Operation is far more exciting with each train running independently. You can create more lash-ups (consists, MUs) and match the speeds of locomotives from different manufacturers. You can program realistic acceleration and deceleration rates, or limit the top speed of a locomotive.
DCC has advantages for everyone from the beginner to the advanced modeler and for every layout from the smallest to the largest. For beginning and intermediate modelers (most modelers classify themselves at this skill level) the advantages of reasonably priced simple command stations and simple layout wiring are very important. Start with a relatively low cost command station and add components as your interest grows. If you decide you want more advanced features and functions from your command station or if you want to add a computer, it’s an easy transition from basic to full-featured command stations. The equipment you already own moves on with you as you add more features to your system. Your largest investment in time and money is in the decoders you install in the locos. These are upwardly compatible as you expand and add to your system. By simply adding components you can grow into a more advanced system at your own pace and as your budget allows.
Most home layouts are small or medium sized. They typically have a limited amount track available for block control. DCC has a real advantage in these situations. Since blocking is not required you can operate more locos in a smaller area.
For the large home or club layout DCC offers truly prototypical operation and minimum wiring hassle.
Modular layouts running with DCC can operate more than 2 or 3 trains at a time. Let’s face it, the outside loop running clockwise and the inside loop running counterclockwise all day isn’t very exciting. The ease of wiring makes modular hook up simple and lets you get operating sessions up and running more quickly.
The only big limitation is the one-way communication from system to decoder. Lenz (Railcom) and Digitrax (Transponding) have developed solutions for two-way communications that are inexpensive and compatible with existing products.
Future of DCC
- Two way communication
- One decoder in every engine and car
- Car/engine “finder” – where is the car on the layout?
- Automatic train routing and advanced signal system
- Smaller and smoother decoders
- Car detection accessories for yard database