DCC Explained

What is DCC anyway?


  • Digital Command Control
  • NMRA command control standard
  • Supported by multiple manufacturers
  • Offers a simplified lower cost wiring system.
  • No computer experience needed.
  • Basic and advanced systems are available. (Low $ entry level to full club systems.)

Is my layout a candidate?

​If you run a “One Horse road”
​If you run 2 or more trains at a time
​If you (want to) have yard operations
​If you (want to) have helper operations

​What can DCC do for me?

  • No more “who’s got my train?”
  • Run trains not the control panel
    • •Guest operators can run trains easily
    • •Simplify or eliminate control panels
  • Walk around control
    • •Plug around (with speed/direction memory)
    • •Cordless throttles
  • Track can be used to distribute power and control
    • •Locomotives
    • •Turnouts
    • •Signals
    • •Other accessories
  • ​Fine tune locomotive performance
    • Adjustable start voltage/maximum speed
    • Speed matching for good MU operation
    • Smooth steam loco operation with “Torque Control”
​Prototype Lighting effects•
  • Dimming•
  • Mars, Strobes, Beacons, firebox flicker
  • Operating ditch lights

Typical DCC system setup​Advanced DCC system setup


  • Gives each locomotive a unique “Address”
    • Address can be 2 digit or (optional) 4 digit. (Set to Loco #)
    • Detects DCC commands and implements it when“ Addressed”
        • –Motor Speed, Function output, MU, etc.
    • Drives motor
      • Low heat pulse power for good starting torque and running
      • •Implements optional Momentum and Speed Tables
      • Modern high frequency quiet drive (Silent RunningTM)

    Drives “Function” outputs
    • Headlights, lighting effects, etc.

    Typical Decoder Wiring

    Considerations before you buy

    How much power do you need (Power Budget)

    • • It’s not size but quantity
      • – Allow 1/4 - 1/2 Amps per locomotive
      • – About 8-10 locomotives per 5 Amp booster
    • • Sub-divide booster districts into separate power districts
      • – Use EB3 DCC circuit breaker for each power district
      • – a short in one power district will not shut down the whole booster
    • • 10 amp boosters are not for HO
      • – 220 Watts is enough to melt code 70 rail
      • – locomotive wires vaporize if a short travels through the loco wires
    ​How many operators will you have?
    • Probably more than you had with DC operation
      • If it’s easier to operate, more operators will show
      • Now you can really have multiple trains moving in the yard or in a town 
    • What kind of cabs will you need?
      • Intermediate cabs - simpler
      • Full Feature Pro Cab
        • Engine terminal operator - setting up consists
        • Master” operator stop the fast clock, etc
      • • Cordless – Intermediate and Pro Cab

    How do I get started?

    • Don’t buy anything (yet)
    • Try different systems to see which suits you best - get the one YOU like.
    • Try running locomotives, programming locomotives, etc.
    • Look over our catalog to see the extent of our systems and decoders