Arnold Digital

Starting in the mid-1960’s, Arnold rapido offered a layout wiring approach which was relatively simple, relatively inexpensive and reliable.  Using track switches (“turnouts”) and gapped tracks, the layout operator was able to have multiple locomotives on even a simple layout and manage them easily. This approach, which we call analog, is discussed here.

Beginning in the mid-1980’s, model railroading enjoyed a technological burst.  This rapid expansion of model railroad control is generically called “command control”.  With this new model railroad technology, each locomotive contained a decoder that was assigned an unique address. A central command station contained a microcomputer which kept track of locomotive addresses and device addresses.  This central unit would send out a digital coded signal to a specific locomotive address and the locomotive would operate.

There had been command control systems in the model railroad market before, but they had been limited by a variety of factors. In particular, these systems had been expensive, complicated and in more than a few cases, unreliable.  The model railroad market was looking for something better, and the first inklings of such a system appeared in Europe in the mid-1980’s.

That model railroad command control system was Märklin Digital.  Originally developed for Märklin’s three-rail AC power H0 trains, Digital soon branched out into two-rail DC, and from that development came Arnold Digital. I refer to this a Arnold Digital Gen 1 because this product line would eventually leave the market and later be followed by another Arnold digital train control line, again called Arnold Digital, but different from the previous offering. I refer to this as Arnold Digital Gen 2.

While the 1st generation of Arnold Digital was groundbreaking, introducing the concept of digital command control to N-Scale trains, by the time the 2nd generation of Arnold Digital came to market, the concept of DCC was well established.

It’s an interesting story:

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