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Thread: Lighting prep for structures

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    Default Lighting prep for structures

    Hi all

    For my structures on my new layout I want to plan for lighting , inside and out , down the road a little bit
    Question is what should I do to prepare for adding lighting to the structures as I build them . The lighting will be added later if I'm able too .
    I don't want light bleed , so I'm thinking I should paint the insides of the styrene black before I put them together , correct ?
    Being that I want interior overhead interior lights for my paper mill building as well as outdoor wall lights , what should I do before hand to prepare for lights later ? Should I install the interior lights before I build them ? I was hoping to do this later , as I don't know anything about lighting and need to learn this later , if I that works

    Thanks for any help , I don't know the first thing about lights

    Steve

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    Every structure is a little different, but you have the right idea. Paint black inside. Block any gaps. Don't have the light too close the plastic surfaces. Be prepared to adjust after you light it up. Powering it up will shed light on what you have missed. Hah. You don't have to do the lights first but it sure helps to black out the inside first. I have discovered that exterior lights are as important as interior. Particularly for industrial buildings.
    Daniel Dawson

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    Good that you're doing lights!

    Mainly on the inside you want to block leakage. Some materials will block the light without paint like perhaps wood or thicker styrene. If you can, paint inside after assembly so no worries on the paint getting in the way of glue. Black will block light but also will not help it reflect back into the room. So I sometimes paint black, let dry, then paint over it with flat white to reflect back.

    Get a light wired up on some test leads and after assembly you can check if the light is leaking out easily by moving the light around. Plan for wires to be routed. Not rocket science stuff.

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    Hey Steve.

    The type of structure may determine the best phasing for painting and installation. For lasercut buildings I usually paint the exterior and interior on the uncut sheets, the interior can just be spray paint black or brown.

    For plastic/styrene buildings, I usually assemble the walls and either roof or floor, so everything is fairly stable. Then spray the interior, then the exterior. Or sometimes I get too excited and paint the exterior color first, then I have to mask off all the exterior to paint that interior coat (to avoid dark overspray on my nice exterior.)

    You do of course need to think through where lights are likely to go and how they will connect. A couple flood light on the exterior walls? A single lamp in the interior? Those are fairly easy to install so no special prep needed beyond the painting. But if you're thinking of lighting up different sections of the interior (to make it look like different rooms) it takes more planning. Maybe add some dividers inside. If there are multiple floors involved, it might be easier to just darken certain windows. For large complex buildings, the interior and exterior lights can be a bit of a project. For each LED in there you got little wires tangling up in there, and you have to think about how the circuit is going to work for it. Does each LED get their own resistor or do you link the LEDs in series of threes with a smaller resistor? How are you going to connect it to the power on the layout?

    I like my buildings removable so they can be worked on, so for me that means each building gets a connector to plug into, and the circuit for the lights is then all contained within the structure. Only thing on the layout is the footprint for the building and a small plug to plug into with 12V DC power.

    You'll want to test your lighting circuits prior to installation. It's a real bummer to burn out a LED on light that's already glued to the building. In most cases, I assemble and paint the building completely prior to installing lights. But in most cases, the building will need to either have an open floor or a removable roof in order to get inside for the wiring.

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    Hi Steve,

    I use these Power Distribution Boards that I found on eBay. You can hook up to 28 lights directly to the board. It has a setting on it so that the output power can be 3V, 12V, or equal to the input power. I have mine set at 3V so I don't need resistors on my white led lights. The input power can be 4V to 24V AC/DC. You can hook up an external switch to turn them on and off if you want. I power mine from an Arduino and control turning them on and off from my train software. If you need more than 28 lights you can use a connector to chain the boards together and use the same input power.

    https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Power-Distri...72.m2749.l2649

    I mount the boards close to where I have a bunch of lights so that I can limit the amount of wires running back to where my Arduino is. I use separate boards for building lights and street lights so I can turn them on/off separately.

    Anyway I thought I would tell about these in case you or somebody else is interested in them.
    Regards,
    Warren

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    Whichever type of lighting you choose (LEDs or grain-of-wheat bulbs), test your lights before even thinking of installing them in a building.

    Plan ahead for the time when a light burns out and you have to replace it.

    If not installing lights as you assemble the building, plan ahead for your lighting (and make notes if your memory is bad like mine).

    IMHO, it's much easier to install the lighting as the building is assembled.
    - Gary R.

    President & CEO
    Pinnacle & Western Railroad

    Never under-do the over-kill.

    I don't always stop for trains, but when ... oh wait!, Yes I do.

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    If the buildings aren't going to have detailed interiors it's a good idea to fog the windows with some flat finish. If you spray it from the inside, the windows will still have a glassy sheen on the outside.

    If the buildings have solid bases, make sure you drill holes for the light wiring to pass through (seems like a no-brainer, but I've senior-momented that step on more than one occasion).

    Adding exterior/wall lights "after the fact" seems like it would be difficult. That's something I always take care of as I'm putting the building together. EG -



    -Mark

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    Adding the obvious, at least for one story buildings: go ahead and plant the building but make the roofs removable.

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    Hi Aflica,

    I've used copper foil(stained glass supply) to route the power up the walls and along the ceiling in some of my buildings. It's adhesive, flat and can be painted over AFTER you've soldered the LED/bulb in place. This eliminates the "how do I glue the wires in place" issue.

    I've also drilled a hole through the floor and inserted the lights from below. This requires a plastic tube to support the wires and LED/bulb. It also allows you to adjust the height of the light inside the building.

    Aluminum foil glued to the roof will reflect the light and block it from shining thru the building. This works best in low buildings where you can't see the ceiling.
    Happy Modeling

    Bruce

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    One issue I'm planning for is that each building with lighting will have a mini-connector between the structure's internal bus and the layout's lighting energy distribution bus. If I need to remove the structure, I can simply lift it up and unplug it.

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    All great advice here , please keep it coming

    The building are for my Paper Mill , so no interior floors or rooms . I do want wall lights on the outside of the buildings as well as overhead lights inside .
    I will make the building removable and I am thinking about a plug system that passes thru the layout and unplug underneath the benchwork for each building

    Has anyone used strip lights for the over head lights in a building ?

    Steve

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    I am using LED strip lights cut down into smaller sections to light the interiors of my buildings. The roll is designed to be cut down into sections with 3 LEDs per section, but I have been cutting it down further on an as need basis.

    See the link below to the results.

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...414#post596414

    I am using the Woodland Scenics Just Plug system to control the first floor level of my shops. (taking the easy way out). The second floors will be controlled by an Arduino and resistors to both control and dim down the lighting to simulate little plastic people turning lights on and off.

    One thing I am wanting to experiment with is fiber-optics as I have seen some VERY good results with them. Haven't been able to locally source the material yet.

    Keep us posted on your progress.
    Bo D.
    B&O Keyridge Subdivision
    I'm not allowed to run the train, the whistle I can't blow. I'm not allowed to say how fast the Railroad Train can go.
    I'm not allowed to shoot off steam, nor even clang the bell. But let the damned Train jump the track, and see who catches hell!


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    Can you use the Woodland scenics just plug it light hub for 3v led's ?
    From what I gather the led's from Woodland scenics are 24v ?
    And they say to only use their led bulbs

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by aflica View Post
    And they say to only use their led bulbs
    I mean, that is what I would say too if I was selling LEDs at the mark up that they have them at. Definitely paying for the convenience factor.

    Check out these two posts of my playing....er... testing out different lights with the system.

    First link is with two of their lights, one strip LED purchased off of ebay, and those decorative lights found around the Holidays all plugged into one hub.

    http://nscale.net/forums/showthread....-Modular/page8

    This next link is of my Dumas VW Garage's lights. As you can see, I cut down strip lights and soldered them together to fit the buildings.

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...571#post525571

    I will admit that I do not fully understand what the hub is rated for.... for things like this, I usually try something and hope for the best. Trial and error, trial and error.

    Just last night, I was trying out making a splitter for one of the positions on the hub. You can buy a splitter from WS, but I have all of the parts laying around so..... why not try to make one and safe a few $$$.
    Bo D.
    B&O Keyridge Subdivision
    I'm not allowed to run the train, the whistle I can't blow. I'm not allowed to say how fast the Railroad Train can go.
    I'm not allowed to shoot off steam, nor even clang the bell. But let the damned Train jump the track, and see who catches hell!


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    It's very simple (and cheap) to make your own LED driver boards and wire up your LEDs the way you want to. Here's a post I wrote on it two years ago -

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...y-LED-lighting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nskale View Post
    It's very simple (and cheap) to make your own LED driver boards and wire up your LEDs the way you want to. Here's a post I wrote on it two years ago -

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...y-LED-lighting
    I'd forgotten this! All hail the CL2!

    BTW, @Nskale, how many 20mA LEDs is one CL2 good for? When does it get too hot due to load? I'm not seeing anything on a data sheet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    I'd forgotten this! All the CL2!

    BTW, @Nskale, how 20mA LEDs is one CL2 good for? When does it get too hot due to load?
    Long post coming ...

    Depends on your supply voltage to the CL2. No matter how many LEDs are connected in series, or what color they are (i.e. different voltage drops), it will always supply 20 mA. That's what it does.

    The key is the supply voltage vs the voltage drop of all the LEDs. Lets say you want white LEDs which have a drop of ~3.1 V. The voltage the CL2 will require for itself is 5V. So your supply voltage has to be enough to at least supply a voltage to light (at least) one LED after the CL2 drops 5V.

    Example:

    I have a 24 V supply. The available voltage for the LED string would then be 24 - 5 = 19V. If I hook up just one white LED then I'd have plenty of available voltage left over for more LEDs

    19 - 3.1 = 15.9V for more LEDs in series

    or, how many white LEDs can I use with 24V?

    (24 - 5) / 3.1 = 6.13

    So we can use 6 white LEDs in series with a 24V supply to the CL2. They will all get 20 mA. Or the data sheet states the CL2 can use up to a 90V supply -

    (90 - 5) / 3.1 = 24.4 (24) white LEDs

    Of course you can mix/match different colors in series just add up the drops (each color is a little different), same equation.

    When does it get too hot due to load?
    Good question! From the datasheet, the power dissipation is 0.6W (600 mW) max (with no heat sink). The device always supplies 20 mA. So how much voltage can it drop across itself and not surpass 600 mW? Power = V * I. Or V = P/I

    .6 / .02 = 30 V max drop across the CL2 @ 20 mA

    How would that happen? Well, if you had a supply of 90V and hooked up only one white LED, then you'd have

    90 - 3.1 = 86.9 Volts across the driver @ 20 mA. That's a power dissipation of 86.9 * .02 = 1.74 watts. That would destroy the CL2.

    So, the point is, try to use all the voltage drop you can for each CL2 depending on the power supply you want to use. If you want to drive just one LED you can just hook up a few more LEDs under the table in series with the one you are using and that will take care of the problem.

    I would buy this driver now. It only drops 2V -

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/5-x-20mA-LE...item25ef235250

    If you want to light up several buildings just run the series wiring to and from each one - that's what I do. This is all very simple really. I personally wouldn't pay for Woodland Scenics lighting because, with the amount of money they want, you can buy enough LEDs <-- very inexpensive!, and drivers to light up plenty of your layout and have lot's of money left over. Plus you will have no mysterious circuits in a box that you might not be able to repair. You will understand your wiring and circuit!

    Make a simple board like I did, very easy afternoon project.

    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nskale View Post
    Long post coming ...

    Depends on your supply voltage to the CL2. No matter how many LEDs are connected in series, or what color they are (i.e. different voltage drops), it will always supply 20 mA. That's what it does.

    The key is the supply voltage vs the voltage drop of all the LEDs. Lets say you want white LEDs which have a drop of ~3.1 V. The voltage the CL2 will require for itself is 5V. So your supply voltage has to be enough to at least supply a voltage to light (at least) one LED after the CL2 drops 5V.

    Example:

    I have a 24 V supply. The available voltage for the LED string would then be 24 - 5 = 19V. If I hook up just one white LED then I'd have plenty of available voltage left over for more LEDs

    19 - 3.1 = 15.9V for more LEDs in series

    or, how many white LEDs can I use with 24V?

    (24 - 5) / 3.1 = 6.13

    So we can use 6 white LEDs in series with a 24V supply to the CL2. They will all get 20 mA. Or the data sheet states the CL2 can use up to a 90V supply -

    (90 - 5) / 3.1 = 24.4 (24) white LEDs

    Of course you can mix/match different colors in series just add up the drops (each color is a little different), same equation.



    Good question! From the datasheet, the power dissipation is 0.6W (600 mW) max (with no heat sink). The device always supplies 20 mA. So how much voltage can it drop across itself and not surpass 600 mW? Power = V * I. Or V = P/I

    .6 / .02 = 30 V max drop across the CL2 @ 20 mA

    How would that happen? Well, if you had a supply of 90V and hooked up only one white LED, then you'd have

    90 - 3.1 = 86.9 Volts across the driver @ 20 mA. That's a power dissipation of 86.9 * .02 = 1.74 watts. That would destroy the CL2.

    So, the point is, try to use all the voltage drop you can for each CL2 depending on the power supply you want to use. If you want to drive just one LED you can just hook up a few more LEDs under the table in series with the one you are using and that will take care of the problem.

    I would buy this driver now. It only drops 2V -

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/5-x-20mA-LE...item25ef235250

    If you want to light up several buildings just run the series wiring to and from each one - that's what I do. This is all very simple really. I personally wouldn't pay for Woodland Scenics lighting because, with the amount of money they want, you can buy enough LEDs <-- very inexpensive!, and drivers to light up plenty of your layout and have lot's of money left over. Plus you will have no mysterious circuits in a box that you might not be able to repair. You will understand your wiring and circuit!

    Make a simple board like I did, very easy afternoon project.

    Thank you, great answer! With current being constant in a series circuit (paraphrasing Kirchoff), one of these CL2s on a breadboard with the proper voltage could one building, another for a second building, etc.

    As you said, minimize voltage drop across the CL2 to keep the max wattage below specs and it should last as long or longer than the LEDs, I'd think.

    BTW, all railroad crossing predictors and motion detectors are constant current devices. The voltage on the rail that is derived from AC going through the rail (impedance results) is what the predictor uses to calculate the rate of change and hence time to crossing. As the lead loco moves closer to the crossing impedance decreases, hence voltage decreases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    BTW, all railroad crossing predictors and motion detectors are constant current devices. The voltage on the rail that is derived from AC going through the rail (impedance results) is what the predictor uses to calculate the rate of change and hence time to crossing. As the lead loco moves closer to the crossing impedance decreases, hence voltage decreases.
    Ah interesting I did not know that.

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