Let's See your Control Panels

SDVike May 20, 2021

  1. SDVike

    SDVike TrainBoard Member

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    I’m using Smail switch machines to my layout just to simplify my wiring and for the use of DCC to control them. I’ve decided that I also want small control panels for my guests/kids so they don’t have to memorize the switch numbers to be able to control the layout.

    I’ve been thinking about doing something like what the DCC guy on YouTube does.

    This definitely does the opposite of keeping the wiring simple, but I really like the ability to quickly see how the turnouts are aligned. I think I would go with the cleaner white background shown in an earlier post. It would be interesting though if you could get an IPad with JMRI on it instead to work as a panel.

    Ask me next weekend and I’ll probably have another idea of what I want to do.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  2. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Looks fine to me!

    Doug
     
  3. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I'm using DCC++ EX with either a hand phone throttle or if I get it together one of Dave Bodnar's wireless hand throttles. The layout is going to be 24 feet long and I'll be the single operator 90+% of the time. I'm interested in controlling turnouts as I walk around. Some will be manually thrown using my 'Hidden Switcher' some will be controlled by my 'Gravity Switcher' and a number will be servo controlled.

    For the servo controlled ones and also the Gravity controlled ones there will be controls near the turnout. For the manually thrown one the control is an object you push to throw the turnout, next to or near the turnout.

    For the servo controlled ones I've come up with a system were for under $8.00 one can have servo controlled turnouts.

    [​IMG]

    .... that includes a control box as shown above. Also in the $8.00 you have a ...

    [​IMG]

    .... a servo controller (top center above) that controls how far the servo throws the points so you can adjust the pressure on the points, the wiring and the servo itself.

    The switch box can be located near the turnout it controls or ....

    [​IMG]

    .... where there are a number of turnouts close to each other the boxes can be ganged together in different configurations as show above.

    Here is a link to most of the different options available depending on how you want to throw the turnout...

    http://1fatgmc.com/RailRoad/Trackwork/Trackwork-Index.html

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2021
  4. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

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    From way back when, before DCC, this is what we used to run NTRAK layouts. When the layout was a huge, there were typically many of these units, each controlling a manageable block of modules. An operator with a headset radio would be at each throttle pack and communicate with the operators in the blocks adjacent to theirs. Every block had a different name. That way trains could be held back if a block was occupied and trains would not pile up. It was kind of fun. "Hey Alpha, can I hand off a train to you on the Yellow Line?" "Sure Beta, can you take one on the Blue Line?" Now with DCC wireless throttles, we just follow our own train around the layout and control it. On small DC loops Aristocraft wireless throttles are often used.
    IMG_3572.JPG

    These are all my throttle options that I can use to run my hollow core test track. I don't have a home layout. Just plug in the track you want to use.
    IMG_3571.JPG
     
  5. SDVike

    SDVike TrainBoard Member

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    That Ntrack power pack is cool. I had no idea such a thing existed. I never thought about it but I guess a single power pack couldn’t power the entire loop on those huge layouts.


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  6. esfeld

    esfeld TrainBoard Member

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    I use DPDT toggles for Kato turnouts and can switch between NCE powercab or DCCpp using engine driver on a tablet and/or phone.
     

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  7. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    It's not the size of the layout that drives the number of DC power packs/throttles, it is the number of trains they wish to simultaneously control on the layout. DC Ntrack setups usually would group together one or more contiguous modules to be controlled by one operator, with one powerpack/throttle, for running one train through that module(s) at a time. More modules mean more operators running more trains. It takes lots of coordination between operators to coordinate moving the trains around the layout.
     
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  8. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    I have a small layout, and made this control panel...

    IMG_20200404_110812061~2.jpg

    It's hooked up by many many wires to small prototype boards I made with relays for the LEDs. Two sets of LEDs are instead connected to an Arduino which automatically controls two reverse loops (detects incoming train and throws the switch). In this old picture the Arduino controlled LEDs are yet to be installed.
     
  9. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

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    So, how do you have that DPDT switch wired to throw the Kato turnout?
     
  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    The DPDT switch needs a center-off position, and should preferably be momentary (returning to the center-off position.) You need to be able to switch the polarity of a DC pulse supplied to the Unitrack switch coil. So on one side of the DPDT, have it connect + and - supply, and for the other side, - and + supply. Center contacts are to the turnout control leads.
     
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  11. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thank you, sir.
     
  12. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    @BigJake, there're also a number of capacitive discharge circuits that utilize a non-momentary DPDT toggle switch to work Kato turnouts. These can be found on the Internet, some upgraded to transistor output. My panel is pictured below; I'll be mounting the capacitors near the turnouts. The DPDT can be used to illuminate LEDs to show turnout position. The downside is that with two wires added at every SPDT running to each turnout, it can be quite a control panel rat's nest.

    2019-02-11 002 DS&N Turnout Control Panel - for upload.jpg
     
  13. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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  14. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    Question: What do folks use for the control panel face? I know the options are typically MDF board, metal, acrylic, or thin cabinet-grade laminate wood. I am getting ready to build several panels and will use printed vinyl laminated to the surface. I have a couple of panels designed and converted to EPS files for printing. They will be black background with white characters. Of course the simple toggle switches and colored LED's will be used.

    I am just trying to decide on the panel material where the graphic gets laminated. I have pretty much decided on either MDF or Wood. I am probably going to shoot for something like 3/16" so I can still get enough thread of the switches exposed so I can amply tighten them up.

    Thanks...
     
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  15. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I used black countertop laminate fixed to 1/8" plywood with contact cement. I was able to buy a large scrap piece on the cheap from a local cabinet shop. The numbers are self stick, found at Hobby Lobby.

    2019-01-14 002 DS&N Turnout Control Panel - for upload.jpg
     
  16. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    On one of our sailboats I .....

    [​IMG]


    ... made panels out of aluminum but then....

    [​IMG]

    .... covered those with a white wall panel similar to the ones ( HERE )
    since I wanted the labels to adhear well and also stand out. What I can get local is smooth on one side and pebble on the other side. I've used it for other purposes and probably will use it for one of the panels on the layout.

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2023
  17. Nil

    Nil TrainBoard Member

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    I think you all need a laugh; feel free to laugh at me. But first, some background.

    I am just restarting in model railroading and am fascinated by the electronics. The only track I have laid is a 2' x 4' oval to entertain my son, long, long ago. I have three feet or so of Unitrak, and want to hook up the oval so that I can test engines and decoder installs. So, here is my control panel so that I can feed power as needed to where it's needed. ControlPanel.JPG
     
  18. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Laugh? The most important aspect of a control panel is function, and yours checks that box admirably!
     
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  19. Nil

    Nil TrainBoard Member

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    Well, we'll see. I've just started connecting wires, and the smoke hasn't leaked yet.
     
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  20. Nil

    Nil TrainBoard Member

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    May I pat myself on the back? I have successfully changed address and cut "Diesel" volume way down from the ridiculous level BLI starts with.

    The "PROG/MAIN" switch was very helpful, since I got frequent "CAN NOT READ CV" message. The NCE manual assumes that this indicates that you don't have continuity. Rather than checking all of that, I throw the switch to "MAIN." If the loco runs (it always did), I assume that the error is inherent to the NCI/BLI pairing, start over, and just ignore the error. It worked.
     
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