Overly complicated layout controls are not my thing – I am more interested in train operation than trying to duplicate a signal box interior. The minimalist approach does not detract from the train driving experience, particularly on my large N scale Montana Rail Link layout where the use of wireless throttles allows engineers to follow their trains around the layout – hence the need for local panels.
With completion of track laying at Paradise East (Paradise MT) together with a running circuit on this second level of the bi-level layout, the time to consider control panels to operate the main line turnouts arose (the yard turnouts are manual). Even with my minimalist approach to layout design and construction, I was surprised how little work was needed to put in two local panels fed by a master control panel for this level of the layout.
Simplicity is very much thanks to DCC where there is no need for any section switches to separate locomotives from each other. All there is on each control panel is a Double-Pole, Double-Throw (DPDT) switch for each turnout motor and indicator LEDs (green for normal position and red for thrown). Using duplicate controls at the master panel means that indicator LEDs are a must as the switch position is no indication of the set of the turnouts.
Simple wiring too! This is the local panel fed from the master panel. A simple wooden frame, 80 thou styrene card top and some securing screws is all that is necessary to get this element of the layout working. The corners, edges etc. are smoothed down and rounded off to avoid snagging clothes or skin!
The local Paradise East panel in operation except for the switch on the left which remains to be wired up with the powered main line turnout at the west end of Paradise Yard. Some aircraft lining tape will be applied to show the track layout. Eventually, the styrene tops will be replaced with something more graphic. But in the mean time, to get an area of layout operations quickly for fine-tuning, de-snagging and adjustment, simple controls are all that is needed!