One of the principal offerings of DCC by Design is customezed JMRI control panels using JMRI PanelPro.

We do not sell software, rather we configure the JMRI PanelPro for your layout. These panels can be used to implement automated signals, computer-based dispatching, turnout and route control, or other automation. 


We recommend the Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI) suite, which includes Panel Pro. JMRI is a free open-source program developed a group of very computer savvy model railroaders. We like JMRI because of its tremendous flexibility and price. Of course the flexibility of JMRI also means that there are many settings and options that need to be configured and that is where our service adds value.

What are my options?

while the sky is the limit as far as ways to configure the panel, typically panel designs fall into one of these four categories.

Basic Panel

This is our Basic Panel as it is the simiplest to operate and the most inexpensive to construct. It is a full featured panel capable of providing:

  • Turnout Control
  • Turnout Feedback
  • Block Occupancy

The layout is shown in linearized format & indicates turnout names or numbers. Beneath the track diagram are the plates & switches to control the turnouts. Clicking anywhere on the plate will change the turnout direction. Occupancy is shown by lamps which are yellow to indicate occupancy. 

Signal control based on occupancy can be added easily; however, dispatcher controlled signals make it visually complex. The Proto US&S panel is suggested when dispatcher controlled signals are desired. 

The graphics for the panel, lights & plates are provided as part of the JMRI installation. The track plan and code are developed specifically for your layout. This is considered a low price option.


Modern Style Panel

The modern panel approach is similar to the Norfolk Southern panel featured on the Trains video "Railroads & Coal" which was filmed around 2000. 

This panel provides:

  • Turnout Control
  • Turnout Feedback
  • Block Occupancy
  • Signal Control

This panel illuminates the selected route in bright blue. Turnouts are controlled by clicking on the turnout to change the route. Occupied blocks are shown in yellow. No signals are shown on the panel; however, they are set on the layout based on the occupied block and selected route. Dispatcher controlled signals are typically not provided, but can be done. 

All graphics and code for this panel is custom made from components developed on previously panels. Since there is some reuse, this panel is considered a medium priced option. 


Proto US&S Panel

This picture show a computer based Union Switch and Signal style CTC machine that we built in JMRI. While similar in look to the Basic Panel, the Proto US&S operates very differently. The key difference is that this panel features a fully functional code button. When the switches on the panel are changed for turnouts and signals, nothing happens until the code button is pressed. Then the commands are sent to the DCC system and the lights update as the commands are implemented. This feature makes the panel better suited to more experienced dispatchers. 

The graphics for the panel, lights & plates are provided as part of the JMRI installation. The track plan and code are developed specifically for your layout. The code feature of this panel makes it a medium priced option.  

Uss panel

Layout Style Panel

In this style, rather than build a traditional Dispatcher schematic view, such as the US&S Example, we provided a Layout View which generally replicates the track arrangement of the actual layout.

This panel provides:

  • Turnout Control
  • Turnout Feedback
  • Block Occupancy
  • Signal Indication

This graphic provides turnout control in a layout view. All turnout use green to show their normal (or closed) direction. When switched to the reversed (or thrown) direction, the turnout color changes to red. Block occupancy can be shown in yellow or another color. 

A second example show a slightly different variation on the same theme. This is for the same layout, so the track arrangement is the same. The route is not show, but the occupancy is shown in red. Turnout control is also provided and shown. In this example the signals are provided so that the dispatcher can verify the routing.

Layout Style JMRI Panel by DCC by Design

This graphic provides turnout control in a simplified layout view. All turnout use green to show their normal (or closed) direction. When switched to the reversed (or thrown) direction, the turnout color changes to red.

JMRI Configuration

Our basic dispatching package includes:

  • Selecting or creating the look and feel of the interface
  • Developing any graphics needed
  • Programming turnout control
  • Automatically setting the "default" route at Panel Pro Start
  • CD-ROM with original copy of files & JMRI version

Optional features are:

  • Programming Route control,
  • Programming staging automation
  • Programming signal logic
  • Lighting control
  • Museum Style Automation.

Additionally we can provide:

  • DCC to computer interface for your DCC system
  • Full turn-key systems that include computer, interface and configured software

One of our unique offerings is the design of DCC systems to support Surroundtraxx. Surroundtraxx by Soundtraxx is an innovative solution for locomotive sound in N and Z scale where it is difficult to fit the decoders onboard the locomotives or tenders. Installation of Surroundtraxx requires Digitrax Transponding. 

This is where DCC by Design can help. We have developed wiring plans to support Surroundtraxx for several layouts from straight forward multi track loops to complex mountainous scenery and sound interaction layouts like the double sided Clinchfield layout by Model Railroader.

Below is a video from one of our client's layout. We did the DCC system design including the implementation of the Surroundtraxx (which can be heard). Here is the link:


Have a interest in adding Surroundtraxx to your layout, just drop us a note and we can discuss your goals.

Local controls panels are just as important with DCC as they were before. Sure, one can use their throttle, but that is a cumbersome, multi-step process. All to frequently the train has derailed before you get through the steps to throw the turnout via a throttle.

At DCC by Design, we offer layout control panel design and construction.These panels can be either local control panels to suppliment computer based dispatching, or they can be the primary control method for your turnouts. Other options include displaying block occupancy information.

Our panels are designed to provide turnout control and provide block occupancy, if desired.


DSC 1763 (Large)

This panel provides turnout control linear view. Either Toggle or push button switches can be used to control turnout direction. All turnouts have two LEDs, which change color depending on the turnout setting. Green is use to shown the turnout direction. Red is used for the opposing direction.

Our control panels are:
  • - Tailored to your layout
  • - Designed for multiple (local) or single (layout) operating positions
  • - Made from two color engraved plastic, or full color printed aluminum
  • - Equipped with switches for turnout control via toggle or push buttons
  • - Provided with bi-color LEDs, generally two per turnout
  • - Delivered fully assembled, partially assembled or as a kit

McCarthy4 (Large)

This graphic is for a single (layout) operating position. All track and block occupancy is shown on this single panel.

Have a interest in other automation, just This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can discuss your idea.

Additional Examples

Full Layout Control Panel

Aluminium Local Control Panel

At DCC by Design our mission is to provide you with a modular DCC system design tailored to your objectives and skill level configured to grow with you as your experience level increases.

We offer a variety of design services to help for new and existing layouts. We can design systems for any kind of DCC system. Our most popular services are:

  • Track power with occupancy detection
  • Turnout control
  • Digitrax Transponding, such as for Surroundtraxx
  • Signaling system
  • Local turnout control panels

Other design services that we can provide are:

  • Computer based dispatching and control panels (JMRI Services)
  • DCC wiring diagrams
  • Staging routing control (including control of Ro-Ro Elevators)
  • Layout lighting control
  • Scene lighting control
  • Layout sound control

Have a question or interest in our Design Services, drop us a note and we can discuss your layout and your needs.

Today we posted information about our Surroundtraxx Integration Services. An offshoot of our Design Services, we have provided several clients with the necessary wiring plans to install and...
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