The Benefits of DCC
Systems built to meet the NMRA’s Digital Command Control Standards provide more advantages than any other system on the market. We will start by listing the advantages of having any command control system, then move into advantages of DCC over frequency (analog) command control systems.
The first, and foremost, benefit of command control is the fact that you can run your trains the way you want to run them. If you simply want to run a lot of trains on the mainline, you can. If you want to run prototypically, you can. Many people have never bothered to learn how to run prototypically because, even if they knew how, they couldn’t do it anyway. Command control allows you to run your trains however you want to run them – prototypically, or not.
You can MU loco’s together into a consist that can be controlled with one knob as a single unit, you can have helper service without regard to electrical blocks, have two or more switchers doing yard operations without conflict, and you can even have cornfield meets (head on crashes) – if you want to consider that an advantage. The bottom line is this: you don t have to build your layout to conform to electrical considerations, and electrical considerations will no longer enter into the operations of the trains on that layout.
Along the same lines is this: you get more pleasure when running your trains because you have more time to watch the trains go. With block control, at least part, if not most, of your attention is on throwing toggle switches to keep your train running. With command control, you don’t have toggle switches to mess with, so you can watch the trains run instead of messing with a control panel full of toggle switches. It’s the elimination of these toggle switches that gives command control the capability of realistic operation, MUing anywhere on the layout, and to have pusher service the way it should be.
You can also get more pleasure out of your layout because you can run more trains in a smaller area than you can with cab control. Because you don’t have electrical block considerations, all your trains run on the same rail without regard to where an electrical block starts and ends. For example, if you have a 4 x 8 HO layout, it would be extremely difficult to run two trains at one time – because blocks would have to be so small that that’s all you would be doing to run the trains. But many 4 x 8 HO layouts have more than enough track to run two trains at once. Digitrax’s Challenger is the ideal (very low cost) system for this purpose. And let’s face it. You will have more fun running your layout with another person operating another train on the same layout. While this example is for a small 4 x 8 layout, it is also applicable to layouts of all sizes, including huge club layouts.
Wiring is much easier. While larger, more complex, layouts require a fair amount of wiring and wiring complexity, it will always be far less complex, and much easier than wiring the equivalent layout with cab control. Just considering the fact that you don’t have to run all that wire up to a control panel with toggle or rotary switches should be clue enough that wiring is easier.