Layout lighting

 
  Coastboy7 Locomotive Fireman

Can anyone give me some direction on layout lighting. My modules don't have a overhead pelment. Anyone had experience with led lighting?  Thanks in advance.   Bob

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  art--vandalay Locomotive Fireman

Can anyone give me some direction on layout lighting. My modules don't have a overhead pelment. Anyone had experience with led lighting? Thanks in advance. Bob
Coastboy7

I've recently installed some LED strip lighting on my garage layout.  Bought it from an ebay shop in Hong Kong.  It has a self adhesive backing, so all I needed was to build a very light-weight angled pelmet at the front of the layout to stick it to.  I even wired in a dimmer switch so I can vary the brightness.  Works very well.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Can anyone give me some direction on layout lighting. My modules don't have a overhead pelment. Anyone had experience with led lighting?  Thanks in advance.   Bob
"Coastboy7"
I have lots of experience in LED lighting. Are you going for DIY LED 'spot lighting', off the shelf 'spot lighting' - maybe sort of like an LED down light, or as art-vandalay suggests LED strip?
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
What state are you in Bob?
  Coastboy7 Locomotive Fireman

I have lots of experience in LED lighting. Are you going for DIY LED 'spot lighting', off the shelf 'spot lighting' - maybe sort of like an LED down light, or as art-vandalay suggests LED strip?
"Aaron"



Hi, in nsw.

My thoughts are DIY downlighting. We have them in our house and they are very effective, but don't know how they would go in a model railway situation, when trying to replicate natural light.  We also have the strip led lighting under the kitchen bench, which is good for that effect, but again, does it give off enough "natural" light?  Impressed with led running costs.  Appreciate anyone thoughts and experiences.
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Can anyone give me some direction on layout lighting. My modules don't have a overhead pelment. Anyone had experience with led lighting?  Thanks in advance.   Bob
"Coastboy7"


Hi,

I have had good results with LED strip lighting on my in progress layout. I can only refer you to my blog for pictures as I have no idea how to post them on here.

http://stonequarrycreek.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/turned-back-time-and-now-see-light.html

The strips were bought from China, off eBay and cost $20 or something for 5m. I went for the 300 5050 LED type and they are the water proof variety. As you can see I have used two strips as I didn't think the light output was good enough with one strip. Rather than relying on the sticky backing I routed two groves with a dovetail bit and then simply pushed the strip into the groove. I used a combination of pure white and warm light strips as I didn't like the clinical look that just the pure light offered and felt the warm was a little too yellow. This seems to be ok but could be subject to change.

One thing I have found with the waterproof strips out of china is that the conformal coating is very soft when delivered. It seems they are shipped directly off the production line. It's so soft you can leave finger prints in it. I open the bags and let the strip sit for a few weeks. It then seems better to work with. There is no reason why I went with the water proof version. I am sure the un-coated version would be just fine and it's slightly cheaper.

Non water proof:
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/190702072648?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2648

Water Proof:
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/300-LED-5M-SMD-5050-waterproof-Strip-lightS-Flexible-pure-white-Christmas-AU-/160842566915?pt=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item2572f6cd03&_uhb=1

The link below is to another blog post showing the module lit with the back scene painted blue:

http://stonequarrycreek.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/howdy-as-usual-i-have-been-busy-but-not.html

Power requirements are not as lean as you may expect. From memory a 5m x 300 5050 led strip draws around 4 amps at 12 volts. As my five modules are 2m long each and therefore have 4m of LED strip per module, I use five separate 12v/5 amp switch mode power supplies also bought from China for $15 each.

As you have no pelment a different approach may be needed. I don't think Led strip lighting would work mounted on the ceiling. I just don't think it will produce enough light. Maybe LED type down lights or equivalent would be more suitable. Maybe suspending the LED strips on a mount at a more suitable distance from the layout may work.

Hope there is something useful there,

Linton
  Coastboy7 Locomotive Fireman

Thanks linton for your very detailed reply. Much appreciated.

Like you blog as well and agree that the quality is very high.  Did you route out your profiles?  What size timber did u use?  

Will use the led option, just have to work out a pelment arrangement.  The modules  have were made 20 odd years ago by other people and I have recently come by them.

Couple of  questions, with the warm and cool light strips, does it matter which one is in front of the other?  Is it easy to cut them and rewire other bits?

Again, much appreciated.

Bob
  art--vandalay Locomotive Fireman

If you go for the strip lighting, check for the "luminous flux" or how many "lumens/metre".  Some are brighter than others.  I found a 920-980 lumens/metre strip of cool white and believe me, you don't need any more than that.  It's very bright.  

Also, (unless you have a particular reason to go for the waterproof) go for the non-waterproof variety as it's a bit cheaper, and a lot easier to work with because you don't have to cut away the waterproof coating to solder on wires.  You can cut the strips to whatever length you require.  Every three leds, there are small copper pads to solder wires to.
  anzac1959 Chief Commissioner



Power requirements are not as lean as you may expect. From memory a 5m x 300 5050 led strip draws around 4 amps at 12 volts. As my five modules are 2m long each and therefore have 4m of LED strip per module, I use five separate 12v/5 amp switch mode power supplies also bought from China for $15 each.

As you have no pelment a different approach may be needed. I don't think Led strip lighting would work mounted on the ceiling. I just don't think it will produce enough light. Maybe LED type down lights or equivalent would be more suitable. Maybe suspending the LED strips on a mount at a more suitable distance from the layout may work.

Hope there is something useful there,

Linton
linton78

Linton or anybody you state that one 5m strip uses a 12v/5amp power supply ,in real terms what does that equate to in $$$ so to speak . Are these cheaper to run or are fluro/ bulbs or downlights cheaper . Also what if you don't use a pelmet is the light lost with nothing to reflect to light.
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Hi Bob,

Thanks for the kind words. I drew the profiles using CAD software and had them all CNC cut using 12mm and 15mm exterior ply. I want to build another module eventually and will just use one of the spare profiles I have as a template. Using the router with a ball bearing guide, straight bit is the way to go for this. Comes up very neatly.

As Art said, the strips are easily cut. The water proof versions require a small piece of water proofing to be removed. This is easily accomplished with a scalpel. Wires need to be then soldered to the exposed flexible PCB pads. My modules are 2m long so I used 2m from each end of the 5m roll as the solder pads on each end are more substantial. That's how it is with the ones I bought anyway. I will use the centre 1m for lighting spray booths and things.

Interestingly I have read, running the strip as a full 5m run can lead to quite a large voltage drop if only feed at one end. This is probably due to the flexible PCB tracks not having the copper area, thus causing the voltage drop due to resistance. I have had no trouble or noticed anything with just 2m lengths.

There was no way one strip would produce enough light for my layout and my pelment is only around 600mm from the track bed. At the start I bought an expensive 5m roll of 5060 x 300 LEDs from an Australian light specialist. Even these did not produce what I was after, and that's why I went the cheap Chinese option and had to double them up. I can not find much difference in light output from the expensive strip to that of the cheap one. Not that the price means much though. I actually took a full set of strips in there timber mount up to the Illawarra club to see how it would work on the Waterfall layout. As distance increases the light intensity very quickly decreases, perhaps due to there directional nature and maybe there small light point source (not magnified like a torch). I am no lighting engineer.

In regards to having the warm strip at the front or vice versa. I don't know if it has much affect? Maybe when I have scenery an experiment should be done to see if it affects the colour of the scene in anyway. I did have some theory about having the warm light at the front but can't remember what the hell it was ha ha.

Anzac,

The power supply's I bought are actually 6 amps. I thought they were 5 amps. The 2 m x 2 strips (4m) draw around 3 amps. This equates to 36 watts. As you can imagine, the power supplies them selves are not 100% efficient. This would increase the power consumed slightly also. I have not experimented with down lights or fluorescent tubes but would imagine I would probably need at least two down lights and probably two fluro tubes per module. I have some low power down lights in my kitchen and they are rated at 13 watts. These may work out a little more efficient however I really think I would need three per module.

Positives with using LED strips are:

- they do get warm but they do not get so hot that they will start melting things,
- the spread of light is very uniform, no hot spots (fluros are probably good for this also),
- they are very compact and light, they hardly take up any space in the pelment.

I have thought about using a reflector but as they are so directional with no light projected rear wards I doubt that it would do all that much. A fluro on the other hand would greatly benefit having a pelment with reflector. I do think having the curved back scene and pelment helps to focus the light on the scene. Maybe it's just that no light escapes the scene and the contrast between the lit area and darker area is more evident. Not sure?

My advise for anybody thinking about LED strip lighting is to buy a $15 roll and experiment. The delivery from china is amazing considering postage is included in the price. I have never understood how the Chinese can send something from china, delivered by Auspost to your door cheaper than I can sent a model within Australia.

Hope that helps,

Linton
  a6et Minister for Railways

Like anything it depends very much on the amount of light needed over the layout.  I have the 300 led 3528 strip lights for illumination of lower decks on my layout, for me it provides all the light I need & that is having just one row of them, the particular track heads from the upper & main layout area, down to the staging yards, & return loop.  

Around 12 metres are directly under the upper layout & have black pull away curtains,  for almost the entire run there is 2 tracks & the strips a glued using the stick on tape as provided & none have come away from the framework board at the side of the upper deck that illuminates that area. My only problems with it is that the upper deck is not as far spaced as I would like, but I had no choice.

There are many types of LED strip lights, the primary ones are the 3528, with both 300 & 600 leds, the next type are the 5050 with same combinations of LEDs.  The 300 LED 3528 only need a 2 amp supply for each 5 metres, with a maximum of 15 metres recommended per supply & therefore soldered together in a continuous run.

There are then the RGB strip lights that can be controlled to simulate the various lights seen in a day, Night, being blue the colours of dawn, the bright midday light as well as dusk etc. They do require more power & while some people like them a couple of modellers I know who wanted those decided against them as they were not as affective as first thought, & needed a fair bit of wiring & more power to operate them.

There are also bright white, cool light & warm lights available which cover many situations, the choice of waterproof against non waterproof. I am an el cheapo & use the non waterproof types as I have no water issues in my layout, but if you live in a damp humid area then they may be worth trying.

I have attached a 50 metre LED blue rope light to the ceiling of my train room, a 6mx6m insulated garage, which is used for night time operations, a couple of sections have gone in it, after it was used outside for a Christmas display, I will be replacing that with 3 banks of blue 3528 LED strip lights across the ceiling which will provide more than enough light, we already have one larger layout area that has only two of those strip lights for the night time operation, but he is going to fit another one shortly.

The idea of the blue lights is to have the affect of a full moon, & creates a nice atmosphere when only those lights are on, as well as the houses, street, yard, depot & station lights are the only other lights that are permanently on, of course signal lights, signal boxes as well as the lights on the trains also operate.

Here is a link to the shop I primarily use
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/110759686769?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

They are very reliable, although sometimes the postage takes time, I have no problems in recommending them either.  As another poster has said, it could be worthwhile buying one to try it out, I would suggest however trying both the 3528 as well as the 5050, you may need different power supplies. I have used different Chinese & Hong Kong Ebay stores without any worries, if a problem happens they are usually very good in solving problems.  
Search here http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&_nkw=DC

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