said:

I’d forgotten about Blue and didn’t realise that there was an app-based element with screen interface; thought it was a knob operated but untethered handheld.  It does not have the ability to control accessories and does not support IOS, the latter being essential in my case.  

 

Yes lack of IOS support is clearly a show-stopper for some people...though I can understand a small company not getting involved in the world of IOS apps.

 

I have a Blue Railways controller and the controller itself is very nice - it has good low speed control without PWM buzzing noises. I don't find the slider on the phone works very well for me though - I can never get the speed down to zero and have to hit the emergency stop instead (and if I don't get it to zero, I can't change direction). Maybe it's better on a tablet.

 

And I have to find somewhere to put the phone down when I want to uncouple something.

 

I normally use it just as a spare controller to run trains round a loop while the more traditional ones are being used for shunting.

 

But it does annoy me a bit having seen a small company successfully bring this to market (and I don't imagine it was easy) only for Hornby to get the credit in some circles for coming up with a brand new concept.

 

 

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7 hours ago, ruggedpeak said:

how rubbish the HM6000 was and how DCC is the second coming!

 

He's entitled to his opinion, as I am to my opinion of his opinion...  DCC is clearly the best way to control a large and complex layout and can offer much better sound effects, which, with speakers aboard the locos, will come from the right direction, not to mention control of on board lights, exhaust fumes, and probably operating windscreen wipers and washers eventually.  If, that is, you can afford it!  There is probably a correlation between the disposable income of those who can afford large complex layouts in homes that are big enough to have space for them and those who can pay for DCC, and the age of the tradiitionally controlled large complex layout is probably well over by now.  If you were building Borchester or Buckingham these days you would probably not even give a thought to DC

 

But DC still has it's place, and there are those of us who would not be able to be active in the hobby at all without it.  The RTR manufacturers recognise this, and there are no locos that are not available without DCC chips, yet, though all have the board to mount them.  DC is still needed for folks who are on low fixed incomes, such as pocket money or Old Age Pension, and for them as own large fleets of pre-DCC locos that are resistant to having chips fitted.  It is this market that the HM6k is aimed at, as well as an exploitation of Generation X, who think in terms of phone screens and apps.

 

HM6k is by no means rubbish.  It is capable of equalling the slow running and smooth stop/start performance of my 'traditional' Gaugemaster, which is a very good controller indeed, and allows untethered control at a very reasonable price.  DCC can only do one of those things.  The quality of control on a model railway is not entirely dependent on the type of controller, though clearly a poor controller of any type will ruin it; it is to a very large extent down to the operator, and his understanding of the momentum and inertia of real trains, of interpreting scale speeds, and of starting and stopping smoothly.  Modern RTR is capable of performing very will indeed in these respects,  but a visit to any exhibition (remember those?) will show that a very large number of operators drive too fast and indulge in brick wall stops and stabbed rat starts, and that there are an almost equal number of operators who conduct all movements at the speed of continental drift, perhaps to show how smoothly their locos run, and these are divided equally between DCC and DC layouts.

 

It is my opinion that DCC will be replaced in the next decade or so by another new system that will eliminate some of the core problems of running a model railway reliably without it turning into a logistical problem of maintenance and cleaning, which is a major part of a large layout with a lot of stock.  If you want to operate trains, or build models, this becomes a chore that sucks the time you have available to do those things.  Probably the biggest such core problem is establishing a reliable passage of current from the track to the loco wheels and then from the wheels to the pickup strips, which requires constant cleaning and adjusting to ensure performance, the reason for the Finger Of God.  For this reason it is my view that a system of NFC control to locos that have onboard power supplies, thus dispensing with the need for metal track and wheels, and the need for pickups altogether.  It is debatable whether the DCC chips we now use will be compatible with such a system.  Presumably our fanboi chum would consider this the 3rd coming...

 

In the meantime I would expect the majority of DC layouts to adopt app based smartphone control over the next few years; I am sure there will by other manufacturers and possibly even third party apps with different features for the HM6k.  An advantage is that one does not have to replace one's existing controllers; they can remain in situ as backup for when the phone is being recharged.

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6 hours ago, Coryton said:

though I can understand a small company not getting involved in the world of IOS apps.

 

So can I!

 

6 hours ago, Coryton said:

But it does annoy me a bit having seen a small company successfully bring this to market (and I don't imagine it was easy) only for Hornby to get the credit in some circles for coming up with a brand new concept.

 

 

Given that Hornby have come in for a good bit of criticism recently for gazumping other peoples' announcements, some of it from yours truly, and accepting that Blue were first to the punch with this, I think Hornby deserve some credit for bringing this to market.  Blue have been around for a while and not made much impact, to the extent that I'd forgotten about them, and their product, while similar in concept, is different in that it does not cater for app-based operation of accessories.  It is also considerably more expensive per unit; Hornby's product is capable of costing more because it will, on some layouts, need more units of course, but by the time we are up to that level of accessory requirement it is probably more cost effective to go for full DCC.

 

Horses for courses of courses.  There are advantages to the Blue system, not least for those who are looking for an untethered controller with a physical knob that is tactile.  Coryton's comment about the Blue slider and it's 'feel' or lack of it is interesting; I am not experiencing such difficulty with the HM6k sliders, which are very responsive right down to zero.  The stop button has so far extricated me from any overrunning and I have not had to use the emergency stop in anger yet, though I have trialled it.

 

I would say that both systems are suitable for fairly simple layouts, but that the HM6k probably has the edge in terms of flexibility, because of the inclusion of accessory control.  Against that, HM6k comes with unnecessary gizmos such as sound fx, which are really play gimmicks, and a superfluous track planner.  There is no harm in these of course and if you don't approve of them you don't have to use them, but I can't help thinking that the effort and complexity that these features add to the app could have been expended in less wasteful ways.

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