PENNSYRR.COM by Jerry Britton

Jerry Britton's PRR Middle Division in HO Scale

IMG 2500

When the PRR Middle Division was struck by lightning 20 months ago, I had just completed the wiring of the Lewistown Yard control panels. After replacing the Digitrax infrastructure and the many Berrett Hill Touch Toggles on the branch lines, I could have replaced the yard controls in a timely manner.

In the existing design, Touch Toggles were located on each "point" on the track schematic. A complex route might require the yard drill team to activate several toggles in order to clear their desired route. While all of this was going on, Berrett Hill announced a new Matrix Controller, which would allow pressing one toggle to activate all switches along a route. This seemed like a "no brainer", but the code wasn't yet finalized for the board. After many months, the code was completed and the controllers went into production. Once they became available, the documentation was incomplete. Without documentation, I was hesitant to invest in the controllers due to the yard having complex ladders and routes, rather than simple ladders.

IMG 2501After a few discussions with Kevin from Berrett Hill, I felt comfortable enough to proceed and the first order was submitted in February. Some simple editing of a matrix text file on a removable chip was required, but alas my scenario was indeed complex and it took many weeks to get everything "just right". As of yesterday, it is all working perfectly.

The controls for the yard have been my primary impediment to get to operations. At this point I can exercise movements within the yard. Then I want to run each "job" twice to see how cars are flowing. Then I can schedule a shakedown session!

Above is the panel for the west end of the yard. The toggles connected to the matrix controllers are on the routes themselves and not on the points. Only the selected route will light in green; the rest will be red. Any toggles on the points work independent of the matrix controllers. There are five non-matrixed switches across the top that I am re-wiring, which is why they are not lit.

The east end of the yard (at right) is where most of the classification will occur (due to access from the yard pit). The same holds true here. Of the matrixed switches, only one will be lit for the current route. Here, Classification Track Two is selected

IMG 2502 Looking east down the thorofare route there are four switches that need to be aligned, including the near one. IMG 2503 With the touch of one button, the thorofare route can be selected (though in this case the three shop tracks and the crossover must be aligned separately, if appropriate). IMG 2504 Again looking east down the thorofare route, all four switches have been properly aligned, including the near one.