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. Note the frame shown has already been modified by filing an additional slot for the back-light cable.


































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 back-light 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:



































Components:


Code      Description                        Part Number                                        Purpose

D1 and

D2         3 amp Diode                       1N5400                                                Railcom

    Encoder                              2457-X034 Spec E460                             Speed and Direction

                                             (Replace with PEC11L-4215F-S0015)

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 or EPCOS                               Track output

L3         Common mode choke           40R CM3322P400R 4-pin                          Aux output

L4         Common mode choke           300R CM3032V301R-10 8-pin

    or

    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

Q1 and

Q2        Power Mosfet                      IRFR024N                                               Track output

Q3 and

Q4        Power Mosfet                      IRFR9024N                                             Track output

Q8 and

Q9        Dual mosfet                       ZXMC3AM832 s/s by

    IRF7509TRBF or 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


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 Alternative device not yet sourced.


Board code L4 (Track Drive) is a common mode choke. 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.


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


Board code Q2 and Q4 (Track output) are an H-bridge - 3 legged power mosfets.


Note the rudimentary bent aluminium heat sinks on these components. Later units have aluminium extrusions like the eLink.

































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. You could replace them with a suitable aluminium extrusion fashioned to suit.


 


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.



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 and U7, USB and Xpressnet chip. 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) 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 rotary encoders are known to be unreliable and Annex A describes their replacement.


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 COM 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 and to Ed Cairns for finding replacements for the encoders and writing up their replacement.


RH/Elite-Teardown/May2019/v1.3 - updated 13 Dec 2020 for Annex A.



Annex A - Rotary Encoder Replacement

By Ed Cairns


The rotary encoders used were PN PEC11L-4220F-S0015 which are to long in the shaft and also too long in the threaded housing but these were the nearest available configuration in the PEC11L Series available in Canada. See later for a better matched component.


My Elite controller had started to develop bad jitter from the controller knobs - turning the knob clockwise would increase the speed but with the jitter the speed might actually drop or abruptly jump either up or down. Also when selecting say a locomotive address with either knob and then pressing the knob in to select the locomotive might result in the address changing on selection - somewhat frustrating.


I went to work on the Elite using an anti-static mat, static wrist strap and an isolated Weller solder station.


Figure 1 - Work Area
























The next step was to open the controller case (reference Teardown instructions earlier).

Figure 2 - Opening the Case






















I cut the leads on only one encoder at a time, leaving the other for reference. I then slid the original black heat-shrink off the leads - if you cut close enough to the original encoder terminals one doesn’t even need to strip the wire, but simply de-solder the original cut encoder pin and have them drop off the wire ends.

Figure 3 - Remove the Leads




















The encoder used here is PN PEC11L-4220F-S0015, which means the shaft length is longer than the original as is the threaded part of the encoder body, however this is all that was available from my local supplier (Newark) in Canada. Figure 4 shows the original at the top and the new one below.

A better match is PEC11L-4215F-S0015 having a shorter shaft that does not require modifying as I have done. This variant is available from Mouser UK.


Figure 4 - Comparing Encoders



















However with a small hacksaw, file and bench vise - the shaft is very soft material - I was able in a few minutes to shorten the shaft length. Figure 5 shows the reworked encoder at the top this time.

Figure 5 - Reworking the Encoder






















Once the shafts were shorted to length it was on to soldering - using the encoder that had not been removed yet as a reference. I used clear heat shrink to provide strain relief and insulate the encoder terminals.

Figure 6 - Rebuild Wiring





















I then repeated the process for the remaining encoder and reinstalled the encoders in the chassis.

Figure 7 - Rebuild Encoders to Chassis





















Due to the longer threaded part I think the knob height may be very slightly higher - see Figure 8. It should be possible to use the old encoder nut as a backing nut to seat the encoder at the perfect height.

Figure 8 - Fully Rebuilt






















Then on to Testing…

The detents are more pronounced but I don’t think that is unacceptably so.

The address doesn’t jump when pressing the knob to select it.

The control for locomotive seed was smooth and did not jump or jitter - it works just fine.

So for $3.50 Canadian, it seems like a reasonable solution to worn Elite control encoders and it saves the need to purchase a new Elite controller.

Figure 9 - Task Complete




















Ed Cairns - Dec 2020.






Return to Teardown Index




ROB’S RAILS - Teardown Reports

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 report has been amended to include Annex A which is a write up by Ed Cairns of Calgary in Canada describing how he sourced suitable encoders and replaced them on his Elite. My thanks to Ed for his input.

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