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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of kit
Can't fault it! Computer control is deffinately the future. I will only be buying DCC in the future. Thanks Hornby!
Published 17 months ago by Gee-Bee

versus
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice Train, software is bad.
We bought this in work to demonstrate the technology to kids at a Science Fair. I work in Telecoms, and so the protocol used to control the train is 'cute', and relatively easy to follow. And of course, it's a train-set and that's cool. I say this because I am not a model enthusiast.

So, the train set itself is basic and works fine, even great. It would be nice...
Published 4 months ago by James Noonan


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice Train, software is bad., 21 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
We bought this in work to demonstrate the technology to kids at a Science Fair. I work in Telecoms, and so the protocol used to control the train is 'cute', and relatively easy to follow. And of course, it's a train-set and that's cool. I say this because I am not a model enthusiast.

So, the train set itself is basic and works fine, even great. It would be nice to have a whistle on the train, as it's clearly a beginner's set.

But the software. It works, but is terrible.

1) You need to activate it. Why? You need the train for it to be really useful, so why bother with the activation. It will run the train, etc. in evaluation mode, but then keeps bothering you. Also, it didn't work at the start, so I registered to see if that would work.

2) When I installed it, nothing happened. I had to update it twice. It had to update the firmware on the e-Link. Still, not much happened. It has a serial port emulator, which seems to take a little bit of time to work the first time, but essentially there's a lot of rebooting, unplugging, and restarting the software. It's a USB device...it should really be plug n play.

3) It seems you need to run as administrator, turn off the firewall, disable antivirus, and so on, to register. Going back to point 1), you need hardware for this software to work, so for me, this is mean. I'm only glad I wasn't trying to do this with kids waiting.

4) As mentioned, this is for work. And as such, I had to install it on a second machine for the demos. I tried to un-register my machine, and this failed.

5) The User interface is very clunky. Dialog boxes remain on top, making it difficult to change settings like the firewall etc, to make things work. Everything is pop-up. It wants me to change my dpi screen settings when it starts. It's usable, but not good.

6) I tried programming the train. It worked, but is difficult. I wasn't able to add sounds to the program easily for example. I didn't spend a lot of time at it, but it's at best ok.

7) Now, this is probably obvious, but it wasn't to me. The siding must be changed manually. (And anyone passing by asks the same question). But I found it difficult to be sure. There is a second set of wire connectors on the e-link box, but no where to put them. To make a siding work automatically, you need a motor and I think a different controller. The manuals are written for folk who use trains the whole time, but this is a beginners set.

8) The app for mobile devices. Again, you need to pay extra. It's not on the app stores either. There is an evaluation mode, but on my iPad Mini, it just failed to work. It was also quite technical to set-up. Paying extra for this seems like extortion. And I think it's per device.

So, the tracks and train work fine. It looks good. But this is the absolute minimum, right?

I would recommend hornby drop their registration. This is an easy improvement for them. (Stop doing something). Folk are handing over a lot of money for trains, and the software should be about making the experience enjoyable, fun. Instead, Hornby seemed to have put together a basic, barely functional software package, and are looking to it to generate money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Software very disapointinhg indeed - dont buy unless you work in IT!, 26 Dec. 2014
By 
MW CARDEN "Miles," (Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
Two things to say:
1. the train set as usual is top notch as usual from Hornby
2. The e-link software is an utter disgrace - it simply will not work on my boy's Windows 8 laptop. I can just get it to work on my Windows 7 machine but with a huge amount of work. You need a Masters in quantum physics to sort the software. I have spent hours - days trying to get it to work but to no avail. It is simply not fit for purpose. The manuals are utterly confusing.

So buy a set with an elite controller an forget the e-link. Hornby is great but this set isn't The software needs sorting.

So I am not impressed and I want to return it.

Miles
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of kit, 11 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
Can't fault it! Computer control is deffinately the future. I will only be buying DCC in the future. Thanks Hornby!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware e-link and windows 8, 22 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
No matter what we tried we could not get the e-link to work with windows 8. We had a little support from Hornby but to no avail. We tried assigning new com ports, setting up usb ports, suspending microsoft digital signature software. It would connect 1 per 100 attempts, Eventually we tried the Elite controller simply to keep the kids happy and guess what it worked first time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go for it!, 10 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
Great value and a brilliant way to get into computerised model railways. Whilst I didn't use this as a layout , I added the elink to my existing layout and the rolling stock complimented my current hardware. Delivery was excellent as is the support from hornby if you have any set up / software questions. What's not to like?
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little starter set for the 21st century, 30 July 2013
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
I just received this new Hornby eLink train set, which is the first of its kind, being completely controlled by your home computer (Windows only, not Mac).

It's a starter set and my son loves it. I also bought a license to use my iPad for an additional tenner directly from within the software and it gives the whole thing a new dimension.

When I was a kid it was a ropey transformer with a single knob to control a less than smooth train. This is so different that there's very little comparison. One thing is for sure, the new generation of IT-literate kids are going to love this. I wonder if it will be a number one toy at Christmas. Who knows.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hornby all the way!, 7 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
Hornby are a great retailer, any problems and they are really good at resolving just about anything.. some thing broke? they will sort it.. the only thing im not 100% on is the E-Link, yes its an amazing thing.. but having it attached to a laptop or pc every time you wanna use it gets old.

Over all though stunningly good quality Train set from a great manufacturer and british call centers so no nonsence support!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 28 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
all that was required
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Because of all the reviews detailing the apparent pitfalls and the fact that I am using a redundant laptop running the horrible, 29 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
This is quite a long review. It'll probably take longer to read than it does to install the e-link and get it up and running (about one hour depending on your Internet speed).

You are about to enter the world of automation and robotics - no matter how computer savvy you may be, forget everything you think you know, read Hornby's "Quick Start Guide" and write down the steps that they describe then follow them to the letter. The people who have developed this software are highly paid professionals - if you can't get this train set to work then its probably not their fault.

Although I elected to go for standard delivery it arrived in two days, was well packaged and undamaged. Because this is a Christmas gift I decided to set it up so its ready to go on the big day. Because of all the reviews detailing the apparent pitfalls and the fact that I am using a redundant laptop running the horrible Windows Vista operating system I approached this with some trepidation. When I learned electronics at college it was all about valves so I read the instructions.

There is a quick start guide which takes about 10 minutes to read. I then did exactly what was written down step by step. Lo and behold in just over an hour the set was working as advertised and was packed away. The only real problem is that I don't want to give it away.

This is a basic starter set for DCC model railways and it is a far cry from the train set I had some fifty years ago. You can add sound, lights and smoke to the locomotives but it is also a far cry from some of the software that is out there for the real enthusiast with a degree in quantum physics.

You need to take care when installing and setting up the e-link.

Whatever operating system you are using the programme does not autorun when you put the disc into the drive.

This is important! Right-click on on the "Set Up" icon in the disc folder. If you are given an option to run this programme as an administrator select that option - If you're not given the option just click Run or Open.

Once the e-link driver is installed the settings screen will open and you'll be asked to input the number of the COM Port which has been assigned to the e-link. There's usually a key on your keyboard with a windows icon on it. This will minimise the Hornby window and give you your home screen. You need to open the control panel and go to the device manager (it may be in a tab called Admin Tools). Click on Ports and the e-link will be listed. All this is in the Quick Start Guide. I'm assuming that your computer assigns an available port to the e-link and reserves it on the grounds that you may not have the luxury of an unused machine gathering dust that you can dedicate to a train set.

You will be given the opportunity to download the latest version of the driver software - go for it. The time this takes to download depends on your internet connection. I had time to make a cup of tea.

Hornby have taken note of the things that their customers have said and written about this bit of kit, the result is that it is virtually plug and play - the quick start guide takes up one side of a sheet of A4 including a diagram. There are a couple of of huge pdf files but you're probably never going to read them. If you want to expand and use Hornby locos and accessory decoders you'll be given simple instructions and the system will take care of the programming. If you go for non-generic hardware than you're probably going to have to do a crash course in robotics - hence the pdfs.

You do have to register this software on line. Why? Well this is single license so registering prevents unscrupulous people from copying it or installing it on more than one machine, if you want to to do this you need to buy another license (under a tenner). Why should Hornby care? This software is being developed continually and that costs money - There is free software out there but it isn't for the faint-hearted. Hornby give you 90 days to evaluate the software - if it's not for you you can probably sell the e-link on. But I'll bet you don't. Hornby are re-introducing "new" items for "toy" trains that I remember as a kid but at 60 years old I'm far to mature to be drawn in by DCC.

As to the Christmas gift. I've decided to give it to my missus - and I've just bought her some extra track and a decoder to automate the points and some rolling stock and another loc'o. Isn't she a lucky girl?

Note for the Hornby software engineers. I know that you're professionals and I'm sure that you are really paid a pittance:)

Update 20 Dec 2014: I run a gardening bushiness and have no affiliation with Hornby - just so you know.

Hornby are developing this software really well. If you're a serious railway modeller you probably don't agree with my opinion but for the kids among us it is great.

I added a none-generic (Bacchman) engine with no problems and when it came to adding further decoders for points etc Hornby even give you a drop down list of everything they support (some far cheaper than Hornby) so you can shop around.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Keen model railway enthusiast here.... takes ..., 7 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Hornby Western Master With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set (Toy)
Keen model railway enthusiast here .... takes a shift in mind set to switch over from analogue to DCC, though when you take the leap (and make changes to layout to accommodate) there is no turning back. As a result of buying this, I have been steadily transforming all of my locomotives to DCC.
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