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DCC vs. analog?

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DCC vs. analog?

There´s no doubt: The future belongs to DCC model railroads! Using digital command control (=DCC) enables 2 or more locomotives running on a single electrical track or circuit, which is truly a big point. But nevertheless the question "digital or analog control" doesn´t have a single right answer. Read, why my model train layout is entirely analog.

Digital Command Control

DCC Model Trains

Multi train operation

Digital operation has the advantage that each locomotive can be separately and independently addressed via decoders, which makes true multi-train operation possible. In contrast, multi-train operation on analog model train layouts (=DC) can only be implemented using intelligent current feed. In other words: Separate circuits and/or block sections. In this context the electrical circuit and the track loop are often the same thing (= the notorious 2 parallel track ovals). So the decision "DCC or analogue operation" also may have an influence on the process of creating a track plan.

Digital command control: Power and decoder

But there are other reasons as well, which give a plea for digital operation. As locomotives are separately addressed, this allows to control other functions like speed, lights, slow rides, etc.. This is possible because the current fed to the track doesn´t serve as the "driving current" in the narrow sense (as it does for analog model railroads). Rather, it serves only for the digital transmission of control data, which the control center sends to a locomotive. The train´s decoder translates this data, and figures out what to do with it.

The Charm of old Model Trains

I prefer "Old School" analog model trains! Why? The advantages mentioned above would only be enough to persuade a newcomer to this hobby to jump right into digital model railroading. But the situation is totally different for people like me, who after a lapse of several decades have rediscovered the old model railway from their youth (or maybe even their parents´ generation). Locomotives and transformers originated in the "pre-digital era", when digital model railroad control was still a foreign word. Digitally retrofitting locomotives only means one thing: more expenses - if going digital is possible at all. Installing decoders isn´t everybody´s thing, and the fact that you´d have to choose between several digital systems for N scale (in Germany: FMZ, Selectrix, Uhlenbrock Intellibox, Rautenhaus), or even mixed digital/analog operation, doesn´t make things any clearer.
If I had to start all over in this hobby, then going digital would have been the obvious choice. I bet that´s how it is for a lot of other "re-beginners": digital operation is no longer on the table. But that doesn´t diminish the fun of model railroading. On the contrary: clamp the wires to the transformer, and you´re done! Old "kids" want their turn to drive too, isn´t it?

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Digital command control

Analog model railroad layout

On the left: This Minitrix V 200 loco and the tank cars are from the 60ies - and still run well! Both engine and wagons are truly "heavy metal". Traditionally this old model train opens the "model railroad season" every year around Xmas, and the whole family likes it. A charming tradition, possible only on analog model railroad layouts!

Charming old school scenery




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