To be honest, I never saw myself as a train geek. Sure, I’ve always loved seeing model trains rolling around nicely designed layouts. I think my first experience was the grand old layout at MOTAT, and since my son was old enough, we’ve made regular trips to view the amazing club layouts at the Model-X exhibition. I always took the position that these incredibly detailed dioramas were the domain of a peculiar type of geekery; one that I might delve into once retired, but not before. I never saw the irony as I spent hours carefully painting a single 20mm Eldar Farseer over the course of several days, while frowning on the fine-scale geekery of railroad modellers.
Sure, I’d done a tiny bit of research into trains, assuming that the most popular HO scale was the only way to go, and that the complicated setup of switched track sections was the only way to run multiple trains on a single track. The commitment required for HO scale just didn’t sit well with me. I don’t have an entire room or basement to dedicate to trainery.
Then I somehow stumbled across N Scale and DCC. I could describe N-Scale in great detail, but you’ll be better served by the knowledge that ‘N’ is short for Nine, as in Nine millimetres, being the track gauge in N Scale. Additionally, Wikipedia (as usual) has more than enough information on the genre.
As a computer and electronics nerd, my discovery of DCC was even more exciting. Once again, Wikipedia can tell you more than you’d ever want to know about Digital Command and Control. From my point of view, using electronics to address and command trains just makes more sense than old fashioned Direct Current.