Lesters Model Railway






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Thomas G
























Goods Yard



The conversion over to DCC started when I purchased a Bachmann set while on a camping holiday. I wanted to see what DCC was like, it was also insurance in case it started to rain. It did not so after returning home I connected the EZ controller to my layout and started to play it was great It was not long before I had the decoders out of the Bachmann locos and into a couple of  Hornby A4s.

I found the EZ controller very easy to use but limiting by the end of the first month I  had to treble   up on decoder addresses. The bug had bitten I now wanted to see what these CVs were about  not wanting to spend hundreds on a bigger controller I opted to buy a SPROG and use the PC to explore the decoder CVs

Now if you have not heard about the SPROG ll it is a simple interface that allows you pc to explore and program decoders, using free software Panel Pro and Decoder Pro It stores  a database of your loco addresses and settings for easy recall and reprogramming . The SPROG now connects via USB  and can be used to control one Loco. A new SPROG is available the can power a small layout using

Hornby Select

 I  might be one of the lucky few but in my humble opinion The Select is brilliant for the price That is not to say there have been no teething problems which were not experienced with EZ controller

First was  the occasional run away, on  one of my main  loops. The only difference on the two loops apart from the number of points was how the track was connected.  The trouble free loop had connections made to the track every  metre and fishplates were soldered on short sections of track The bad loop was only fed in 2 places rewiring solved this, may be the DCC signal  is weaker or the frequency differs on the Select controller

Second problem was caused by wheels causing a short on peco live frog points the select would reset to the default code 3  fitting insulating fish plates cured this.

Hornby Elite

I have had the Elite for Six years and it has given me hours of pleasure connected to 2 Selects as slave units and also Railmaster. However is has had to be returned to Hornby three times for repair, and to Hornby's credit they have repaired/replaced it twice free of charge. But now it has died for a third time and been returned from Hornby  as un repairable.  I might have just been unlucky but  a average life of 2 years per Elite was not a risk I was willing to take again.

Prodigy Advanced Sq

The Death of the Elite has posed a problem replace with the same or try something new. After much consideration and tired of waiting for Hornsby's loco detection I decided Prodigy advanced was the way forward. I will miss using Railmaster,  however the prodigy is now supported by JMRI decoder and panel pro great shareware  for computer control. To use computer control a USB interface is required for the Prodigy   and also MRC offer free software which is very simple to use but a little basic only offering two on screen controllers.


Minutes after connecting the Prodigy up I was using it like a pro  It is so simple to use and great for sound decoders and even though it is tethered to the base station by a cable it makes operating my layout very easy. There is also a wireless hand controller available which will require an wireless interface.



Computer Control


I had used  Hornbys Railmaster  since version 1.5 was released in BETA form, without doubt if you use the Elite it will be hard find better computer control. The great thing about Railmaster is that no programming skills are required. You can record your train movement then play them back almost almost like magic you get a replay. If you want to edit the program or add sound files you can. Your set up can be as complex or as simple as required There are a few drawbacks to setting up a fully automated layout at the moment but this is only till loco detection has been released which as far as I understand each loco will have a small coded tag fastened to the bottom and the will be read by track detectors. ( IF IT EVER GETS RELEASED I JUST HOPE ITS NOT ANOTHER WHITE ELEPHANT LIKE THE HAND HELD CONTROLLER WAS)

Unfoutunatly I can no longer  use Railmaster since the Elite died My dream is Hornby might one day be able to include other protocols for other controllers in the Railmaster software.

Right hand panel using Megapoints for servos
  Left hand panel using solenoids an Micro controler for servos

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JMRI  Decoderpro and Panelpro free software   http://jmri.sourceforge.net/

PanelPro for control   and DecoderPro for programming decoders  I have used Decoderpro with the SPROG for a long while. If you do want to use computer control  DecoderPro is an excellent  program for programming decoders via most dcc controllers  If you want to try computer control this is the program to try first. the software also lets you use a tablet or mobile phone as a hand controller


Sound decoders I have a few  OEM Hornby and Bachmann sound fitted locos and a few Hornby TTS sound locos The TTS locos benefit greatly if the speaker is upgraded TSS decoders are now available separately.