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August 30, 2009


I have now come lo the point where I must get the layout ‘running’. I try to keep the wiring as simple as possible but still end up with a lot of wires!

There are no sections on the main part of the layout apart from being able to isolate the yard. Isolation is done by switching the points. The layout is fed from the right hand side. I use bus wires to connect up all the feeds to the positive rails and common return. These are also fed to the point motors and the feeds to the point frogs come from there.

Personally I do not like too many soldered joints in my wiring as they can be difficult to chase when solving faults. I use chocblock connections whenever I can.

I have decided to have the control panel as a separate bolt on unit as there really was not enough room to build it into the layout. This will also have the advantage that I can operate the layout from either side if I wish. The disadvantage is that l will need multi-way connectors to get to the layout. I also need connectors between the main and end boards.

I have used D plug and socket connectors varying from 9 to 21 ways. The sockets are made up on a plywood sub-base complete with all the chocblock connectors for connection to the layout. The polystyrene baseboard is routed out with a conventional wood router and the sub-base is then glued in using NoNails. This sticks well as the impermeable top layer of the board has been removed. The wires are telephone cable and come in a multitude of different colour combinations . I have made a chart of all the pin numbers on the connectors, the wire colour and circuit it feeds so tracing of faults in the future will be easier. The picture below shows the main board wiring loom where all the cables from the end boards and control panel are connected. There is also a connection from a separate power pack bringing in two 16v ac. inputs for the points and controller and a 6v dc. auxiliary input if I should need it.

Similar panels are on the end boards . Double ended connection cables have been made up and can be connected either way around between the boards. This means there are no connecting wires to hang down and get damaged when the layout is transported.

The black box contains the circuit board for "The Bouncer’ about which I will write later. You can also see the point motors and again I will describe these on my next page.

The control panel is built as shown below. The point switches are single pole changeover and the switch to control the yard is a double pole, centre off switch. This enables the polarity of the frogs to be switched depending on whether the broad gauge or the narrow gauge siding is being used. It also allows the yard to be isolated. The push button switches will be used for the uncoupling magnets which have not yet been installed.

The PICtroller is a new control panel being developed by Malcolm Smith who designed and installed the electronics on the Vale scene at Pendon Museum. The controller is an update of the old Pentroller originally designed by Stewart Hine. One major feature of this controller is that it initially tests and recognises what sort of motor is in the loco, ie a cored or coreless, and adjusts the electronics accordingly. This controller is under development and will include a hand held unit.

Having wired up all the circuits, plugs and sockets I plugged it all in, put a loco on the track and guess what;  nothing moved!! After checking all the wires I discovered that I had connected one feed from the frog of the point entering the loop to the common return and shorted the whole layout out. It took some time to find but once corrected the loco moved much to my relief. As I would expect, as my track laying is not perfect, there are one or more clearances and joints to be adjusted to get smooth running. As I have said before sticking track and cork to the smooth surface of the polystyrene boards has been a problem and I have found that I need to pin the track to the plywood/softwood sandwich frames at the board joints to keep them level and aligned. Once the track has been fully ballasted etc they will not be seen.


From → Electrics

  1. George permalink

    Hi can you tell me about the PIC troller
    Regards George

    • George
      Thanks for your request.
      The PIC troller is really an update and improvement on the old Pentroller originally introduced by Stuart Hine. The PICtroller as the name suggests is an analogue controller controlled by a programmable chip. Whereas the old pentroller had to be switched manually between cored and coreless motor this one does it automatically. It also seem to give exceedingly good response to locos, especially sticky ones.
      If you want more information have a look at

  2. George permalink

    Hi Nick,
    have spoken to Dave at Pendon.
    My query was what can you do if a Pentroller fails.
    Does anybody know ,its hard for a technician in Australia to look at something and have no data.
    Maybe there will not be any chance of a failure but would not like to throw a Pentroller in the garbage.

    • Hi
      The PICtroller is made and developed by Malcolm Smith who is a electronics wizard and designed and built the control systems for Pendon. I suspect that if a PIC troller fails then returning it to him would be the answer. He can be contacted through his web-site I have had one controller fail but that was because I ‘fried’ it by passing 12vDC through it from the wrong direction!!
      Hope this is helpful

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