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Are You Ready For A Dcc Train Set?
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Are You Ready for A Dcc Train Set?

This article will help you determine if you are ready to take your model railroading hobby to the next level by making a DCC train set. First of all, this article assumes you already have an introduction to Digital Command Control, but how do you know when you are ready to upgrade?

Are you SURE this hobby is right for you?

Make sure your interest is genuine. If you already have committed money, space, and buy-in from your family members (who typically tolerate your enthusiasm at best) then you are in a good position to expand. If you are just getting started, you may look into getting a DCC-Ready system that still operates in analog, but can be easily upgraded later. It will take extra configuring if you want to take upgrade an older analog system, and it may not be successful anyway. I predict analog systems won't be sold in the future, just as Widescreen TVs are the only style of TVs you can get anymore.

Are you READY for additional expense?

DCC adds an additional layer of expense to the traditional layout. There are many systems to choose from, depending on your price range, technical skill and demands for functionality. At minimum, you'll spend a couple hundred to get the basics, a cab (throttle) controller and a loco-installed decoder to get started. You'll be able to expand to a more expensive system later without much difficulty. As I mentioned, if you are just getting started in the hobby, go for a cheaper system. You can even find great equipment second hand from other hobbyists. Try Craigslist, or better yet, connect with your local Model Railroad club to get great sources of quality used components.

Are you WILLING to turn your 'toy train' into an actual Model Railroad?

If you are going to buy a digital set, go the distance and turn it into an operational railroad. The key to this is to make sure you are committed to start what you begin. If there was such a thing as an unfinished model railroad cemetery, it would be packed with the dreams of many once-enthusiasts. It typically boils down to having a clear plan moving forward and keeping your motivation level high. Get the benchwork and underlayment for the smallest section of your layout done first, so you can lay track and enjoy the high of a quick victory, even before completed scenery. When you come back to work on the layout tomorrow, make sure to get in some 'playtime' with your train for several minutes to build up your excitement, before you go back to weathering the bricks of a retaining wall. :) I recommend starting with a small portion of the set and take it quickly all the way to completion and operation. You want to eat this particular elephant just one bite at a time. Your experience and technique will grow quickly.

Are you ABLE to expand your mind as fast as the possibilities DCC offers?

There is a new learning curve that applies to a digital communication system, like any new technology. But it also adds unlimited possibilities for added realism and automation to your layout. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk around your layout, control movement, lights, and SOUNDS of as many trains as you can 'dispatch' simultaneously, while switching tracks and activating other accessories? DCC control systems can manage more tasks at once than your mind can! This means your imagination is the limit with Digital Control.

The Wrap-Up

DCC is another example of how rapidly increasing technology is enriching each facet of our daily lives, even our old pastimes. I hope this information has been useful for you and has helped clear up some of the questions you have regarding digital command control and whether you (and your layout) are ready for the 'next level' of railroading.

Street Talk

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