Homebuilt Controls

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by CharlesH., Jan 30, 2006.

  1. CharlesH.

    CharlesH. Member

    I was reading a book called "Building A Model Railroad With Personality" (the saga of a western layout named the Jerome & Southwestern) and at some point, the author points out a small handbuilt walkaround control built from an article in an out of print book (ar at least I assume it's out of print, considering the dates). I always wanted one of these handheld contraptions to run my trains, but I want to build it myself for a number of reasons. Has anyone ever attempted this? Would it be practical to transplant the contents of an older transformer to a small handheld unit?
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    i did, years ago...

    as far as transplanting the controls - not worth your time. what you don't want inside your handheld unit is any high voltag ac/transformers, anything that gets too hot, or anything too heavy. Ripping the controls out of another power pack (say, a MRC) is going to be more work than building one yourself.

    A standard DC powerpack needs 3 basic parts - the 12v DC power supply, the throttle, and the reversing switch. The throttle and the reversing switch can be mounted in the handheld unit, and the 12 power supply under the layout. With a little electronics knowledge, a 12v power supply is easy. A transformer, a bridge rectifier, some filtering capacitors, and a fuse. The throttle can be simple or difficult, but will require a potentiometer (variable resistor) a transistor or two, and a few other small electronic parts. The reversing switch is also easy.... The simplest circuit that I have seen (and built myself) was in a mid 70s MR...I have it somewhere.

  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Several years ago I found a couple of sites that had schematics for throttles with hand-held walkaround capability. I believe one used the output of a power pack, another included the power circuit as well. I decided against doing it, even though I have a pretty well stock of parts and the ability to do it, I just thought I couldn't put one in a package as nice as the MRC Tech4 supplies, and I'd rather spend my time working on my layout.

    If you want to take a look at those sites, I'll see if I can find the links to them, but they may not exist now since that had to be well over three years ago.

    As Kevin says, you really have to be careful that there is nothing but low power DC in any hand-held unit.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Charles: Was that Peter Thorne's book? I have a copy downstairs.
    I have a number of portable throttles, including a pair marketed by Thorne. They all attach to a transformer (I mostly use old Lionel or the AC from a power pack). The throttles contain a rectifier, a few transistors and other electronic things, a potentioneter to control the transistors and a DPDT reversing switch. Some have extra bits for braking.
    Worst problem is that power is limited by the cable (usually old telephone cable or such). I've seen some where there is a base unit that handles the heavy power and the throttle justs controls the transistors in the base unit. It also needs a switch to control a relay for reversing.
  5. CharlesH.

    CharlesH. Member

    60103 - According to what's left of my book, it is Peter Thorne's Practical Electronics Projects For Model Railroaders.

    Just for adding a bit of interest to the subject, one of the reasons (if not the only one) I want to build my own controllers is to give my layout a "vintage" look, even to the technical parts. I want the graphics and the controls to look like the ones a modeller would have used in the 1940's. It may sound a tad nuts, but that's the way I want it
  6. JAyers

    JAyers Member

    This is the link you want: DC Throttles.

    I priced the parts out and for the throttle only version (You supply the power from another powerpack) an it appears to be about $12-15 in parts. Just don't get your parts from Radio Shack, they cost about twice as much as other discount electronics suppliers. I could find all but one of the relays at other places.

    Since you can use whatever materials for the case, polished brass, bakelite enclosures, wood, steel, paint you can make it look however you want.


Share This Page