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Book Review
DCC Projects & Applications 3
DCC Projects & Applications Volume 3
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

DCC Projects & Applications Vol.3 is a new book by Kalmbach Publishing Co. explaining and demonstrating the ever expanding potentials and growing resources of Digital Command and Control, or DCC.

DCC has become a major aspect of model railroading for a couple of decades now. Dozens of manufacturers produce DCC models and systems or components to convert analog systems to DCC. DCC affords model railroaders extensive opportunities for flexible operation, and for enhanced authenticity and realism through sound and animation.

DCC magnifies many model railroaders’ enjoyment. Yet DCC also fills some with dread and others with ambivalence. DCC simplifies most aspects of wiring and powering your layout, yet creates the potential for hair-pulling frustration. Fortunately, there are many primers and advanced resources about DCC and some of the most popular ones are by the professional model railroaders of Kalmbach Publishing. In their own words;
    Digital Command Control (DCC) has greatly increased in popularity in recent years. Yet, most modelers need help navigating this tricky technology. DCC Projects & Applications, Volume 3 provides step-by-step instructions and how-to tips to show modelers how to set up, maintain, and operate DCC systems. This includes everything from layout wiring to decoder installation to light and sound effects. It also features information on the latest software, technology and upgraded manufacturer items.

Let’s take a look at it!

DCC Projects & Applications Volume 3
DCC Projects & Applications Volume 3 is a compilation of articles by Model Railroader editors Mike Polsgrove and Cody Grivno, and includes other model railroading contributors. This standard size 8 1/4 x 10 3/4 format softcover book is 88 pages long with of informative text, and full of color photographs - 200! - and graphics. The book is item No. 12486 in Kalmbach’s catalogue, with the ISBN: 9780890249826.

Six chapters explain and demonstrate the subjects:
    1. Understanding DCC
      What is DCC?
      DCC terms you should know
      Tips for installing decoders
      Solutions for short circuits

    2. Wiring Tips
      10 tips for converting your layout to DCC
      Calculating power for a DCC system
      Track busses for DCC
      Understanding power districts
      Accessory decoders for your layout
      Simple yard control Panels with DCC
      Block detection and DCC
      Wiring reversing sections for DCC
      Update an older DCC system

    3. Installing Decoders
      Installing decoders right the first time
      6 tips for buying a DCC decoder
      How to replace a bad decoder
      Add a decoder to a Kato N scale SD45
      Most any decoder will do in a pinch
      Add two decoders to a brass steam locomotive
      4 easy installations and 1 near miss
      Drop-in decoders for N scale diesels

    4. Programing decoders
      Basic decoder programing
      Configuration variable (CV) basics
      How to speed match locomotives
      Consisting and motor performance
      Exploring momentum effects
      Advanced headlight programing
      Understanding function mapping
      Using CV29

    5. Adding sound
      How sound decoders work
      Two decoders for one locomotive
      Sound for N scale F units
      Add sound to a modern diesel
      Modern sound for an old locomotive

    6. Lighting for all occasions
      Headlights and DCC
      An Athearn SD70Ace LED upgrade
      Controlling locomotive lighting
      Caboose lighting with DCC
      Add working lights to a bi-level cab coach
      Light passenger car interiors with DCC
      Controlling train-order signals

This 2015 publication starts out with an introduction and What’s new in DCC with a brief discussion of new technologies and products for different scales. The chapters start with summary sidebars. Next is the useful section for electrically-challenged modelers like me, DCC terms you should know. Useful ‘how-to’s’ follow in Tips for installing decoders and Solutions for short circuits. Thus fills the first 13 pages of the book.

Next, 10 tip for converting your layout to DCC encompass 17 pages. Most of the accessories on DCC layouts I’ve seen are turnouts and this topic is covered in good detail. Fourteen pages explain chapter 3, Installing Decoders. I especially appreciate the explanations in 6 tips for buying a DCC decoder and Add a decoder to a Kato N scale SD45. I have a split-frame locomotive I want to convert to DCC so that later section, and Most decoders will do in a pinch are very interesting. And what older railroad modeler won’t be interested in Add two decoders to a brass steam locomotive?

Alright, so now I know all about getting the layout wired and powered, selecting the right decoder for one's needs, and getting it all installed. Now Chapter 4 Basic decoder programming guides us through the seemingly daunting area of Configuration variable (CV) basics.

There’s a saying in model railroading, “If you have a dozen locomotives but only one with sound, then you only have one locomotive!” Thus Adding sound is very useful and explained well through nine pages. Lighting for all occasions is interesting, especially Caboose lighting with DCC and Controlling train-order signals. Fourteen pages cover those topics and others.

I found the book to be well organized, and mostly clearly written and easily read. Modelers with a basic understanding of wiring and powering trains should have no problem understanding and applying the subject matter in DCC Projects & Applications Vol.3. Perhaps some topics could be expanded upon, this is a good primer for DCC subjects, basic through advanced.

Photographs, artwork, graphics
Kalmbach richly supports their texts with photographs, diagrams, tables, and other images. This book is generously enhanced with 200 color photographs (I didn't see a single black-and-white one.), color schematics and diagrams, and illustrations. Some tables help clarify and inform, too.

DCC Projects & Applications Vol.3 will not be gathering dust on the book shelf! It features excellent graphic and photographic support and is well written. Perhaps some topics could be expanded upon, yet this is both a good primer and project book for DCC subjects, basic through advanced. I noticed no typos or anything else worthy of criticism. I certainly recommend it.

Kalmbach books are available from all good book and hobby retailers. Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on RAILROADMODELING.
Highs: Excellent graphic and photographic support, well written.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: This is both a good primer and project book for DCC subjects, basic through advanced. It will not be gathering dust on the book shelf!
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9780890249826
  Suggested Retail: $19.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Mar 13, 2015

Our Thanks to Kalmbach Publishing Co.!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


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