Control boxes/ panels

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by bellybomber3, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    A couple of questions concerning controls:
    1 How do you control your switches push button or toggle?
    2 How did you make your control box or panel? Pictures would help me if you got them.
  2. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    When I use 'snap' switch machines, I use pushbutons. A steady current will melt the twin coil machines. They use spring tension to hold the rails in place. Slow Motion machines like the tortoise use toggle switches as they require a steady current to help keep the turnout points held against the fixed rail. So, you see, it depends on what switch machines you use.

    There is an article on Control Panels on the NMRA 'Introduction to Model Railroading' pages at that may help. In addition, here is a photo of a control panel for tortoise machines.

  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    As you are aware, you can use either. I haven't built my control panel yet since I expaned my layout before I finished the first half. :rolleyes:I just built a temporary panel using some old pushbuttons I had, but Ibought a bunch of momentary, center-off toggles to use on my finished control panel. I plan on using LEDs to indicate the switch's position. Obviously, one toggle takes up half the space of two pushbuttons.
  4. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    I am using atlas remote switches and was trying to avoid the possibility of burning them up if it can be avoided. My 6 year old will be running trains on this layout and I was hoping to make a control box that would prevent him from burning up the switches.
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Yes, you will need a momentary switch to control things, but there is no guarantee that he will not keep his finger on the button too long. You could use a capacitor discharge circuit that will prevent this. I have not used them, but there are several discussions here regarding them. Basically the capacitor discharge provides a short pulse that will operate the switch coil, but won't charge back up until you release the switch. Maybe someone that has used them can shed more light on this.
  6. stump7

    stump7 Member


    It just happens that my project this week is building a control panel for a set of modules that I’m making. Because I wanted the panel removable for transport as well as needing to somehow support a power pack I first made a box to hold everything. (Photo 1) If I were doing it on a home layout I would mount the panel on the fascia. Here is how I built it.

    Bill of materials (most of it anyway).

    Wood for the box, ¾” birch plywood left over from making the module frames.

    2 11” x 14” x .093” sheets of clear acrylic from Home depot about $3.00 each.

    Black spray paint, on the shelf.

    Round head machine screws, on the shelf.

    Piano hinge, cut to fit; Home Depot.

    Lettering ¼” stick on letters from Hobby Lobby, about $3.00 per sheet.

    These were a problem. I the past I have used white rub on letters from C thru Ruler Company but could find none this time. Both Staples and Hobby Lobby have black rub on letters so you might consider painting the panel white and use black lettering. I find the rub on letters much easier to use.

    Toggle switches from Radio Shack.

    14 AWG stranded wire (required by the club), Auto parts store.

    Basic Technique

    Decide panel design and size.

    Make a full size drawing of the location of the various electrical components.

    Clamp the two pieces of acrylic together, tape the schematic to the top sheet and drill the holes. (Photo 2 & 3)

    Attached Files:

  7. stump7

    stump7 Member

    Paint the bottom sheet the color of your choice. (Photo 4)

    Do any graphics work you care to, labels, track schematics etc. (photo 5)

    Mount the remaining clear sheet over the graphics. (Photo 6) This protects the graphics from wear and tear, sticky jelly covered fingers and such, and allows cleaning without disturbing the graphics.

    Attached Files:

  8. stump7

    stump7 Member

    Photo 7 shows the completed unit.

    Photo 8 shows the panel tipped up to do the wiring.

    Photo 9 shows a panel left over from my previous layout showing a bit more complicated graphics. It was made the same way as what I’ve just shown. Notice the toggles are much smaller, and cheaper. The push buttons on the triangle shape control the switch routing for each leg of the wye. The toggles on the orange tracks on the right control stall motor machines for each stub turnout.

    I hope this helps.


    Attached Files:

  9. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Nice work stump.

    Tom, to make things realistic, I use the Caboose manual throws. This keeps the operator in the train's progress and forces you to keep track of the positions of the points as you move around the layout. (throw the switch, run through it, return it to it's original direction.)

    It is all in your preferences for operation.
  10. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Great self-portrait, stump7, even if it is rather Wilsonesque :D :rolleyes: :D
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Probe and stud

    I use the "probe and stud" method. I put little studs (Peco, but brass screws will do) in each leg of the turnout diagram and touch a wire to them (little pointy things from Radio shack work). I use a CDU to get the "oomph" and to reduce burning. (A few years ago at our show, someone actually had a switch machine fire.)
    For the Toroise machines, I have a fancy toggle switch.
    The main control panel is a sheet of Masonite hardboard with the track diagram painted on in varying colours. Block control toggles are mounted in place.
  12. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Works for me, also. Brass screws, CDU, and a meter lead. You can always
    go back and put a pushbutton in the hole later on:D

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