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DCC Glossary

DCC Glossary

DCC Glossary


In this glossary lists some of the commonly used terms with DCC controlled model railways. Feel free to add to the list in the comments box below & we’ll add them to this DCC Glossary list.




A (AMP) – Measurement of electric current.
AC – ALTERNATING CURRENT – Electric current constantly changing direction.
ACCESSORY DECODER – A DCC decoder that operates such things as signals, points (switches) & other electrically operated items that aren’t fitted in a locomotive.
Address – The number given to the locomotive decoder or accessory decoder. Bit like your own personal phone number or address of your home.
Analogue Controller – Traditional 12v standard train controller / transformer. Not capable of sending DCC signals to a DCC fitted loco.
Analogue locomotive – Traditional 12v DC standard train not fitted with a DCC decoder.
Bit – Short for Binary Digit
Booster – increases the low power digital signal & amplifies it so has enough power to reach all parts of the layout. Commonly found on large layouts which may have a number of Boosters.
Bus or Power Bus – Bit like the ring main in your home. Wires that run around the layout to distribute power & digital signals to all parts of the layout.
Cab – Either a hand held DCC controller or one that is built into the command station. This controls the speed direction lights & sound as well as accessories. Also programs the decoders.
Command station – the brains behind the DCC system. Either a separate unit that a hand held cab controller plugs into or built into the cab controller.
Configuration Variable – Usually know as a C.V. The C.V.’s contain information like loco address, starting voltage, acceleration & deceleration rates. These can be changed to fine tune how a loco performs & runs etc.
Consist – A way of controlling several locomotives at the same time such as double heading locos on the same train so they act as one.
DC – (Direct Current) – Electric current that runs continuously in one direction.
DCC – stands for Digital Command Control
Decoder – A electronic device that is fitted into a locomotive. This holds all the information such as locomotive address, acceleration & deceleration settings etc. The decoder receives digital command signals from the command station / controller & acts upon them. Things like speed, direction of travel, lights on or off, sounds etc.
Extended Address – This method allows locomotive address from 128 to 9999 to be used. Not all DCC controllers / Decoders can operate extended addresses. Extended Addressing is ideal for those who have large model fleets over 128 locos.
Function – Functions are controlled by the decoder fitted in the loco & are operated by selecting the Function Number button on the Cab Controller. Some decoders have more functions available than others. An example of a function is F0 which is used to turn on / off loco head & tail lights.
Locomotive Address – The number that you program into the decoder to operate a loco. Each loco is a signed a it’s own locomotive address.
N.M.R.A. – National Model Railroad Association. This group sets the standards for all DCC control systems & decoders.
Programming – The process of setting the loco decoder C.V.’s
Programming On The Main – The process of programming the locomotive of the actual model railway layout.
Programming Track – A separate section of track from the rest of the layout used for programming the loco, such as allocating the loco address to a locomotive.
Speed Steps – The number of steps or increments that a decoder uses to go from full stop to full speed.
Walk Around Controller – A handheld controller or Cab which allows a person to move freely around the layout.
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