I've needed a control panel for some time...you just get to a certain place where the number of turnouts / points is so great that you can no longer use the readily available options from the manufacturers (e.g. Kato's 'big blue switch' etc...).
This is actually my second one...I completed a much smaller version of this for the "Green Line" a while ago. I was able to use that smaller version to improve some of the things that I would need for this considerably larger and more complicated panel!
version 4" of Quinntopia, I created a schematic control panel illustration (using Microsoft Visio, but virtually any drawing program will do) and then gave the file to a local printer who was able to provide me with a 'professional' looking control panel.
Then drill holes and -this is the laborious part-add all the wires!
Above the control panel I also have indications of the power status to each of my four 'blocks' (I decided at this point to set up my layout so that its composed of 5 independent power blocks so that if someday I need to upgrade my DCC power to a 'booster" system it will only mean changing a few screws) which are also each independently routed through "OnGuard! OG-CB" circuit breakers (which now means a 'short' or derailment on one line will only stop power on that line and not all of them, even though I am still using one transformer/one DCC controller for the whole layout).
The "On Guard! OG-CB" circuit breaker boards (photo on right), also have LED output inidicator solder points, so the 'status board' portion of the control panel shows a blue led for power to each of the blocks, or will show a red LED if there's a short somewhere in that block. Really nice to have this set up....with a layout getting as large as this, searching all of the track for some short can be a real pain!
red line, blue line, and gray for the yard block; the LED turnout indiactors for the points will indicated 'green' for the points aligned for straight travel through the points, or red if its diverging. The orange LED's are for the SPST isolated rails in the yard...again, not wanting to consume electricity with a fully lighted passenger train in the terminal, I can now just turn that tack off!
Given the size of this control panel, there were very few options for where to place it. Ultimately, I ended up putting it on the wall. While this wasn't my first choice, it actually turned out to be a great one as the LED indicators are visible from virtually anywhere in my train room (which is in my garage if you didn't know!). You can see it in the back ground below (the door to this walled off section of my garage is just to the right of the control panel).
This shot also gives a pretty good view of the 'Version 4' expansion...and the amount of work left to be done!
For the most part...its done! Its wired, its functional, and I can get on to some of the more fun aspects of the layout!