Bluetooth app control for Hornby model railways

Bryter Digital worked with Hornby to develop HM DC, an iOS / Android app that controls new and legacy DC train layouts using bespoke Bluetooth MESH technology

The Project

Now in their centenary year, Hornby is a household name and is famous as the UK’s brand leader in the model railway hobby with its high quality 00 gauge (1:76) models and accessories.

Bryter Digital were approached by their Head of Strategic Delivery to design and build a cross-platform app that integrated with a new power controller being developed internally. Hornby wanted to utilise the new technology being used, including Bluetooth low energy (BLE), to develop the next generation of DC layout controllers to work with new, and legacy, analogue train layouts.

Additionally, they were developing new hardware designed to control Hornby powered accessories including point motors, signals and turntables.

Our brief was to work with their hardware developers in Hong Kong to prototype, build and deliver HM DC, an app that integrated the new BLE device control and enabled the model railway enthusiast to control a full layout from the palm of their hand.

The solution

Released in April 2021, the HM DC is a cross platform solution using React.Native as the application framework. Custom-built integrated libraries enable Bluetooth Mesh control of Hornby’s DC layouts via the new HM 6000 and HM 6010 analogue controllers.

The HM DC app features:

  • Ability to control up to 8 separate circuits
  • Ability to operate locomotives, points & accessories
  • Locomotive sounds including whistles, steam sounds & more
  • Individual acceleration and deceleration controls
  • iOS and Android app software
  • ‘Track Builder’ layout planning function

Connection to the device is simple and follows the usual pairing protocol associated with Bluetooth equipment. An added feature invaluable to those building their model railway layout is the comprehensive and simple to use ‘Track Builder’ function that allows the operator to construct their own layout and operate accessories directly via the track matrix.

Bryter Digital is delighted to be part of this project and proud to have been able to deliver a product that meets Hornby’s expectations. We believe that expected reaction from model railway enthusiasts in the marketplace will firmly justify the investment that Hornby have made.