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Choosing Your DCC System

Choosing a DCC system can seem very confusing at first, but by answering a few simple questions about  you and your layout will help point you in the right direction.

What is DCC?

Digital Command Control or DCC is just another way to control your layout. With analogue or  DC ( some call it Dinasour Control) you control a section of track. All trains in that section run in the same direction and at the same speed. Sometimes not!!

DCC is a control system that allows you to run trains independently from each other. You can run each train at a different speed and in a different direction. You can turn on and off the headlights and the sound and the smoke. Its a bit like remote control cars and planes but for your railway!

How does it work?

The DCC system usually is made up of  a Command Station, a controller and a power supply.  The Command Station uses the track rails to carry the commands to the locomotives. Each locomotive needs to have a DCC decoder installed.The locomotive decoders use the track rails to send information back to the Command Station.

 Each locomotive decoder has its own number or address, so it knows when it is being sent information and so you know which loco you are sending it to. The information you send can make it go faster or go slower or to come to a stop. You may want to turn on the headlight or turn it off. You may want to blow the whistle, turn on the sound or double head with another locomotive.

You can even set up your system to operate the points and a turntable and more.

How do you choose a system?

To help you choose a system you need to consider the points below. You need to know

1. how many locomotives you want running at the same time?

2. how many people are going to operate the layout at the same time?

3. are you going to control it from one spot or do you want to follow the trains around the layout?

4. are your locomotives going to have sound and lights and smoke?

5. is the layout going to stay the same size or will you make it into an Empire?

6. will you want to use wireless throttles or control it through a computer?

7. are you into technology or do you just want to run trains?

7. how much money are you willing to spend on your DCC system at the moment and in the future?

Answers to these questions will help you determine which system will work best for you. Sometimes when you are first starting out into DCC and model railway, it is difficult to know where you are headed with your layout.

And the problem with many DCC starter sets available is that they are just that, a starter set. Many don't allow you to expand to the next level. This is when you decide you want to run more trains or you finally persuade your partner to run trains together or you want to follow the trains around.

So it is often our suggestion to look a a system that can expand as your layout expands and will grow with you as you change.