Power / DCC / Electrical

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If you found yourself on this page and are wondering what the difference is between AC, DC, and DCC, this may help. 

DC Power
DC (Direct Current) is the conventional method of powering most N, HO, On30, and G Scale trains.  The power pack supplies varying levels of voltage to the rails which, in turn, changes the speed of the locomotive.  To change direction, the polarity on the rails is simply reversed.  This works reliably and is fine for less complicated layouts and with few trains.  However, since you are really controlling power to the rails, any trains on the same rails will go in the same direction and cannot be controlled independently (ie - one cannot be stopped while the other is moving).  To work around this, track blocks can be created so that power to these isolated sections of track can be independently controlled.  This can lead to some complicated wiring and some confusing operation.  However, it can and is done.

DCC Power
This is a newer approach to model railroading and in a nutshell, works like this.  The concept of DCC (Digital Command Control) is that you are now directly and independently controlling individual locomotives anywhere on the layout.  To make this work, each locomotive must have an installed computer chip known as a decoder.  In contrast to how DC works, in DCC a constant voltage is applied to the rails at all times.  To make an engine move, your throttle and command station are used to send digital instructions via the rails to your locomotives.  Some of the benefits are that you don't need to worry about what block the locomotive is occupying, locomotives can act independently of one another, and with most decoder equipped locos, you can turn lights on and off.  Many are now also coming with sound capabilities that can all be controlled independently.  Because you don't need all of those blocks, wiring also becomes simpler.  Keep in mind that you cannot control DC engines on a DCC layout.

AC Power
Now, many O Scale layouts work on a 3-Rail system that is AC powered.  AC (Alternating Current) is different from DC in that the direction of current quickly changes direction at a high frequency.  Because of this, motors designed to be used on AC will not work with DC.  They need a different power supply.  Bachmann, Lionel, and MTH are examples of trains that require AC Power supplies.

Viewing: 1 to 12 of 367 Products
NCE Cab Bus Fascia Panels -- UTP Panel - w/RJ12 (Telephone Type) Connectors
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NCE - Cab Bus Fascia Panels -- UTP Panel - w/RJ12 (Telephone Type) Connectors

Item #NCE-207

$23.36

MRC DCC Sound & Control Decoder -- For Athearn MP15 - HO  - 0001804
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MRC - DCC Sound & Control Decoder -- For Athearn MP15 - HO - 0001804

Item #500-1804

$64.75

MRC Digital Command Control (DCC) Decoders w/Sound -- Fits Athearn Alco RS-3 - HO  - 0001820
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MRC - Digital Command Control (DCC) Decoders w/Sound -- Fits Athearn Alco RS-3 - HO - 0001820

Item #500-1820

$72.70

MRC Prodigy Express Squared DCC System  - 0001420
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MRC - Prodigy Express Squared DCC System - 0001420

Item #500-1420

$159.33

Wire Works Two Conductor Hookup Wire - #22 Gauge - 30'
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Wire Works - Two Conductor Hookup Wire - #22 Gauge - 30'

Item #851-222070304

$9.98

Miniatronics 60/40 Rosin Core Solder -- Four Ounces
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Miniatronics - 60/40 Rosin Core Solder -- Four Ounces

Item #475-1064004

$9.68

Miniatronics Electrical Accessories -- Solder Flux Paste: 2 oz
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Miniatronics - Electrical Accessories -- Solder Flux Paste: 2 oz

Item #475-1065002

$4.01

SoundTraxx 9-Pin Jst Wire Harness - HO
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SoundTraxx - 9-Pin Jst Wire Harness - HO

Item #STX-810135

$9.56

Atlas Layout Wire - Yellow 50 feet  - 0318
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Atlas - Layout Wire - Yellow 50 feet - 0318

Item #150-318

$8.50

Atlas 50' Spool-5 Conductor Ribbon Wire  - 0312
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Atlas - 50' Spool-5 Conductor Ribbon Wire - 0312

Item #150-312

$19.97

MRC Power Booster -- 3.5 Amps  - 0001528
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MRC - Power Booster -- 3.5 Amps - 0001528

Item #500-1528

$128.50

Bachmann Decoder-Equipped Nickel Silver E-Z TrackŪ Turnout -- Single-Crossover #6 Left Hand - HO
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Bachmann - Decoder-Equipped Nickel Silver E-Z TrackŪ Turnout -- Single-Crossover #6 Left Hand - HO

Item #160-44137

$75.37