Allen Keller

Designing a Model Railway Control Panel

Allen Keller
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Duration:   3  mins

The model railway control panel serves a crucial role in the operations of the layout. It is sometimes overlooked in the modeling process and created after the layout is complete. There are numerous types and styles of control panels. A centralized traffic control board (CTC) is one method of communicating with the dispatcher. Unfortunately, incorporating a CTC into your layout can cost you excessive amounts of time and money. If you want to have a dispatching system on your layout, there are other methods that do not require electronics and heavy installation. In this video, Allen Keller demonstrates how to create a dispatcher control panel using a magnetic board and a track plan graphic.

The Model Railway Control Panel

Allen Keller explains the four main components of the dispatcher control panel. First, he illustrates how to create a magnetic board with a track plan graphic. Next, he describes the function of the radio set. Then, he distinguishes a fast clock from a regular clock and determines its purpose in model railroading. Finally, he defines the objective of the Dispatcher Duties checklist.

In Allen’s model railway control panel, the magnetic board with the track plan graphic is manipulated with color coordinated magnets. Each magnet represents a train. The magnets are moved about the board to represent the progression of the trains. With the use of the radio, the operator communicates with the dispatcher to deliver the operating system instructions.

This is an extremely basic model railway control panel, but it still allows your railroad to operate seamlessly. It is an easy and straightforward alternative to using a CTC board. With the help of these tips from Allen Keller, you will be equipped with the knowledge to create your very own model railway control panel.

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3 Responses to “Designing a Model Railway Control Panel”

  1. Charles E Kinzer

    Until very recently, the Navy used what they call a "Ouija Board" for managing aircraft movements on the flight deck. They have a model of the flight deck and physical little airplanes they move around. They had tried higher tech things, but they didn't work. Also, it was believed that in battle the physical approach was survivable from electrical power failures. But in the last few years, they have gone electronic. But a big part of that is not only managing in real time but also experimenting with various scenarios and accurately testing how things might be done months in the future. Of course, there is a lot of software behind that and it also generates reports automatically and such.

  2. vladimir gasparic

    dear sirs, pls help me how to combine control lights with momentary toggle switch. Would like to create control lights to indicate the position of the LGB switch machine. How to make a control light on with the momentary LGB (or any type of switch) to operate a track switch ? RGDS Vladimir

  3. Sanford Moos


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