FAQ:What is detection actually providing if I do not Install transponding?
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Detection simply detects the presence of a train on a section of track bounded by gaps and fed by a detection system such as the Digitrax BDL boards. Engines are automatically detected (non-transponding) since they draw power whether moving or not. Rolling stock can be detected by using resistance wheel sets, or in the case of passenger cars and cabooses, lights. By using resistor wheels on the last car of a train the block will always show detection when occupied as long as the train is no longer than any single block. Detection is mandatory for computer control. It is how the computer knows what blocks are occupied.
Transponding will display the ID of the train, usually the engine's number or the rolling stock's ID number. A transponder section acts like a detection section since if an engine is transponding, it is obviously occupying a block. Cars, passenger cars and cabooses, unless equipped with a transponder, will not be identified.