There’s probably no single advancement in running model railroad locomotives in the last half-century more significant than Digital Command Control, or DCC. It simply has revolutionized the way we run and control not only trains but signals, turnouts and many other functions – all from a hand control throttle known as a cab. Veteran modeler Tom Lund provides an introductory look at the simplicity of the DCC system.
While DCC may not be a need-to-have system for the beginner who has a simple oval of track with a transformer and one train, the intermediate-to-large-sized layout with multiple trains running independently on the same track – and especially Club layouts – find DCC pretty much a necessity. DCC can also bring a sense of realism with its ability to not only control speed but also sound and light functions on your locomotives.
Tom shows the basic Digital Command Control system: the transformer, the command station and the cab throttle. Most DCC command stations have outputs for not only the main track but also a programming track. He normally changes the factory default address of “3” to match the three or four numbers on his actual engines, and he shows how easily that’s done on the programming track.
If you’ve been on the fence about whether to switch to Digital Command Control systems, Tom points out that the wiring is actually much simpler that the tangle of buss wires to various blocks on traditional layouts – and simpler is better! Operate on a DCC system on a buddy’s layout and see if you don’t agree that your enjoyment of operating your model trains just hit a new high!