Hornby R8214 Elite DCC Controller
















This report details the procedural teardown of a Hornby Elite DCC Controller, highlights any parts that are known to have gone faulty, tells of their physical circuit board code, identifies their original part number and where applicable provides an equivalent part by supplier code.


The procedure totally dismantles the unit, but you only need to dismantle as much as is necessary to access those parts you wish to work on.


This information is provided in good faith, but as I have no idea of your skill levels it is assumed you know what you are doing and that you work on your Elite at your own risk.


Be aware that opening the case and/or making changes or attempting repairs to this unit will invalidate any warranty on your Elite and may also preclude any future chance of Hornby being able to repair or even update the unit. This also applies to any Elite bought second hand, whether working or not, as the previous owner may have opened the case or attempted repairs.


Dismantling:


At the front of the unit pull off the qty 2 encoder (speed control) knobs, then with a box spanner remove the nut and washer from each encoder spindle.


   

































The lower case is held to the top case by qty 11 special screws as illustrated – qty 5 recessed deep in the lower case – qty 4 in the terminal board back face of the case and a further qty 2 attaching this back face to the top case.


































































These screws have a triangular recess, hence a special screwdriver bit is required, although at a push a hex-key can be used instead, but be aware the screw heads are soft and more easily damaged by a hex-key. Note this is a triangular not a Tri-Wing recess.






























Once released lift away the lower case by rotating it clear of the terminals in the top case.



































Next release the ribbon cable clamp by easing the beige locking bar away from the white socket with a thin blade screwdriver until the ribbon cable comes free.


































































































There are qty 2 clips holding the motherboard into the upper case.































































Press each clip outwards whilst easing the motherboard up off its locating pegs. The motherboard will lift free but take care to ease the ribbon cable out of the slot as you do so.


































Turning the motherboard over reveals triangular dome contact plates that the buttons operate. These are only secured to the motherboard by sellotape so be careful not to disturb them. If you are having problems with buttons not working, then the problem will likely be with these dome contacts. Slight corrosion due to periods of inactivity prevents good contact, but the action of operating the buttons and the domed shape of the contacts mean they self clean when used, so repeated button presses should fix the problem without dismantling.

 

The buttons just lift out of the top case but take care with the numerical pad as it can dismantle itself and is fiddly to reassemble if it does.



































The display screen daughterboard is attached to the case by qty 4 small cross point screws. Once removed the screen module just lifts out.



































If you have had a screen problem the fault may either be with a badly seated ribbon cable or by a disturbed or just plain dirty elastomeric (zebra) connectors, which pass the board data to the LCD screen. To get at these connectors carefully turn the qty 6 tags securing the screen frame to the board using a pair of pliers until they align with the board slots.


Note: As shown in the picture how the tags make contact with the daughter board PCB track – take care to stay within these pads later when you twist the tags back to re-secure the frame.


You can then lift the metal frame away from the screen.


































The LCD screen is only held on by pressure bonding of the zebra connectors to the screen and the circuit board so carefully prise it all apart. This picture shows the Select LCD but the Elite is similar once the frame is removed.


































Clean up all associated parts with IPA (isopropyl alcohol) and importantly allow to thoroughly dry before reassembly. Keep IPA away from the edge of the LCD in case it seeps into the layers and smears the display.



The display does not have a backlight but you can refer to one of my other articles if you would like to try installing one, whilst you have the Elite in pieces.


Reassembly - is the reverse of dismantling, remembering to feed the ribbon cable back through the motherboard slot as you remount the motherboard. After the motherboard is clicked into place check all the buttons feel positive when operated.



The Elite Motherboard main components:





































































 
























It may be possible to identify other components by referring the board code back to Hornby R&D Dept.



Known faults:


A close inspection of the board may reveal a failed component by way of slight discolouration or there may be a spectacular burn out as is the case below with Q2 & 4, or you may of course use standard fault finding methods to identify a faulty circuit board component.



























The following components have been reported as failed by users on the Hornby forums.


Board code L3 (Aux Output) and board code L7 (Prog/Boost Output) are common mode chokes both part number 40R CM3322P400R 4-pin. Alternative device not yet sourced.


Board code L4 (Track Drive) is a common mode choke – part number CM3032V301R-10 8-pin – equivalent part RS 104-8557 (RS Components cover code for manufacturers part DLW5BTM501SQ21 - 500R 4Amp 50vDC). This is an 8 pin device but the pads are ganged onto 4 pads on the board.


Board code L6 (DC power input) is a common mode choke – part number CM3032V301R-10 8-pin - equivalent part as per L4.


It is acceptable practice to bridge common mode chokes rather than replace them if parts are not available.


Board code Q2 (Track output) is an H-bridge 3 legged power mosfet part number IRFR024N & board code Q4 (Track output) is part number IRFR9024N.


Note the rudimentary bent aluminium heat sinks on these components.

































You should remove these heat sinks, clean them up and reapply heat transfer compound to preclude any heat associated failures of the protected components. Ensure the attaching screws are firmly tightened and that the heatsink is flat - not bowed away from the component.


 


Board code Q1 is same part as Q2 & board code Q3 is same part as Q4 although there are no reported failures to date of these similar components in the same H bridge circuit.



Board codes Q8 & Q9 are 8 pin dual mosfet switching devices, are used in pairs in an H-bridge circuit to provide low current output to the PROG and BOOST terminals.


Part number either ZXMC3AM832 (old pattern) or IRF7509TRPBF (later device) - RS part number is RS301-192 - 2Amp, 30V – items widely available.


These are very small 8-legged SMD (surface mount device) components and very difficult to replace due to their size and configuration close to other board items. The 4 legs of each component oriented to the top of the board are ganged together according to the data sheet so your soldering doesn’t have to be quite so accurate at that side. There can be no bridging or solder whiskers on the lower 4 legs and the pcb tracks are very narrow thus exact alignment is paramount. Great care is needed when removing the old items to avoid damage to these pcb tracks.


































LCD display screen buffer board code --- part number TRI-T CL010-3014 A00  -  probably no equivalent.


































The two main integrated circuits are Board Code U10, master logic chip PIC18F6527 and U7, USB and Xpressnet chip PIC18F2455. Even if you were capable of sourcing and installing these components  you would need the associated programming code from Hornby to complete the task. This is proprietary information and it is very unlikely Hornby would release that code to any casual user.


Relay K1 (blue box between the large capacitors) part number TQ-12V 14507 is what you hear clicking during programming operations. This flips the DCC low current signal circuit between PROG output and the default BOOST output when actively programming a decoder.


This means if you have an R8239 Booster module controlling a separate power district on your layout this area will drop the DCC signal whenever you are programming.


The items listed above are the only components known to have failed so far since the Elite controller was introduced in 2007.

 

In the past Hornby has been very good at providing a part number for items identified using the circuit board designator code. If you can be sure a certain item has failed on your Elite I may be able to provide a part number for that item and even an equivalent part if the original is not easily available from the usual suppliers or we can ask Hornby.


Testing and Upgrading the Firmware:


Functional Test


There is a simple functional test you can do without any other equipment or test gear to check the Elite is in good working order and the screen responds to the buttons.


Power up the Elite whilst holding down the LOCO button. Release as soon as you see Hornby on screen.


The screen will fill with every available character for long enough for you to check them and then hopefully you will see Hornby EE PASS on screen and not EE FAIL.


You can now press each button and see a numerical response on screen – Menu = 01, Loco = 02 plus green led, Acc = 03 plus red led, ... Stop = 09, etc. Pressing and rotating the speed encoder will show 08 then P.20 – P.29 for LH knob, 07 then P.10 to P.19 for RH knob. Number pad buttons will show their own number but as double digits 0 = 00, 1 = 11, etc, 9 = 99.


To recover the Elite just power it down then back up again as per a normal start.


Upgrading Firmware (At the time of writing the latest version is V1.44):


As your Elite starts up it briefly shows the version number of the firmware currently installed. This firmware is user upgradable using a PC with an internet connection and a USB printer cable.

First download and save the latest version of the Elite firmware from the Hornby website. Keep the folder open where you can easily get at the executable application file. In this folder is additional information such as installation instructions and if you need drivers for different versions of Windows on your PC.


You need to connect the Elite to your PC later using a standard printer cable (i.e. with A and B ends).


Tip – do a dry run to find out which COM port Device Manager is allocating to your Elite, by opening Device Manager from your PC Control Panel, then as you plug in the powered up Elite USB cable make a note of which port is allocated as the screen refreshes. Unplug the USB cable and the port will drop out, but use the same port again next time. Power down the Elite and continue as follows.


Power up the Elite whilst holding down the red STOP button. Release after 30 seconds. The Elite is now in Update Mode and you should have a completely blank screen.


Wait a further 30 seconds then plug in the USB cable between the Elite and your PC. This must be a direct connection and not via a USB extender hub.


Wait a further 30 seconds then open the firmware update application file. A dialogue box will appear on screen asking you to choose a COM port. This will be the port number you noted previously if you have used the same USB connection. Select this in the updater dialogue box.


There is second box to select on the new installer and this is PC Type, where you have a choice of 1, 2 or 3. 1 is for old slow PCs, 2 for reasonably fast PCs and 3 is for the very latest PCs. If in doubt choose Type 2.


Click OK and the dialogue should change to a downloading progress bar.


If you have matched your PC to the correct Type then after 3-5 minutes you should see download complete – click finish and the Elite will boot into Standard Mode after confirming the firmware version number on screen.


If you have chosen the wrong PC Type, too low and you will see very slow progress which can take up to an hour to complete, but is usually successful nonetheless, or if you have chosen too high the progress bar will zip through in less than 2 minutes and you will see Fail.


If the latter happens the Elite will become unresponsive and will not reboot at all – effectively broken, so just unplug the power and USB and set it all up again from square one carefully observing the delays between actions, then pick a slower (lower number) Type and try again.


If you had the long wait then next time you know you can choose a higher PC Type.


Tip – stick a label on the back of your Elite with the PC Type and CON port numbers for next time.


The latest firmware update installer has proven totally reliable on all types of PC from XP to Win 10 and processors up to and including Intel i7, however if it does fail then it probably means you have rushed a step, so just unplug and go back to square 1 again.



Acknowledgments:

Many thanks to Ken Wards of Hornby Research and Development Department for his help in providing part numbers for the circuit board codes quoted in this article.


RH/Elite-Teardown/Nov2017/v1.1



Return to Teardown Index



© R Honnor

Board Code

Description

Part Number

Alt PN

Purpose

D1 and D2

3 amp Diode

1N5400


Railcom

F1

1 amp 60V Resettable Fuse

As marked


Aux output

F2

6 amp 30V Resettable Fuse

As marked


DC input

K1

12V Relay

TQ-12

14057

Prog/Boost switching

L1 and L2

Inductor

As marked

EPCOS

Track output

L3

Common mode choke

40R CM3322P400R 4-pin


Aux output

L4

Common mode choke

300R CM3032V301R-10 8-pin

RS104-8557 for 500R 4 amp 50VDC DLW5BTM01SQ21

Track output

L5

Common mode choke

120R 12V


Xpressnet

L6

Common mode choke

Same as L4


DC input

L7

Common mode choke

Same as L3


Prog/Boost output

Q8 and Q9

Dual mosfet

ZXMC3AM832 s/s by IRF7509TRBF

RS301-192

Prog/Boost output

U4

12V Regulator

LM7812CT



U5

5V Regulator

LM7805CT



U7

PIC

18F2455


Xpressnet/USB

U10

PIC

18F6527 or 18F6622


Main functions and display