Model Scenery Tutorials

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How To Make An Inexpensive DIY DC Model Train Power Pack

A tutorial on making a model train DC power pack.

Make either a single or dual cab controller.

How The Power Pack Works


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






What is made in this tutorial.

two cab DIY model train power pack.The unit at the left is the one that we will make in this tutorial.

It will control two trains -a two cab power pack.

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.




DC Model Train ControllerMotor Controller






Materials Needed To Make A Power Pack


Parts for DC Power Pack

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.



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 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.









Help, Questions, Comments

If you need help making a power pack, have any questions or have comments that would help us make this page better, please contact us here.

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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