The best model railway controllers for DC / Analogue layouts

Want to upgrade from the standard model train controller? Not sure which controller to buy? This is my guide to picking the best analogue to fit your budget and layout.

Best small railway analogue controller for price

Gaugemaster GM-GMC-COMBI For a low budget, well built controller, for single track model railways and starter sets, you can’t go wrong with the Gaugemaster GM-GMC-COMBI Single Track Controller

An ideal upgrade of the controller supplied in Hornby train sets, the GMC-COMBI it’s well made, has Gaugemaster’s life time guarantee and is more reliable than other low cost controllers. It also gives good operation at slower speeds which is often lacking in rudimentary models.

Like all analogue controllers here, it’ll work perfectly with Hornby style OO or HO as well as smaller scale N and 009 scale model trains and track; it can also be used as secondary controller in conjunction with a main unit for the controller of isolated sidings, service tracks and has 16v AC output terminals for powering accessories.

Best DIY DC controller for price

If you’re looking for the absolutely lowest price controller for a small layout and aren’t afraid to of a little electrical DIY, take a look at the Mini DC Motor Speed control driver board.  You’ll need to add a transformer and the circuitry is exposed but for price it can’t be beaten. One word of warning however is that it’s rated for much higher output that needed for model trains so don’t crank it up all the way.

Best analogue controller for large layouts and expansion

Gaugemaster Q controller

Once you step up from Hornby or Bachmann basic track layout, you’ll want something capable of powering multiple lines at once, such as two ovals and sidings for example.

This is where the Gaugemaster GM-GMC-Q four track controller comes in.

It has 4 track output terminals, one 16v AC output for accessories and two 12v DC outputs. Like all Gaugemaster controllers it has a life time guarantee and is solidly built.

The ability to controller four tracks may seem overkill when you first step up from a basic oval track plan but trust me, your layout will grow and keep growing so it’s always useful to have those extra track feeds.

Conclusion – which controller

Whether you’re looking for the cheapest controller to upgrade from the basic models supplied with Hornby train sets or one to handle larger layouts as you expand, one of the above models will meet your needs.

Personally, I’d recommend the Gaugemaster GM-GMC-Q four track controller. It may seem like overkill right now but model railways have a habit of growing and this controller will easily handle your current layout plus expansion in the future.

>A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.

A final, personal, note: I spend a LOT of time testing, photographing, writing and often wrecking my own layouts researching techniques for these articles and don’t charge a penny for them. If this article is useful to you or helpful, please add a comment to say so, it gives me encouragement to continue. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.

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  1. Many thanks. Verified what I had in mind. Have 3 single controllers and am thinking about an upgrade to the Q 4 track.. However I would be interested to know if there any ideas regarding mounting 4 singles on a rack or similar. Would work out cheaper!

    • Hi Bobby, Gaugemaster do panel mounting controllers, which could work out cheaper. Their two track panel is here. This would work out a lot cheaper. Hope this helps. Andy

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