DCC Terminology

Folks frequently say that the collection of new terms for DCC confuses them. They read a manual and may not follow what it says, as it speaks DCC-English, not English.

eMail me with suggestions for terms that I may have left out!

Well, here are some simplified definitions for common terms:

Board

Slang for printed circuit board (PC or PCB). This can be the raw board or the finished product stuffed with chips and other components, ready to make up boosters, command stations, decoders, etc.

NCE cab radio board V15
NCE Cab Radio Board shown

Booster

That portion of a DCC system that takes the NMRA standard data packets from the command station and, using power from a power supply, brings them up to the NMRA standards for data & power on the track. Unlike "C. B." boosters, they have nothing to do with the distance a signal can travel.

NCE PB110a 800x449

NCE PB-110a 10 amp booster shown

Bus vs. Buss

It is a spelling issue:

“Bus” is a term used in the computer world to refer to things that carry data, like the bus wiring from the DCC booster to the track. Or the cab bus wiring that connects the cabs to the DCC system.

DCC Bus 430x430

“Buss” is a kiss.

A buss is a kiss

Cab

This is my preferred term for the item used to control trains on a DCC system. Throttle is a common term that I don't prefer. Here's why: In the cab of a locomotive there are controls for lights, horn, bell, direction, and speed. The throttle is just one of these controls. A DCC cab encompasses the larger group of items.

Feb 27, 2013

Chip

Slang for an electronic device formally called an integrated circuit (IC). Chips contain lots of transistors and other components. Chips are some of the components that go on boards to make up boosters, command stations, decoders, etc.

chip 200x106

NCE PowerCab upgrade chip shown

In my jargon, “Chipping a loco” means breaking something off it, not installing a decoder into it.

Command Station

That portion of the DCC system that takes input from the cab and converts it to NMRA standard data packets ready to be sent to the track. May be a separate box, or a function built into another box, such as a booster / command station (system box) or a cab (as the NCE PowerCab).

NCE CS02 800x363

NCE CS-02 shown

CV

Abbreviation for the DCC term: Configuration Variable. CVs are the locations (identified by numbers) where the personality of your decoder is stored. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Decoder

The board that is mounted in a locomotive or other rolling stock (mobile decoder) on on the layout (stationary decoder). Decoders take the data from the track and turn it into electrical current to operate motors, lights, etc. They may or may not create matching sounds.

TSU1000 800x533

SoundTraxx Tsunami TSU1000

Power Supply

A generic term for that element of the DCC system that takes power from the (A. C.) mains and translates it into power that can be utilized by the DCC System. These may fall into two categories based on the type of power delivered: A. C. or D. C.

mf615 575x324

A. C. Power Supplies are correctly called transformers. Inside the case, they may have a switch and indicator light plus the transformer and some protective devices, such as thermal switches and circuit breakers. DCC Specialties MF-615 shown in the upper photo.

PS2012 320x217

D. C. Power Supplies are correctly called power supplies. They will probably have a higher voltage rating for the same system than the equivalent A. C. transformer. Digitrax PS-2012 shown in the photo above.

Notebook Power Supply 400x203

In recent years, small D. C. switching power supplies are suplanting the AC transformers. They are light to ship and can work off almost any power main power anywhere in the world, with the proper line cord. They also present a more constant load to the power lines, as mandated by increasing laws in the world. Computer D. C. switching power supply shown.

System Box

A box that contains both a command station and a booster.

DCS240 800x524

Digitrax DCS-240 shown.

 

 

Support

If this website has been valuable to you, Bruce would appreciate your financial support. Just paying the bills for this website costs about $15 per month. Your $10 contribution will help keep this website active for another month.
 
Click the button to donate via PayPal.

Disclaimer

Information on this site represents Bruce’s experiences and opinions. They are presented without warranty as an example of ways to utilize DCC products. The user is solely responsible for any use made of this data.

Curriculum

 

Copyright © 1998 to 2019 Bruce F. Petrarca. All Rights Reserved.

Back to Top