How To Make An Inexpensive DIY DC Model Train Power Pack And Speed Controller

If you are looking for an inexpensive transformer or power pack to control your DC analog trains, below are instructions for making either a single or  dual cab train controller.

If you want an easy to make, simple to use power pack that is particularly useful for model train floor operations, this fits the bill.  Being sturdy and lacking complexity it is kids safe and kids easy to use.  That being said, I use the one shown in the image below for walk around operations on my shelf layout. When I am done, I unplug it and put in in a drawer.

The unit at the left shows a power pack that will control two cabs.

It has a switch for forward and reverse operations on each cab.

It is, of course, easy to just make half of this for single cab control. If you make two single cabs you can have two people operating trains on the same layout. That is great for the kids.

I actually have three power packs.  The dual for me and two singles so two people can operate.

 

 

 

Materials Needed To Make A Power Pack

Motor Controller

 

 

 

 

 

2 Female Power Receptacles

 

 

 

 

 

Male power connector

1 Male Power Jack

I show the jack plugged into the female receptacle.

 

 

 

Power Supply – You should use a a fixed voltage power supply that takes  house current and converts it to a fixed DC voltage. This fixed voltage that you need varies from gauge to gauge. G-Scale trains typically run with up to 24 volts, HO-Scale is about 16 volts and N-Scale needs as little as 10 or 12 volts.

You can use anything from a converted computer power supply, a laptop computer supply to a wallwart.  These can supply 3 and more amps, more than enough for a good sized layout.

Wire – Any flexible wire capable of carrying 2 to 3 amps. Current rating depends on the size of your layout and power requirements of your locomotives.

Optional Fuses – For safe operation some sort of fuse or circuit breaker is a must. If you don’t expect too many derailments or short circuits a fuse is an inexpensive option. Fuse holders can be purchased for a few dollars from Amazon, eBay and other sources. Select a fuse that is no larger in amperage than the power you are sending to the track. I like to keep fuse size to the lowest value that I can use with the trains I am running. For example, if you measure your train pulling 1.5 amps select a 2 amp fuse even if your power supply and controller are rated for 10 or more amps. I also like to purchase FAST BLOW fuses as they cut the circuit more rapidly than standard fuses.

If you find that you are replacing fuses all the time you might want to move to a circuit breaker. They do the same job as a fuse but are re settable, usually by pressing a button.

Put the fuses on the output side of the speed controller. That should have them blow quickly should a short circuit occur.

 

This shows the basic parts that you need. A motor controller, reversing switch, speed controller and power connectors.

You can optionally add a fuse on the power to track connection.

You will also need a power supply.  On our shelf layout we use 12 v DC supplied by a 2 amp wallwart.

For floor operations, a wallwart is a convenient choice.

You can get the parts in a time and work saving discounted package at PolandsBest. Click here to check the details.

 

 

This is a bare bones hookup for running a single cab.  We take it a step further and put the parts in a box.

Make one from MDF like we did or use a plastic box of one form or another.

 

 

 

 

This shows you how the controller is wired.

 

 

 

 

 

And this is how I inserted it into a handmade MDF box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video that shows the dual cab power pack in operation.  Video

 

 

 

 

 

Help, Questions, Comments

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Get Materials

Once again, you can get the parts in a time and work saving discounted package at PolandsBest. Click here to check the details.

 

 


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