Saturday, March 5, 2016

Let There Be Light!

 As you can probably tell by the title of this post and the above photos, I've been installing lighting on the layout. On my last layout, I waited a bit to do this step, but since I made parts of this layout really difficult, if not impossible to access once the scenery is completed, it was now or never. The lack of access also mandated the use of LEDs for lighting. Unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs last a long time, probably the life the layout. As an added bonus, they use a fraction of the power.

With that in mind I added some LEDs to the industrial structures in Gallitzin. Then I ordered some industrial-looking street lights from China. I must say with the room lights turned down, they look awesome. If that weren't enough, I took some blinking red LEDs and added them to the roof of the cement plant to simulate aircraft warning lights.

Now the thing about LEDs is their low power consumption does complicate wiring a bit. The plain LEDs came with preinstalled resistors and I could hook them directly to a 12-volt power supply. The street lights on the other hand did not, thus they required their own dedicated 3 volt circuit.

DC-DC Buck Converter steps the voltage from the power suppl down to the right level
Powering all these lights is an Astron HAM radio power supply. As supplied, it puts out 13 volts. This required a device called a DC-DC Buck Converter to step down the voltage. I purchased three off eBay (seller "tomtop_shop). I then took the main feed from the power supply and ran in to an Atlas Connector box, this not only split the feed into three but also gave me a master shutoff for each. I set one converter for 12 volts, the other for 3. I then ran those feed to another set of connector boxes on the control panel, giving me several circuits for each voltage.

I've also been working on the residential part of Gallitzin, which is set into a hillside. My original plan was to make steps of of styrofoam, but thy ended up being too steep. After some head scratching I decided to use some cardboard sheets to create more gradual steps down. Once the lighting for the houses and street lights is done, I should be able to tie this area up rather quickly.

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