Control Panels

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GeeTee

Well-Known Member
So your entire system will be computer based?
Turnout control ,uncouplers , signals , yes . In some cases in actually cheaper than using manual . Its wireless using bluetooth. I have already done my proof of concepts and setup a blue network . I am just writing the software to link the panel to node/turnout. Cost is running about $2 - $5 per turnout ,control boards are $7 ,$10 with the bluetooth , $1.50 for 9g servo . Each board can handle 16 turnouts . I also have some US made boards that I am using , more expensive $20 / 6 turn , $ 30 /12turn .
For me its purely a cost / flexibility issue. The cheapest I could find Caboose throws was around $2 a pop. I dont really want to crawl under the layout and run a bunch of wires (been there,done that, have several T-shirts) .

Over the years I have used Atlas switches , 1/8 hardboard , and reverse painted plexiglass. The reverse painted plex looks the best.
 
Here's mine.

Control Panel.JPG


Controlling my H0 layout " Dale Junction ".
Track layout was done using a track planning program ( I can't remember which one ) but could be done with thin tape.
Small circles were added to mark drill points for LEDs and push-button switches and was then laminated by a local print shop.
The holes for 3mm LEDs and 6mm switches were drilled and then the lamination was glued to a piece of plywood and the holes drilled through that too.
The LEDs were inserted through the back as were the switches and wired up locally to connector strip blocks which were then wired to the Turnout motors and their built-in feedback switches
The Box at top right is an infra-red controlled system which by using the remote control unit on the top left I can operate all turnouts from anywhere in the room or setup routes - unfortunately that system is no longer made .
The system just parallels the push-button switches on the main panel.
Hope this is of interest .Colin.
 

dennis461

Active Member
Here's a bad example...
I expanded a couple of times and was too lazy to rebuild original panel on original layout so look at my mess.
I'd like to here how GEETEE is voiding underlayout wiring, I am considering a PC driven relay board for block control to replace all my toggle switches, but one still needs to run wires from blocks back to the relay board.

IMG_4202.JPG

IMG_4201.JPG

IMG_4200.JPG

IMG_4199.JPG
 
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trailrider

Well-Known Member
I have two control panels on my current layout. They are 1/8 inch thick masonite with a variety of miniature toggles, momentary pushbuttons and a few rotary switches for route indications, placed on a diagram of the track. Because I originally had DC only, the layout is broken up into blocks with ON-OFF toggles for each block. Each block also has a DPDT toggle for polarity control so I can match the polarity of crossovers, and wyes. Since the majority of my remote turnouts are twin-solenoid controlled, they require momentary power only, so miniature pushbuttons are used to apply power for a second or so. Route selection is either by two different buttons, or a rotary switch with a pushbutton wired in series (select the route, push the button, listen for the click...or thunk). Since I added DCC capablity, but have to be careful not to power the layout with DCC when running most of my DC locomotives, I have one master DPDT toggle on the main panel to select the DC power pack or the NCE Power Cab. Left is DC; right is DCC. I don't have any lights on either of my panels. Track signals wired directly to the rails (or in a couple of instances using Atlas Snap Relays as DPDT switches) tell me what is what interlocking-wise. Both my panels are located on opposite sides of an aisle, and I can sit in a chair and reach both from the same place. The height of the layout is between 32 and 36 inches above floor level, so I can sit in the swivel chair and see what is going on. I may try to take some pictures of the panel when I get time.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
Here are some views of the Grashhook, Galesburg & Western Division of the C.B.&Q. (HO) showing control panels arrangement. Green toggles are ON-OFF for blocks. White toggles control polarity in each block. Black rotary switches for route control with red pushbuttons in series to actuate twin-solenoid switch machines. A few of the non-color toggles are momentary/center-off switch machine switches. On lower right of broad overview are the NCE Power Cab for DCC and a DC powerpack for DC. Selector for DCC/DC is on main panel just below meters. P1010088.JPGP1010089.JPG
P1010086.JPG
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
That is quite the set up!!
;)
Thanks! Only took about three years or so, and I was about five years younger when I got most of it operational. The only thing I am trying to do now is add operating crossing gates at the grade crossing near the Aurora station (where Truman's train is in this photo. Supposed to be a pair coming from an outfit called ZstuffExpress. Of course there are always little details that can be added. If you go to the "Showing Off" section you may see a couple of old-time locomotives sitting on a separate piece of track, with a couple and their kid looking at them. I should add a sign saying to keep off, or I might have to add a small chainlink fence to prevent vandalism by others (not the family, of course)!
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
Here's a bad example...
I expanded a couple of times and was too lazy to rebuild original panel on original layout so look at my mess.
I'd like to here how GEETEE is voiding underlayout wiring, I am considering a PC driven relay board for block control to replace all my toggle switches, but one still needs to run wires from blocks back to the relay board.

View attachment 114031
View attachment 114032
View attachment 114033
View attachment 114034
Nice! That power pack seems familiar. I think I had a remove throttle for a Troller that was red like that.
 

Rico

BN Modeller
The last layout didn’t actually have a control panel but did have this.
It was DCC so no electrical blocks, NCE switch eights controlled tortoise machines with LED indicators.
In the video a train is travelling from the right and heads into the siding to the left.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="
" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 

Patrick

GNRR Mechanic always fixing stuff
Man,

A lot of really nice control panels. I've still have to number mine, but I hadn't allotted room to put the track plan on the control board either. I was going to label the switches and blocks on the layout with something simple. On the grandson's layout, we just put numbers on toothpicks and pushed them into the foam.
 

wheeler1963

Aurora & Portland Owner
Another question when it comes to the electrical controls of your empires. What gauge wire are you all using for feeding your tracks?
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
OK Jerome. I promised pictures and here they are. First a little background. As a lone operator who mainly does switching, Nothing is too complicated. As I may have said, I am strictly a DC person. I have two power supplies, a fixed MRC unit and a walk around memory throttle from an unknown manufacturer, name plate rubbed off years ago. On each of my two levels I have a main center comprised of a bunch of Atlas Selectors ganged together. I don't need a track diagram due to the walk around and the fact that I use well marked ground throws in all but a very few remote locations. No track on my layout is more than a 30" reach in.
Upper Level.
06-03-20 001.JPG

Lower Level.
06-03-20 002.JPG

Not all of the terminals are connected on the left because I went with a different configuration and have not removed the Selector.
The upper one is currently only connected to the walk around throttle. Occasionally my grandsons run trains on the lower level with the fixed throttle while I run on the upper with the walk around. They aren't tall enough to see the upper level yet.
Over on the north (trackwise) staging yard, I use Atlas Connectors which just turn track power off and on, all coming from a single terminal on the selector.
06-03-20 003.JPG

I originally had a row of Selectors there but decided that it was overkill, hence the mismatched cut out that hasn't been fixed. 12 staging tracks on the lower level only.
On the south (trackwise) end of the layout, I also use Connectors for those staging yards. Actually they both are set up as classification yards, stub ended on the lower level and double ended on the upper level.
Lower Level.
06-03-20 005.JPG

Upper Level.
06-03-20 004.JPG

This one was also previously a Selector.
I only run power wires through the components, all common wires come from a common buss.
I use 18 gauge stranded wire to get to almost all areas of the layout, with the final feed to everything from there being either 22 or 24 gauge wire, rarely over 12". Some is solid salvaged telephone cables and some is stranded salvaged computer wiring. I got a lot of both when our company installed wifi instead of the hard wired stuff.
It is a primitive, simple, yet effective system. Everything is in the on position unless there is a train parked on the tracks. As you can see, there are currently 56 blocks, with a few spares for the two undeveloped parts of the layout. With only two exceptions, industry spurs operate off their accompanying passing sidings. Those two exceptions are actually separate sidings with spurs. Engines are not parked on industry sidings.
If I was to ever go DCC, unlikely at best, it would just be a matter of replacing the existing DC power supply and turning everything on. At 80+ engines, I can't really afford the time or money to convert, plus I would rather listen to music than a bunch of train noises.
Hope that this helps.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
Main buses: 12 AWG sheathed, because they run completely around the folded dogbone layout from the power supplies (DC/DCC and AC auxilliary supply for switch machines, some structure lighting (12-16v incandescent bulbs in most cases). Don't honestly recall the gage of track feeders, but mostly model railroad wire. Probably 24 ga.
 

Alcomotive

Grandson of ALCO Bldr
Good question on wires. So I was planning on using SOLID copper wire 14 gauge for the main feeds under my layout and then the feeders to track 24 gauge SOLID copper. This should do it I think. I am not a fan of stranded wire for layouts.
 

wheeler1963

Aurora & Portland Owner
OK Jerome. I promised pictures and here they are. First a little background. As a lone operator who mainly does switching, Nothing is too complicated. As I may have said, I am strictly a DC person. I have two power supplies, a fixed MRC unit and a walk around memory throttle from an unknown manufacturer, name plate rubbed off years ago. On each of my two levels I have a main center comprised of a bunch of Atlas Selectors ganged together. I don't need a track diagram due to the walk around and the fact that I use well marked ground throws in all but a very few remote locations. No track on my layout is more than a 30" reach in.
Upper Level.
View attachment 114060
Lower Level.
View attachment 114061
Not all of the terminals are connected on the left because I went with a different configuration and have not removed the Selector.
The upper one is currently only connected to the walk around throttle. Occasionally my grandsons run trains on the lower level with the fixed throttle while I run on the upper with the walk around. They aren't tall enough to see the upper level yet.
Over on the north (trackwise) staging yard, I use Atlas Connectors which just turn track power off and on, all coming from a single terminal on the selector.
View attachment 114062
I originally had a row of Selectors there but decided that it was overkill, hence the mismatched cut out that hasn't been fixed. 12 staging tracks on the lower level only.
On the south (trackwise) end of the layout, I also use Connectors for those staging yards. Actually they both are set up as classification yards, stub ended on the lower level and double ended on the upper level.
Lower Level.
View attachment 114063
Upper Level.
View attachment 114064
This one was also previously a Selector.
I only run power wires through the components, all common wires come from a common buss.
I use 18 gauge stranded wire to get to almost all areas of the layout, with the final feed to everything from there being either 22 or 24 gauge wire, rarely over 12". Some is solid salvaged telephone cables and some is stranded salvaged computer wiring. I got a lot of both when our company installed wifi instead of the hard wired stuff.
It is a primitive, simple, yet effective system. Everything is in the on position unless there is a train parked on the tracks. As you can see, there are currently 56 blocks, with a few spares for the two undeveloped parts of the layout. With only two exceptions, industry spurs operate off their accompanying passing sidings. Those two exceptions are actually separate sidings with spurs. Engines are not parked on industry sidings.
If I was to ever go DCC, unlikely at best, it would just be a matter of replacing the existing DC power supply and turning everything on. At 80+ engines, I can't really afford the time or money to convert, plus I would rather listen to music than a bunch of train noises.
Hope that this helps.
Thank you Willie, that is the type of set I had way back when I had a layout. I do admire they newer types but I'm not sure I'm up to that challenge yet.
 

MOWboss

Member
Is your control panel for the junk yard exclusively? I'd like to throw out another perspective for control panels. I have 5 control panels for my layout. Before you "Oh man...." hear me out.
I have 4 areas that interest me; mining, harbor/car ferry, logging and engine servicing. My first panel was for the mine - shunt empties under the tipple, build a train to haul product to... 2nd panel; the interchange for the car ferry. The company that owns the ferry owns the switchers that are responsible to load and off load the car ferry. Another panel is for my engine servicing facility - coal, sand, ash, engine rotation/repair. In all cases the main line track is a subset of my industrial panels. In all honesty the main line is really that space between the industries they serve. In the earlier years of this layout I could run the mine and its geography. Making its own panel allowed me to work the mine and evolve other ideas. I liked the idea so much that it was the logic for the second panel (car ferry) - I could build future tables and still have time to switch and run some trains. Another advantage is the panel is close to my work area. The car ferry is about 12" to the left of the panel. Also the panels are bigger - not everything crammed onto one board - so less chance to fat finger a toggle.
When the mood strikes me I'll off load the car ferry empties and load on the full cars. (My favorite). The main line still offers freight service dropping off cars - dynamite cars, boat fuel, freight for the town. - More work to do....!
1592681157846.png

The red represents the main line while all the white shows the trackage to service the car ferry (represented by #5 & 6)

I currently have panel numbers that correspond with number boards at the turnouts. I'm open to the idea of adding LED ground signals with the number boards at the turnouts.
 




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