DCC Explained

What is DCC?

DCC (Digital Command And Control) is a digital method of controlling a model railway. Instead of controlling the power going through the track to achieve the desired speed for a model, your controller sends signals to the train to control its speed and other functions such as lights. Each locomotive is assigned an address so you can tell your controller which locomotive to send the signals to, this means you aren't limited to just having one loco on track. You can also use it to control other aspects of the layout such as points and signals. To get started all you need is a loco already equipped with a DCC decoder, or you can buy a DCC decoder to fit to your model. Find them here.


What Is DCC Sound?

DCC Sound builds on DCC (digital command and control) by adding a sound function to the decoders. They have customised sound files, usually recorded from a real Locomotive that play in time with the movement of the loco, and extra sounds such as horns and whistles which are activated through the buttons on your DCC controller. It adds a lot of play value and brings extra realism to your model railway. Find DCC sound deciders here.


Do I need a DCC decoder and a DCC sound decoder?

No, if you are adding sound to a model, all the DCC sound decoders we sell also have all the DCC decoder functionality built in to control a model. In the past it was possible to add a sound module to some non sound decoders but these systems have since been discontinued.


Can I use DCC on a DC (Analogue) Layout?

Some DCC decoders will work on an analogue layout. You will get the engine or main drive sounds, but wont get any of the extra sounds such as horns. It can work well for trains continuously moving, but doesn't always suit stop start layouts, and you have to always have a small amount of power applied or the engine sound stops. All the Legomanbiffo sound files are set up to work on analogue, as well as many others, please check first if you aren't sure contact us here.


What is DCC stay alive?

A stay alive stores power in a capacitor, so that your model will keep running when it might usually stop on dirty track or whilst crossing insulated sections of points and crossings, typically they give a few seconds of power which is enough for the model to regain power from the track. Find our stay alive services here.


What is DCC ready?

DCC ready refers to a model locomotive which is ready to be fitted with a DCC decoder. It is analogue (DC) when you buy it but has a socket where you can easily fit a DCC or DCC sound decoder. Most models now are either DCC fitted (already have a DCC decoder) or DCC ready. Models that aren't DCC ready are usually harder to convert to DCC, and typically require soldering and often extra work to make them work on DCC.


Why is DCC sound so expensive?

A lot of people consider DCC sound to be quite an expensive addition to a model train. There are a few reasons for this. One is that its a relatively low volume product compared to other electronic industries. Secondly the sound files are usually recorded and created by third parties. They have to arrange recording sessions and use expensive equipment to record locomotives then spend hours breaking the recordings down into hundreds of sections to create a working sound file, for this they take a cut from each DCC sound decoder sale which uses their sounds. Finally, the majority of the sound decoders are sold through a wholesaler who have to import them from Europe (by palette) and they also take a small profit from each decoder sold, as do we the retailer that supplies you. Find our full range of products here.