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New Hornby DCC Offering...
This is another big announcement from Hornby among their 2023 range, a new take on DCC which of course is not limited to their range or any particular scale (power requirements being suitable of course).

Basically with a normal DCC system you have to have your layout wired for DCC, add a (usually) quite expensive DCC controller, then fit decoders to your locomotives.  You also typically need a 'programming' track which is usually just a small straight connected to the programming output of the DCC controller.  Each train then has to be programmed before it can be used or placed on the programming track to change certain functions.  This all works out quite expensive as I'm sure you can imagine.

Now the new Hornby system doesn't need a dedicated DCC controller, instead they are going to make available a FREE app for your phone or tablet.  This connects to the loco's you fit the new Hornby DCC decoders to using bluetooth.  The only power requirements for the track is a straight power supply, there is even a lead you can buy that will use the standard analogue power supplies they ship with their train sets etc...

There are going to be DCC decoders available in a range of different forms such as 8 pin, 18 pin, 21 pin and NX18 pin.  These will also be available as both standard DCC decoders or sound enabled DCC decoders.  A cool feature of the latter is that you can even download specific sounds to them from the app over bluetooth, this means you can buy one of their decoders and fit it to say a steam locomotive and load it with appropriate sound files.  But then if you decide to move the decoder to say a diesel or electric loco you can then simply overwrite the sound files with different appropriate ones making the decoders reusable.  Normally in the world of most DCC sound decoders they come with a pre-defined set of sounds for specific loco's and if you want to change them to another type you need to send them back to the maker to have them re-flashed with the new sound set.  Although there are some that can have the sounds re-programmed by yourself, but they require you to download the files and then go through a process to do this, they also tend to be pretty expensive which can be a drawback if you have a good number of loco's.

You can read more about this very exciting new release here;
Happily collecting things all my life... :D
[-] The following 3 users Like Nigels's post:
  • Super, Donald9Douglas10Oliver11mp, chrisjo
Seems like the announcement is being well received, mostly.  Ten pages of speculation and guesswork on the RMweb forum so far!
Indeed, well its a brave step, but one which may finally bring DCC to the masses, I think that having to normally buy a controller setup that may cost anything from £150 upwards on top of decoders for each of your locomotives can be a massive investment. Effectively giving the controller away free as an app is a nice idea as it not only cuts down that cost but also allows constant improvements and upgrades to be produced.

The downside is the basic decoders with bluetooth are a bit more expensive than standard budget decoders, but on the upside the sound enabled ones are considerably cheaper than non-bluetooth enabled sound decoders - most of them are well over £100 a pop. They are also going to be offering some loco's with pre-fitted decoders as well as 'DCC ready' loco's (the latter have been pretty much standard for a number of years now). For example in this years release program they are now listing a lot of the previously announced TT120 loco's with decoders fitted at a lower price than buying the loco and decoder separately. This should help sell those I would suggest...

I also forgot to mention, the other thing they've done with these new decoders is to add a socket for a 'keep alive battery' so the decoder can cope with bad power connections on rails and especially points. the battery pack is available separately. Similarly on the sound decoders there is a socket for one of these small 'sugar cube' speakers which are pretty much becoming the norm in DCC. So you can add the keep alive and/or speakers without having to resort to soldering etc...
Happily collecting things all my life... :D
[-] The following 2 users Like Nigels's post:
  • Super, chrisjo

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