A Guide to Digital Command Control

A guide to Digital Command Control

Are you fed up up trying to control several trains independently on your layout? Can not make either head or tail of all those wiring diagrams, switches and control panels? Then maybe Digital Command Control or DCC for short is for you.

DCC allows you to take control of several trains on one track. You no longer have to shunt a train on to a siding to isolate it from the main track or mess around with too much complex wiring and switching.

Basic control

Train layouts are controlled by sending an electrical current that passes through the track and is controlled by a transformer. The transformer can reverse the polarity of the current that moving the train either backwards or forwards. The transformer can also regulate the current so speeding up or slowing the train down. With this sort of set up you could not control two or more trains on the same section of track at the same time. For example you could not move one train forward and at the same time move one train backwards.

Cab Control

If you require more than just basic control then you could use Cab Control.
With Cab Control the track is generally wired in small sections and with the use of switches enabling you to isolate certain sections of track. With one train isolated from the current you are then able to control another train on the same section of track. This is manageable on a small layout but the larger your layout the more wiring and switching you need and the more complex things get.

Digital command control

This is where modern technology comes to the aid of the train hobbyist. DCC allows you individual control of any train on your layout even if they occupy the same section of track at the same time without complex wiring. DCC works by placing a small electronic device called a Decoder inside each train. Each decoder is then given a unique number this enables it to communicate with a hand held device called a Command Controller. To use the Command Controller you simply assign each decoder a number or a name then select the train you want to control. A signal is then sent to the decoder which moves the train accordingly. You can set the speed and direction of several trains on the same peace of track independently of each other.

With a DCC system you are not only able to control the train's movements but also the sound effects and lights. You can also use DCC to control your layouts, points and other electrical devices such as turntables.

DCC is suitable for small or large layouts. It allows you far more independent control over your trains without the use of complex wiring.