Author Topic: Playing in the Dark  (Read 3486 times)

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wm3798

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Playing in the Dark
« on: March 06, 2007, 10:56:08 PM »
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Okay, Today my wife had to go in for a minor medical test, but she had to be put under, so I got to take the day off.  While she slept off the sleepy dust, I started tinkering with one of my WM cabooses, following the lead of a guy over on ScaleRailsOnline...

Here's what I came up with.


For light, I used an old engine LED board.  The yellow tint looks terrible as a headlight, but it's perfect for a caboose interior.  As you can see, I bent the LED into an upright position so it would throw the light in all directions. 

Here's the key to the whole operation...

I drilled a small hole up the center of the bolster pin.  Through it, I ran a brass wire which is soldered to a wiper between the axles.  I use Atlas metal lo-pro wheelsets, which are insulated on both wheels.  While I was waiting to pick the kids up from school, I wandered through the Radio Shack, and found a circuit writing pen.  It allows you to draw a conductive material onto any surface to create a circuit.  This stuff is cool!  I simply "drew" a blob from the back of the metal part of the wheel to the axle, and voila!  The axle now carries power from the rail to the light board!  I can think of a lot of applications for this stuff, like structure lighting etc.

Here's a better look at the bottom of the truck, showing the wiper assembly... The wiper is cut from a Life Like GP20 wiper.


I added some weight to help the caboose track a little better, and drilled two holes in the factory weight, and used the extra bolsters provided in MT truck sets to insulate the wire from the weight where it passes through.  One thing that was aggravating me was the light kept blinking sporadically as the car went around the layout.  It wasn't until I looked at the above photo that I realized how cruddy the wheels were!  Once I cleaned them, the car and lights worked fine.

Here's the assembled chassis with the light on...


And a really bad shot trying to show the caboose in the dark...


Since taking the pictures, I've made the following improvements:  I added a piece of very thin white styrene over the light and under the cupola.  This allows some light to diffuse into the cupola, but also reflects more light into the rest of the car, so the other windows now appear brighter.  I also put some sheet styrene on the walls, painted black toward the outside and white on the inside.  Again, this sealed the walls against light leaks, and allows the light from the LED to bounce around inside the car more.

This car took about 3 times as long as the ConCor one I did earlier, but most of that was trying to "invent" the best pick-up system.  You could cheat by getting Kato trucks from their lighted caboose, but I don't know how readily available their parts are.

I have enough light boards to do at least 5 or 6 more caboooses, but I'll probably start out with 2 WM's, the ConCor Penn Central, and my Laurel Valley bay window (another ConCor).  Next I'm going to experiment with some fiber optics to see if I can put marker lights on the backs of them. 

Lee
« Last Edit: March 06, 2007, 10:59:30 PM by wm3798 »
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NYC1956

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2007, 07:19:38 AM »
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Looks good, Lee. Up to the end, most of the old cabooses still had a kerosene lamp on the wall over the conductor's desk. A dim yellow LED is perfect for that.
I would use silver paint on the inside. It contains a metallic pigment that is more effective than black in blocking light transmission. It also helps reflect light within the caboose.
The light block for the cupola is another nice touch. Little or no light should get up there. It would interfere with the train crew's visibility of the train at night.
Now you just have to add marker lights ;D
--Mike
Modeling the NYC of the early 1950s

SirTainly

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2007, 07:27:16 AM »
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That looks really good! :)

Not disimilar to how Lima used to do pick on trailing locomotive trucks although they used a metal clip pushed onto the live bolster pin. I suspect that was to increase the life of the wire than will move as the truck turns.

trainforfun

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2007, 07:47:26 AM »
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Very nice work , I love the way you did the power pick up , I tried to install power pick up in a CC passenger car but it was dragging way too much after , I will try your solution .

Are you on DC or DCC , if you are on DC does the light works only in one direction ?
Thanks ,
Louis



wm3798

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2007, 08:37:36 AM »
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I'm using DCC, so the light runs regardless of direction.  I'm home again this morning, this time it's the furnace getting surgery... :-X

I'll see if I can take some improved photos of the caboose in it's final form.

Lee
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wm3798

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2007, 10:49:54 AM »
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Here's some better pictures.  The furnace man's been here for 2 and half hours... pray for me!


The Penn Central cabin car I did first.  This one was easy because the wheels were already set up to conduct, and the bolster pin is built into the truck casting.  It was drill, set and solder...bahdabing bahda boom!
I need to fiddle more with the ISO and the shutter speed to get this to be a little less noisy.


Same location, different caboose, same noise...  So I tried getting away from the street lights in the background...


This is a little better.  So I dropped the ISO back down to 80, and adjusted the ambient lighting a bit...


The image is a lot cleaner here, but I lost some of the effect of the interior lighting.

I'll keep tinkering till I get something that looks right.  Any suggestions?
Lee
« Last Edit: March 07, 2007, 11:01:02 AM by wm3798 »
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sirenwerks

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2007, 10:56:55 AM »
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Lee,

Nice solution to the pick-up. I plan on cheating with the PenMarVA and, even though it will be a contemporary operation, I will be running cabooses. I just like them too much. And FREDs are so anti-climatic.

You may want to take a gander @ Ngineering's web site - www.ngineering.com. They've got some very nice, microlighting products including minature LEDs (in a variety of colors), thin wire, and tubing. Perfect products for N scale projects. There are some handy how-tos as well. Although its done in HO, one of the product photo sample features a conductor holding a lit lantern, lit using fiber optics. May be good fodder for your marker lamp project? Check it out.
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.

Mark5

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2007, 11:21:56 AM »
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Nice work. Funny I was just thinking about this sort of thing recently. For the time being I've decided to limit myself to daylight modelling.

tom mann

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2007, 11:31:52 AM »
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Lee, keep the ISO at 80 and drop the ambient lighting to what is was for the darker shots.  Bump the exposure time up to compensate.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2007, 11:33:24 AM »
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Tom just said what I was about to.

Also, LEDs give off "weird" light for cameras too, so you may have to up the ante a bit in post-processing (ie, Photoslop)

wm3798

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2007, 12:07:30 PM »
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I assume I'll be doing that in the Manual Setting (wasn't he a Renaissance composer?) on the S-3...  Let's see what I can figure out...
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wm3798

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2007, 01:33:59 PM »
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Slightly retouched, but otherwise, thanks for the directions!
Lee
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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2007, 04:10:48 PM »
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I like your pickups, and certainly if you have parts in the junk box, use them,  but Jim Hinds at Richmond Controls (www.richmondcontrols.com) sells pickups for that purpose.  I've used then for caboose lights and FREDs on box cars.


wm3798

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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2007, 10:57:38 AM »
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Looks like they have lots of neat stuff available for special effects on-board.  If I run into a brick wall on something, I'll have to look at them more closely.  Thanks.
Lee
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Re: Playing in the Dark
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2007, 07:47:00 PM »
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Along with the pickups from Richmond controls, you can add small capacitors from Ngineering to help get rid of that flicker. They have a page showing them installing in a Kato superliner, but the same idea would apply to your caboose. http://www.ngineering.com/Cap_photos.htm