S³ versus DCC

S³ versus DCC

S³ versus DCC

I frequently get the question "is S³ a DCC system?" The short answer is No, and it's not trying to be. S³ fits into another category that is sometimes referred to as a "Layout Control Buss".  

S³ functions in areas of control other than operating trains, which is the primary focus of DCC. DCC is poorly suited to operations that require gathering of layout data, such as signaling, control panel operation, lighting control, and operation of layout accessories and animation.

DCC excels at train control and does a good job of manually operating turnouts, but falls short in areas where gathering inputs, rather than controlling outputs is the primary focus. This is because DCC was originally designed to control trains and turnouts, with little thought for gathering inputs from sensors, control panels, and the like. As a result, DCC did not originally comprehend the need to gather data, process it via logic, and control other types of outputs aside from trains and turnouts.

S³ was designed from the start to be a means of integrating inputs from many sources and using logic to carry out control operations. It can be used alongside a DCC train control system, and tie into the world of DCC via block detectors, train position sensors, and turnout position sensors, without using the DCC protocols as such. S³, when used in combination with a DCC system gives the modeler the best of both worlds. Prior to S³, this type of integration generally was accomplished using a dedicated PC running complex software systems. S³ provides most of the capabilities of these PC-based systems at a lower cost and with higher performance.

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