ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Turnout Indicators for an HO Model Train Layout

Updated on September 9, 2014

Urgent, Turnout Indicator Needed!

My HO scale model railroad layout was starting to shape up but I still had a lot of problems with derailments because I didn't know which state I left the electric turnouts the last time I activated them. The solution, a turnout indicator system which uses lights on the control panel to indicate the status of each turnout. Here is a picture of a typical electric turnout.

Atlas Track on Amazon

Creating a turnout indicator for an atlas turnout

In my case with the Atlas turnout, I needed some sort of latching circuit to remember the state of the turnout as it is not constantly energized; it is only hit with an electric current for a short time in order to change the direction of the track.Through some online searching I found this great web page offering instructions on how to build a turnout indicator system for many different makes/models of turnouts.

Breadboard First!

I always recommend breadboarding a circuit that you never built before first before making a more permanent solution like soldering it to a perf board. A breadboard allows you to temporarily setup a circuit for testing purposes without having to solder all of the components in place. It also allows you to make quick and easy changes to the circuit.

Time to Perfboard!

Once I successfully tested the turnout indicator circuit on the breadboard by connecting it to one of my electric turnouts on my layout it was time to commit it to a perf board. Perf board is basically a predrilled printed circuit board with copper pads on one side which you can solder electronic components to make circuits.Here is a picture of the completed turnout indicator circuit board component side.

Great books on Amazon

This is a great introductory book to the world of electronics. I read it cover to cover when I was just getting started in electronics years ago. It is easy to read and with great pictures!

You will need multiple turnout indicator circuits for a typical HO layout

This perfboard contains seven turnout indicator circuits, one for each turnout in my layout.Here is a picture of the completed turnout indicator circuit board foil side where electronic components are soldered to make the circuits.

Permanently mount turnout indicator board

Now it was time to permanently mount the turnout indicator board onto my control panel. This is the big circuit board in the picture above.

Turnout Indicators on the control panel

Here is a picture of the control panel with the turnout indicator LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). These are the lights that are red and green next to the switches labeled SW1 through SW7. The LED turns green when the turnout is set so that the model train will go straight through the turnout track and red when the model train will get diverted to the branch rails of the turnout track. Please see picture.

Electrical connections for the turnouts

Finally here is a picture of how the turnouts are electrically connected to the control panel. I use terminal blocks to make quick secure connections between the turnout track terminals and the control panel.


So with some basic knowledge of electronics and a little time you to can build a turnout indicator system as described in this Squidoo Lens.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 

      9 years ago from Columbia Mo

      Nice Lens!

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      9 years ago

      Wow what a great job! Great instructions and information. Even with the instructions so clear and precise, I would never take on doing it myself. But you have to understand, I'm not allowed to have scissors either :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)