• LED Layout Lighting - Installed

    For a while now, I've been researching and testing some different LED light strips for lighting the layout. The existing track halogen lights were getting annoying to move around to give enough light for photos, and I'd still have to augment them a bit. I wanted something with even lighting over everything, and I wasn't too keen on wiring a bunch of fluorescent fixtures. So LED light strips seemed like a good option.

    After trying different color whites and a couple different LED sizes, I figured out a good combination, and set to work building a wood valance to attach them to, and then got started sticking them in.

    One thing to figure out early was the height to have them at. I didn't want them above eye level where I'd see the actual LEDs while walking around, and I didn't want the valance low enough to interfere with my sight lines. So I went with just about eye level. I built the valances to follow the contour of the layout's facia, the front of the valances slightly in front of the layout to help light the models in front.


    The 5050s get slightly hot, so I used a strip of aluminum flashing on the inside of the valance as a heat sink, reflector, and curved surface for the LEDs.


    With my height above layout at 18"-20", the combination of LEDs that seemed to give the best light was: For each ~16" layout depth, 1 strip of 5050 Warm White (60/m), 1 strip 5050 Cool White (60/m), plus either a strip 5050 RGB (60/m) along the back or a strip of 3528 Warm White (60/m) in the front.


    I discovered the surface of the aluminum flashing is not good for the LED strips to stick to, and ended up having to use construction adhesive (Liquid Nails) to get the strips to stay up.

    I continued on with each section in turn, putting things together on the floor as much as possible, and then hanging them up with small chain off the ceiling.


    I ended up needing one more strip of the 3528s in the valance over the yard, plus the strip under the upper level. It was looking too dark at first.


    I am happy to say, I've now got the LEDs installed, and I'm happy with the results. Here's the layout now, using only the LED strips for lighting:


    I'm planning on moving the track light around on the ceiling; probably snake it down the middle of the isle. This will still help provide work lighting and add some additional spot lighting in a couple places along the edge of the layout.

    Some tips if you're thinking about LED strips for lighting:

    It takes more lights and more power supplies than you'd think, and costs add up.
    Go with 5050 60/m (300 LED) strips for the brightness.
    A mix of warm and cool LEDs is a good thing.
    The RGBs allow some flexibility to adjust the tone or add evening lighting, but are not as bright as the whites.
    Mineral spirits can clean up Liquid Nails when you get it on your fingers.
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Janbouli's Avatar
      Janbouli -
      Thanks Ender , your article has convinced me to go to LED for the 2nd part of my layout.
    1. k0ncept's Avatar
      k0ncept -
      I simply LOVE IT! Great Info!! I was wondering if you could use the RGB's to create a mood lighting effect, sunrise/sunset? I want something similar, but want the ability to change the entire color range on the fly... Is this possible?
    1. k0ncept's Avatar
      k0ncept -
      I left a comment as well, Love it, but was wondering, can you also do sunrise/sunset with the RGB's? I want what you have, but I want the ability to simulate a sunrise/sunset and even an evening type lighting... How do we do this?
    1. Comfortably numb's Avatar
      Comfortably numb -
      Ender, can we get a parts list from you? I have been trying the same thing and got no where close to what you did. that looks Cool!
    1. Ender's Avatar
      Ender -
      The rest of the original thread can be found here: https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...ting-Installed
    1. tucker98's Avatar
      tucker98 -
      looks really good