DCC Books & Reviews


Basic DCC Wiring for Your Model RailRoad (Model RailRoader 2011) By Mike Polsgrove.

55 pages.

Digital Command Control The Definitive Guide (Ian Allan Publishing 2011) By Ian Morton

160 Pages.

Practical Guide to DCC (Carstens’ 2008) By Larry Puckett.

112 Pages

On thing that stands out as you read the book is the easy read in terms of type (size/spacing) and photos/drawings (large). There are 48 pages (43.5%) focused on installing decoders. The decoder programming section quickly shows the big advantages that decoder programing software such as JMRI’s Decoder Pro can offer. There is a section on converting a DC layout to DCC with a focus on wiring issues. There is a good section on accessory decoders and occupancy detectors. The book covers a most of the US DCC manufactures but is clearly strongest on Digitrax and weakest on NCE in terms of both information and accuracy. If a Digitrax user was looking for a less wordy and complex follow on book on to the "Digitrax Big Book", this is it.

DCC Projects & Applications V2 (Model RailRoader 2010) By Mike Polsgrove.87 pages.Volume 2 picks up where first book left off. Written from a Project point of view, many topics are discussed with the general idea of limiting the given topic to 2 pages. Like the last book which was primarily focused on decoder installation, this book goes even farther with 60 pages (68%) dedicated to the subject with different locomotives. In the remaining portion of the book focuses on the physical details or wiring a layout up. As an example, it covers the plan and installation of the wiring for small layout which has 3 power districts. It also goes through the planning and changes needed to convert an existing DC layout for DCC. Other topics not covered in the first book such a block detection and accessories decoders are covered. More wireless throttle details are discussed too.

A Practical Introduction to Digital Command Control for Railway Modellers.

(The Crowood Press 2008/ Reprint in 2010) By Nigel Burkin

189 Pages

DCC Projects & Applications (Model RailRoader 2006) By Mike Polsgrove.

97 Pages

This book takes off where the sister book DCC Made Easy leaves off. Written from a Project point of view, many topics are discussed with the general idea of limiting the given topic to 2 pages. It expands many DCC concepts with more information including how to chose a DCC system and the advantages and disadvantages of various brands of wireless throttles. It spends 49 Pages (51%) of the book on the details of installing decoders including brass engines. It introduces advance topics such route control, wireless throttles and using JMRI Decoder Pro decoder software to speed up decoder programming. Even shows you how to build a lamp resistance tester to determine the right series resistor to use with a given 1.5V bulb while running on given DCC track voltage. DCC projects include a Turntable, a "live frog" crossing and a bascule bridge. Some sections by done by other authors.

The DCC Guide (Model RailRoader 2007) By Don Fiehmann.

79 Pages

This book is all about a picture is worth a thousand words. Tons of pictures and drawings are used to quickly communicate the information with being DCC brand specific. Each specific topic is done within 2 or 3 paragraphs but covers everything you need to know with its straight to the point discussion. This book is a excellent quick reference book about all things DCC. Given the book is a guide, it is NOT surprisingly missing are some detailed step by step examples of how to do a complete decoder installations. However there are many other DCC books that cover this topic. The decoder installations topic can easily become a book all of its own. Don has written many books and magazine articles on electrical topics for model railroaders and designed some of the most advanced DC throttle systems. To learn more about Don go here: Tribute to Don Fiehmann

DCC Made Easy (Model RailRoader 2003) DCC book by Lionel Strang.

48 Pages

This book is definitely for beginners who want to start with DCC. Simple “Just the Basic Facts” book. It uses lots of pictures and drawings to explain all the basic concepts of DCC. The book is organized to get you going quickly using your DCC system on a layout. The Appendix includes a "DCC buyers Guide" like the one often published every year of Model Railroader. DCC manufactures are fairly represented throughout the book. The book also covers some more unique topics such as the history on Command Control and the evolution to DCC with all of its advantages. It also talks about the myth of "DCC Friendly Turnouts" and the real issues behind the problems. There are some errors where information that is true about a specific DCC brand is presented as a general truth about all DCC system. There are also some incorrect drawings such that if someone followed the drawings, they would run into problems. Some items are completely mislabeled with respect to the topic.

Big Book of DCC (Digitrax 1999) OUT OF PRINT. By John Palmer.

175 Pages.

This is a wordy Digitrax centric book that takes the approach that "DCC is a technical subject and there is no way around this". However the book tries to avoid technical terms when they feel they can. Uniquely and interestingly they do bring in the prototype operations as a basis for many explanations as to why features and functions on DCC are done they way they are. They also discuss things in the context of building a model railroad layout such as Digitrax's own "Norcross Southern" or other model railroads. This book is NOT a quick reference book for finding information on specific subjects. It is a book where you should take the time to sit down an read and only by taking the time, you can learn a whole lot on just about everything DCC. When specific type of DCC products are discussed, only Digitrax and/or third party products that work with Digitrax are discussed. That said, many of the topics and ideas covered do apply to any DCC system.

Digital Command Control (Alt om Hobby & NMRA 1998 1st printing) By Stan Ames, Rutger Friberg & Ed Loizeaux with NMRA backing. 144 Pages.

This is very first and truly an international DCC book and could/should be considered the DCC bible. Stan Ames, the key author, is one of the biggest father figures in driving the NMRA DCC Standards. To learn more about Stan Ames and the history of the book, go here: http://dccsig.org/sra/

The book is harder to physically read compared to others given it is done in a smaller physical format with corresponding small font size and dense spacing. That said there are lots of drawings and photos. Although the book says for beginners on the cover, there is far to much reading involved especially if you start from the beginning. The first 3 chapters present history, conformance, NMRA standards and finally a detailed technical discussion. Not a quick way to get started nor necessary for the beginner to read. Easy to use does not come across. Clearly this book is best for the more advanced user and/or perhaps the DIY (Do It Yourself) electronics hobbyist. There is a whole chapter on creative ways to use decoders. Unique to this book a dedicated and detailed discussion with at least a page or more of each brand of DCC system. There is only 15 pages (10%) discussing Decoder Installations.