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Professional Layout Services have been involved in multi-train control for many years. We gained much experience of the early 'digital' systems form Hornby (Zero 1), H&M and Airfix MTC. We also attended the early Marklin Digital seminars held in the late 1980's. As the NMRA DCC code emerged we allied with the British manufacturer ZTC Controls. However as the DCC scene developed we expanded our DCC horizons working with most systems over the years including MRC, Lenz, Digitrax, EasyDCC, NCE, ECOS, Fleischmann, Bachmann, Hornby and Gaugemaster to name but a few. We have been constructing DCC model railways since 1996 with most of our manufacturing time dedicated to DCC.
Why buy out of date technology - would you buy a Betamax VCR?
Model railways have been controlled using conventional DC (Analogue) control for over fifty years. Conventional DC or analogue control relies upon the locomotives responding to the power applied to the track by the controller - You are driving the track not the locomotive! Analogue operation becomes restrictive as on one section of track we can only independently control one locomotive. Prototypical locomotive movements become almost impossible without many section breaks and the accompanying switches and cable. DCC Digital changes all this by locating the controller in the locomotive - the decoder or 'chip' as it may be known.
Control the locomotives not the track!
Digital Command Control (DCC) is the method of running a model railway by controlling the locomotives rather than the track. It is possible to run more than one locomotive on the same length of track in a different direction and at a differing speed without any other locomotive responding to the control signal. This is achieved by locating a decoder in the locomotive that listens to information in the track. If the information relates to that particular decoder, it obeys the instructions contained within. Certain locomotive decoders allow functions on the locomotives to be controlled if available e.g. lights, un-couplers etc. The development of sound decoders has added a new dimension to model railways with actual digital locomotive sound recordings playing through a micro speaker housed in the locomotive.
With DCC control the track is permanently live as the locomotives are not controlled by the track. It is therefore possible to control the layout using two wires normally forming a ring main above or below the layout into which connections are made to the track as required. Accessory decoders are also available to control turnout motors, signals etc from the master controller. Since the introduction of the NMRA code of practice, the problems experienced by the early multi-train control systems have vanished. All manufactures producing to the NMRA standards have to conform to a standard that allows the required degree of interaction between systems.
So if you're not yet convinced - what are the advantages over conventional DC control!
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