Monday, 22 December 2014

Knobs and Switches

It struck me that in order to run trains from either oval to the station, and to be able to shunt the station while running trains on the main lines, the wiring for this train set was way beyond connecting a controller to each circuit! I decided I'd better allow for three controllers, even if two would suffice most of the time, which meant having to have rotary switches rather than just 2-way. I settled on 4 main sections that can be switched to any controller, and 7 sub-sections that allow locos to be isolated. Hopefully the control panels make this all clear, and it will allow enough flexibility in operation.

I made up two control panels by printing out a schematic drawn in MS Word. These were mounted on some thick plastic sheet I'd picked up somewhere, then covered in sticky-back plastic (very Blue Peter!). I'd already drilled holes for the switches so they could be fitted, then I wired the switches to a loom ending in a screw terminal "choc-block" before fitting the panels to the layout.

The panels are fitted into the side of the station board, the plywood being cut away to clear the switches and allow the wiring through. The Gaugemaster controller in the middle provides controllers A and B.

With the screw connectors stuck in place (hot glue works well for this) wires are run to the relevant tracks on the layout, and the "temporary" connections of the two circuits to the controllers changed to the switched arrangement.

Further screw terminal blocks were used on each board and wires run from the feed rails to them, via small holes next to the rail, then they were connected back to the blocks by each panel. As the boards are permanently joined I haven't bothered with connectors, though the cables could be released from the terminal blocks if needed, provided they were labelled to aid re-connection! As you can see different coloured wires are used to help identification, it certainly makes wiring up easier. For example I used:

  • Blue: Common return (all outside rails)
  • Red: Main switched sections
  • Orange or Yellow (when I ran out): sub or isolating sections
Plus whatever other colours I had to hand for the controller feeds.

Another block connects the panels to the controllers, and joins all the "common returns" which greatly simplifies the wiring. There is a sticky label by each terminal block with wire codes marked on. The DIN plug on the left is connecting the third controller (C) to a 5-pin DIN socket.

As I've used the same socket as on my other (more serious) layouts, and connected the 16V AC from the Gaugemaster controller, I can use one of my usual hand-held controllers, such as this AMR example (left). However I've also wired a plug to the end of an old Hornby controller, which works surprisingly well. Either way the third controller can be used by someone outside the layout, so friends (and visiting grown ups) can operate without having to squeeze into the centre well.

So after a little planning and careful wiring, I was pleased when the layout worked first time. Even better my Son is very happy, he got the hang of the somewhat complex control knobs quite quickly, and he enjoys running trains in and out of the station from the main line. He's also enjoying shunting the goods sidings!

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