• Jerry Quinn

    Spot on.  This is an absolutely ridiculous and really stupid development in the industry for the reasons you stated really well!  I just recently have been exposed to the slot car world where that industry took the also stupid direction of each manufacturer developing its own ‘digital’ system.  As with model rr’ing, the hobby is such a niche that more than one standard other than questionable ‘brand protection’ motives (here’s a clue: just make the best models at the best prices instead!) is really annoying.  Okay, I clearly agree and you’ve got me started ranting! Excellent post!

    • Thanks for being one of my first regular readers Jerry 😉 I have discovered I am going to have trouble installing my Plux12 decoder in the Piko EMU pictured in the article, I’ll post about it. 
      I should add a small correction. The Plux standard (Plux-12 and the whole familly)  is actually not that recent, the norm was defined in 2009. This was reminded to me on a German forum yesterday. 
      In fact, for some reasons these plugs are now being used in N as well. This doesn’t really change my argument thought…

      • Jerry Quinn

         I agree.  In fact, let me share with you one of my opinions.  When I first got involved with non-US N Gauge modelling, I was suitably impressed with the NEM 651 standard in Europe.  Contrast that with the US, where there are a multitude of specialty produced decoder / lighting boards, I was quite impressed with the relatively simple and uniform NEM 651 standards from every European manufacturer.  I think these manufacturers miss a really important facet of the hobby…when I order a locomotive today, I know that in most cases having on hand a couple of NEM 651 decoders will allow me to quickly convert that locomotive to digital.  In this new future, I’ll now need to order a ‘special’ decoder.  This is enough of a hassle that I might choose another model instead.

        Marklin/Minitrix’s actions are really the most ridiculous.  I’ve been less impressed with Minitrix releases in the past few years (contrast with the volume and quantity that Hobbytrain and Piko produce!), and this further makes them more of  niche player in my mind, which is too bad!

        BTW…great blog!  Keep it up!

  • Railstars Limited

    Hello! Nice overview. You will like to know that in fact the NMRA has developed parallel specifications for the NEM 651 and various PluX connectors in RP 9.1.1!

    • Thanks a lot for pointing out that document! I knew indeed the NEM 651 was standardized in N-America a well, this confirms it.

      It’s funny though, for the PluX connectors: only PluX8 is mentioned for the N-Scale (I don’t think any manufacturer in Europe uses, nor plans on using PluX8). In fact, PluX12 – the only one now used in N on our side of the pond – seems totally absent from these specs 🙁

      • Railstars Limited

        Wow, hadn’t noticed, but you are right! Do you have a link to the European standards for PluX12? Considering implementing it for our next round of DCC decoders, given your commentary here…

        • Sure, this is defined in “NEM 658”. As usual the Morop only publishes in German (http://www.morop.eu/de/normes/nem658_d.pdf) or in French (http://www.morop.eu/fr/normes/nem658_f.pdf). Maybe someone translated it somewhere?

          As you had surely guessed, this blog post was written from a “hobbyist” point of view. As a business person in the real world (but not in the train business), I’d strongly advise checking the numbers before considering PluX12 devs. I don’t know if Piko and other “Plux12 friendly” brands have a reasonable market penetration….

  • Mario

    Hello! Tran builds a Next18 Sounddecoder in a normal Next18-Formfactor. Thats nice…

    • Hi Mario, I had a look at the tran.at website. I am guessing you’re talking about the SL76Next18S.
      Thank you very much for mentioning that!

      • msfrog

        Hi Pierre,
        I’ve got a SL76Next18 here. It works pretty good. Basically it is a normal SL76 on a new pcb, having the same features. And it really fits into the normal Next18 Formfactor 🙂

  • Smith J

    Whether or not we like it at least the NMRA standard has kept the market in a reasonable shape with interchangeability between manufacturers allowing us to keep a stock of decoders ready for use as we build locomotives and the CTe is very useful for small locos of 2mm scale. I do not think NMRA will like being sidelined. Bachmann is going down the route of Next18 and does this mean that 6 pin will be phased out and we will not be able to get replacements for existing locos if blown? Will our stocks become useless? This is something that is happening all over in the computer world making existing equipment obsolete by companies making changes so you will have to start again and buy all newproducts. No we do not want it, but it will be powered by fools that must have the latest because they mistakedly think it is best. Well its madness, defeats standardisation a bit like the VHS v Betamax and DVD formats. You did a good job on explaining as I won
    dered what Next18 was.

    • Thanks for the comment!
      I don’t think you need to worry about NEM651 disappearing anytime soon, for a simple reason: there will always be a market for decoders with wires (e.g. no interface, for old locomotives), and it makes sense for those same decoders to have wire connectors that match the (old but proven) NEM651 pin order.
      Also, even manufacturers now supporting Next18 only are releasing SOME NEW models with Next18. There will be NEM651 models in their ranges for a long while.

      I agree that the NMRA has a better vision than european manufacturers, and above all a better purpose than the MOROP – the European counterpart. The MOROP is, in my humble opinion, a joke. It is a registration administration that standardises everything that the members (the manufacturers) submit. Which is why every single one of the new plugs I mention are “NEM standards” if you believe the MOROP…
      Without the NMRA, DCC (after all, a German technology) wouldn’t have become a defacto-standard…

      On the other hand, one must admit that the NMRA sometimes is very conservative (the American market isn’t as much “gadget” oriented as Europe IMHO). The NEM651 plug is old fashioned, and there needs to be a new interface with much more outputs. Technology has evolved, and especially in N scale, we can fit much more in the trains now!
      Yes, it’s sad that we have to go through a regular standard war, with no oversight and the market deciding (VHS vs. Betamax). But as long as the war doesn’t last for too long, the consumers won’t be hurt *too* much. Right now, Next18 seems very well placed. The only big player really causing a problem is Märklin/Minitrix. They have a huge market power and hold on to their proprietary mTC14 for now…
      We’ll see. Glad my article could clarify some things for you!

  • Alain LM

    Excellent article that is a reference on the subject. Thank you Pierre.
    I have taken the liberty to refer to it in an article that I have published on TroveStar ( http://www.trovestar.com/generic/blog.php?Article=177 ).

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