Dale Manquen’s Control Panel

My layout is on the floor of an attic that is only 52” high at the peak. You might call it a “rug rat” layout since I must move around on my hands and knees on the carpet that covers the open areas. (The main access path also has carpet padding.)

For this layout, I needed to make the control panel as small as possible so that I don’t interfere with my view of the layout.  (Actually, I am sitting in the center of the layout to operate the panel, with trains all around me.)  My choice was to build a single panel split into 3 sections – accessories, switches and power blocks.

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Control Pedestal left-to-right

TMCC controller for accessories and switches, accessory manual controls, turnout manual control with indicators, block power controls, TPC

The panel is “old school”, using toggle switches and buttons for activation. I do use bicolor LEDs to indicate the status of the track turnouts/switches. The manual buttons and switches for accessories and switches are paralleled with TMCC controllers that I designed with the help of Jon Zahornacky of ERR. In addition, the most important power blocks can be activated from an ASC.

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I used multipin connectors so that the panel can be removed for modifications.

The panel is flanked on each side by two sets of four circuit breakers. The left breakers protect the four main outputs (A and D) for the two ZW’s. I use the rocker switch style breakers so that the breakers can double as convenient ON/OFF switches. The right breakers (only two are installed) are for my accessory power busses, and for these busses the ON/OFF function is quite useful when making changes.

The device on the left side of the panel is the TMCC controller for my turnouts and accessories. Each layer can control 32 switches or 64 accessories. As shown, there are two tiers for 64 switches, and one tier for 64 accessories.  More tiers can be stacked for up to 128 functions of each type. (Addresses above 99 cannot be accessed from the TMCC or Legacy handheld controller, but the computer can access the full 128 addresses of each type.)

The array for the track switches utilizes flat ribbon wires to help keep things orderly. Each switch also has one bicolor LED, a resistor and two diodes for the status displays. I was fortunate that that I had chosen to use flat ribbon wiring initially because when it was time to tap into all of the switch control leads to add TMCC, I could use IDC taps

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(insulation displacement connectors that clamp onto the flat ribbon wire) to connect to my home-built Massive Switch Controller.

The accessory switches were not wired with flat ribbons, and that required tapping into the accessory circuits at the multipin connectors.

Inside the pedestal I have mounted 1 TPC300, 3 Powermasters, 1 TMCC Bridge, an ASC and my hand-wound toroidal transformer accessory power supply. Needless to say, things are a bit crowded (and a bit messy, I must admit.) I also have provided bypass switches on the TPC and Powermasters so that I can take them out of the circuit for manual operation from the ZW handles.

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