Sunday, August 16, 2015

Evolution of a control panel layout

Back in February in the post Staging yard control panels I was starting with the control panels for the staging yard.

I had reviewed some of the control panels that I had built in the past for various layouts and decided on using a paper behind acrylic design.  I had a general idea of what I wanted the control panels to do and had built two boxes to hold the control panel and some associated circuitry from scarps of 1/4 inch plywood as shown in this photo.

Since then I have defined more specifically what I want the control panels to do.

  • Select yard ladder turnout alignment at both ends with one switch
  • Select which track is active with the same switch
  • Indicate which track is aligned and active
  • Control the turnout at entry to yard which creates the reverse loop
  • Indicate position of that turnout at entry of yard.
  • Have provision to indicate occupancy on each track
  • Have provision to select some sort of automated mode.

On all of the drawings below the big dots represent toggle switches and the small ones represent small LED's.  In this post I am addressing control for the smaller of the two yards, the WP / UP on the upper level.

This is the most basic idea I had for the layout of the control panel for the WP / UP staging yard on the upper level.  This is very similar to what is shown in the first photo.

One problem I had with this panel layout was how to control and show the position of the first turnout at the entry the yard where the return route branches off.

Using momentary center off ON/OFF/ON type of toggle switches 8 routes could be selected, 4 with the entry turnout aligned and 4 with it closed.

LED's on each staging track indicate alignment of the yard ladder and a pair of LED's for the entry turnout show it's position.  A second set of LED's show occupancy for each staging track.

This final version is a more accurate representation of the actual track plan.  The positions of the toggle switches is offset to make access easier.

A spot for a Manual / Auto switch is added for future automation plans.

Here's the finished control panel for the WP/UP staging yard.  The boxes have been spray painted with Rust-Oleum smoke gray.

I still need to finish the panel for the SP yard and wire both of them into the yard.


  1. The panel looks very neat Brad. Should be easy to follow when operating.