As Steve Barkley states in this video, getting started with Digital Command Control does not have to be complicated or expensive. There are many DCC systems that are available in the market, and they can be as low as a hundred, to a couple hundred dollars. Barkley shows and details the subtle differences in a number of manufacturers’ DCC systems.
DCC systems that Barkley recommends includes the Lenz, North Coast Engineering, EasyDCC, Model Rectifier Corporation, and Digitrax systems. Digitrax offers a variety of versions ranging from entry level to expert. The Zephyr system is great for beginners, while the Chief system is great for more advanced modelers.
Barkley goes on to discuss methods of choosing the right DCC system for your needs and capabilities. He suggests focusing on price, features such as the number of locomotives it can control and routing capability, compatibility with the scale you are working in, and the power needed to run your layout. Barkley also suggests going to train shows to ask around about DCC systems and find out what the modelers are using. Many DCC manufacturer representatives are present at train shows and can answer any questions you may have.
Another great tip that Barkley gives is to buy a system that your modeler friends also have. This way you can figure out how to use them together. Look at systems, try them out, ask questions, install them, and have fun on your layout!