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Control Freak



blog-0862024001395533069.jpgAs promised , (or is that threatened!), here is an update on the control panel situation. I have been dreading doing this bit of the layout, and quite rightly as it turns out. Electrics and I are not exactly soul mates but I do seem to get there in the end but not without a bit of smoke! As usual I have probably also set my expectations higher than my abilities, anyway.....


As a bit of background, I have decided to build two identical panels, interconnected at each end of the layout so it can be operated either by one person or two, one at each end. As it is quite a long way from one end to the other I need route indication on the panels. Although all the points can be controlled from the DCC handsets I am also adding manual buttons just for a bit of excitement.


I have decided to start at the far end first and get this panel working as it is marginally easier as it can fit on the board next to the fiddle tracks, the other panel will probably have to be removable because of the traverser.


I worked through various options for materials but ended up going of aluminium sheet. After looking at various suppliers on the internet I had the brainwave of looking in the phone book and soon found a local supplier that cut a couple of sheets to size just like that and charged almost no money!blogentry-16008-0-48424000-1395531109_thumb.jpg


Next up was the diagram which turned out to be a far harder part than I had bargained on - it took ages. Eventually I came up with this in PhotoShopblogentry-16008-0-95634000-1395531109_thumb.jpg Actually, I think the final version had about half a dozen changes before it was ready for printing. As it was A3 long I again used a local print shop and got both panels printed on one sheet and then laminated. Came to a bit more than the metal but not ridiculous and a much better option than struggling with an A4 printer at home.


The laminated diagram was then spray mounted onto the metal. I did punch a few hole where I could reach with a hole punch but most were drilled right through. One little trick I am quite proud of for getting an accurate hole with the punch was to take the bottom off, turn it upside down and align my mark through the open bottom.blogentry-16008-0-61223100-1395531110_thumb.jpg


Here we are mid drilling - that took ages as well!blogentry-16008-0-32304500-1395531112_thumb.jpg


With a suitable sized hole cut in the board and some end pieces to angle it up slightly, oh and fitting the LED's and switches, I was ready to wire it up. Originally I was just going to go for one LED to show which way the point was thrown but then decided that a red one way and a green the right way would be a good idea. After much messing around with test leads I had the wiring sorted out and so set about with the soldering iron. I have found that this work is best done in the conservatory where the light is much better but this dies mean I can't do anything on it in the evening hence the slow progress.blogentry-16008-0-80642900-1395531113_thumb.jpgblogentry-16008-0-17175400-1395531115_thumb.jpg


As I am making this up as I go along you might note on the next pic that I have made a power bus for the 12 volt to cut down on the wires and some neat little brackets out of angle aluminium for holding the D connectors. One half is wired up now and am getting a bit quicker now that I am a bit more sure of what I am doing.blogentry-16008-0-05957800-1395531108_thumb.jpg


Am not 100% happy with the D connectors though as fear things are going to get very complicated with having to join both panels together (being twenty odd feet apart!). I have had one idea that might simplify things but am going to keep you in suspense on this one until I am sure it will work.

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