DCC Cabinet Article

I was recently fortunate enough to get an article published in the NMRA Journal of Scale Rails, February 2009. A brief summary of that article and pictures are provided here, along with updated information on the installation of additional layout electronics.

Photos are by Paul W. Brown.

Text and photos are copyrighted because of the publication in the Scale Rails publication.


Before the building of my DCC Control cabinet, I just had my DCC components sitting on boxes in my work room.  This is no permanent solution to set up the important DCC electronic gear.

DCC on boxes

I designed a shelf unit that would hold my DCC control unit, it’s power unit, and also the circuit breakers that I had purchased to create additional power districts for my model railroad layout.  The track power bus wires would fasten to some barrier terminal strips and they would then attach to the circuit breakers.  This would provide a solid and stable foundation for the DCC system.

I am fortunate to have several friends who regularly help me with the building of my model railroad layout.  They also helped me in the building of this cabinet.  Its construction is really quite simple and is just a matter of attaching boards with screws.  The cabinet has a ½ inch plywood back.  One by ten inch pine boards were used for the sides and shelves.  Everything is fastened together with ordinary 1 5/8 drywall screws.  I realize that I could have used glue to strengthen this cabinet, but once it is put into place it will likely never be moved.  It will not be carrying lots of weight so that is not a critical factor.  I am convinced that the construction techniques used are more than satisfactory for the purpose of housing the DCC system.

This cabinet fits immediately under the layout benchwork at a place where track buses terminate.  Because I need to have access to the benchwork above, there is no top to the cabinet and because it fits under the benchwork, it is not really noticeable that there is no top.  There is a small hole in the side of the cabinet for the AC Power Cords but this was done after the cabinet was completed and when it was put into place for a trial fit.

DCC Cabinet - Test fit

The cabinet was completed in about two hours with the help of my three friends Paul Brown, Bud Klumpf, and Frank Hughes.  We put it into place and evaluated if it needed some help in leveling due to the irregularity of my basement floor and located the hole in the side of the cabinet for the power cords.

The cabinet was next painted in preparation for the installation of the DCC components.  A semi gloss paint was used to facilitate cleaning of the shelves and to also help resist the start of mold that sometimes occurs in a typical basement.

The electrical components and connectors were installed in an ascending order starting with the NCE Power supply and Power Pro on the shelf and then the EB-3 circuit breakers above the PowerPro and then the EB-3 had leads running to a set of barrier strips that are connected to the power bus.  The space on the back of the cabinet was measured and the components were centered reasonably to fit the space.  After mounting the EB-3 and the barrier strips, I started from the layout and decided to work down to the power components.  Solderless crimp connectors were used to connect the track bus to the barrier strips..

The end result of this project was a neat and organized home for the Power supply and control of my DCC system.  The cabinet has room for future electrical detection components and storage for other modeling supplies.


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