Thursday, August 23, 2012

It was lights, camera, inaction.. - Terry Gilliam

I managed to string up 3 sets of the LED's yesterday and connected them to the power supplies to test them out on the lower deck of the layout, plus one exposed loop of the helix.  I'm using the 150 LED per 5 meter reels on the bottom deck.  The upper deck will get the 300 per 5 meter reels.  The stronger lights on the upper deck have a greater space to illuminate, 30" from ceiling to the track.  And since the upper deck is half as wide as the lower for much of the layout, the light from the upper deck LEds will spill over and help illuminate the lower deck, so hence the reason I went with fewer LEDs per 5 meter for the lower.

Lower Level lit up, with the room lights off.

Lower level at York Yard with the lights on, room lights off.

I used the smaller sized LEDs (the 3528 as apposed to the 5050s) for the helix since I already had them, and there is only 8" separation from the next loop up. 

Illuminated Helix.

Once I work out how I'm going to hang my valance for the top deck, I'll install the lighting there also.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Craters, Lava domes, and LED Lighting...

We've just returned from our vacation where we sailed the Mediterranean, and ate our way across southern Europe.  We took advantage of the Euro Zone crisis and got a spectacular deal on a 12 night cruise which sailed from Barcelona Spain to Croatia, Italy and France.  We cashed in our frequent flyer miles and wound up with a trip of a lifetime that cost us less than some of the vacations we spent here at home in the USA.  It was a lot of fun, but as you can tell, I didn't get anything accomplished on the layout in the past couple of weeks.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was being able to hike up to the crater of Mt. Vesuvius just outside of  Naples, Italy.  Can't tell which was the bigger dome: my head, or the lava dome inside Vesuvius. ;)

Just before I left, I had placed an order for LED lights and power supplies from my favorite supplier: Citypower Mall, in Hong Kong.  Here is the link to their eBay store:

When I got home, my order was waiting for me and I'm looking forward to putting up the LEDs to light the layout.

Here I have two reels of 5050 size LED, 300 per 5 meters, and two reels of 5050 size 150 per meter light strings.  Also pictured are two 12v 12.5 amp power supplies to power up the lights.

All of these LED strips give off a ton of light.  One of the local modelers in my area, Jerry Woolley, who models the New York & Long Branch RR in HO scale, is using 5050 -150 LED per 5 meter strips exclusively on his layout.  I think they look great and give off the right amount of light needed. 

Lower deck lighting on Jerry's layout.

Another look with a more close up view.  Notice how there is even light cast over the scene without the over lapping shadows you get with spaced CFLs, incandescent bulbs, or even daisy chained florescent fixtures.

You can check out the beautiful work Jerry is doing on his layout along with more shots and explanations of his lighting at his website:

Some of the advantages of using LEDs are that they have an extremely long lifespan, use low voltage, have low power consumption and are finally cheap to buy now.  I paid the following for my LEDs and power supplies:

2- 5 meter reels of 150 LEDs per 5 meter (the 5050 size) $17.99 each with free shipping.

2- 5 meter reels of 300 LEDs per 5 meter reel (5050 size) are $20.99 each with free shipping.

Awhile back, I had bought a reel of 300 (smaller 3558 sized LED) to test out, and though they were smaller, they still gave off quite a bit of light.  These can be had for $8.99, free shipping.  I'll use these smaller ones to light the helix loops.

2- 12 volt 12.5 amp power supplies can be had for $29.99 each.  One of these is good enough to power 2 to 3, 150 LED per 5 meter reels rated 3-5 amps per reel.  (They also carry a 12 volt 20 amp power supply for $39.99 which can power up to 4-
5050 size, 150 LED per 5 meter rolls or 3, 300 LED per 5 meter rolls.  These are free shipping also).
So the grand total for enough lighting to light 60 feet of layout was $137.94. 

I will start installing them this coming week and I'll post pictures once they are up.