In control I explained how the underside of the layout is wired. Now for the controllers and control panel.
I decided on two controllers. This is perhaps more than necessary for a layout of this size but I wanted two controllers to get optimum control of different loco types. I find that the older locos and some recent ones respond better to PWM feedback controllers. I used the now defunct ECM controllers on earlier layouts many years ago and found them to be highly effective. The modern locos with coreless motors respond badly to PWM controllers and can be damaged by them, as explained here.
The PWM controller is a Gaugemaster Model DF. It includes 2 PWM controllers and importantly 2 transformers (required for common return wiring). It also has a 16v AC output.
My other controller is a Gaugemaster Model W hand held, powered off the AC output from the Model DF.
I also need a control panel to mount the section switches. I decided that this would be the central hub so the Model DF, the Model W and the layout would only be connected to the central hub. This avoids a mesh of wires between different components keeping things tidy. For the hub controller I wanted a simple box with switches, sockets and a track diagram.
Carpentry is not my strongest suit so I looked for a practical solution. I puzzled for some time before remembering a trick we used as radio control boat modellers in the 70s to protect the expensive radio control gear. The components were mounted in Tupperware containers with small holes for control wires. The top could be flipped off easily for access. Although not providing a tight seal due to the holes, this kept splashes off the electrical gear. I did not have the water proof requirement but a readymade plastic box seemed like a good option.
I looked around for a suitable plastic box and found my best option at The Range.
It is a robust black box with a semi transparent lid allowing my printed track plan to show through when mounted on the inside. Power comes in to the box from the Model DF via two phono sockets on the left, one for the controller and one for the 16v AC. The handheld Model W is connected via a 5 pin din socket on the right hand side which provides power out and control back in. Four switches are mounted at the top of the box to control the sections which are colour coded on the diagram. The switches are 3 way, up for one controller, down for the other and centre off. Control to the layout leaves via a 5 pin din socket at the back.
Edited by goldngreen