What DCC Cannot Do

Although DCC offers great advances in control it is not a cure-all for old problems and brings one new problem.  If an item functions poorly using  DC just adding DCC will not cure it.  Remember:

  • A short circuit is still a short circuit.  Although wiring is much simplified it must still be done properly and bear in mind the higher current ratings that are sometimes involved.
  • If a locomotive runs badly using DC the cause will still be there after you install your decoder.  It is best to test a locomotive on DC before conversion if possible, even for new locomotives, and undertake any maintenance or repair that is needed.
  • If your track is dirty or poorly maintained your railway will not run well.  Wiring for DCC is different because all track is live all the time but there is just as much need for good connectivity.  Points with dead frogs produce the same problems as before and live frogs are still better; the wiring is easier though.

DCC cannot substitute for care and attention; in some ways it demands more.  With DCC you really can run two trains at different speeds in opposite directions towards each other on the same piece of track with the obvious result.  With even basic start sets able to run several locos simultaneously you need to pay attention.


DCC systems are sophisticated manual controllers.  They use computer based technology but do not, by themselves, automate your railway.  Automatic train movements and shuttles can be achieved but require much additional hardware and software to do so.

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