Model Railway Layout With Automated Siding

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About: I am an electronics and model railway hobbyist.

Making model train layouts is a great hobby, automating it will make it a lot better! Let us take a look at some of the advantages of its automation:

  1. Low-cost operation: The whole layout is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller, using an L298N motor driver, their cost is almost nothing as compared to traditional train control throttles and power packs.
  2. Ideal to put up at a display: Since no human interference is required to keep a control on the layout, you can use it at a display where you cannot be always present to control the train and the turnouts.
  3. Great for microcontroller hobbyists: If you are or want to start with Arduino and programming, this is a great project for you to practice your skills.

If you are interested, you can also check the previous version of this project which is even simpler.

So, without further ado, let's get started!

Step 1: Watch My Project Working

Step 2: Get All the Material

To start, make sure you have all of the following:

Step 3: Upload the Program to the Arduino Board

Download the Arduino IDE from here if you don't have it on your computer. Then download and open the given file.

Step 4: Lay the Tracks and Make the Layout

Make an oval loop with a passing siding somewhat as shown above. Make sure the distance between the sensor track and the first turnout the train will cross after crossing the sensor track is greater than the length of the train such that no part of the train is over the sensor track when it crosses the turnout.

Step 5: A Circuit Schematic Is Always Helpful

Click on the image to get a full view. Make sure you go through the full circuit schematic and all of the details before proceeding.

Step 6: Connect the Turnouts to the Output of the L298N Driver Board

Connect the red and the black wires of both the turnouts respectively to each other, resulting in a parallel connection. Then, connect the red wires to the out4 and the black wires to the out3 terminal of the motor driver board.

Step 7: Connect the Power Feeder Track to the Other Output of the L298N Driver Board

Connect the power feeder's white wire to the out1 and the blue wire to the out2 terminal of the motor driver board.

Step 8: Connect the L298N Driver Board to the Power Pins of the Arduino Board

Connect the 12-volt pin to the VIN pin of the Arduino board, the GND pin to the GND pin of the Arduino board, and preferably, the 5-volt pin of the motor driver to the 5-volt pin of the Arduino board.

Step 9: Connect the Sensor to the Arduino Board

Connect the VCC pin of the sensor to the 5-volt pin of the Arduino board, GND pin to GND pin of the Arduino board, and the OUT pin to the A0 pin of the Arduino board.

Step 10: Connect the Input Pins of the Motor Driver to the Arduino Board

Connect the digital pins of the Arduino board to the input pins of the motor driver board as follows:

  • D9 to IN1
  • D10 to IN2
  • D11 to IN3
  • D12 to IN4

Step 11: Place the Train on the Tracks

After checking all of the wiring connections, place the train on the siding.

Step 12: Power Up the Setup

Power up the setup and make sure the turnouts get switched to the siding, if not then just reverse the connections of the turnouts made with the motor driver. Also, make sure the train starts to move to forward direction. Reverse the feeder track's connection with the motor driver if the train moves in the wrong direction.

Step 13: It's DONE!

The project is complete, for now. You can tinker with the Arduino code to change the functionality of the layout, add more sidings, it's all customizable! I would love to know about any modifications you make to this project, let me know in the comments below. All the best!

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    5 Discussions

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    johngioan

    5 days ago

    Great stuff.
    Just what I am looking for my Christmas train layout.
    May I ask you if you could amend the program for two trains to run alternatively in opposite directions ?
    (No way that I can learn to code b4 this Christmas)
    rgds, John

    LOOP.png
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    KushagraK7SKUPERDIY

    Reply 17 days ago

    Thanks for your feedback! It motivates me to keep creating such projects. Stay tuned! More projects coming in the future.