Model train control system have recently upgraded to more technologically advanced systems. The old DC systems used electric current along the tracks of a layout to tell locomotives what do and when to do it. By changing the current, the system was able to send information to multiple components.
Today, the control system is much different. Digital Command Control (DCC) uses computer technology to send signals along the tracks. The type of signal communication is similar to telephone lines and how information is transmitted across those lines. The system is always under full current, but signals are passed along the tracks in a quicker manner.
How the DCC system functions:
1. Step one of the process begins with the throttle. The user operates the throttle that can send signals to tell locomotives lights, and sounds to function at a certain time. When the user selects an operation to occur, the signal is then transferred from the throttle to the DCC command station.
2. The DCC command station interprets that message from the throttle, feeds the message to a booster, which then translates the message into a DCC signal that can be sent across the layout along the tracks.
3. The decoder within a locomotive is the brain of the train. It receives the DCC signal, interprets it, and then carries out the desired operation. There are several steps, but the DCC system is exceptionally versatile when compared to the previous electrical current system.
Each individual part:
You should know that parts can be interchangeable because the DCC system is universal. This means you can purchase your favorite brands and run them all on the same system, no matter if they vary in brand. However, be aware there could be exceptions in a few cases.
1. The throttle is a key component to the DCC system. With the throttle, you select the functions of the train. Controlling speed, direction, sound, and lighting is all done with the throttle, so invest the necessary money into a good throttle.
2. DCC command station is obviously your most important component. Signals run from your throttle to your command station and then proceed out to the rest of the track. Integrating your throttle to your command station through the use of a booster is always a good idea. This will increase functionality and performance.
3. A booster is quite necessary in your layout. A booster will increase the amperage of signals coming from your command system. You need a booster because it will guarantee your trains getting the correct signals at the right time. If a signal is too weak, it has the possibility of triggering another function that you did not want. Purchase a booster because it will help your system maintain correct functionality.
4. Decoders within your locomotive are serious business. Without a decoder in a DCC system, your locomotive will not know how to interpret DCC signals. Decoders can be purchased separately and installed on their own, or they can be purchased already built-in to a model train. It is up to you, whether you want to buy a train with one installed or to install one yourself. Either way, you need one in your locomotive if you plan on running it.
Consider this before buying a system:
Current economical systems on the market are manufactured by Lenz and Model Rectifier Corp. There are some complete systems for approximately $200. Check each manufacturer individually and see what they have to offer. The functions should meet your requirements and check to see if they offer a good warranty. Some only offer one year warranties. Other companies have warranties that last 10 years. These specifications should be researched before making a choice. And remember, the lowest price is not always the best value. It is important to get a train control system that will meet your needs now and in future years.