Our switching layout was based on Robert Pethoud’s Fall Creek Branch with a few changes. Track was shifted further to the rear of the layout to allow for an additional line and the runaround section in the center was increased in length to accommodate more cars. The layout has proven to be a popular favorite with kids and adults alike providing an opportunity to run trains and learn basic railroad operating maneuvers.
Our switching layout is comprised of three modules 48″ long by 15″ deep. Individual tracks have uniform 2 1/4” spacing to enable standard track connection points at the end of each module. This will allow us to rearrange existing modules and add new modules in the future to expand the layout. All modules have an Anderson Power Pole connector and 1/4 inch mono phone plug connector on each end providing a separate power bus for each track with a 12 volt daisy-chained accessory bus (for signals and lighting). A future planned upgrade will change the mono plug to stereo to accommodate an additional 5 volt bus for Arduino automations.
The layout can be operated from any one of three different power sources: DC, JMRI or DCC (from a booster connected to the main HO layout’s MRC command station). Input power is selected via a push button control panel using an Arduino Nano to control a bank relays for individual power sources. Lighting is provided by two dimmable LED strips, one for daylight and a red-blue strip for dusk. The Peco #5 electrofrog turnouts are controlled by push-pull knob blue point switch machines which also provide frog power and signal light control.
Last but not least, Neodymium magnets have been placed at strategic locations under marked ties to enable uncoupling and delayed coupling maneuvers for set outs and run arounds. This is where the real fun happens.