Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo Da Vinci
The story behind the Cobalt α Alpha Range
When DCC was first promoted, the phrase “Just two wires” was common.
It never was just two wires of course, and while DCC wiring gives great control and is certainly much simpler than wiring was in DC-days, it still needs lots of wire to keep things connected.
DC or DCC layout - Nowhere is the problem of wiring complexity more obvious than when a control panel is added, because as well as track wiring we now need to add wires for switches and accessory decoders, LEDs and switches for turnout position etc., as... well as for feeding power to various places.
Think about it: At least 2 or 3 for switch connections to any point, signal or other item… Add power wires and LED indicators and switches and it doubles. It really adds up so that even a smaller layout with any form of electric point control is usually going to have 100 or more wires linking a control panel to the layout… and lots more in the control panel and under the baseboards.
Perhaps it’s fun for some, but it is a nightmare to others and always, it can be a maintenance problem! What is more, it affects DC or DCC modellers equally so we’ve been thinking about this: Quite a lot in fact!
Most modellers simply find wiring a chore, DC modellers need far too many wires anyway… and while many DCC modellers (most in fact) want the refined control of DCC for trains, they also almost always want or need to retain simple control of points and track-work, because driving trains is easy, but doing accessory control via the handset is to be honest, a clumsy and frustrating process.
Yes, we do understand that you could use a computer touch-screen, but time and time again we talk to modellers who have enough of that at work… and really want a traditional approach. A challenge, but one we think we have met!
Inspired by a question from a customer (Why do I still need all these wires?) a year or so ago we set out to create something… anything, that could just make it easier!
Cobalt α Alpha really IS the answer to the problem!