Those of us old enough recall our first model train setup. No matter if it was the smallest gague (Z), the standard (HO), or the largest (G), we thrilled to the power. We controlled a microcosm of industry and society through a small switchbox.
With Years Comes Changes
As we grew, so did the technology for our model railroads. Toward the end of the 20th century, the Digital Command Control (DCC) Command Station was introduced. Now, in addition to train operations, we could control lights, switches, and other operations.
Today’s DCCs and Decoders
Today, there are many more options to utilize. This includes various sounds created by TCS Wowsound and other companies. Sound files can be downloaded from their websites and uploaded into the DCC. However, in order for the translation to work properly, another piece of equipment is needed.
The DCC Decoder
The DCC requires a decoder in order to translate the files so they can produce the necessary sounds. Places like Streamlined Backshop sell numerous decoders pertaining to the model of DCC or Train Control System (TCS) utilized.
How it Works
The decoder is programmed with a certain address in connection to the DCC and the track layout. As the locomotive runs across the tracks, the decoder listens for DCC commandds. Once received, it relays the information to the train. In turn, this activates lights, sounds, and other actions as the locomotives pass over that section of track.
What Decoder Should I Choose
If you’re a model railroad enthusiast, then you probably know the type of decoder required for your DCC. However, if you are starting out on the adventure, then you will need to speak to an expert or two.
Try to find a model railroad shop in your area. Most likely, they will be able to help you select the right DCC and decoder for your setup. An alternative is to seek out a nearby model railroad club. While they may have differing opinions, you’ll get a good idea on decoders.