Digital Command Control


For most model railroaders the design and creation of their model railroad has been and is a rewarding experience.  One can safely say that “leaving no stone unturned” is the  mindset of the hobbyist when it comes to the detail of their layout, and yet far to many railroading enthusiast find that after a few operating sessions they’re left wanting a little more than watching their train travel on the tracks which they’ve spent so much time designing.  This is a common problem for most.  It could be that you’re the type of hobbyist who truly enjoys the construction process and that is okay.  In fact, we could even say to each his own.  However, if you want to ramp things up to another notch, you may want to consider investing in a Digital Command Control system.

DCC modelAt this point, DCC has actually been around for awhile, but there are those who may be a little intimidated by new technology, and of course there is no need to assume this type of “mind set.”  Digital Command Control is made to enhance the modeling experience rather than detract from it.  What is it exactly?  In a word, it allows the modeler to run multiple trains simultaneously, and to make things even more interesting these trains can be run on different tracks.  For many modelers, the days of running a single train on one track came to and end with the introduction of DCC, and if you’re new to the hobby you may want to consider this more advanced way of powering your trains with this technology as well.
To make this change for powering your trains research will show that the benefits far outweigh the previous form of power which was AC/DC.  With DCC the model railroader now has the benefit of adding more handlers or operators, the system provides more consisting features, and DCC also offers easier access to more advanced programming options.  These features will then allow the hobbyist to perform multiple functions simultaneously, which ultimately results in a more realistic presentation of your trains as well as a more enjoyable operating experience.  You’ll be able to control the speed of each of your trains individually, along with their lighting, and the direction that you want them to move in.  Moreover, realistic operation is further enhanced by DCC through the inclusion of sound, and you’ll be also be able to make your locomotives release smoke just like their prototype version.

Each of the functions which you can now add to your railroad are performed through using a throttle which has several control buttons that are located on a numeric control pad.  When the operator makes a decision related to how they want an individual train to perform, a signal is then sent to a digitally controlled command station, and then this signal is then to sent to the tracks.

DCC Throttle

A key or important component of any Digital Command Control system is the mobile decoder, which is how the system communicates with each of the locomotives on your layout.  Every engine on a layout requires a decoder.  Today, most manufacturers include a factory installed decoder in their locomotives, but there are those who even now do not.  You may also have older locomotives which may not have a decoder, and the good news is that decoders can be purchased from a variety of different manufacturers and can be installed with a minimum of labor.  If you have a locomotive that does not have a decoder and are planning on making the switch to DCC, you have two options for dealing with this issue.  You can research how to do the installation yourself, or you can send your locomotive to a company who offers installation services.  For a small fee, there is a company called Aztec who will do the installation for you.

Finally, there are a number of companies who sell DCC systems, and most can be found online, and of course, your local model train hobby shop will carry this type of  system as well.

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