How to make a Control Panel?

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wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#1
I am considering including a "Points/Turnout/Switch" control panel on my new N Scale layout but have no idea how to go about it. I don't even know if one will be worth while as I only have 16 of the afore mentioned so may be wasting my time.

The majority of my points will be at the front of the layout so I suppose a control panel for them will be mainly for appearances than anything else.

Essentially though, if it isn't too difficult/complex, I wouldn't mind a "Panel" that shows which way the points are thrown as indicated by lights. Obviously (I think) I will need slow motion machines for this to work and those machines will be DCC Concept machines.

Yes, I have looked at a variety of google sites about this topic but most seem to utilize "assumed knowledge" and are not "simple enough or clear enough" As said, I have no idea how to go about making a panel or what is needed to do so; therefore, any advice will be greatly appreciated.
 
#2
I am considering including a "Points/Turnout/Switch" control panel ... that shows which way the points are thrown as indicated by lights. ...
I have no idea how to go about making a panel or what is needed to do so; therefore, any advice will be greatly appreciated.
That is a very tough question to answer since there are as many ways to make a control panel as a dog has fleas. Also usually one of the whole points of going to a DCC turnout control scheme is that one doesn't need a control panel anymore.

But usually one starts with some thin material for the panel itself - sheet aluminum, plexiglass, lexan, or masonite. Make a simplified diagram of the layout on the panel. Determine the mounting method for the indicator lights (probably LEDs) and drill out appropriate size holes. Depending on which DCC Concepts stationary decoders you choose you would run 2 or 3 wires to the panel for each turnout or crossover. If your using the AD1 one wire will come from the turnout motor and the other from the decoder. If you chose the AD2fx it will be three wires all from the decoder. If you also want manual override push buttons on the panel, it is a matter of figuring out where you want them, drilling, mounting, and then running the appropriate wires from the switches to the decoder. Once again if you choose the AD1 there would be a single button and two wires, if you chose the AD2fx there will be two buttons and three wires. Very simple actually, especially if you just do one thing at a time and run one wire at a time instead of trying to put them all on at once.

Or you could use the contact built into the turnout motor which would involve an additional power supply and running wires from the turnout back to the panel. The exact wiring would depend which model of Cobol motor you choose.

Like everything you could go big and use bunches of LEDs on the track diagram and have the panel show routing. As ->
20150711_115901.jpg
Obviously more complicated, but not as much as one might think.
 
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wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#3
Horseman,

As always, thank you for your response and information. Not sure if I have understood you correctly or not but are you saying that apart from the turnout motor (Cobalt's) LED's and toggle/push button switches I will also need stationary decoders or this other decoder you mentioned?

That being the case, would I need one of those decoders for each turnout OR does one decoder run more than one turnout? Keeping in mind I want to be able to change the points manually but remotely, if that makes sense.
 
#4
Not sure if I have understood you correctly or not but are you saying that apart from the turnout motor (Cobalt's) LED's and toggle/push button switches I will also need stationary decoders or this other decoder you mentioned?

That being the case, would I need one of those decoders for each turnout OR does one decoder run more than one turnout? Keeping in mind I want to be able to change the points manually but remotely, if that makes sense.
Oh, no. I might have misunderstood. I thought you were wanting to use DCC. It keeps being mentioned. No just toggle/push buttons will work fine. In my opinion that actually makes it easier. Still multiple ways to do it depending on the exact motor chosen and if you want push buttons or a toggle. With a toggle switch, the control panel LED indication can be put in series with the turnout motor. All self contained right there in the panel with just the two wires going out to the turnout motor.

Help me out with "changing the points manually but remotely"? Stall motor type turnout drives do not allow the points to be moved manually. They have to be moved by changing the motor. That doesn't mean you can't have a control toggle/push button remote and another one right next to the switch.
 
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wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#5
Horseman,

Sorry mate I am confusing things a bit. Yep the layout will be DCC but I thought the turnouts (operating of their own power source) would be DC. Maybe I have everything arse backwards and upside down.

Maybe this will help then ... this is what I was going to buy for the turnout motors X 16:

https://www.dccconcepts.com/product/cobalt-classic-single-pack/

But after what you said I thought this would be what was needed X16:

https://www.dccconcepts.com/product/ad1hp-cobalt-classic-ω/

Maybe I am completely wrong on both counts. Maybe I need a different Point Motor altogether. This is why I stay away from anything more than basic track power and lighting for buildings and street lights :)
 

tootnkumin

Active Member
Staff member
#6
Here's some info from a ebay.uk seller on what that AD1HP does (didn't know what the heck it was)

AD1HP is a Single output high power DCC accessory decoder for Cobalt type motors. It is also a DCC-addressable relay! Why not combine AD1HP with DCD-REX and switch multiple devices with a single digital command? The possibilities are virtually endless!On DC or DCC, AD1HP is easily capable of powering several Cobalt Classic… and also works well with “other brand” higher current devices. (Interfaced properly, it even makes Lemaco and Fulgurex point motors a little less angry sounding).The AD1HP has zero current draw when not changing so many of them can connect straight to track power and not load the bus. The ability to change several points at once and also operate with DCC or push-button switches as required keeps wiring really simple for complex crossovers and large fiddle yards too.Really simple set up and addressing.Designed to fit neatly into the side of Cobalt Omega or iP Analog and give you the option of digital or push-button control.

AD1HP also works really well on DC power to make DC control and wiring the simplest it has ever been.
Here's what the DCD-REX is

https://www.dccconcepts.com/product/cobalt-relay-extension-board/
 

wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#9
It's hard to explain (clearly without confusion) something when you don't really know what it is that you want or need. Therefore, I am hoping a picture is worth a thousand words so my words don't cause confusion.

This image depicts what I would like to do/have:



So, can this be done when the layout (track) is DCC? In other words, can the turnout motors, AD1HP, toggle switch and panel be powered by the MRC DC Controller like for structure and street lighting independent of the Track Power (DCC)?

If so, can I use these DCC Concepts Basic Turnout Motors OR do I need the DCC Concepts Cobalt IP Analogue or Digital motors? NB: I want to be able to change the direction of the points using the Toggle Switch, completely manual, no JMRI or Automation or any other hi tech methods using a cell phone etc.

What sort of Toggle Switch do I need, SPST, SPDT, DPDT, On/Off, On/Off/On or some other?

Lastly, how on earth do you connect those components (MRC, Motor, AD1HP thing, Toggle Switch and Panel with LED's for point direction) to each other?

In so far as the Control Panel LED's are concerned ...

how do you wire them so ONLY the "Active Track" (the track the train will run on) LED is lit?



Hope this makes what I am after clearer.
 
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#10
I use DCC, and I don't control my switches (tortoises) via DCC, but rather DC and DPDT (double-pull/double-throw) switches and LEDs. Here's an example of a control panel I built out of plexiglass: http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/...ur-Photographs&p=455014&highlight=#post455014

Things needed for this type of control panel:
  • Panel material (plexiglass is pretty useful)
  • Pinstripe Tape (local autoparts store)
  • DPDT switches
  • Green LEDs (I can dig up the exact specs)
  • Tools
  • Wiring

I have a basic wiring diagram for this set up. If I find it I'll post it, otherwise it'll take me just a couple to recreate.
 
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wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#11
Ian,

Thanks for the link mate but think I have had second thoughts about a panel at this point. Seems to be a little too much wiring and other stuff that is needed just to watch lights come on and off on a panel for my level of expertise. Think I am just going to stick with the Points Motors and Toggle Switches to change them for now.

I'll keep looking and reading though as one day I "might" attempt to add lights to a turnout and see what happens.
 
#12
Tony,

Please reconsider again - you will need "somewhere" to mount the toggle switches and will require the wiring of the switches anyway - it really, truly, isn't that much more difficult to add a panel to hold the switches. I KNOW that those here will be happy to help every step of the way.
 

wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#14
Kevin and Alex,

Thanks guys and it isn't the wiring of the Cobalt's to the Toggle Switches that bothers me - it's the other part concerning the panel. But Kevin your right, I need some where to mount the Toggle Switches so a Panel of some kind will be needed in the same way I use a "panel" to mount my structure lighting toggle switches in.

I think the main hesitation is with the wiring of the LED's into the Panel. If it weren't for that I would be more than happy (even capable) of doing the rest - I think.

Alex, your also right about there being lots of places to see video's and read paraphernalia concerning the construction of a control panel. All of that is great, IF you understand what's being said or written. Forums are the best place to go for the help I am needing, or believe I am needing. Some where that I can ask questions and get clear to the point answers that I can understand and/or interpret.
 
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wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#16
Ian,

Thanks mate, appreciate your time and effort. I really want this layout to be done properly and to look as though it was done by some one who knew what they were doing rather than a bunch of track on a board with some scenery. I pretty much want to up the quality of the layout and be able to include those things that I wanted for my HO layout but was too afraid to try, like the panel idea.

I'm not into automation or computer generated stuff for control and/or automation - even though it may be the current day fad BUT, things like signals, working crossings etc are something I also want to include on this layout, at some point. Anyway, I'm just rambling and have no idea why I said that stuff. Maybe it was to let you know that I am serious about getting this right so you know your not wasting your time on a whim. And, I just don't want to blow anything up in the process :)
 
#18
I'll jump in here -

First, the Cobalt's are "stall motor" turnout machines, so those switches will absolutely work, BUT, they are On - Off - On switches. The center off is not necessary. This would be a better choice: https://www.allelectronics.com/item/mts-20/dpdt-on-on-mini-toggle-switch/1.html

Next, the 20 ga wire you have is plenty sufficient for running switch motors. Absolutely no need to go to 18 gauge.

Now a question. Why the Cobalt machines if you are planning on running them DC only? The Cobalt machines INCLUDE a DCC stationary controller. If your not planning on implementing the DCC function, then why not use Tortoise machines? They function the same at $8 to $10 less per machine.
 

wombat457

Active Member
Staff member
#19
Thanks Kevin,

I figured the 20 gauge would be good enough and I have plenty of that. Thanks for the Toggle Switch Link as well, I'll go with them instead based on your advice. Whoops, just looked at your link and they are the Switches I was going to buy. Thanks for the confirmation that they'd work.

Okay, now the "I'm going "P" a few people off with my answer to your question .......

Now a question. Why the Cobalt machines if you are planning on running them DC only? The Cobalt machines INCLUDE a DCC stationary controller. If your not planning on implementing the DCC function, then why not use Tortoise machines? They function the same at $8 to $10 less per machine.
Simple, last time I bought 5 tortoise machines and 4 of them failed within the first week of them being installed. Circutron customer service blamed everything and anything but the machine and when I asked why the cheap plastic cogs were free floating they refused to answer me telling me I shouldn't have opened the thing. Thirdly, I opened one of them up (after they failed) and they are cheaply made with the plastic cogs free floating with nothing but another free floating plastic cog to hold them in position. Lastly, the DCC Concept motors are all pre set from the factory so no messing around with figuring out tensions. As for the price, the DCC Concept machines maybe a bit more expensive BUT they work and well worth the extra few dollars compared to probably having to replace faulty tortoise machines.

Now, before the Tortoise Fanboys jump on the band wagon, save your breathes - personal experience is far more relevant to me than a history lesson telling me how long they have been around etc etc etc. I'll never buy another tortoise machine as long as I am in the hobby and I'll never recommend them either.
 



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