Updated 25 September, 2019

DCC Topics

Model Rail DCC
NCE Decoders
TCS Decoders
Bachmann Dynamis
DCC Concepts
Easy DCC
Fleischmann DCC
Marklin DCC
Tam Valley Depot
Team Digital

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Manufacturer Manuals Title Link

DCC Suppliers

A & H Models
Coastal DCC
DCC Supplies
DCC Train Automation
Olivia's Trains
South West Digital
Wickness Models

Using DCC Links

Digital Command Control
Intro to DCC
Wiring for DCC

Computer Software

Big Bear
CMS Stock
CTI Electronics
Decoder Pro
Free Trackplans
Railroad & Co
SSI Control
Track Those Trains
Train Dispatcher



  DCC Decoders from Lenz, Digitrax and ZTC Using DCC in Model Railways

For decoder installation instructions for 4mm locos click here.

For decoder installation instructions for 2mm locos click here.

For 4mm loco decoder CV settings click here.

DCC Frequently Asked Questions


Why use DCC (Digital Command Control) on a model railway layout? What advantages does such a system have over more conventional methods of running a model railway?

There are many advantages to the system - for example, being able to control each locomotive individually on the same section of track, just two wires required to supply continuous current to the whole layout (well, in theory, but in practice it is a little more complex), being able to control accessories, such as points and signals, remotely and in a specified sequence, and also enable locos and coaches with lights to have their lights permanently on. It is also possible to purchase decoders that will enable you to control sounds from the loco, whether it generates smoke and also whether it should be uncoupled. The difference with a standard analogue system is that it is the devices (in particular the locomotives) that are controlled rather than the track as the current is always on. It is possible to have different locomotives going in opposite directions on the same track, controlled by different operators. This means it is imperative that signals (if operational) are obeyed!

The latest decoders allow locomotives to be run on both DC and DCC systems without any intervention from you, the operator. This means you can use your own DCC locos on other layouts which are not controlled by DCC equipment.

The main disadvantage is the cost of such a system, as each device has to have a computer chip in it to recognise and act on the signals sent out by the controller, whether that be a computer or a specialised controller. On the plus side, the cost of these chips has been gradually reducing and, with the advent of budget systems such as Fleischmann's Lok-Boss system for smaller layouts, the Bachmann E-Z Command system, and the NCE PowerCab, costs of decoders (the chips) from other suppliers are likely to come down in price.

There are a number of manufacturers of DCC systems, the major ones being listed on the left hand side of this page. It is not possible to recommend one manufacturer over another as each has its own particular approach to DCC, but it is advisable to check that any equipment you do buy conforms to the NMRA (National Model Railway Association) standard. It is possible to buy complete systems from entry level (with a limited range of functions and addresses) to full-feature systems with all the bells and whistles (literally!), or purchase individual components. It is even possible to use a computer to control the railway with just four wires and suitable computer software, some of which is shareware (with links to some of this software on the left of this page). It all comes down to cost and personal preference. You can make the use of DCC systems as simple as you like or, if you like a challenge, as complicated as you like!

For a comparison of a number of systems available, visit Loys Toys, though bear in mind that this is a US site that only deals in Digitrax systems. For a less biased comparison try the web sites provided by Lichfield Station or Barry and Penarth Model Railway Club. If you just want a comparison table of the major players, look at Model Railroad Solutions, though it does not include ZTC in its analysis.

For an objective view of the major DCC systems available, see the December 2005 edition of Model Railroader magazine.

For information about DCC basics and why you should consider this as an alternative to DCC click here.

For some up to date tips on DCC wiring, click here.

For an individual view and a quick demonstration of the main features of DCC click here.

For a video demonstration of moving from DC to DCC click here.

For those of you who don't want to worry about making amendments to the wiring on points consider the Hex Frog Juicer. This device will "watch" 6 electrofrog turnouts to ensure that there is no short circuit across the frogs. Can also be used to good effect on crossovers. More details here.


DCC Lighting

Using DCC provides the modeller with a great deal of flexibility in the way in which trains can be controlled. Being able to control individual lights on a train through the buttons on the controller is one of the major advantages. Setting this up can, though, be difficult - for a simple walk through how to configure lighting CVs (Configuration Variables) click here.

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