5. Everything Is Under Control

One thing I had no intention of doing was using an old-fashioned power pack—not when I have an abundant supply of super-cheap, excellent PWM throttles (originally made as LED dimmers but ideal as small motor speed controls). As for the control panel, I'd originally wanted to build it into the layout fascia, but with so many turnouts and uncouplers to operate, that became impractical. Now it will be a separate box with a roughly 8 x 10 inch panel.

The panel will be populated with pushbuttons that were readily available from Radio Shack back in the day, and now sold for pennies apiece from Hong Kong and Chinese suppliers (below). Red and green buttons throw the turnouts, and yellow ones activate uncouplers. The grey circles are on-off switches to kill track power in select areas so multiple locos can be run, albeit one at a time (no A/B cab system), plus one for the lift bridge.

The panel will be connected to the layout via a DB44HD plug and socket set (above), and the panel box will contain the power supply: a bank of AA batteries. This way the layout can be run anywhere, without the need for an AC outlet. While this is a relatively modern arrangement, it was an option in the 60s or 70s, albeit a more expensive one at the time.

By Independence Day of 2019, I had the layout completely wired up to the point of the DB44HD socket (below). The much-less-fun part (the cable) is yet to come. Note the large bus bar: the layout utilizes a common return for everything, including track power, turnouts, uncouplers, and anything else.

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