WHAT IS DCC?
Simply put, Digital Command Control is a way to control your layout that simulates real life train operation. With DCC you can operate multiple locomotives independently at the same time (at varying speeds and direction) on the same section of track, without a computer and without complex wiring required. Digital Command Control Systems communicate with decoders that control locomotives and turnouts on your railroad like an actual Dispatcher!
The #330 Atlas Commander and the #335 Atlas Generator are
also available in the money-saving #332 DCC Duo-Pack (list price $189.95).
All of your existing track and freight or (non-illuminated) passenger cars can be used with no modifications for DCC. In some cases, it might be necessary to replace the existing light bulbs in illuminated passenger cars. The relatively high (approximately 14 volt) constant track voltage used in DCC can burn out light bulbs that do not have a sufficiently high voltage rating. However, a side-benefit of applying this constant voltage to the track at all times is that by doing so one automatically gets constant-voltage passenger car lighting.
If you wish to operate more than one DCC-equipped locomotive at the same time or want to be able to move about your layout to be near the DCC-equipped locomotive that you are currently running, a useful addition to the basic DCC components listed above is the #331 Atlas Master HandCommand (list price $144.95). The HandCommand is a wired walk-around throttle (meaning that it must be plugged into special sockets that are located at various points around the edges of your layout). Each HandCommand comes with a 6 foot long coiled cord equipped with a plug that can be connected to the edge-mounted sockets just described and also with one #322 Universal Panel Connector (UPC). Each UPC has two sockets for the coiled cords that come with HandCommands; hence one UPC can accommodate two HandCommands simultaneously. The UPC also comes with a modular telephone-type cord that is used to connect one UPC to the next UPC. If your layout is large enough that the 6' long coiled cord that comes with each HandCommand is not long enough for you to operate the entire layout from one UPC, you will probably want to purchase one or more additional UPCs. The advantage of installing multiple UPCs on a large layout is that you can move around the layout (unplugging the HandCommand from one UPC and then plugging it into the next UPC) as the train that you are operating progresses around the layout. The locomotive that you are presently operating will continue to move at the same speed during the period of time in which the HandCommand is not plugged into any UPC.
If you have two DCC-equipped locomotives and two operators, one operator can run one of these two locomotives from the fixed (non-walk-around) throttle in the Atlas Commander and the other operator can run the second locomotive using a HandCommand. You might choose to (but are not required to) purchase a second Atlas HandCommand so that both operators can run their locomotives using Hand Command walk-around throttles. However note that one Atlas Commander is needed in all cases, even when every operator uses a HandCommand to run his/her locomotive.
Finally, Atlas will soon be introducing the new # 344 Atlas Master Turnout Control Unit (TCU, list price $49.95). The TCU can be used to operate the switch machines on your turnouts from your Commander or from a HandCommand walk-around throttle. One TCU has six outputs, and each of these outputs can be used to control either multiple twin-coil or multiple slow-motion switch machines.
Although it IS possible for you to operate one locomotive that is not equipped with a DCC decoder from the Commander (or from a HandCommand), Atlas does NOT recommend doing so since serious motor overheating can result.
Finally, it is strongly recommended that you purchase the recent Kalmbach book "DCC Made Easy," by Lionel Strang (list price $12.95) and read this book carefully before jumping into DCC. This book can be obtained either at your local hobby shop or directly from Atlas.
Copyright © 2006 Atlas Model Railroad Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved. "You're on the Right Track®...With Atlas"