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Getting Electronic Parts

There are several suppliers of electronic parts that advertise in Model Railroader and other model train magazines.  Circuitron has a good selection of parts applicable to the model railroader.  Check out your local train store.

Also, several of the DCC manufacturers, like NCE and Soundtraxx, offer parts and wiring. Check their websites. Many of the parts they sell are useable with any DCC system. So it is worth your while to see what each has to offer.

This section is intended to introduce you to suppliers of electronic parts that do not advertise in model train hobby magazines.  These are companies that I've had good experiences with that you may want to try.  They don't bite and may offer lower prices.  Their main business is electronic parts.  Virtually all take charge cards.  Some have a minimum; usually about $25.

Most have quite substantial catalogs with more choices than you may have ever seen before.  Call and get a catalog before you need something.  Then use my suggestions below to zero in on exactly what you want.

You can ask questions about the product.  The people who you place your order with will not usually be able to answer them.  Tell them you need to ask someone a technical question about a part you want to buy.  They may ask if you want to talk to an applications technician or engineer.  Say yes.  When you are connected with that person, ask away!

Jameco 1-800-831-4242

If you find the Digikey and Mouser website intimidating with their huge selection, check out Jameco. They have been catering to hobbyists since at least the 70's (I know, I'm showing my age.) when I was first introduced to them. They have a little bit of everything, but not so many choices that you are overwhelmed. You will find parts, tools, hobbyist kits, and test equipment. Their prices are good, too.

SUGGESTION #7-2: Digikey

1-800-DIGI-KEY  (344-4539)

Good prices, items in stock, and popular with hobbyists.

SUGGESTION #7-3: Allied Electronics


If you think DigiKey's catalog is impressive, this one is even bigger. There is almost nothing this company doesn't sell. They cost a little more, so they are not usually my first choice.  Allied is also quite good.

SUGGESTION #7-6: Mouser Electronics


This company carries similar products to Digikey.  Their catalog is on-line, or you can get a free copy of the catalog in print, on a CD-ROM, or both!  Very popular with hobbyists.  This company carries the Insulation Displacement Connectors (IDCs) mentioned in Tony Koester's August 1998 article in Model Railroader.  For IDC part numbers, see below.  Mouser's prices are even better than Digi-Key's.

SUGGESTION: Electronic Tools for the Professional.

These companies are the Micro-Mark of electronic tools — Ideal brand wire strippers, electric wire strippers that don't put much pulling force on small wires, magnifying lights, and much, much more. Some of the tools are exotic tools for the professional that does electronic work day-in and day-out so they may be out of your reach. But if there is an electronic tool you have seen and want, these companies seems to have it.

HMC Electronics:


International Electronics Suppliers: Farnell and Element 14

For those not in the United States, here are two international suppliers of electronic parts. Farnell seems to be in every country except the United States. Element 14 has a social media portal for electronic design engineers and contains datasheets and advice on parts.

SUGGESTION #7-4: For Layout Wire, Tie Wraps, and Heat Shrink Tubing:

Your local home improvement store!  See the track wiring section for the types of wire they carry.  They also have a great selection of heat shrink tubing and tie wraps.

Remington Industries has a great selection of wire. Each roll costs a few dollars more than other suppliers, but shipping is always free - even if you buy just one or two rolls. There is no minimum. So I find them a good value.

SUGGESTION #7-5:  Decoder Harness Plugs:

Samtec manufacturers the plugs.  Their web page includes listings of their dealers.  I have not dealt with Samtec.  They are a manufacturer and as such may not want to do retail sales.  Be sure to contact one of their dealers, especially if you need small quantities.
Male plug P/N:  SDL-104-TT-19      Female plug P/N:  BDL-104-T-F

Note:  This information came from Larry Puckett's column in Model Railroading.  He frequently covers DCC topics.  I found I liked the rest of the magazine, too!

The following carry decoder plugs.  No doubt, there are many others.

Tony's Train Exchange

Tried & True Trains

Reserved for future use.

RECOMMENDATION #7-11:  Use #6 Screw Terminal Strips.

Terminal strips come in several sizes.  Below I list locking spade lugs.  When you compare the availability of terminal strips and locking spading lugs, you find the #6 screw terminal strip and locking spade lugs are a good all-around size for model railroaders.  I recommend you standardize model railroad on this size.  All parts below having to do with terminal strips I have based on this standard.

Useful Parts

Looking through a train catalog is sometimes fun, but electronic catalogs rarely are. So here are common items that are frequently needed by model railroaders.

I'm sorry it isn't practical to provide pages numbers. As soon as a given company comes out with a new catalog, any page numbers I would list are all doomed to be wrong. Murphy makes sure of it!

Please note!  The prices provided are only provided to give you an idea of what the items cost.  I do not intend to try too hard to keep these current.  These are the prices at the time I purchased them and entered them into this page.  If you buy a larger or smaller quantity, your price will vary accordingly.  If you are inclined to send me the current price you pay, I will be glad to update the list.

Digikey & Mouser Electronics

Lately, it seems part numbers are changing a lot. This information is current as the last time I ordered a given part for myself. I buy in quantity, so the information may be a year or more old. If you find that part is no longer available or its number has changed, please let me know.

Part #
Mouser Electronics
Part #
Description Usage
3M Scotchlok connectors are the only IDC's you should consider using.  They have a double knife where most only have one.  Modelers that have used IDC's believe the 3M ones are far superior to cheaper alternatives.
Not Available 517-905
18-14 AWG Bus 
22-18 AWG Feeder
Track bus/feeder wiring.
Wire O.D. max 0.11"
Not Available  517-567 
12-10 AWG Bus
   18-14 AWG Feeder
Track bus/feeder wiring.
Wire O.D. max 0.145" tap, 0.19" run  
Not Available 
22-14 AWG
Join up to three wire ends.
Wire O.D. max 0.15"
Not Available 
18-14 AWG
Join two parallel wires.
Wire O.D. max 0.145"
Not Available 
Crimp Tool
Modelers who use IDCs report more reliable connections are made when using this tool over pliers.
Waving Deutschland  Flag For suppliers in Deutschland, see below.
  6 conductor flat phone cable, black, 100' Digitrax Throttle Networks
  6 conductor flat phone cable, silver, 100' Digitrax Booster Networks
  6 conductor flat phone cable, white, 100' Accessory Device Networks
6 pin flat phone cable plug Use with 6 conductor flat phone cable.
Tool for 6 pin flat phone cable plug.


4 conductor flat phone cable, silver, 100' For interconnecting Digitrax DS-54 accessory decoder with accessories fitted with 4 pin jack. For more info, see Switch machines controlled by Digitrax DS-54s.
4 pin jack with 4-6" wire leads. Switch machines controlled by Digitrax DS-54s. Glue these on switch machines and use 4 conductor handset wire from the DS-54 to the switch machine.  For use with 4 conductor flat phone cable.
4 pin handset plug Fits Digitrax DS-54s  for use with 4 conductor flat phone cable.
Tool for 4 pin handset plug
Part #
Mouser Electronics
Part #
4 lug solder terminal strips. Miscellaneous use solder terminal strips.  Use them to solder fine wires from block detectors.  I definitely recommend them for the fine wires from signal masts.
8 lug solder terminal strips. Same as above.
#6 locking spade lug. For wire 22-18 AWG.
#6 locking spade lug. For wire 16-14 AWG.



#6 locking spade lug. For wire 12 - 10 AWG.
Female slide on crimp terminal.
22-18 AWG Uninsulated.
Use with relays or micro switches listed here.
Female slide on crimp terminal.
16-14 AWG Uninsulated.
Use with relays or micro switches listed here.
Female slide on crimp terminal.
12-10 AWG Uninsulated.
Use with relays or micro switches listed here.


Jumper Use to jumper together adjoining sets of terminals. Useful when you want to make a distribution strip for sub districts.


#6 Internal star lock washer solder terminal. Use when you want to attach a wire to a terminal block that you want to solder to the terminal.
($1.38 ea)
#6 2 terminal barrier strip.
#6 4 terminal barrier strip.
#6 6 terminal barrier strip.
#6 6 terminal barrier strip number strip. If you want each of your screws to have numbers, buy this.
($3.37 ea)
($2.83 ea)
#6 8 terminal barrier strip.
#6 8 terminal barrier strip number strip. If you want each of your screws to have numbers, buy this.
#6 10 terminal barrier strip.
#6 10 terminal barrier strip number strip. If you want each of your screws to have numbers, buy this.
#6 12 terminal barrier strip.
#6 12 terminal barrier strip number strip. If you want each of your screws to have numbers, buy this.
Part #
Mouser Electronics
Part #


($1.07 ea.)

1 mH Use to isolate motor and DCC driver noise from sound system inputs that use the motor voltage to trigger its effects.

d is diameter:
364 = 3/64" ($1.78 /5')
116 = 1/16"
332 = 3/32"
018 = 1/8"
316 = 3/16"
014 = 1/4"
038 = 3/8"

c is color choice:
K-Blk   C-Clr
B-Blue  G-Grn
R-Red  W-Whi

X is length in 5' multiples

5174-1116c  1/16"
5174-1332c  3/32"
5174-118c  1/8"
5174-1316c  3/16"
5174-114c 1/4"
5174-138c 3/8"

c is color choice: 

1  Black
2  Blue
3  Clear
4  Red
5  White
6 Yellow

Colored heat shrinkable tubing. Use anywhere, especially in tight spaces, like inside locomotives.

d is diamter:
364 = 3/64"
116 = 1/16"
332 = 3/32"
018 = 1/8"
316 = 3/16"
014 = 1/4"
038 = 3/8"

X is length in 5' multiples

5174-31161 1/16"
5174-33321 3/32"
5174-3181 1/8"
5174-33161 3/16"
5174-3141 1/4"
5174-3381 3/8"
Heat shrinkable tubing that stays flexible.

($1.96 ea.)

Wire marker tape dispenser with 1 roll each of 0 through 9.

n = is number printed on roll.

Refill roll You may want to order extra rolls of low numbers if your layout will have wires labeled in the hundreds.
Part #
Mouser Electronics
Part #
Cable tie mounting block. Screw down with a dry wall screw.  Has 2 slots to slide a cable tie through.
4.9" Releasable cable tie, standard release Yes, you are reading this right.  These are cable ties that you can release and reuse!  Perfect for keeping your under layout wires organized.  If you need to snake another wire through, no problem!
5.9" Releasable cable tie, standard release
7.8" Releasable cable tie, standard release
11.7" Releasable cable tie, standard release


5.8",Releasable cable tie, push release
( $18/10)
SPDT microswitch 5A  Use on Switchcraft (Hankscraft) slow motion switch machines.  If you need a 10A microswitch, see 7-15.
($4.86 ea.)
Miniature toggle switch SPDT, momentary contact

Momentary input to Team Digital's

Miniature toggle switch DPDT Use to control Tortise switch machines.
22/44 pin edge card connector. Use for the CVP AD4x; Digitax PM-42 & BDL-16.


10 pin edge card connector. Use for mating to Tortoise switchmachines.
Part #
Mouser Electronics
Part #



22 ohm, 1/2 W, 5% resistor. Put in series with lamps used for DCC special lighting effects - like ditch lights, flickering firebox, Mars lights, strobes, etc.
291 - 1/4 watt
294 - 1 watt
General Mouser: The first three digits are the series and size. Follow that by the value you need.


12V 44mA coil, DPDT 5A, circuit board mount. Highly sensitive coil can be driven by stationary and mobile decoders.  Use for controlling high current switch machines and other general model railroad needs.
Not Available
12VDC coil, DPDT 10A Ideal for miscellaneous model railroad needs.  Has 2 screw tabs that make it easily screwed to benchwork.  No socket required!  Solder wires or use slide on crimp connectors. 

Can also be used to reverse loops, but does not have an extra set of contacts to replace the ones borrowed from a switch machine. See below.

Not Available
12VDC coil, 3PDT 10A Ideal for miscellaneous model railroad needs.  Has 2 screw tabs that make it easily screwed to benchwork.  No socket required!  Solder wires or use slide on crimp connectors. 

Can reverse polarity in reverse loops.  Has extra set of contacts which can be used to "replace" a switch borrowed from a switch machine to operate the relay. 



1000uF 25V Bi-Polar(Nonpolarized) Electrolytic Capacitor 1. Use for filtering out motor and DCC noise for sound systems that sense motor voltage to trigger their effects.
2. Better bass with Soundtraxx decoders.
3. Use instead of two 2200uF capacitors back to back when unpolarized capacitors are needed.


1A ,100V Diode General purpose - clamping on relay, power supplies, constant lighting, etc.


2A, 100V Bridge Rectifier General purpose — use for lighting in cars, cabooses, or powering your mobile sound system.  Also, use to power track side accessories — especially in your garden.
6A 200V Diode Use for balancing out the voltage applied to blocks that you are not block detecting.  For use only with systems employing block detectors that use diodes like the Digitrax BD-1.  Not necessary for block detectors that use current transformers like North Coast Engineering's detector. Good for use with boosters up to 6A of output power to track.


27V 2000A Surge Suppressor

Use on wires coming back from garden track wiring to protect your booster against lightning. Lightning is a powerful force!  Protection is NOT guaranteed!  This will work with most garden railroads having about 18V on the track.

Buy one of these and put it across your booster output.  If your booster does not shut down, then use this surge supresor.  If it shuts down, use the one below.

33V 2000A Surge Suppressor Use on wires coming back from garden track wiring to protect your booster against lightning. Lightning is a powerful force!  Protection is NOT gauranteed!

See above.

($12.38/1 lb)
16 AWG (0.062" diameter) solid core 60/40. This solder has no flux of it's own. It also has no silver so it melts at a low temperature minimizing the possibility of melting track.  It's ideal for use with the liquid flux mentioned elsewhere on this page that is so good on preweathered track by Micro Engineering or Tillig(Pilz.)


100mAHr AA NiCd rechargeable battery.  "high capacity" type. Railfan scanners.


(For Zimo Decoders)


16 pin, tin plated contacts, multicolored, 18" ribbon cable with connectors on both ends. Cut this cable in half and you will be able to do two Zimo decoders.  Since you will mate this connector one time and leave it alone inside the locomotive, you don't need higher grade connector

Note:  Ribbon cables will fail if it flexed a lot, handled often, or if strain is placed on the cable.  Strain is particularly important to a cable that is inside a locomotive.  Be sure there is no strain on the cable.  It will fail eventually - and probably a lot sooner than either of us wants!


16 pin, gold plated contacts, multicolored, 18" ribbon cable with connectors on both ends. For those who would prefer a gold plated connector for their Zimo decoder.


Single connector without ribbon cable, 16 pin, gold plated contacts, with strain relief.  The ultimate ribbon cable connector with strain relief.


Not Available Panasonic Hall Effect Sensor, 3 lead SIP, Open Collector output. Use for triggering chuff sync, whistles, and bells.  MUCH more rugged than the incredibly delicate reed switch.  Requires 4.5-16VDC.
($9.26 ea.)
12VDC, 200mA Power Team Digital's SRC-8. Also can be used for Digitrax's BDL-16 or PM-42. Probably others as well!


Double the price for the same thing. 602-3053/1-100-0x

100' roll of 20 AWG solid

($0.10 ea.)
5mm LED panel holder Used to hold LED in a panel.
($0.21 ea.)
Green, diffused, super bright, 5mm LED Use in a control panel for turnout position or block occupancy.
  606-4304H1 Red, diffused, super bright, 5mm LED Use in a control panel for turnout position or block occupancy.


Evan Designs Evan's has miniature LEDs for hobbyists.

The "pico" is .5mm x .7mm x 1mm.
The "nano" is .8mm x 1.1mm x 1.6mm.
The "chip" is 1.1mm x 1.6mm x 3.2mm.

They come equiped with a resistor and can run on 9V to 18V on AC, DC, or DCC and have rectifiers.

Available colors include warm white (use to simulate incadescent lamps), cool warm white, red, yellow, green, blue and orange.

See the article by John Brown in the November 2021 issue of Model Railroader "Using LEDs to model fusees."

Lights 4 Models LEDs ranging from pico size to 5mm.

Ngineering has a wide selection of miniature LEDs in colors and shades of white in sizes useful to the modeler. They also have sound modules.

Miniatronics LEDs, switches, and connectors as well as power distribution for your layout.

Mouser Then search for part number 150044M155220. RGB chip LED. Can be used to emulate white/green marker lamps.

PPCS 3mm dual color-white/green LEDs. useful for marker lamps.

Radio Shack

It has been a few years now since Radio Shack stores largely went away and most of the rumors have subsided.

Many people complained about Radio Shack being a retail store that charged retail prices. Go figure. Whatever they charged, they filled a need. There are times you needed it now or only needed a few things.

While the stores are almost gone, Radio Shack's online store is alive and well at

Radio Shack now has an isle in Hobby Town (formerly Hobby Town USA) stores where they stock parts and things model railroaders need like wire. Note, wire is cheaper in the Radio Shack isle than it is in the model train section of the store.

Radio Shack Parts:

Part # Price Description   Usage
272-1098   6V, 60mA Grain of Wheat Bulbs 1 red, yellow, & green w/leads Flickering Firebox
272-1099 $1.29 12V, 60mA Grain of Wheat Bulbs 1 red, yellow, & green w/leads Flickering Firebox w/Digitrax or O/G only.   Requires decoders that can adjust brightness of effects.  If you use two of the 272-1098 in series above, you will never go wrong.
271-151 $.49/2 10 ohm 1 watt resistor Digitrax now recommends this lower value resistor for reliable programming feedback of their DS-54s.
271-1103 $.49/5 22 ohm 1/2 watt resistor Surge limiting on FX functions like flickering firebox, Mars lights, ditch lights, beacons, strobes, etc.
271-1104 $.49/5 33 ohm 1/2 watt resistor Surge limiting on FX functions like flickering firebox, Mars lights, ditch lights, beacons, strobes, etc.
271-1105 $.49/5 47 ohm 1/2 watt resistor  
271-1108 $.49/5 100 ohm 1/2 watt resistor  
271-1111 $.49/5 220 ohm 1/2 watt resistor  
271-1113 $.49/5 330 ohm 1/2 watt resistor  
271-1116 $.49/5 560 ohm 1/2 watt resistor  
271-1119 $.49/5 1.2k ohm 1/2 watt resistor  
275-005A $3.99 12A relay that operates on 7-9VDC and only 18mA Useful for operating bigger relays or air solenoids from low current slow motion motor controllers like the Digitrax DS44 and DS54. Note: The catalog in some places says this is a 2A relay. The package says 12A and it appears large enough to handle 12A.
275-241 $2.99 "Micromini" 12VDC relay, SPDT, 1A Useful for controlling things like smoke generators with decoders.



3.5" Full range speaker 1 5/8" thick. 163-16kHz

G scale speaker.

40-1197 $11.99 4" Full range speaker G scale speaker.
278-1610   Colored heat-shrink tubing assortment.  
278-1627B   Heat shrink assortment, black.  




Set of 4 pairs of terminals. Solder to PC boards. Can be left in group of 8 or broken off two at a time. Great for various projects under the layout.


$4.49 Straight locking forceps Hold wire to side of rail up to G.



Long, narrow circuit board for one row of IC's. Used with Radio Shack terminals, makes excellent mount for Digitrax DS-44 slow motion turnout controller. Center row for IC's is used for current limiting resistors for slow motion motors.
276-150A $1.19 General Purpose Use for mounting voltage regulator circuit and filter circuit for Sierra sound unit.  Contains rows of holes attached together for use with simple integrated circuit projects.

Conductive Ink and Paint

Part #  Price Distributor Description
189-5900  $20.99 Conductive Paint
COM-13254 $22.50 Conductive Ink Pen

$6.25 Conductive Ink Pen

SUGGESTION 7-8:  Circuit Board Throw Bars and Phosphor Bronze:

Making circuit board throw bars isn't fun.  In fact, it can be very dangerous! 

Fast Tracks Hobbyworks, Inc. sells PC board ties already cut to size and gapped. Order on line at: While you are at it, you may want to pick up a Frog Juicer for your turnout. U.S. modelers will note that Fast Tracks is a Canadian company. I have dealt with several Canadian companies, including Fast Tracks. Shipping cost and normal ground delivery has never been a problem for me.

Cloverhouse has a catalog of strips of PC boards you can use for ties, as well as, all sorts of craftsman supplies and tools.  He has sheets and wires of phosphor bronze as well as sheets of brass and nickel silver. Clover House, POB 62, Sebasstopol, CA  95473-0062. Clover House does not accept phone orders, but you can fax orders to him. Also, you cannot order from the website.

Note:  Phosphor bronze is a great material.  It's springy, conducts electricity well, and doesn't corrode badly.  I recommend it over anything you might use strips of brass or copper for.

RECOMMENDATION #7-9: Liquid Flux:

H&N Electronics  Their Supersafe flux is great!  Amateur and advanced solderers will wonder how you ever soldered without it.  For more information, see the section on Soldering.

SUGGESTION #7-12: Sockets for the 1156 Tail Light Bulb - Reasonably Priced!

The price was $1.73 each abd come leads about 6" long.

Globe Specialty Company
2700 West 50th Street
Chicago, Ill. 60632
(773) 778-3300
1-800-THE LAMP
Go to page 64 or search for part number 322X-56

One may send check or M.O. or they will ship UPS COD.

Here is another source that is even cheaper and seems to be an ideal choice. They are $0.99 each and come from a company called

The socket you want is the one on the right with the white wire and single contact in the socket. As you can see, the socket is metal and has two mounting tabs with holes. You can screw down the socket to a terminal strip or your benchwork.

You can tell by the name, this website primarily sells LED products. So finding the 1156 socket is a little difficult. Follow this link and it will take you right to it:

Then click on "See Prices and Buy." Then click on 1156. You want the BA15S-SW socket. If you are like me, you are a little skeptical of a socket for a hot light bulb coming from a company that sells cool running LED products. I obtained one of their sockets and it is the real deal made of metal.

Note on Using LEDs. You might be thinking, "Why don't I use LED tail light bulbs?" They run cooler, use less energy, and generally is the green thing to do. It won't work as a short protector. Don't try it. Don't even think it. The reason is that a light bulb has a property that makes it work. That is, it has a very low resistance when cold. There is minimal voltage drop across a light bulb when cold. This allows trains to run. When it heats up, it has a high resistance and limits the amount of current to a short. An LED tail light has a significant voltage drop, even when off, and allows only a minimal current to flow. Your trains won't run.

SUGGESTION #7-15: Flat Cable (Telco) Supplier in Germany. waving deutschland flag

Thanks to Sebastian Daeunert for supplying information on where someone in Germany can find the flat cable used on Digitrax and some other of the US made DCC systems. This cable is frequently referred to "Telco" cable as it is used on US phones. Telco is simply short for telecommunications.

Note: If you are using Digitrax, they do not require that you use this cable. It is simply convenient to do so.

Sebastian found the cable at Conrad Electronic ( He was able to get the right plugs and found the price reasonable — 4.70 Euro for a 3 Meter cable.

921442-41 for 3 Meter Cable

921442-42 for 6 Meter Cable

921442-43 for 10 Meter Cable

Remington Industries

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