If you are reading this post, you are like me in loving traditional DC Track Power operation, but want the ability to control your trains remotely without having to mortgage your home, or spend time converting all of your locomotives (I have over 30) to DCC or Battery. I have built an inexpensive DC Track Controller that you can build without having an Electronics Degree. All of the parts I used were ordered from Amazon.
Start with ordering an inexpensive Computer Power Supply that is 24 volts and at least 10 amps. They have larger amperage PSU's available if you plan on running multiple trains or motive power consists. Single Motor locomotives like Steam Engines typically draw .5 to 2 amps. Add lights and smoke generators and you could be up to 3 amps per locomotive. Dual motor locomotives like USA Trains and Aristocraft Diesels will require a minimum of 3 to 4 amps per locomotive. At 10 amps I can run two steam locomotives and one USA trains NW2 dual motor with lights and smoke enabled without issue with a 10 amp PSU.
Click here for the PSU I use
Next, you will want to order the wireless Speed Controller. I have tried multiple brands, but found that this one works the best, and has the POTs for starting power or manual operation. It does not come with the 12 volt battery (Model A23) for the remote. You can pick them up at any Battery Supply store. I got mine at Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy. The remote can go as far as 100 feet from the control board. I can even go around the side of my house which is Stucco where I have a siding (rail yard) without issue.
Click here for Speed Controller
If you want manual operation as well, you will have to order a 3 way switch. If the switch is thrown in forward direction or reverse, the wireless receiver will not work. I can give you the wiring diagram if you wish to add a manual switch to your controller.
Last, you will want an enclosure of some kind. You could also mount the equipment to a board. I chose an outdoor enclosure as mine is permanently mounted to the exterior wall of the house. I added a 24 volt fan blowing out to allow cooling of the electronic components while in operation. I also added a 2 way switch rated for 110 volts as a power on/off switch.
Click here for the enclosure I used.
Additional materials needed:
-A power cord that has the ground plug (important if you will leave the equipment outside.)
-Screws to hold the equipment down
-Wire (I used 16 gauge that I stripped from an old orange extension cord.) This is used to wire the jumpers between the power supply and the speed controller. You will also want at least 16 gauge wire going from the speed controller to the track. I use 12 gauge direct burial wire connected to multiple points of my mainline approximately every 10 feet. Track joiners like Split Jaw work very well in preventing conductivity loss.
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I also added a Low Pass Filter to convert from PWM to linear power. This is not required, and most locomotives will run more smooth in slow speeds with PWM. I replaced all my directional lights with LED's, and noticed that the lights that should not be on flicker with PWM power. If you would like a low pass filter added, I ordered the Crest Low Pass Filter. I can send the link if you would like that as well.
Feel free to reply if you are interested in this easy-to-build wireless controller. I will answer any questions you have. I have been running this setup for over a year now without issues, and have only replaced the 12 volt battery in the remote once.