Wiring a Control Panel

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by mdrzycimski, May 10, 2000.

  1. mdrzycimski

    mdrzycimski TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I have a few questions about wiring a control panel for block control. Does anybody have any hints/tips about wiring between the toggle switches when doing the cab wiring? Do you use solid or stranded wire? Do you use one continuous piece of wire to connect all the toggles and strip the insulation at each spot? Or, do you use uninsulated wire and slip on a piece of heat-shrink tubing between each toggle to insulate? Or, do you use individual wires to connect from toggle to toggle? FYI...My toggles (DPDT) have screw connectors instead of soldering lugs. Can anyone offer any advice?

    Mike Drzycimski
    Arlington, TX
    The Southview Lines
  2. Alan

    Alan Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Mike, I always use insulated stranded wire, single core wires are too prone to breakage. If it is possible, I strip the insulation on the wire to connect up several switches without cutting the wire.

    All my toggles, and the rotary switches for cab control have solder contacts, and if there is any possibility of shorts, i slip heat-shrink tubing over the contacts.


    The perfect combination - BNSF and N Scale!

  3. Chris McDaniel

    Chris McDaniel TrainBoard Member

    When I had a layout several years ago I did one thing that made things a bit easier for me. I ran all of my block wires, etc. to terminal strips (I believe that's what they are called). Then I ran wires from the strips to my control panel toggles. That way if I ever added to or otherwise modified my control pannel I just unscrewed the wires to the terminal strip and pulled the panel off.

    I had extra posts available on my terminal strips so that I could add extra blocks or switches later. Unfortunately, I had to move and the entire layout had to be abandoned.

    This approach just seemed to make things easier for me, but it was an extra step.

    Look Ahead, Look South
  4. Colonel

    Colonel Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I used stranded speaker wire to wire my toggles switches then I wired from the switches to terminal strips. One thing that is very important is too document all your wiring for future reference. If you go to my site if have pictures of my control panel under my control page on my website.

  5. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

    Use stranded insulated wire. Don't use bare wire, don't use solid wire. Most telephone cable will not work because it is solid and a very light size(gauge). It cannot take the amps we use and it will burn out on you. Soder everything and use heat shrink tubing(best) or black elecrical tape on your joints. Label and record what each wire does and where it goes to. There is nothing as much fun as having to tear out a good working control panel because you cannot find where a short in your wiring is. Take my word on this!

  6. Alan

    Alan Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

  7. BC Rail King

    BC Rail King E-Mail Bounces

    I have used control panels, and seen people do the wiring. DCC is worth the extra investment!

    Happy Railroading!

    Dane N.

    TAMR2860-AKA BC Rail King
  8. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I just set up my Digitrax Radio Chief on the test layout today. All I can saw is WOW!!! [​IMG] The ease of use, the awesome throttle, and best of all NO BLOCK WIRING. Of course with my small test layout (two small and nasty loops Connected to each other), there is only one feeder. On the real layout to be built between now and 2060 [​IMG] I will use multiple feeders. I have thought about setting up a small control panel to control power to a small staging yard for non DCC locos. I first need to determine if this will even be worth the trouble. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to start a layout today using block control instead of DCC. Digitrax has some pretty cost effective packages (around $200.00). This does not include the cost of decoders, but still seems like a great deal as opposed to the control panel nightmare.

    My two cents worth. As always, the best choice is what makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.....or happy. [​IMG] I understand the wiring process (form my days as a Digital Tech) but wiring up a whole layout for block control and flipping all those switches to run the trains seems like more work than play. One advantage of block control I can see though is the ability to wire dead spots that are controlled by track signals. I have read somewhere about a guy who did this to prevent collisions. Seemed like a neat idea. Of course, I do not have any of the details. I think it was in MR, not sure.

    Have a good one!


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