DCC Ready

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Short Definition

Easy conversion to DCC


On some locomotive packages seen in the hobby shop there will be a badge proclaiming DCC Ready.

This does not mean the locomotive has a factory installed decoder, it means the locomotive can be equipped with an NMRA DCC decoder later by you, without a lot of trouble. One of the main features is a motor that is not connected directly to the frame, making it easier to break that connection when installing a decoder.

Some will have a light board that you need to modify (by breaking the connections to the motor), others will have a plug that can be used with a matching connector. A simple installation won't require a lot of skill or special tools. Often no soldering is required, sometimes just removing the shorting plug from the NMRA Connector and inserting the decoder's plug completes the installation. (Not all decoders are available with matching NMRA 8 or 6 pin connector, ask your dealer.) You should still check the wiring to make sure that the motor is indeed isolated from the chassis.

It should not be too difficult to install a decoder, unlike some older models that may be more difficult. It is important to remember that the motor must be completely isolated from the frame, which didn't become an issue until DCC appeared.

Also see the article on the various connectors used, both current and proposed.

Other Terms

DCC Equipped

Usually means that model or product line comes with a DCC decoder installed at the factory.

It may be sound equipped as well. Keep in mind that sometimes the decoders are stripped down versions which have a limited feature set, which can be (and usually is) true for sound equipped decoders as well.

Some manufacturers will OEM a decoder from a well known company, but with exclusive features, such as lighting effects and custom sounds. The only way to get a decoder like this is to buy it installed in a locomotive. The OEM will not sell them and may provide limited support, referring you to the manufacturer of the locomotive.

Plug and Play

The decoder can be installed with a minimum of work. It usually just plugs into a connector and is ready to play.

There are a number of connectors in use, so verify what you need first.

DCC Ready

This is a cousin of DCC Plug and Play, meaning that you can install a decoder, often a drop in type is available, without a lot of fuss. Sometimes the decoder simply replaces the light board. With a screwdriver and a few minutes, conversion is easily accomplished.

DCC Friendly

This often applies to turnouts or track switches. It could also mean that it isn't too difficult to convert this locomotive to DCC, as the motor isn't electrically connected to the chassis (but check anyway).

DCC Capable

It is not impossible to convert this locomotive to DCC, but it will take some time and effort to do so. Just about any locomotive can be considered DCC capable. The only real issue is the size of the decoder.