One of the challenges that Stephen Priest has when he builds model railroads is how to make attractive, affordable model railroad control panel design. In this video, Stephen discusses how he designed the control panel on his HO scale Emporia Subdivision of the Santa Fe model railroad with Allen Keller.
Normally the control panel is the interface between the operators and the railroad. In Adobe Illustrator, he designed a graphic work and printed it onto printer’s film which is used to make printing plates. It is a durable material with the emulsion on the back and a heavy sheet of cleanable plastic on the other. It is then laminated onto plexiglass and backlit with a fluorescent fixture. Since the control panels are a graphical interface, they try to provide all the information needed for operations on the panel.
On Stephen’s model railroad control panel design, the town name of Augusta is labeled, the tracks are clearly labeled by hierarchy, as well as depots are for reference and major industries such as the Texaco Refinery. On top is a graphic design that shows the town names east and west of Augusta for a quick reference pf where the car will go.
For many modelers, the railroad is the main focus, and people are secondary. For Stephen, he built the railroad truly to entertain people. He likes to see people solve problems and interact during operations. Allen Keller goes on to ask Stephen about the switch motors on the layout. For more Allen Keller videos, or for ideas on how to design a model railway control panel, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.