Control Panel Progress (TCO!)

 A quick post to put some closure on a huge project that has taken up most of my modeling time in the past 6 weeks (and given the extra time during the holidays and winter season, that is a LOT of modeling time!) and that is the near completion of my "TCO" / Control Panel!

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!
Once I finally figured out the final track plan for "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!
Here's a little bit of a closeup shot of the main panel.   The lines are color coded to their respective 'blocks' (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!
And here are some earlier shots of the progress....I started off thinking I might use the European style terminal strips for connecting my toggles at the control panel to the lines that run out to the turnouts, but I found this to be less than reliable so i ultimately abandoned using these strip terminals and soldered all the connections.  A much better solution!

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!
There's still six more toggles that needed to be added, and I need to add three more isolated track sections (two for the engine shed, and one for the main line siding). 

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!


  1. Hello jerry ,
    just one word :Fantastic !!!

    you did an amazing work during all these weeks...

    My tco is very hugly when i take alook at your :_)))


  2. Wow that's very impressive. I believe I'm a little jealous ;)

  3. LOL...thanks for all the kind words! I really appreciate your compliments...I think I am so sick of looking at this thing that I'm just glad its finally done! :-)

  4. Wowza ... now I want to add more switches just so I can justify something even close to this.

  5. Crazy!!! Awesome Work...this stuff scares the Shyzits out of me! What am I going to do when I'm about to start my layout??? Grrrrr.

    Amazed as always Jerry!!!


  6. Really nice work!

    How about some pictures of the new part of your layout??

    Keep it up!

  7. Geez...you guys are too kind! Thanks! Like I was saying before, I spent so much time on this, I'm just glad to be DONE!!! I really appreciate all the comments given all the great work each of you do. That means a lot! Thank you!

    (New layout photos are coming!!! :-) )

  8. Hi Jerry.
    I really like the panel and the one on the wall gives a very professional.
    Another thing that caught my attention and I really like, the gray clouds painted on the wall. They are fantastic.
    Jerry, a very good job.

    José Manuel

  9. Jerry, this really is an impressive bit of work! This would have taken me months, I think. That really is quite a complex panel you've got (as if you need to hear that from me), and you should absolutely be proud!

    Now, of course, it means that what had been to this point a pretty fluid track plan is now and forever fixed :D

  10. Don, you are right...this does sort of cement the track plan in place....Yikes! Actually one of the reasons that its taken me so long just to get to this point was that I've been doing a lot of different configurations on my 'switch ladders' to ensure they work, etc.... so I don't create a panel that is quickly obsolete!

    Jose - ahhh...you noticed my clouds! Yes, that has been one of my projects of distraction when I don't want to do wiring! Its not quite done yet but its looking close to what I want! Thank you for mentioning it!

  11. Jerry: You wrote: "then gave the file to a local printer who was able to provide me with a 'professional' looking control panel."

    What file format did you give the local printer?

    What material did the printer use to create the panel? Did the printer print the panel or laser etch something?

    More detail! Please!

  12. I just figured the clouds were actually smoke emanating from the new control panel… :)

    Seriously, how did I not notice them before? Looking good. A rainy day in Quinntopia?

  13. Blue Skies are not very prototypical around here! :-)

  14. Hey,
    In dutch the word "sporen" or spoort refers to the standard translation of track(s), but here it is meant in a proverb sentence is which refers to the meaning of 'making good progress,' or 'doing the right things.'

    So, if i am to translate it to english in the way acts means it on their locomotives, it says: "Transportation that works"


    btw.. u'r blogs are really interesting to read ;)

  15. @ Laurens! Thanks for the translation, I knew that the Google Translate version was not correct! Our new robot overlords still have a lot of work to do before they can replace people!

    Thanks for your kind comments on my blog! I have a lot of fun sharing my progress and meeting people!