Friday, June 24, 2011

The plan for the panel

Panel & layout

Before I start, perhaps I should quickly explain my plan for the panel on Melbridge Parva. If I were a management consultant, you'd have to pay thousands for this bit but since I am a nice person (sometimes) instead, here it is for free.

All of the layouts I've build since I was about 14 have been designed to be operated from the back. The reason is simple - when I exhibit a model railway, the audience is at the front looking at the display and I am at the back, making it all happen. I know there is a fashion at the moment for operating the layout from the front but I don't hold with this for a couple of  reasons:
  • The operator has to sit at the end of the display so he's trying to spot the uncoupling magnets at an oblique angle which is at the very least frustrating and possibly layout smashingly annoying.
  • They can't help but get in the way of the viewers at some point.
  • Since space has to be allowed along the front of the model for operator access, and since I'm a chubby chap, this puts the audience further away from the stuff I've built and makes it harder to see.
  • Occasionally we get people in front of the layout who consider are a stranger to soap and I want to be as far away from them as possible. We don't get extra expenses for olfactory damage !
But the Parva is different. I might want to operate from the back and I might want to sit it on a table and work it from the front. That means the control panel has to be movable. Fortunately a small layout needs a small panel which will fit on to the top of a plastic box from Maplin. The controller can plug in the side of this and all the wires come out in one bundle and attach under the baseboard.

I wouldn't bother with all of this for a larger model, or one intended for use as a "proper" layout rather than an adjunct to a demonstration stand. Then I much prefer to build the unit into the baseboard. It's more reliable and involves less plugs and sockets.

Of course there is still one issue with this plan. Where will I put my mug of tea ?

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