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DCC Projects

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Digital Command Control (DCC) is the cutting edge of control for model trains. Once reserved for those who could understand and build their own electronics, today even a beginner can get started with DCC in their first train set.

Whether you are just getting started or expanding your railroad and DCC control, you'll find these projects very useful in furthering your understanding and enjoyment of this great system.

1. Install a Starter System

instructions
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The real beauty of a DCC system is that it doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. Most basic starter systems on the market today can be installed in minutes and cost about the same as a quality transformer.

2. DCC Glossary

switch decoder program
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
DCC has a language all its own. This glossary covers the basics of the lingo so you can proceed with confidence.

3. Choose the Right Decoder

decoders
©2013 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
With so many decoders on the market, choosing the right one for your locomotive or project can be as complicated as installing it! This guide will help you narrow your search.

4. Install a Decoder

decoder
©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Decoders are small recievers that fit inside each locomotive. These pick up digital signals sent through the rails from the DCC control system. Today many locomotives come pre-wired with a plug that allows a decoder to snap right in. But for older models or custom installations, a little more work may be required. Once you've done one however, you'll be ready to take on any challenge.

5. Install a Switch Decoder

switch decoder program
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Decoders can be used for more than just locomotives. So called stationary decoders can be used for fixed devices like switch machines, turntables, signals or other operating accessories. Today's systems allow you to control your entire platform from the palm of your hand.

6. Automate Your Reversing Loops, Wyes and Turntables

wiring schematic
©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Accessories like automatic reverse units make wiring and running your trains even more easy. These circuits sense a short and automatically reverse the polarity in the rails so quickly you won't even notice.

7. Detect Your Trains

block detectors
©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
DCC makes it even easier to add prototypical signals to your layout. By using decoders to set switches and detection to tell your system where the trains are, you can not only control your railroad like a real dispatcher, you could even automate the entire operation. Get started by adding detection circuits which have many additional applications.
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