I understand someone great once said that! I have always planned to install some lights under the top deck to light the bottom deck of the layout in various locations around the layout. As soon as you build a second or more decks on your layout, this structure stops the room lighting from having a effect on many places on the deck below. Our Club had recently installed two lengths of 5m white LED strips on our Club HO exhibition layout. These LED lights seemed to work quite well, and were tested a few weeks back when this layout was displayed at the Gold Coast Model Train Exhibition. Since I have installed the new top deck to support around Park Road Sidings and South Brisbane Interstate, the old top deck around Fairy Hill Loop has become very dark, as the top deck in this area is basically a large sheet of ply. Light does not penetrate this stuff believe me.
So a few weeks back while on holidays, I purchased a 5m reel of LED's on ebay from some of the birthday money from my Mother-in-law provided. The LED's were delivered on Friday. For the measerly sum of $10.99 I now have a means to test lighting various locations around the layout. Today I went down to the shed and with a few strips of masking tape, I temporarily located the string of LED's above Fairy Hill Loop. I tested one strip and then I doubled teh strip back up the other side of the basebaord providing two strips of LED's in the test area. I then moved the LED's to above the Kyogle Stock Siding, which has the baseboard for Fisherman Islands above it. Again this location is also quite dark since the flat deck of Fisherman Islands was installed. Again, I tested a single strip and then doubled the strip up and tested it again.
For a power supply, I used an old cheap 12V DC trainset transformer that I test all my DCC decoder installs with. This apparently delivers about 0.36 Amps at 12V's. However, by adjusting the voltage I was able to see the affects of the voltage on the strings of LED's.
Overall I'm quite happy with the results. I think I will need to purchase about about another 24 rolls of the stuff to go anywhere near providing enough light intensity to light the various decks and peninsulars on the layout . At this stage my plan is that I will need at least 2 and sometimes three strips of LED's in parallel for some baseboard scenes and then I can adjust the intensity with a variable resistor. I think my next test will be with a set of RGB LED's so I can try alternate colours of LED's. Apparently these LED's you can adjust the colour to simulate either dusk, dawn or even midday with tinges of yellow, orange, red, and blue in the colour output. But until I get my hands on a set, I can't say for sure if they will work.
In an ideal world, all this lighting technology could be computer controlled to vary the intensity of the light to match the timetable clock. Who knows what pieces of DCC compatible kit will be available in the future? We can but wait! In the meantime, I am glad I have successfully completed the first test of layout lighting.
2 days ago