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Book Review
Digital Control Command
Digital Control Command (Aspects of Modelling)
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Digital Control Command (Aspects of Modelling) by Ian Morton
Ian Allen Publishing
* ISBN-13: 9780711031524
* ISBN: 0711031525


DCC, the abbreviation that conjures delight or dread amongst railroad modelers. It is Tin Plate meets Star Trek, and everything in between. Digital Control Command is the first of the new Aspects of Railway Modelling series by Ian Allan Publishing, and introduces the theory and practice of DCC.

DCC Revolution
Model railroading has been revolutionized by the development of DCC, Digital Control Command (or Digital Command & Control in the US). Before the advent of DCC model railroads were predominately operated “analog”: power indiscriminately supplied to the locomotives through the track, and to accessories through dedicated wiring. All engines on the track operated as one. The only way to operate engines independently was to isolate each on a “block,” a segment of track insulated from the rest of the trackage. This required progressively more complex wiring for all but the simplest layout, requiring a great deal of concentration and effort running the trains for you, the operator. DCC also heralded practical on-board sound systems for rolling stock.

The computer chip changed this. DCC is an encoder sending a signal from the controller through the track to a decoder in a locomotive or accessory. Each decoder is unique and the operator addresses commands directly to it. Instead of a ganglion of wiring joining a bank of switches and rheostats, DCC affords minimal wiring and a single control to operate hundreds of individual pieces of equipment. You can now:

    * run multiple engines together or separate;
    * on the same track;
    * at different speeds and directions;
    * while throwing turnouts;
    * selecting pre-designated routes, and
    * controlling signaling.

Thus you control your equipment, not the track on which it runs. This allows realistic multi-train operation, potentially to a fault--forget something and you can have a ‘cornfield meet’, e.g., head-on collision! Most model manufacturers now release their locos with DCC or DCC compatible--you buy and install the decoder. Some decoders automatically sense analog or DCC and run accordingly. Older models can be upgraded to DCC with varying degrees of challenge. Traditional analog layouts can be upgraded.

Mr. Morton disperses the fact and fiction of DCC in an easy to follow and clear manner to familiarize one with the DCC revolution. He carefully explains the meanings of the terminology, the aspects of implementing, functionality and practicality of DCC, but does not shy away from some drawbacks. Many black-and-white and color photographs and illustrations enhance this book.


Eighty pages are well divided into several chapters to lead the reader through the ideas of DCC and the steps to implement them. The chapters include:

    • What is DCC?
    • How to convert to DCC
    • Base stations, boosters and cabs
    • Locomotive decoders
    • Accessory decoders
    • Wiring
    • First use
    • Configuring locomotive decoders
    • Advanced use
    • Glossary and technical terms
    • Troubleshooting
    • Suppliers and manufacturers

Readers with a general knowledge of operating more than a single oval of track should understand and grasp Mr. Morton’s clear delivery of the topics. The only drawback is that signaling is described in the English manner. This is different in many ways to the US prototype. The concepts are the same and US readers should have no trouble applying English examples to US items.
Highs: Clearly written and well illustrated. Glossary of terms.
Lows: Signaling is only described in the English practice and might confuse modelers outside the UK, but this is an English publisher after all.
Verdict: Concise, clearly written informative introduction to DCC. Recommend!
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN-13: 9780711031524
  Suggested Retail: £12.99
  PUBLISHED: Feb 08, 2010

Our Thanks to Ian Allan Publishing Ltd.!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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