Friday, 5 August 2016

Chips With Everything! The new 'Next 18' chip and others we like!

You might have noticed on the end of Bachmann's latest release the 'Next 18 DCC' symbol for DCC fitting advice, a new name and number of the DCC fitting system in the UK.

Well here it is, retailing at £21.95 it is certainly not cheap as chips (groan!) but it is very small and comes well packaged. This chip is ideal for fitting into those small spaces where other chips cannot go. It's a shame this technology was not available for the likes of the Adams Radial (either Hornby or Oxford) or Hornby's new class 71!

There it is in place, barely sitting proud of the fitting point at all. Whilst not a major issue in our test project (the Bachmann V1/V3, we'll have a look at that in a minute) it can easily be seen how little height is needed to fit one of these chips. Fitting was very easy and the chip found it's place with a confident click. Initial tests found the chip very responsive and smooth straight from the word go, although a comprehensive list of CVs is provided for those who enjoy 'playing' with them. Body back on and a quick number change the job was complete in approximately 5 minutes.

As promised here's a look at the loco it was fitted to, the new Bachmann V1/V3. The originals main issue was it's poor running and unreliability, thanks to it's split chassis. This one seemed to be the worst of the lot in that department (we have 4 in the loft all suffering from knackered chassis) On those grounds the upgrade certainly wins, the chassis is quieter and smoother than it's predecessor, along with better wheels and valve gear, a joy to behold. However, there seems to have been little improvement to the body and the lack of cab detail is very disappointing for a model that retails at an eye watering £129.95 (our price, £110.50) which puts in the same price bracket as the excellent 4Fs and C classes. As a result we are only stocking this model 'to order' (at the moment we have one BR Late Crest example in stock)

Right back to the chips, starting with some we like! On the left we have the Gaugemaster DCC26 (8 pin) which is an excellent budget chip retailing at just £14.95 it's one of the cheaper chips on the market and is easy to install with the chip not taking up to much room. Next up we have another Gaugemaster chip the DCC28 which is a direct plug in of the more conventional 8 pin design. which makes life very easy as it plugs straight in rather than having to find away of hiding wires. One problem is it sits rather high in comparison to other chips. Which is where the chip on the right comes in the DCC Concepts Zen Nano 8 pin direct plug in (with stay alive, if you can find room for it) is an excellent small chip that will fit into most locos including the troublesome Adams Radials! The two direct plug in chips we have found to provide excellent performance straight from the off.

Another favourite of ours is the Bachmann range of chips. They come in 6, 8 and 21 pin varieties (as well as the new 'next 18') and provide very reliable and smooth performance straight from the off every time. While we use a variety of 8 pin chips we very rarely move away from Bachmann for 6 or 21 pin chips.

One we are not so keen on however is the Hornby chip. While they seem to work well with their own systems and reasonably well with any other system. They are notoriously limited in their capabilities and as my DCC expert tells me they are very hard (if not impossible) to reprogram.

I hope this look at some of the chips currently available on the market, especially the new 'next 18' and it's provided some kind of insight into what's available. I'm sure many of you already have your own personal favourites.

Hope you've enjoyed this one and keep enjoying your modelling guys. Tony :)

Ps, I realise 'chips' is slang and I should really call them decoders ;)

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