One thing about living in a condominium apartment is that I don’t really have a table long enough to have a dedicated programming track. However, I realized, later, that I do – the layout itself! But I did not want to use a layout track. So I made a programming track on a removable shelf that stores inside the layout.
Six foot long programming track hangs from hooks inside the layout. It is made from leftover pieces of 1×2 poplar and 11mm birch plywood (Varathaned, of course).
Set up for programming: the programming track bolts onto the side of the layout using two 3/8-16UNC bolts with wing nuts. The layout does not need to be uncovered as shown; the programming track can be mounted and used with the layout cover in place.
Due to the high number of locomotives at Fillmore, many in the same class, I use JMRI DecoderPro3 to program them. My Macbook is connected to a Digitrax PR3 via a USB cable. The PR3 is connected to the programming track buss via Cinch-Jones connector.
To quickly switch between JMRI programmer and layout command station, I disconnect the layout power buss from the command station and attach a lead with a Cinch-Jones connector at the other end. When I want to check the behaviour of the newly programmed locomotive, I unplug the PR3 from the programming track and plug in the lead from the command station and use a throttle to run it.