DCC Computer Interfaces?


New Member
I'm new to model railroading and was wondering if any DCC systems would allow you to connect the DCC system to a computer, and enable you to send as well as receive DCC commands?
I've run into this website in the past, and this page deals with controlling the layout automatically via a computer:


I don't have a layout, nor do I have any DCC system, but as time goes by I plan to have both. I already have a computer set aside for this express purpose, so hopefully one day soon I can report on how successful this system is.

It is my intention to focus my operating efforts and attention on switching, so having a computer deliver trains to the yard, pick them up from the yard or even just pass by the yard would be ideal for my needs. From what little I've read on the JMRI website, this can be done with the programs they have available now. But who knows? Maybe a better program will exist by the time I have a layout built.

Hope this helps.
I run a Lenz LH100 DCC system with the original handheld controller and then added the XpressNet system with a laptop computer to control my layout. I'm using a software program that I found on the Lenz.com web site called ZugDCC. It only works with a Lenz system though. It is one of the lesser expensive programs recommended on the site and so far I've had good luck with it. The link to their site is www.zugdcc.com.

I looked at Digitrax, Lenz, MRC and the Atlas systems before I purchased the Lenz system. It just felt the best in my hand and was the easiest for me to operate, but the Digitrax system was a close second. All of these systems should have a computer interface available with maybe the exception of the Atlas system.

I’ve tried the JMRI software but I find the ZugDCC software to be easier to use. Maybe it’s just because that is what I’m use to.

Let me know if you have any more questions.
Yes, there are numerous computer programs for this purpose. The ones I am most familiar with are RR & Co, Winlock, KAM and the freeware available for JMRI.

Whatever software you use, you will need hardware to interface between your computer and the DCC system. For Digitrax this is the MS100 or the LocoBuffer. I believe NCE has a built in interface. I am not familiar with any other systems.

It is only for Digitrax LocoNet. I am using a LocoBuffer (Original) and it works great.

Locobuffer is the way to go if you use Digitrax. Don't bother with the MS100. I built my own Locobuffer rather inexpensively, using the blank circuit board from Hans DeLoof. I'm building one for another forum member, just as soon as the board gets here - the only drawback of DIY for this is that the boards come from Belgium. The parts are all available from Mouser Electronics.

NCE has an interface built in. So does CVP EasyDCC. Lenz uses an interface. I believe you can use the interface with the Atlas Commander, since that's really a Lenz Compact. Functionality may be limited on the Commander/Compact though.

According to the DecoderPro web site, you can hook a computer up to an Atlas system, but because of the way it's designed, you can't do anything related to programming decoders. You can only control trains or send commands to accessory decoders.

Since I consider decoder programming to be the main reason to have a computer interface, this renders the Atlas computer interface capabilities into the "nice, but basically useless" category for me.
rrinker said:
Locobuffer is the way to go if you use Digitrax. Don't bother with the MS100.

I've heard that before. What's the issue with the MS100? Isn't that the unit Digitrax sells? Just curious.
The MS100 just matches signal levels between the serial port and the loconet. It relies on the PC being able to support the odd baud rate of Loconet, which most serial ports can, but some brands of USB to serial adapters cannot. And if the PC is busy with some other task and a packet comes in from the Loconet - too bad, it might get missed. The Locobuffer is just that - a buffer, it receives and transmits the Loconet packets without interaction from the PC, and then communicates to the PC using standard speeds with proper handshaking. It's a lot more reliable, plus works with just about any hardware.