If you’re a model train enthusiast, you know how important it is to have precise control over your layout. That’s where DCC (Digital Command Control) comes in. DCC allows you to control multiple trains on the same track and even individual locomotives with ease. But not all DCC controllers are created equal. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best DCC controllers on the market and help you choose the right one for your needs.
What is a DCC Controller?
Before we dive into the best DCC controllers, let’s briefly define what a DCC controller is. A DCC controller is a device that sends signals to your model train’s decoder, allowing you to control its speed, direction, lighting, and other features. Instead of using traditional analog control, which sends a constant voltage to the track, DCC sends digital packets of information that are interpreted by the decoder.
Why Use a DCC Controller?
Using a DCC controller offers several advantages over traditional analog control. First and foremost, DCC allows you to control multiple trains on the same track without the need for complex wiring or switching. Additionally, DCC controllers provide precise control over your locomotives, allowing you to control their speed, direction, and other features with ease. Finally, many DCC controllers offer advanced features such as route programming, automation, and computer control.
What to Consider When Choosing a DCC Controller
When choosing a DCC controller, there are several factors to consider. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
Number of locomotives
How many locomotives do you plan to run on your layout? Make sure the DCC controller you choose can handle the number of locomotives you need.
Do you want a DCC controller with advanced features such as route programming, automation, and computer control? Or do you just need basic speed and direction control?
DCC controllers range in price from around $50 to over $1,000. Determine your budget before you start shopping.
Some model train enthusiasts prefer to stick with a particular brand for all their equipment. Consider whether you have any brand preferences when choosing a DCC controller.
The Best DCC Controllers
Now that you know what to consider when choosing a DCC controller, let’s take a look at the best options on the market.
1. Digitrax DCS240 Advanced Command Station
The Digitrax DCS240 is a top-of-the-line DCC controller that offers advanced features such as route programming, automation, and computer control. It can handle up to 400 locomotives and offers precise control over speed, direction, and lighting. However, all these features come at a high price tag.
2. NCE Power Cab DCC Starter Set
The NCE Power Cab is a great starter option for those new to DCC. It offers basic speed and direction control and can handle up to two locomotives. The LCD screen is easy to read, and the controller is easy to use. The price is also reasonable, making it a great choice for beginners.
3. Bachmann E-Z Command Dynamis Wireless DCC System
The Bachmann E-Z Command Dynamis is a wireless DCC controller that offers advanced features such as route programming and computer control. It can handle up to 40 locomotives and offers precise control over speed, direction, and lighting. The wireless feature allows for more freedom in layout design, but it comes at a higher price.
4. MRC Prodigy Advance Squared DCC System
The MRC Prodigy Advance Squared is a powerful and versatile DCC controller that can handle up to 99 locomotives. It offers advanced features such as route programming and computer control, and its intuitive interface makes it easy to use. The price is also reasonable for the features it offers.
5. Lenz LZV100 Command Station
The Lenz LZV100 is a high-end DCC controller that offers advanced features such as route programming, automation, and computer control. It can handle up to 99 locomotives and offers precise control over speed, direction, and lighting. The price is quite high, making it a good option for experienced model train enthusiasts.
When it comes to choosing the best DCC controller for your model train layout, it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for advanced features or just basic speed and direction control, there’s a DCC controller out there for you. The options we’ve highlighted in this article are some of the best on the market and are sure to enhance your layout control.
- What is the difference between DCC and analog control? A: Analog control sends a constant voltage to the track, while DCC sends digital packets of information to a decoder in each locomotive.
- Can I use a DCC controller with any model train? A: As long as the locomotive has a decoder installed, it can be controlled with a DCC controller.
- Do I need a DCC controller to control multiple trains on the same track? A: Yes, DCC is the easiest and most efficient way to control multiple trains on the same track.
- Can I use a DCC controller with a computer? A: Yes, many DCC controllers offer computer control as an advanced feature.
- Are DCC controllers difficult to use? A: While there is a bit of a learning curve, most DCC controllers are intuitive and easy to use once you get the hang of them.