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:


 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 stationsdecoders, etc.


NCE Cab Radio Board shown


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 PB-105 5 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. 

“Buss” is a kiss.


See Throttle.


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 boosterscommand stationsdecoders, etc.


NCE PowerCab upgrade chip shown

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 control device (throttle or 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 throttle (as the NCE PowerCab).

NCE CommandStation

NCE CS-02 shown


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.


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.


SoundTraxx Tsunami shown without its protective shrink wrap

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.


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.


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 lower photo.


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.

System Box

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


Digitrax DCS-100 shown

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