Cheap way to light structures.

Discussion in 'Layout Electronics' started by trainchaser007, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    I have an HO, DC layout. I wanted to light my structures. My 8'x5.5' layout has no terrain except for a small creek the depth of the 3/4" plywood table top it sits on. All I needed was a strand of lights with at least one bulb coming up through the plywood into each structure that has openings. Here's what I did.
    I bought a strand of 100 Christmas tree lights on clearance after Christmas. I drilled a hole through the plywood under each desired structure. The holes need to be wide enough for a bulb's socket to come through the plywood but not so large that the bulb sockets fall out. You can secure them in place if necessary at the end. From the male end of the strand, numbering each socket, make a list of each socket used or not used... your choice. Remove ONLY ONE unwanted/un-needed bulb. To make the remaining bulbs work, pull or cut the wires from the empty socket and connect them to make the lights come back on. Repeat this, ONE BY ONE, for each unwanted/un-needed bulb until you reach the bulb(s) for your last structure. Re-Insert the bulbs through your layout, into your structures from underneath. Hide the remaining bulbs at the end inside a metal coffee can or however you choose...with the heat of all those bulbs in mind. You can use them for future structures. If you need more clarification, let me know. - Brandon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2014
  2. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

  3. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    With those strips, how would you eliminate unwanted bulbs between structures? I admit my way isn't easy. Of the first 58 bulbs it takes to reach 10 structures, I'm soldering 47 connections where I removed unwanted bulbs. It works and having to work for it makes me appreciate it a little more. However, I am interested in more info about that product for future layouts. Thanks. - Brandon
     
  4. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Brandon, I think you missed my point; the strips can be cut into sections that are only about 1 1/2" long and each section can be connected to 12vdc. The LEDs will not burn out in our lifetime and produce virtually no heat vs the Christmas light bulbs.
     
  5. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    Oh the agony of defeat! The Christmas tree light method for lighting structures has been scrapped. I'm not sure why, but (In a strand of 100 lights) with 42 of the first 50 light sockets removed, the remaining 8 bulbs (here and there) up to where I was working would blow as if they were getting too much current. I'm not sure if that's what happened but I wired only 1 bulb to the plug and POW, the bulb blew with an attitude. I won't test that theory again. I used a ground fault outlet just in case. I could use 5 watt bulbs but I'm worried the heat would melt structures. In any case, I'll be purchasing the lights Keith mentioned... sooner or later. - Brandon
    P.S. - The method worked great initially but in the end, it was a bust.
     
  6. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I'm thinking about using the packs of grain of wheat style bulbs and running a separate bus under the layout strictly for structure lighting. Poke a hole up through the foam board, feed the pre wired bulb up through it into the structure and wire it to the bus. Maybe use one of my old cheap power packs as the power source with resistors if needed. Probably will be needed.
     
  7. DanHyde

    DanHyde Member

    Many of those " Christmas " sets are wired in series. That means that they all need to be together to work. They are usually a lower voltage than the input voltage, so when the correct voltage AND the correct number of lights are in the circuit, they work. If you remove too many, its like putting 110 volts into a few 20 volt bulbs - too much, and they blow. This is a bit simplified, but you get the idea.
    Dan
     
  8. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    That's what I assumed... The same voltage spread across only 58% of the original 100 bulbs increased the voltage of each bulb left until they blew. Thanks for the confirmation. - Brandon
     
  9. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Brandon, the miniature Christmas lights are, as Dan pointed out, wired in series. Each bulb's operating voltage is somewhere near 1.5 volts. They do not work well individually with a 1.5v source and especially not in parallel, because inside each of the bulbs, there is a resistance wire connected in parallel with the filament. It is there to allow the rest of a string to light even if the filament in the bulb burns out. That resistance wire adds a lot of current draw when a number of bulbs are connected in parallel; the end result is the need for a larger power supply.

    The LED strips that I recommended work very well. As I mentioned before, they can be cut into groups of three, with any group capable of operating on 12 volts. The entire strip of 300 LEDS only draws a maximum of 2 amps of current.
     
  10. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    I now have a roll of these LED lamps.
    1. Connected to a DC power supply, will the LED's dim and brighten with the speed control up/down?
    2. If so, can I instead power them with any of the old AC to 12v DC transformers/adapters of various amp outputs that I already have on hand? If not, I'll use an extra/backup DC power supply I have on hand (my first one - 34 years old and still going stong) It's just like this one...
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Bachmann-N-...del_RR_Trains&hash=item5411094452#ht_25wt_916.
    3. Does anyone know how many amps each LED draws? If all 300 LED's draw 2 amps, I assume each would only draw .00666A or 6.666 mA... if I calculated that correctly. That would help me determine which transformer/adapter to use if I can use any of them at all.
    4. Could I use some wire to connect from the end of the first strip to the next, then on to the next, and so on until I reach the last one, or does each strip need to be powered independently? Please don't tell me I have to solder them all to another (AC) bus... but if I do, then I will I suppose.
    - Brandon (who knows just enough about electricity to respect it and ask questions when in doubt)
     
  11. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    My answers above in red.
     

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