A train control system will create a major advantage for your model train system. Not only will you be able to control it with electricity, you will have complete control of the entire system, which is very impressive when you are dealing with model trains. Honestly, you can have a basic train set that goes around the track and occasionally switches tracks, but when you have a Digital Command Control system, you can make your scene really come to life!
You can actually create your own programs, and cause the trains to move realistically. This is great for train shows and public displays, and is a model train operator’s dream. There are a few different systems out there, some of them better than others, but since many people are just starting out with their DCC systems, so let’s do a DCC controller comparison, starting with the lowest end system out there.
Atlas Commander: For those who are novices in DCC operation, this will work great. Featuring eight function keys, this device can deal with seven cabs. You cannot program on the fly however, which will disappoint some people. Again though, this is for beginners and those who do not want to deal with a highly complicated system.
Zephyr: This is also a popular system, and quality is just what you will find in all Digitrax DCC decoders. It has two jump ports that allow DC power packs to be connected, which is something that many other DCC decoders lack. If you wish to use a computer, then you can connect it using LocoNet in conjunction with Locobuffer II.
Prodigy: The NCE Lite has a rating of 3.5 amps and has the ability to connect to another cab bus. Right now though you will only find one handheld controller for it. Luckily the system does have a cooling fan, unlike some. So let’s face it, we like building things, but needing to build a cooling fan for DCC is just irritating. This device comes with 19 functions keys.
To add to the realism it helps to have a DCC sound system. There are a few different types, some of which can include realistic sounds, and of course the standard train horn. Many of the sounds are recordings of trains in the real world, or even museum bound locomotives from ages past. If you are building a historical scene, there’s nothing better than having sounds reminiscent on a 1900’s locomotive barreling through town. Mind you if you are recreating a mid twentieth century setting, you may not have sound at all because citizens in Florida deemed the train horn to be a nuisance and without purpose. That however, is another story for another day, and an amusing one at that.
These are a few train control system available and you no doubt find one that suits your needs. Just remember to shop within your experience level, and of course keep your power requirements in mind. You can always upgrade later!