Sunday, 5 February 2012

Control Panels

Hi all,

Fish River yard is now half completed...By that i mean that the "up" end of the yard is laid to a point adjacent with the platforms....The branch is laid in as well as all mainline connections & bridges are placed & track laid.

All track power droppers & point motors have been fitted & i guess like anyone else in this position, it would be nice to run trains.

I am able to run a short train up & down the branch from the junction, across the Fish River bridge through the incomplete tunnel & into the staging area....but this is beginning to get a bit tedious.

Layout control needs to be decided upon & commenced.

This is where i need to introduce another person to this BLOG....As without his friendship, guidance, input & patience i guess this layout would still be just a dream.

Danny Webb has been instrumental in this project even getting off the ground....

His ability to endure hour long...( and longer ) phone calls while i wax on lyrically about stuff i know little about as he tries to enlighten me is certainly a gift.

I certainly get support from the family....but outside help is critical in this hobby & i can judge my progress & confidence by the amount of ( or lack of ) frustrated insults i get during a call.

 My heartfelt thanks mate...

So it was Danny that i turned to for advice when layout control needed to be decided....

The NCE DCC system will allow me via the point motors & associated point decoders to operate the whole layout from the handpiece & while this would be attractive to many modellers....i would prefer a panel, incorporating pushbuttons for point control & LEDs for route status. 

These panels will also be designed to house a plethora of other bits & pieces as time goes layout power district CBs & status LEDs etc etc

It became fairly obvious because of the layout size thatseveral panels would be required to place them in operationally convenient locations.

With this in mind i set about designing a panel that could be "mass produced"  & be consistent throughout the layout.

I am yet to decide whether the panels will be incorporated in the layout fascia...or angled upwards for viewing & operational thing is for sure & that is they need to be modular so that they can be easily accessed to rectify any gremlins that are sure to creep in.

The first panel will obviously be to control "Fish River" & as the distance between point clusters ( up end & down end ) of the yard....i have decided to utilise 2 panels located adjacent to each cluster.

Therefore there will be a Fish River UP panel & a Fish River DOWN panel.

I spent some of the weekend designing & manufacturing a fascia for the up end of Fish River & have posted some photos.


The panel during the engraving phase....when the track layout & text are finished engraving, the laser will then cut the holes for the switch & LED fitment.
The finished panel on the bench....complete & ready for the next phase....i always put a layer of "application tape" over the material to be engraved.  After all the laser basically "cremates" the desired portion of the engraving plastic revealing the background colour & can leave a residue...which is probably visible around the holes at least.  The residual app tape is then peeled off at the end of the operation & a pristine white surface is left.  

This photo certainly requires explaining....
The engraving material is only 1.5mm thick & fairly flexible...and while i can source thicker material...the extra cost is hardly worth it.
This material is our "stock in trade" i back it up with 3mm clear acrylic that is lasered in the same fashion as the face sheet....but only incorporating the holes & outline.
When these two pieces are laminated they give a fairly rigid panel that is 4.5mm thick & readily accepts the switches & LED bezels.
The Total Panel Size is 230mm high x 600mm wide.... 
 I will post more images etc when the panel is being populated & closer to completion



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