Brand new member

Evening guys, gals, hobbyists...

Recently I have gotten involved with model railroading with my children who all seemed very enthusiastic about the endeavor and shared family time working on the projects.

We have come up with a track plan that we all agree on but now it's my turn to get many answers.

Just a few points...
One train has to stop at the rr station when it arrives (passenger train) and one does not (freight).
There is a crossover.
They also want trackside signals (red & green).
There are no switches anywhere on the layout.
Possible sounds added later.
Building lights and possible motions.
Maybe a trolly line later. (Doubt it but you never know if the wife will say add it.)

I am a brand new modeler and I have no idea where to begin. Some of the track has already been glued down and in a permanent state. So my questions are probably going to sound stupid or newbish.

Do I have to add "blocks" to the layout for this system to work? I am assuming I will have to add something like blocking in the area of the crossover. There will never be more than 2 trains running at once. How do I add trackside signals for visual affects? Can the building lights be programmed as well? Does this require DCC loco's or can DC be used.

If there is info I missed that you need more of please let me know. I can even post pics of the CAD layout if you need them.

Thank you much in advance for helping out the clueless new guy.


Welcome to the forum.
I know we have active modellers here, am sure they will pipe in.

Many use my Mega screwshield with a Mega to have solid IO connections for wiring for lights & stuff, something to keep in mind.

If you don't use DCC the usual way to manage several trains is to divide the track into a number of separate electrical sections. Only one train can operate in any one section. If you imagine that you have two train operators each with his/her own controller then you need a series of switches that can connect any track section to any controller. If you want a train to do a full circuit you wuld connect all the sections for that circuit to controller A and the train would run. You can probably guess that the wiring and switches get complicated fairly quickly when the track layout grows. But it could be kept simple.

If you use DCC each loco has a decoder chip and any loco can run anywhere and you could, for example run one loco up behind another. With DCC you can also have sound effects within the loco - but that can be quite expensive, perhaps as much again as the cost of the loco.

So far, none of what I have described requires the use of an Arduino board.

You can get PC software that can be used to automate a DCC model railway (some versions are free, some are commercial) but any of it probably requires a substantial development and financial commitment.

You can use an Arduino board to control many parts of a railway system - signals, points, starting and stopping. But I think you have to start by deciding what you want to achieve and how much time and money you want to commit.

If you haven't already done so I suggest reading the various model railway magazines and books that are available to get a sense of what options are available and how other people do things.

If you are really adventurous you could skip DCC and go to battery powered radio control - but that may be a step too far at this stage.


Hi there Ed,

Just a few pointers.

  1. It would be helpful to know what gauge you are modelling in, so we can determine any space restrictions.
  2. It would also be helpful to know how easy it is to get to the underside of your layout for wiring etc.
  3. This is a world wide forum so, although your “Evening” greeting is appreciated, it’s nowhere near evening for some of the contributors here. We tend to avoid the time of day where it’s not relevant to the subject.
  4. You’ll have more success getting answers with a more relevant subject line. Yours tells us nothing about what you want.

From your description of the layout, it would appear to be a (folded?) figure of eight. That means you’re running two trains on the same track and one cannot pass the other, although it might appear to do so temporarily. Running more than one train on the same track requires either DCC or splitting the track into sections (blocks) for DC running, as described by Robin 2, above. A simple layout, as I imagine yours to be, would need probably 5 or 7 sections (one just for the crossing and some track either side of it), depending on the length of track and the length of trains you want to run on it. Remember that the crossing, when occupied by one train, cannot allow (both physically and electrically) the other train to use it.

Hi, Ed, and welcome, a suggestion, you can edit the subject of this forum thread.
I suggest you change it from "Brand new member" to
"Brand new member, Arduino and Model Railway"

This will possibly get you more replies.

My father used to have 25ft by 12ft layout, based on GWR, Gods Wonderful Railway. He began it with us kids when he gave up smoking in 1963, it was dismantled in 2005 due to family illness requiring my parents to move.
All Hornby Triang, most scenery scratch built, welcome to a great hobby.

Tom..... :slight_smile: