Control Panel Turnout switches

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Shaummy, Mar 7, 2001.

  1. Shaummy

    Shaummy TrainBoard Member

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for a good source of turnout switches for my control panel. I have twin coil switch machines, so I would need a toggle switch that has momentary on/off/momentary on arrangement. I have the Atlas switch controls, but they look too intrusive on the control panel. I would prefer to have a set of contacts to run panel indicators. I guess that would make them DPDT switches.

    I looked on Grainger's web site, but the switches are mostly for large motor applications.

    Any help?


  2. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member

    Shaummy, I have been using individual momentary push-button contacts on my layout. They are color coded (green & red) and you can get yellow as well. You can find them at Radio Shack. I'm sorry that I do not have a stock number for you.
    Hope this helped.
  3. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I used two switches to control my points. i first used a single pole doyble throw switch to select either normal or reverse then I used a momentary pushbutton to operate the points. If you have a look at my website you can see the control panel
  4. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    Edmond Scientific has all kinds of stuff in their catalog. In the very back pages of Popular Mechanics (I think) there is usually a small add about surplus electronics that lists various switches too.
  5. Lemur

    Lemur TrainBoard Member

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Colonel:
    If you have a look at my website you can see the control panel<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    How long did it take for you to wire that panel any way? May I say it is very impressive! It is an inspiration for those of us who (perhaps foolishly) are not afraid of a ‘little’ wiring. :D
  6. Shaummy

    Shaummy TrainBoard Member

    Thanks guys.

    I was giving this some thought, and instead of momentary switches, I think I'll use on/off/on switches. Let me ask if this will work.

    I have all the commons from the twin coil switch machines run to a terminal strip under the table, then I intend to run a single wire from the control panel to the strip.

    Now, If I connect the remaining two wires on each side of the toggle, position the toggle, then operate a pushbutton between the common, that would activate the machine right?

    Having the left or right lead connected will not destroy the switch machine, since there will be no current flowing until I close that common right?

    the only thing I'll have to be careful of, is returning the switch back to the off position after the operation, so that if I want to operate another machine, these will not get current to them.
    this way I will only have to install 1 pushbutton switch, and toggle's in all the sitch machine positions on my panel.

    I hope this makes some sense.

    Thanks everyone.

  7. Scott

    Scott TrainBoard Member

    I use momentary on, center off togles from Radio Shack. They look great, take up half the space push buttons do and work very well. Squirt some graphite in them to make sure they don't stick.

    I'm not sure what you are getting at concerning he wiring. Connect one side of your power source to all the commons from the machines. The other side of the power source should be connected to the center contact of the toggle switch. The remaining two wires from the machines should be connected to the toggle, one to either side of the toggle. You're done!

    I remember seeing a circuit for an activator that would allow you to use a regular SPDT toggle to control machines. The neat thing about it was that you didn't have to remember to turn the switch off. The circuit sent a pulse to the motor and lit an indicator light at the same time. The toggle postition would also be an indicator. Unfortunately I can't remember where I saw it.
  8. HelgeK

    HelgeK TrainBoard Member

    This discussion is very interesting, so I will try to contribute with
    some words.

    I have earlier added a post to "turnout repowering" at the pit, after I
    read about Robins self made turnout machines - really good ones.

    There seems to be many ways of handle the turnouts. I have used two
    methods. On the first panel (the main) I made in 1988 I used NOT
    momentary 2-pol on-off-on switches. I could use them because I have
    ROCO turnouts with inbuilt coil switch which prohibit coil burnouts.
    I dont know which other makers that have this inbuilt facilities.

    The panel looks like

    You can then see the turnout position by looking on the switch lever as sayay mentioned.

    The wiring is not so good as on Paul´s panel, but it works for me.
    see here

    The second method is using mini push button, two for each turnout,
    mounted on the panel´s track plan.

    The hump yard panel looks like this

    I have partly used a similar method as Paul did for all turnouts to
    the hump yard tracks. A 4-pol, 6-position turn type switch direct
    current to both turnouts and LEDs that indicate which track that
    is open for switching. Only one mini push button is used to
    activate all turnouts for a specific track.

    Well, so far so good. I think all of you have your own ideas.
    I just feel that I have to show how I made it.

    NARA member #5
  9. Clifton

    Clifton TrainBoard Member

    One additional suggestion: since you say you are using twin-coil machines you should use a capacitor discharge circuit to prevent your switch machines from burning out.

    The idea is that when you throw the turnout, this circuit shoots a burst of electricity down the wires to activate the turnout motor, but not enough to burn it out. If you use a push button or a toggle switch and hold it open too long, you can burnout either the switch machine or the switch at the control panel.

    I saw this happen at a model railroad club where I was a member. As was typical of Murphy's law, this little problem didn't manifest itself until just an hour before we had an open house.

    Then one half of one of our tower's went dead.

    BTW, if you need a circuit diagram, I can help. Based on the earlier kindness of strangers on this very discussion list. I have a circuit diagram.

    Good luck.
  10. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The control panel took a little time to wire but it wasn't very difficult. I have to admit being in the electrical field so I am trained in panel wiring.
    One word of advice like others have suggested is to use a capacitor discharge unit this gives the point motor a high current for a short amount of time. Another hint is to use rather thick gauge wire to the motor, because it is high current and any resistance in the wire will increase voltage drop to the motor. The minimum wire I would suggest using is speaker wire, for points more than 12 feet away from the capacitor discharge unit I would recommend using thicker wire, similar to car wire.
  11. Lemur

    Lemur TrainBoard Member

    Would you be able to post a schematic for a capacitor discharge circuit. I understand the logic behind it, however my electronics skills are a bit rusty. :confused: I would rather see what works than to build what I think should work and end up burning out a switch motor. :mad: I am sure there are others out ther who would also like to see it.
  12. Shaummy

    Shaummy TrainBoard Member

    Thanks again.

    This is a very interesting post.

    ---------------------Red -- Toggle--supply
    --------------------Green -- toggle--supply

    the red or green will be connected via the on/off/on switch. I have connected all the black (common) leads to a terminal strip

    I will put a pushbutton switch between the supply, and the terminal switch that will allow me to "activate" any switch machine in whichever direction the toggles go.

    this will also allow me to set a number of toggles, say to get to a certain staging track and set them with 1 push of the button.

    As long as the pushbutton on the common is not pushed, there will be no current running through the coils to burn them out.


  13. mrdtrains

    mrdtrains TrainBoard Member

    Hello Shaummy,

    Have I got the deal for you. I'm just now installing my switch controllers and have discovered just the thing. My layout is 8' x 17' with DCC. I have hand held remotes so that I can walk around. I therefore do not have use for a control panel which keeps you in just one location.

    I use ACME switch controllers that are momentary switches that have a red and green push-button for each switch. These controllers come in configurations ranging from 1 to 8 and 16, and can be panel mounted or flush mounted. I use the flush mount type and mount them on the fascia of my layout. You can then locate the switch controller near where the actual switch is located. I am also doing a little extra by having a bi-color (red/green) LED for each switch so that I can simply look at the led and the color tells me what position the switch is in. The only place I have found to buy these units are from Caboose Hobbies in Denver ( The numbering scheme that the manufacturer uses is as follows: 3xx are flush mount units and 4xx are for panel mount units. So, if you wanted a unit to control 5 switches that are in close proximity of each other, you wound want the 305 (flush mount) or 405 (panel mount).

    If you want further information from the manufacturer, the address is:

    ACME Model Engineering CO.
    654 Bergen Blvd.
    Ridgefield, NJ

    If you are interested in knowing more about how I instlled these units and made use of LED's, contact me at


    These switch controllers won't disappoint you!........
  14. Shaummy

    Shaummy TrainBoard Member


    Well I went the standard route of momentary Mini toggle switches for my control panel. I found them at my local shop and they were affordable. They were mfr'd by MiniTronics I think.

    I will be manning my layout from a central control panel, since I do not have DCC or Walk around throttles, and these switches gave me what I needed. thanks for the heads up on the other products though.


    [ 19 March 2001: Message edited by: Shaummy ]
  15. ChrisDante

    ChrisDante TrainBoard Member

    Shaummy, Look up on the net for a company called Mouser Electronics. Great prices and tons of anything you will need electrically.
    They will fill a small order and you will get thick catalogs forever.
  16. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    W.W.Grainger no longer sells retail over the counter here in Ft.Worth. Only wholesale to companies with a tax number.

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