Model Railroad DCC Train Control Systems
In the past, train control systems largely worked by changing the electric current put to the tracks, the newest in model railroad controlling is DCC, or Digital Command Control. Model railroad DCC uses computer technology to power and control people’s model railroads. Using this system, the entire set-up is continuously under full current, and electronic commands are sent over the tracks in a similar way to how a satellite system might use the internet or signals are sent across telephone lines. DCC model train systems require decoders to decode the information sent over the line. These tiny programmable electronic chips can be easily purchased to control each of the locomotives in the train system. Nowadays, some mid and high-level model locomotives can be purchased with the decoder already fitted by the factory, eliminating the need for the consumer to purchase and install their own.
Of all train control systems, digital command control allows the operator the most specific, individualized control of their model railroad. With model railroad DCC, the user operates a throttle that features several control buttons including a numeric keypad. Once the information leaves the throttle, sometimes called the cab, it travels to a central DCC command station, where it is fed to a booster, which is what creates the DCC signal that is fed to the tracks. DCC model train systems are modular in design, meaning that there are several standardized parts that may or may not fit the needs of the individual consumer, so can be pieced together to create a truly customized system that best suits the model train engineer’s needs.
When searching for train control systems, there will be many factors for the consumer to consider. Model railroad DCC systems can be contrasted on the basis of design, display, ability to control speed, to select the locomotive to be controlled, the potential to operate certain accessories, the number of amperes used while the unit is in use, the number of throttles that come standard with the system, the ease of using the manual, and the availability of a warranty. Naturally, after all of these various factors are researched and compared, price will probably also be a consideration, so that should be included when comparing DCC model train control systems.
When it comes to train control systems, there are many companies that offer excellent options and a good selection of features. If a model railroad engineer is looking for an especially economical digital command control system, both Lenz and Model Rectifier Corp. offer products that are easy on the pocketbook. The Lenz Atlas Commander, for example, has many sought after features and comes with a standard ten-year warranty, all for considerably less than $200 for the entire system. The Prodigy Express by Model Rectifier Corp is similarly priced, and although it only comes with a one-year warranty, it has been rated significantly higher by independent consumers on several levels as compared with Lenz. Unfortunately, this model does not come equipped with computer interface, so it may not be the appropriate choice for high-level users.
Other companies that should be considered when shopping for train control systems include Digitrax, NCE Corporation, and Zimo. Of these three, Zimo offers the ultimate in digital command control technology, from top marks in all review areas, eight full amperes of electric current, and an automatically included computer interface, to the included two-year warranty, a consumer is sure to enjoy his or her model railroading experience with a model railroad DCC like this one. Naturally, there many excellent mid-range systems which fall between these two extremes that should certainly be taken into consideration before making such a truly important purchase.
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