Model railroad power supply

“Hi Al,

I love your site and I can’t wait to read the latest installment each morning.

I have learned a lot from your blog so I thought that I would contribute a little with this power supply and hookup units “manifolds” as I like to call them , that I made.

Under my layout are 8 of these “manifolds” shown in the first picture.

They are daisy chained together to form an expanded hook up for my lighting.

They are hooked up to a computer power supply that I converted to light my layout.

The supply has 12volt,5volt and 3.3volt supplies perfect for supplying whatever voltage is needed to light the entire layout!

All of my lighting is Led from the buildings to the street lights and the vehicle lights.

Hope you enjoy these pictures and hints ,maybe some of your readers will learn something as I have done from this site!!

Thank you for all of your hard work to keep this site going strong!!

Bob ( From Pennsylvania)”

power supply model railroad

power supply model rairoad

“Hi Alistair, just a short update on the problem with those Auto Signals, not got it right yet, but think I have the solution to the problem as I have shown in this video.

Then of course I have to run a few trains to show still here…



A big thanks to Bob and Dave.

I do like hearing when the site has helped you with your layouts, it really does make it all worthwhile.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And please don’t forget the The Beginner’s Guide if you are tired of dreaming and want to start doing.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

13 Responses to Model railroad power supply

  1. Hemi says:

    GREAT work using an old Computer power supply! Because I run Analog on my layout EVEN my speed controls are going to be powered by old computer power supplies that I’ve saved up over the years, and the nice part? they come with their own built in cooling fan too!

    That said, most power supplies from computers whether a desktop or a laptop, have 12 VDC, as well as 4.5 VDC! AND if you want more voltage, you can “inline” wire the 4.5 VDC (MIGHT b 5 VDC now that I think about it) but, you can gain by wiring them multi low voltage connections in parallel to gain voltage for a “block” or a “manifold” to power more lights (LED’s) OR run a small unit to the # of LEDS to the 4.5 VDC or 5 VDC!

    I forget what the AMP rating is behind the 12 VDC however, I have it written down on a couple of the power supplies I got! But its a GREAT “upcycle” to not throw out something we as model railroaders can use…… EVEN the guys with DCC can do this. to power lights, accessories etc. without disturbing the DCC power system to the trains themself!

    I EVEN save old radio’s, record players, you name, and remove diodes, and resistors for lighting and effects used within the trains and buildings, diodes in my Analog engines, to control directional lights, and if you use the diodes right, you can even get “constant” lighting as well….. I even keep the LEDs from these electronic things for uses around the layout as well. So, needless to say, I got an assortment of items for when I get that far on my own layout, right now, I’m building a Christmas Tree display thats a layout that folds, and sits on the floor with HO Scale on it, and whimsical Christmas Houses, thats going to have a circle of track a single signal, and a point to point track on a slightly higher elevation, to have a trolley go back and forth when its all “on”… This little display has its own 110 electric system built right into it! as well as multiple low voltage systems separate from each other and each system has its own type of electrical box, mounted to the actual framework!

  2. Robert Brady says:

    All those lights to see and no video in the night to see them . Bummer!
    The Critic

  3. Pete says:

    For Dave –
    I am using IR sensors to detect a train. I found the sensors did not work too well reflecting from the back underside. So I painted a white patch under each engine. Now they all work.
    Best of luck.

  4. Bernie Glynn says:

    Great idea! I’m assuming the resistors for each LED are attached to the LEDS?

  5. Bob Richards says:

    Your layout is great as well as your lighting.

  6. Terry Miller says:

    Bob’s article may solve some of my problems. I have a couple of old computers laying around. I’d like to see a further story from Bob on how he converted his computer power supply to handle the various power loads. I currently have individual wall plug in transformers for the various voltage loads for lights and accessories. If I could do it all with just one main power supply it would clean up some of the mess under the tables.
    Terry/Idaho USA

  7. Charlie/New Jersey USA says:

    Al, thanks for all you do for us with you blog. I look forward every day to see what you have sent, and have gotten some great ideas for my own layout which is still in the planning stage.
    Bob’s idea of using the power unit from an old computer is genius. Do you think he can do an instructional piece on how he built his manifold units? This would be great for those of us who are not so electrically inclined.

    Keep up the good work, and everyone please stay safe.

  8. Like many others, I would be interested in how Bob gets the various voltages from a single power supply. I guess he does not have to worry about resistors?

  9. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Dave as usual your setup, layout and trains running videos are a pleasure to watch. The last set of layout changes you made have enhanced your layout no end. The one thing I have to comment on is the actual engine sound generators. Some sound very realistic and others not so. I appreciate you are an experienced hand and would not be satisfied if the generators were unrealistic..I assume that it must be the recording rather than the locos. Can you confirm either way please. thanks

  10. Bernie still plays says:

    Love the people,makes a layout real.

  11. Bob Baselice says:

    Thank You for all of your kind responses even the CRITIC!

    I will in the, near future, put together something showing the conversion of a computer supply.
    Simple job. Computer power supplies have 3 voltages. .3v ,5v and 12v
    Also I’ll put together something showing the assembly of the “manifolds”

    Right now I have to get my house in shape for my daughter’s wedding next weekend.( 25 people max as per our Governor )
    Lots to do!
    Happy Railroading!!

  12. Alabama Mike says:

    Hey Bob, great idea about the computer power supply. I did not know that different connections had different voltage output. I may have to try your idea myself.

  13. RalphBerry says:

    Bobs Idea is really handy. If you connect each manifold through a fuse you will find it really easy to track down those overloaded circuits that sneak in to every project.

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