About Us


DCC₄PC was formed by Nicholas & Ray Simmonds to help develop hardware and software to enhance automation for model railways. While Ray has a business background, Nicholas is the main talent where product development has been concerned. After spending most of his time at Edinburgh University doing a combination Electronic Engineering and Software Engineering degree, he decided to specialise in just the software side in his final year. When forming the company, it was decided early on to base most of the development effort on the DCC platform and by adding control via PC, improved speed and accuracy could be achieved.

We are aware that the prospect of using a PC when enjoying our hobby may be an alien concept to some and have noted negative comments in this regard on some of the forums. So in order to explain our logic let's consider what we mean by a PC.

Basically, what we are referring to is anything with a CPU (central processing unit) and running an operating system. This does not need to be a large case sitting on a desk with a keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers and printer attached. It can be, but not necessarily. It could also be a compact laptop, but again not necessarily. For many of you it could be no more than a motherboard screwed to the underside of your layout. Remember that those high-end command stations like the Ecos from Esu or the Viessmann Commander are so impressive, because they consist of a scaled-down PC in a box - usually running a version of the Linux operating system. (It is quite possible that many more items in your home such as video recorders with hard-drives etc. are also just PCs in a box.)

So why do it?

Because PCs are so ubiquitous, they have become relatively cheap nowadays, especially when you consider what they are capable of. A couple of hundred pounds of entry-level PC will get you processing power at least equal to or, more likely, much better than even the most expensive Command Station available today. The second consideration is that software, once produced can be replicated indefinitely at practically no further cost. For any system, the more software relative to hardware the more versatile and less expensive it is likely to become. A carefully designed system is potentially indefinitely upgradeable via downloads from the internet.

The challenge for us is to produce inexpensive yet robust and versatile hardware to interface with the PC in such a way as to make the computer as inconspicuous to the user as possible while allowing the use of efficient, powerful software to control a layout. At the same time we hope to produce a constantly updated software stream to support our hardware in such a way as to keep us abreast of the latest developments and innovations in the hobby and where possible maybe even lead the way.