A Railroad with Relevance

Control Panels – Part II

Written By: Alan - Nov• 08•16

Artwork is complete for the upper deck control panels. Here is a map to help orient you to their approximate locations on the layout (panel sizes on map not to scale):


Lapeer (2) and Kitzmiller are shown twice each because there will be two of the same panels in these areas.

Here are the panels in the order you would encounter them on the railroad as you move west to east.

















The artwork bears out it will be practical to order a single size panel face from TAP Plastics. The smaller panels are simply one half a standard panel.

A few notes about the controls:

  • 2 mm blue lines are the main
  • 1.5 mm blue lines are sidings on the main
  • 1.5 mm gray lines are spurs, yard, and industrial
  • Black switches are track alignment (turnouts and roundtable)
  • White switches are animation
  • Yellow switches are grade crossing
  • Green switches are track power
  • Green/red LEDs are turnouts that must be returned to the normal position
  • Green/yellow LEDs are turnouts that may be left in either position
  • Orange Pink LEDs are turntable alignment
  • Red/blue flashing LEDs are friction brake on grades
  • Red flashing LEDs are power district fault (breaker trip)

The grade crossing controls are there to enable/disable the crossing signals. The crossing signals will be automatic but with a push of a yellow button they can be silenced. The friction brake controls will engage/disengage a pop-up brush bristle to hold cars on the grade down into the Potomac River valley. More on both of these subjects later.

Time to order up the raw materials and get busy constructing panels!

PS Sorry Dave, I couldn’t find one uniform location for the titles that worked on every panel and that I liked the look. I did standardize a lot of item positions where possible. At least the vertical offsets all match.



Brittain Yard Service panel with additional track power controls as suggested by Arthur Armani. Thanks Arthur! The additions necessitated boundary of switched track power indications – little white lines.



I set out this evening to determine resistor values that would make each of the different LED colors appear the same brightness. That went easy enough. More on the results when I make a post about the internal PCBs for the panels. The reason for this second update is I noticed there wasn’t a great deal of color contrast between the red LEDs and the orange LEDs. There was a difference of course, but not as great a difference as I would like. Fortunately, I have white, blue, and pink LEDs on hand to pick from. White is the reserved color for animation and although a spinning turntable is animation, I would rather keep the turntable its own unique color. Blue is reserved for mainline even though there is currently no application for mainline LEDs. Yet. That left pink. While labeled as pink the LEDs are more of a light purple color. They look great and are very discernible from the other color LEDs on the panel. I updated the art to reflect this change.



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  1. Arthur Armani says:

    Great panels. I did something similar for our club layout. Really like the artwork. One thing did catch my attention. I would have thought you would have had more green track power switches. Such as on track 4 and 5 of the service panel, all the yard tracks in Brittain Yard, and any staging on that level. It is always great to be able to kill a sound engine that is drawing power or driving you nuts.

  2. alan says:

    I went back and forth on service track 4 and 5 power switches. May yet add them.

    Can you explain further why I would want switches on the classification tracks? Why would a switcher(s) sit there for long periods of time?
    If it helps, the yard office is along spur 4 and the caboose track. From my memory idle switchers hung out on service tracks 1 and 2.

    There is no staging on the upper deck. All staging will be on lower deck.

  3. Rob Clark says:

    As usual Alan – works of art, each and every panel. I have just created a small panel graphic for a 3 lane staging yard I am installing. I was quite proud of it until I saw your efforts ……
    Seriously though – great work.

  4. […] locations so 5-½” it is. This actually occurred some time back. All of the artwork in the previous post is for 5-½” […]

  5. Arthur Armani says:

    Sorry about the delay in responding. From a prototypical point of view you are correct that a switcher would not sit on the classification track for long periods. But I suggested power switches on the classification tracks as a convenience if you ever wanted to kill the power to a locomotive (road or switcher) in the arrival/departure tracks or wanted to put a locomotive on the track with the power removed to avoid shorts and such. It was more of a flexibility idea. With as many power switches that you added to the service area, there may no longer be a need for this flexibility in the yard.

  6. Alan says:

    Thanks for the reply Arthur. I do love added flexibility but for the sake of minimizing control congestion I don’t think I will add switches to the classification tracks. The Service panel got pretty full with the addition. Spur 4 is the logical spot to place a locomotive on the layout – the track is right at the front of the layout, it is near the workbench, and it has short direct access to yard and service area. Without thinking about it I find myself using Spur 4 for that purpose already.

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