There are three principle human-layout interfaces on a typical model train layout. The first is the interface which controls the operation of the locomotives on the layout. Current technology has this interface typically done via a throttle for a Digital Command Control system. The second interface is that used to uncouple one car from another car or locomotive. Various means are used to to implement this interface. The third interface is the interface that allows the human (operator) to control the direction of the movement of a train. This interface is typically implemented via ‘Control Panels’ located around the layout.
The Susquehanna Valley Line Railroad has ten control panels all of which are located on the fascia of the layout. A typical control panel is the one that controls the turnouts at the Newberry Industrial area and is shown in the photo below:
All the control panels on the SVL, except the one which controls the direction of rotation and speed of the turntable, have both push buttons and LEDs on them.
There is an operator control panel on either side of the neck of the Riverside Yard peninsula. One control panel controls the turnouts for the classification tracks, the reacher track and the turnout on the apron of the car float. In addition, this control panel controls the turnouts for the arrival and departure tracks coming to / from the main line track. The control panel on the opposide side of the neck of the peninsula controls the turnouts for the Front Street Industrial area, and the service track. This contol panel also controls the turnouts for the arrival and departure tracks coming to / from the main line track. The need to control a few turnouts from two different and separated control panels made the use of toggle switches to control the turnouts electrically unfeasible since toggle switches hold the voltage on the turnout controller device. The SVL uses Tortoise ™ devices made by Circuitron to control all the turnouts on the layout.
I chose to install push buttons on all of the control panels and build “Single Input—Alternating Output Circuits” as the interface between each push button and the associated Tortoise ™ device. This circuit is what holds the voltage on the Tortoise™ and can be activated from multiple push buttons. The circuit diagram for this type of Tortoise™ control can be found at: Rob Paisley’s Model Railroad & Misc. Electronics web site.
On Rob‘s web site click on “Switch Machine Controls” under “List of Sections on this page”. On the “Switch Machine Control Circuits” page click on the #2 circuit which will take you to the “556 Timer Stall–Motor Switch Machine Drivers (PCB)” section and then scroll down to either “Basic Switch Machine Driver Circuit” or “Single Input–Alternating Output Circuit” for the details of the circuit diagram.
Each panel is a simple sandwich consisting of a front and back layer of 3/16-inch plexiglass and a sheet of paper containing the track diagram etc. between the pieces of plexiglass. All LED-s and push buttons are mounted on the back layer of plexiglass and pass through the sheet of paper and the front piece of plexiglass. All control panel design and layout work was done with Cadrail™. In order to insure consistency across all ten of the SVL control panels the following graphics and layout standards were developed.
The control panels shall contain only the following items
Note: Each of the above circles must be removed when the panel is constructed to allow the backside mounted LED-s and PB-s to pass through this diagram sheet.
The diagram below is the Cadrail™ design for the Front Street panel which is one of the panels that shares the control of a turnout with another panel, and adhers to the design and layout standards listed above.
The diagram below is the electrical design for the SVL control panel for the Newberry panel which was shown at the top of this page. All design work was done in Cadrail™.