When it comes to DCC & Sound, Digitrax is often the top choice among HO scale model railroaders.
What makes Digitrax different from other companies that offer DCC systems? “Digitrax costs less and does more,” wrote the company President many years ago. Today, that simple statement still rings true – known for their superior customer service and quality, affordable products, Digitrax is a legend.
See our favorite Digitrax products below, and enjoy reading a bit about the history of model train control systems, pre-DCC.
The Evolution of Model Train Control Systems
Here’s a summary timeline from an in-depth Digitrax article:
- 1804: the first steam loco to pull a train debuted
- Primitive blocks of wood progressed into cast iron “floor toys” that were intended to be pushed along the floor
- Märklin of Germany comes out with sectional track; the first “layout” was born
- Once powered by wind-up mechanisms like old school clocks, that all changed with the introduction of electricity
- Over time, 18V became the standard & electric-powered model railroaded became more advanced, with complex approaches were used to control multiple trains through the use of signals
- By 1946, Lionel presented the “Electronic Set” – which amounted to both a technological innovation … and a hair-raising maintenance experience
- When the kiddos were playing with Dad’s fancy trains, it was entirely possible that the next-door neighbor’s new automatic garage door was rolling up and down continuously
- Nearly 2 decades later in 1964, GE rolled out Astrac, its answer to a model train control system which allowed remote independent control a max of 5 model train locomotives.
- The evolution continued with other developments in advanced model railroad control, with systems like PSI’s Dynatrol & Keller Engineer’s Onboard system.
- In the late 70s, Model Railroader magazine released info on building your own command control system. The “CTC-16” system advanced into the “CTC-64”, which allowed control of up to 64 locomotives, up from the original 16.
- 1984 saw a new digital system by Märklin, by then a well-respected company. Their system used decoders to control trains and remote devices, and was architected for use with their AC-powered HO scale trains.
- Yet another Märklin system, this time using DC voltages, would eventually be the foundation of DCC, or Digital Command Control. It became the leading system in Europe in those days.
- Back in the US, concerns were raised over reliance upon a single supplier. Contrary to the closed-architecture of the Märklin system, DCC was open-architecture.
- This was the leverage needed for more vendors to produce a range of products that were interoperable with each other.
- In due course, a common set of industry standards was developed (which is today’s contemporary DCC).
For a deeper dive into the history of DCC, check out this article packed with interesting facts and outstanding images.
Top 3 Favorite Digitrax HO Scale Products
Here are Nightwatch Trains top picks of Digitrax products perfect for HO scale model railroading:
#1) EVOXD Evolution Express Advanced 5A/8A Duplex Starter Set
The ultimate starter set by Digitrax has all that you need to enjoy advanced command control, with superior speed control, a full range of programming features…and of course the highlight: Duplex Radio control right out of the box.
Evolution Express Duplex Set Includes:
- DCS210+ Command Station/Booster With Intelligent AutoReverse
- DT602D Super LocoNet Throttle
- UR93 Duplex Radio Transceiver Panel
- PS615 Power Supply
- PS14 Power Supply (For UR93)
- Evolution Manual
The DT602D Advanced Super Throttle & DCS210 Advanced Command Station Offers
- Works with compatible LocoNet systems
- Color 2.4” LCD Display Screen
- Full Duplex radio when paired with a UR92 or compatible Duplex Transceiver (sold separately)
- Advanced menu system and displays
- Built-in scrolling help and prompting
- Soft ON/OFF switch, with zero OFF power-drain
- Advanced display Power Saving for longer wireless battery operation
- Throttles are now powered in wireless modes by 3 AA cells! No more 9V batteries to remove!
- Can use recharged AA batteries
- Works in standard tethered, IR or Radio Duplex modes
- Duplex Scan for available Networks and radio signal strength. Run without cords!
- All throttles come with a LocoNet cord that can be unplugged, and is replaceable
- Dual throttle controls let you control two locos simultaneously
- Run locomotives with “encoder click” knobs for both speed and direction control
- Full numeric keypad makes loco selection simple
- Control light and sound effects functions with the press of a button
- Control 29 functions (F0-F28).
- Function active/inactive indicators
- Convenient step-by-step throttle option set up
- Supports simplified decoder programming
- Simplified 2 or 4 digit addressing setup
- Over 9,000 locomotive decoder addresses
- Supports turnout and stationary decoder control
- Over 2000 turnout decoder addresses
- Fast clock display
- Recall feature
- Advanced Route editor
Big System Capacity for Big Layouts
- Run up to 100 addresses at the same time on your system.
- Run up to 100 throttles at the same time on your system.
#2) DZ123 1 Amp Economy Wired Decoder, 2 Functions, Z Scale
An awesome Z-scale decoder that also works with most DCC-ready N and HO scale locomotives up to 18V track voltage…
Digitrax LocoMotion® System
Your locomotives look like the real thing. The Digitrax LocoMotion® System makes them run like the real thing, too!
- Torque Compensation for smooth as silk silent operation.
- 128 Speed Step operation (14 or 28 steps can also be used).
- Momentum with acceleration and deceleration.
- Normal Direction of Travel is user selectable.
- Switching Speed feature for easier and faster access to yard speeds.
- 3 Step Speed Tables set start, mid and max voltage for custom control.
- 28 Step Speed Tables with 256 level resolution for precise control.
- SuperSonic™ motor drive for silent operation.
- FX3 Function outputs for prototypical lighting effects and on/off control.
- Constant Brightness Lighting with directional or independent control.
- Realistic Effects like Ditch lights, Mars lights, strobes, and many more.
- FX3 & Standard Function Qualifiers operate functions based on direction,
F0 on or off, direction and F0, and whether loco is moving.
- Function Remapping for custom function setup.
- Master Light Switch turns off all lights & functions with one keystroke.
- Decoder Lock equipped.
- Transponder equipped ready for transponding on your layout.
- All Mode Programming with Operations Mode Read Back reads back CV values right on the mainline.
- Decoder Reset CV with or without speed table reset.
- Motor Isolation Protection prevents damage to your decoder.
- Basic, Advanced & UniVersal Consisting
- 2 Digit and 4 Digit Addressing.
- Works with most DCC-ready Z, N, and HO scale locomotives up to 18V track voltage. UP6Z can be used to drop track voltage.
- DCC Compatible
- FCC Part 15, Class B RFI complianT
Note: DZ123 does not have Scaleable Speed Stabilization (Back EMF)
#3) DS78V Eight Servo LocoNet Stationary & Accessory decoder for turnout control
A newer product, this Digitrax eight 9G servo decoder is for 2-position Slow-motion turnouts.
- Configurable to control eight 3-position semaphores.
- Works with compatible LocoNet Systems.
- Plug and play connections.
- Option setup switches for configuration.
- On-layout remote programmability via LocoNet.
- 16 System Routes, with EZ-Route setup.
- Routes remotely editable using DT602 with latest software.
- 16 input lines for Switch and Detection inputs.
- Optional 16 direct hardware Route triggers.
- Software field update/IPL over LocoNet.
- DC 2mm 12V jack for reliable power input.
- Supports two DSXC4 input connector boards and cables.
- Supports two BD4N’s for block detection reporting.
- Supports 8 DSXCP1 Fascia control and direction indicators.
- Supports DSXCP1 indicating ‘servo in motion’.
- Optional DCC track input for limited feature capabilities.
Looking for Digitrax DCC products for your HO scale model train layout? See what Nightwatch Trains has in stock here.