The long awaited DCC system from Bachmann, the E-Z Dynamis, finally made an apperance in the UK at the end of November 2007, RRP £99.95. This starter system is a wire free system, using infra-red bi-directional communication. However, being infra-red means that the user has to be in direct sight of the detector linked to the command station. For full details of the system click here.
Hornby has entered the world of model railway digital control in 2007 with the introduction of the Select (introduced late 2006) and Elite controllers. As one of the main players in the world of model railways, and having acquired the digital know-how of the Arnold brand when it took over Lima, it might have been expected that Hornby would have produced an outstanding system. Sadly this was not the case and the Select in particular has had more than its fair share of criticism. However, the Elite is a more substantial system and, hopefully Hornby will have learnt from their initial mistakes with the Select and its compatibility issues.
Hornby Elite Hornby Select
Hornby has also released its own loco and accessory decoders. The loco decoder is cheap but has limited functionality and, once again, has suffered from inconsistent reliability. A new loco decoder, the Sapphire, is due for release during 2007 and is supposed to be the decoder of choice in Hornby's range of decoder-installed locos, but these have yet to be seen and tested.
October 2007 saw the release of the first locos from Hornby with DCC fitted. Unfortunately, although the locos run quite well with the fitted decoders, they are only the basic Hornby decoder and do not have the functionality of the promised Sapphire decoder. So, for example, it is not possible to use a 4-digit address and there is limited functionality in some CVs.
The Hornby range of DCC products is available in our store - just click here.
12 December, 2007
Bromsgrove Models are official UK dealers for North Coast Engineering (better known as NCE) DCC controllers, decoders and accessories. NCE is renowned throughout the world of DCC for producing high quality DCC equipment and we hope to be able to enhance that reputation through the provision their products at competitive prices in the UK with our own personal service.
Products (and prices) in our internet store here.
TCS Decoders are now on sale at Bromsgrove Models. The full range of loco decoders is available and currently starts from just £11.00 for the old style T1 2 function decoder with standard harness. TCS is gradually adding BEMF capability to its decoder range, starting with the T1, which is now available at £11.50 from our internet store. All decoders in our store are at low prices but the T1 is one of the cheapest 2 function decoders currently on the market. There are also quantity discounts on most decoders. TCS has released its New Generation X series decoders, including the A1X, the MC2 and the T6X, all of which are in stock - click on the TCS Decoders button on the left for more information. New mini MC4 (4 function) and MC6 (6 function) series decoders are now in stock. To order decoders, please visit our e-Shop.
For those of you who like to use a computer interface to design panels and program your decoders the latest full stable version of Decoder Pro from JMRI (version 1.6, released on 18th. June 2005) is available here. This link also provides information about installing the program as well as simple instructions on how to set up and use the software. To find out what changes have been made since version 1.4, the last stable release, click here.
Fleischmann have recently released their own budget DCC system, called LOK-BOSS. The system allows up to 4 locos to be controlled at any one time, together with a simple programming technique. Also controlled are sound and light outputs. Fleischmann view this as a starter system that will lead to users upgrading to their TWIN-CENTER DCC system once the number of locos grows. Two starter train sets are being produced with the LOK-BOSS system, a small steam set with loco and two wagons at around £145 and a larger diesel set with loco and three wagons at around £190. Both sets come with an oval of track and DCC controller, the larger set also having points to create a passing loop.
Have you wanted to use 4-digit numbers when setting the loco number in a decoder? Not all decoders allow long CV addresses, but for those that do, after setting CV29 bit 5, the calculations for setting CVs 17 and 18 can be mind-boggling as they have to contain the 16 digit binary value of the number required. The hard work of all this calculation has been removed with an extremely useful on-line tool for calculating the values required. Just click here.
Of course, if you have a 511 control unit from ZTC Controls you don't need to bother with programming CVs 17 and 18 separately as the system does it for you. When you enter the number you want to set the loco address to and tell it to program CV17 it does CV18 as well! CV29 still has to be set to 5, however, as a separate element.
As reported in Model Rail in the January 2004 edition, there is a problem with the way the 8-pin socket has been fitted to early versions of the loco. Recommendation is NOT to plug a decoder into the socket by plugging pin 1 into pin 1 on the socket as this could produce a direct short across the DCC supply and/or could damage the decoder. One possible solution is to fit the socket the wrong way round! However, if you do this the loco will run backwards so CV29 would need to be programmed with 1 to prevent this happening. It might also be necessary to re-map the white and yellow wires to get lights to work correctly.
The cost of decoders has been steadily falling during the last two years, but January has seen competition increase in decoder prices at less than £10 in the UK for OO/HO locos. The Lenz 1000A Mac-coder (named after Mackay Models, the main distributors for Lenz in the UK) was designed for the UK market and retails at £9.99 (inc. VAT). As you would expect at the price, this is a budget decoder and therefore has a limited number of functions.
Lenz have recently announced their GOLD range of locomotive decoders that feature both ABC and USP technologies in all decoders in the range. ABC (Automatic Brake Control) enables the locomotive to react to signals operating on the layout, whilst USP (Uninterruptible Signal Processing) ensures continuous data transfer to the decoder even when electrical contact with the track is interrupted. For more details on the range of features and specifications, see the Lenz site here.