Like all hobbies, model train sets are an engrossing activity that breeds hours and hours of enjoyment. A properly built set requires dexterity, patience and imagination. With the products and technology available, a model engineer's greatest barrier is his or herself. To create the fantastic set the modeler devises takes time and money. But the hard work is rewarded tenfold when his or hers creation comes to life. Today, with the help of digital technologies, model trains can re-create tableaus of the Wild West, Europe in the 1940s or a fictionalized metropolis.
Model sets incorporate a slew of technology that produces complicated animations and sounds. Cars can drive up and down city streets. Citizens can walk around town, carrying suitcases and packages. Instead of a modern city, a depot station and a small settlement can be built to show the historical importance of a train's presence in the late 1800s. Trains come in both diesel and steam powered models to give the hobbyist a choice of setting and aesthetic. All model train sets use a Digital Command Control or DCC system. This is the most efficient and realistic way to operate a train and the denizens of the set. DCC units are comprised of five parts: power supply, booster, command center, throttle and decoder.
The power supply coverts high electronic currents from an outlet into lower currents that the command center can use. The booster takes the power pulled from the command center and sends it to the train so it can operate. The throttle is what controls the locomotive's power. Yet, without a digitrax decoder the throttle is useless. The decoder takes the signals from the throttle and applies said signals to the engine or sound or animation. The throttle and decoder speak to one another by means of radio waves sent from the command center. Without all five of these parts the model train is lifeless.
The digitrax decoder is perhaps the most important and complicated piece of equipment on the entire set; it comes in two unique and necessary parts. The mobile decoder is installed into the locomotive. It commands the motor, operating and maintaining speed. Likewise, the decoder controls the animations, such as the lights on the train. All digitrax decoders come pre-installed with diesel and steam engines sounds, including whistles and horns. But with the help of computers, personalized sounds can be developed and implemented into the trains. These sounds can also be shared over networks hosted by model train hobbyist. Stationary decoders are attached to the actual model set, not the train. They control the animation of people, other vehicles, building lights, rail switches and any sound not made by the train.
Decoders are the brains of the model train set. They give what would be a toy, a realistic and authentic disposition that transforms the set into its own environment. The modern train set's visceral elements are a testament to the number of hobbyist around the world. Using a quality digitrax decoder will breathe life into a model train set, promising a lifetime of enjoyment.