Hornby launches app for model railway control


By Howard Smith

06 January 2020

Launching in 2020, Hornby is to provide a major leap forward in the control of DC model railways with its Hammant & Morgan mobile app-based control system.

Remember those Hammant and Morgan DC analogue controllers? Still used by some today because of their seemingly indestructible nature, they have fuelled model railways with power since the 1970s. Carrying fanciful yet powerful names such as 'Powermaster', 'Victor', 'Executive', 'Clipper' or 'Flyer' they sold the image of the reliable brand. Despite being as bulky as a military backpack radio unit, they were sold in the thousands.

Hornby is reviving this brand name and bringing 'Hammand & Morgan' well into the 21st century, though surprisingly, not with a DCC control system. Its HM 6000 is a clever piece of circuitry which allows you to control up to eight circuits, points and accessories via your IOS or Android 'phone or tablet using its free-to-download app. Connection is via Bluetooth, and the app has separate inertia and deceleration controls, too.

So why DC? Simply put - it's designed for those on a budget. This is an entry-level solution that Hornby has devised for those that are new to model railways, or don't want the expense of buying a DCC control unit and an expensive decoder for every locomotive. The advantage of control from your smartphone means that sounds can be played through the speakers of your device. You can control your layout accessories using the layout trackplan design tool, if desired.

Hammant and Morgan model railway control app

For DCC users, it's a saturated market and choice for model railway decoders and controllers is plentiful. Hornby is carving a new niche for itself in what has been a largely over-looked, (perhaps even stale?), segment of the market for the past two decades. And, not for the first time ( see Hornby's pioneering Zero1 control system in the 1980s...) We've seen apps for model railway control in the past, though mostly for DCC or radio control. This feels fresh - it's for DC control.

This is a new direction for the manufacturer and its system is being offered at an unbeatable value-for-money price point (under £30) that's likely to leave many questioning if DCC control is still worth the cost of conversion. Hornby's innovation in model railway control is set to continue...