Layout Command Control

Under the auspices of the NMRA, an open source group of developers, called OpenLCB,  have been creating new standards for layout command control, which has been named, simply, Layout Command Control, otherwise known as NMRANet.  The program has been around at least since about 2016, gradually improving and very slowly gaining in popularity.  Clinics describing how it works have been occurring at national and regional meetings since then. 

This is basically an enhancement, not a replacement, of the DCC system.  When you wire your layout for DCC, you have one pair of bus wires going under the layout through which all locomotive and other signals travel.  These signals include not only the ones that make the locomotive move, but also all the others that control the lights, the sound, the speed and multiple other variables on the loco and decoder-operated devices.  If you have several locomotives and other devices on your layout pulling current from that same pair of bus wires, the signals start slowing down. It may take several seconds for a turnout to switch or a ditch light to come on, or the speed to change.   The main idea behind Layout Command Control is that it allows these other, non-engine related, signals to locomotives and other decoder-operated devices to travel through a separate bi-directional pair of bus wires, which then greatly enhances speed and reliability.

Since the platform is standardized and the standards are approved by the NMRA, manufacturers must follow those standards, which means that all the products made for LCC will be interchangeable. 

Manufacturers have been slow to bring products to market that would facilitate using LCC on the average layout,  but they are starting to appear. TCS (Train Control Systems), RR-CirKits now have products for use on LCC platforms, and more are being developed.  Also Deepwoods Software is incorporating LCC code into their "Model Railroad System" software that you can download from their site. 

Here is a video tour of Detlef Kurpanek’s GNW layout using the Layout Command Control system and the products used for it...

For more information, please visit the NMRA Introduction to Layout Command Control. 

Also see A Few FAQs about Layout Command Control.

You might also like these pages:

  • DCC Decoder Installation

    DCC decoder installation is relatively easy these days with many locomotives being sold as DCC ready. Here are a few tips for installation.

  • Model Railroad Wiring

    Overview of different types of model railroad wiring

  • Model Railroad Books

    How did I learn so much about model railroading? From other hobbyists, of course, and from BOOKS. Here's a list of some of my favorites.

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