Author Topic: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting  (Read 5861 times)

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mmagliaro

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Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« on: September 09, 2013, 03:55:06 AM »
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///////
EDIT

The end of this thread now has a series of photos showing a head-to-head longevity test
for various battery types in the Easy Peasy board.

EDIT
////////



I have always liked the idea of the drop-in Easy Peasy lighting boards.  They seem easy to install (at least on
the two I've done), there are no car mods needed for power pickup, and they are flicker-free.

The not-so-nice things about them are the weird greenish color of the light and the battery life.

I know that Rapido says the green color is correct and I've read discussion on this point in forums before.
Be that as it may, I really don't like it.

I wondered how hard it would be to replace the LEDs to get a more natural color.   Here is the result of a couple of hours of experimentation I did tonight.    I am really happy with how this came out.    Better light color AND longer battery life!

Before I started, I removed a battery, and used some jumpers to wire in an ammeter.  The stock Easy Peasy board uses
1.6mA of current (pretty darn low!)

First, here's a shot of my MT SP&S business car with the stock Easy Peasy in it.



I have a bag of 50 golden-white LEDs I bought off eBay a while back.  They were very cheap.  I think they were $10 with free shipping (even though they shipped all the way from China!)   They are just the right size to fit in place of the existing LEDs.

So here's the board with the LEDs replaced.  I unsoldered and pulled out the old ones and soldered these in.




I measured the current with the new LEDs in, and it was about 5mA.  Clearly, if I left it like that, the batteries would only
last about 1/3 as long as stock.   So I cut a trace and wired in a resistor to limit the current.  I settled on 220 ohms.
This gives me good light output, but still only draws 1.2mA.   Since I am drawing 25% less current, the battery life
should be about 25% longer.

(Using a small 1/8w resistor keeps the bulk down so you don't have problems with it showing or getting in the way
when you mount the board in the car)




Here's the finished car.

IMPORTANT:  This photo is shot in exactly the same position as the original photo at the top of this post,
with exactly the same lighting and camera settings.




I am still on the fence about brightness vs battery life.  I could easily change the 220 ohm to a 180 or 150, push
the current back up to the stock 1.6mA, and probably get a much brighter light.   I may yet do this.


« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 04:32:12 AM by mmagliaro »

Pete Steinmetz

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 03:26:17 PM »
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Very nice mod.  I like your use of the Golden White LED's.  I too have bought many 3mm LED's from E Bay.  I have so many, I give them away.
E Bay is a source for the batteries used in Easy Peasy.  They are sold by the tray (100 pieces).  There will be a few that are dead, but they sure are cheap.

I am going to do a big modification on an Easy Peasy and use it in a Bachmann On30 passenger car.  It will require cutting the board into two or three pieces. I may add another LED or 2 for better coverage.

Part of my move to Dead Rail.

Pete Steinmetz
Dead Rail Society
Pete Steinmetz
Encinitas, CA

mmagliaro

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 04:56:32 PM »
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Be wary of the large lots of batteries on eBay.  Some may be fine, some may not.

There are SR41 and LR41, for example.  SR41 are silver oxide and will maintain almost their full output voltage
up until they drop dead, which to me is much more desirable than the alkaline variety which
will steadily fade as they are used.  SR41's also have about 30% longer life than the LR41.

Another experiment I'm going to try soon...

I am going to pick up some #394 (SR45).  These are the same thickness as the SR41, but are 1.6mm larger in
diameter.  I think I will be able to make those fit in the holders on the Easy Peasy board.   If they do,
they will provide 70 mAh instead of 44 mAh of life.   Since the current draw is 1.6mA,
that translates to  44 hours of battery life instead of 27 for the recommended battery size!

There's one other subtle battery option.   These batteries come in "W" and "SW" variants,
as in SR41W or SR41SW.  The "SW" are "low-drain" type.  They do not have the surge current capacity
that the "W" have (high drain type), but we don't need it in this application, and the SW supposedly last
a bit longer than the high-drain type in low-power applications.


bbussey

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2013, 07:34:11 PM »
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I am still on the fence about brightness vs battery life.  I could easily change the 220 ohm to a 180 or 150, push
the current back up to the stock 1.6mA, and probably get a much brighter light.   I may yet do this.

My personal preference would be to actually go the other way and dim the lights more, especially if the illuminated interior is visible in normal room light.  N scale interior lighting tends to be far brighter than than what it actually would be at 1:1.
Bryan Busséy
NHRHTA #2246
NSE #1117
www.bbussey.net


nkalanaga

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 01:42:38 AM »
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I'll agree with Bryan B on brightness.  Most of the coaches I've ridden in had fairly dim lights.  Even the "reading lights" weren't great, and the ceiling/floor lights were intended to keep passengers from tripping over things.  These weren't "living room bright" lights.  Also, unless the train was approaching/at a station, the ceiling lights were usually off in the coaches, so the passengers who wished to could sleep.

Diners and lounge cars, on the other hand, typically had brighter lights, because people were expected to be looking at things, especially their food and drink.  Working RPOs were basically extinct before I paid much attention to trains, but they probably had bright lights.
N Kalanaga
Be well

rogergperkins

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 04:33:37 AM »
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I installed several of these lights sometime ago, i.e. shortly after I learned they existed.
I experimented with various approaches in terms of the types of tape or transfer adhesive that worked best for me
to attach the lights to a underside of the car roof.
My installations are in MTL heavy weights and ConCor smooth side passenger cars.  The fit is tight in certain body styles the MTL cars, as I recall the lights are too long for the RPO.
I have used a few as a way of adding interior lights to a building, i.e. Union Station.
My main problem with using them is that I broke a few of the switches in my attempt
to re-install the light or batteries. This is a comment on my lack of dexterity.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 04:36:22 AM by rogergperkins »

Chris333

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2013, 05:16:45 AM »
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I wonder if the tinted lights are to mimic tinted windows?

mmagliaro

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2013, 11:47:02 AM »
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Regarding the dimness or brightness of the lights...

I think this is one of those cases where "prototype" isn't what I want.

How dim should the room lights be before the passenger car lighting is visible?  The car lighting
needs to actually be brighter than prototype because I don't want to have to have a pitch black room before
I can see the lights well.    If I lower the room lights on a dimmer, but people can still clearly see each other and
see, for example, the track (and other unlit items on the layout), I still want the passenger car lighting to
be quite viewable.   

As for the green tint, there was a thread on railwire about this some time ago:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=26154.0

There is a comment from kornellred  in that thread quoting the head of Rapido:

"Jason Shron, founder and proprietor of RapidoTrains, remarked that the Easy-Peasy lighting modules were deliberately shaded to represent what interior railroad car lighting looked like through Solex window glass at night, as viewed from outside, of course.  Solex was not the only tinted glass being used, but it was pretty extensive in railroad applications.  It is correct for the Panorama series cars that RapidoTrains offers."


Also, the lighting of these boards behaves quite differently in a non-Rapido car.  In a Rapido car, the light channels
in the light board itself match up with channels in the clear plastic inserts in the sides of the actual car and
that makes for a fairly nice uniform "glow" all down the sides.  But in other cars, like this MT one I showed, the light
just spreads out from the inside of the roof.  It's still pretty good, but not as uniform and not as bright.
I'm going to do my swap in an actual Rapido car tonight and see how that compares.


bbussey

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2013, 06:28:30 PM »
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If the appearance you're attempting to achieve is a more realistic "incandescent" temperature on the light for heavyweight illumination, I think you've succeeded.  But if a semblance of realism also is part of the goal, then N Kalanaga's assessment is accurate.  I used to ride the Silver Meteor between New York and Savannah in the 1960s and early 1970s pre-Amtrak, and I've taken enough trains to Philly and Washington in current times.  The diners (and possibly the lounges) would be bright, the coaches would be dim, and the sleepers would be dark.  The coaches were akin to airplane interiors at night today, with the tiny floor illumination so you didn't bump into the seats.  Sure, you had the individual lighting for each seat — but the glass was so tinted that you barely saw it from the outside.  That's why, to me, interior coach lighting is overrated.  The only cars I personally would consider illuminating are diners and lounges, and I would only illuminate the dining room and lounge area respectively.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 06:37:20 PM by bbussey »
Bryan Busséy
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SkipGear

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2013, 07:11:24 PM »
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I don't like the hot spots that the Rapido kit has. The best looking lighting I have dealt with so far is the no longer available Walthers lighting kits. The color was good and light distribution was excellent. You didn't have the hot spots like the Kato and Rapido style kits. They were track pickup though and quite finicky but you could shorten them as needed because there was an LED every 1.25" or so. I cut them up and use them as Bryan was describing, just to light certain sections of a car, not the whole thing.

Then again there is the do-it-yourself version....mirror finish vinyl decal stuck to the inside roof and some white LED's.



Tony Hines

peteski

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2013, 07:37:00 PM »
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That's why, to me, interior coach lighting is overrated.  The only cars I personally would consider illuminating are diners and lounges, and I would only illuminate the dining room and lounge area respectively.

So, are you saying the in the kitchen, they prepared meals in the dark?  :trollface:
. . . 42 . . .

mmagliaro

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2013, 03:10:46 AM »
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Well, rather than drift into a debate over which car lighting system is best, I just want to discuss improvements to the Rapido boards.
(That doesn't mean your home-brewed board isn't nice, Tony.  It is great.).   The hot spots do not seem to be a problem when these
boards are installed in an actual Rapido car, because the those carry the light pipe channels down the sides from the top
and all the windows glow quite uniformly.  But in other cars, yes, the light-pipe board doesn't do as good a job.  I'm wondering about covering the bottom of the LED with some foil to alleviate this.

And yes,
natural incandescent coloring, with all the cars lit, and probably lit brighter than prototype, is what I am after here.
You can chalk that up to the "Lionel" part of my brain.     :)

============================================================================================

Now... here's another mod I made, and this one really helps for those of you who hate the relatively short battery life in these
Rapido boards.

First, if you use stock batteries, make sure you buy SR41, NOT LR41 (or AG3).  The batteries packaged with the boards
are the AG3's.    The Silver Oxide type are what you want, not the alkaline.
You will get about 30% more batter life just from that.

But wait, before you run out and buy SR41's...
Upon measuring and reviewing the sizes of commonly available coin cells,
I noticed that the SR45 is the same thickness as the SR41, but is 1.6mm larger in diameter. It is still not wider than the
circuit board, so I see no reason it should cause any fit problems when installing these in a car.  With a little unsoldering and bending of the holders, I mounted SR45's in there, like so:



Depending on manufacturer, the mAh ratings on the SR41 vs SR45 is something like 42 vs 65.  So you will get 50% more
battery life by using the SR45's.  And when you consider that the batteries that come with the kit are LR41  (only about
30mAh), I am now getting DOUBLE the battery life that you get when you buy the stock board and install it.
(about 40 hrs vs 20).

If I were doing this in production, I would buy the correct PC board holders for 3.6mm x 9.5mm batteries, so they wouldn't be
bent up and a little ugly.  But they hold the batteries firmly and they work fine.  The batteries are no harder to put in and out
than the stock ones.




« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 04:32:40 AM by mmagliaro »

OldEastRR

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2013, 09:44:14 PM »
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How do I post pics and images to this site? It is not obvious to me from the icons shown.

peteski

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2013, 10:36:52 PM »
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How do I post pics and images to this site? It is not obvious to me from the icons shown.

See https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=26436.0
. . . 42 . . .

eja

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Re: Modifications to Easy Peasy Passenger Car Lighting
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2013, 01:12:34 AM »
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I have given up on the Easy Peasy lights.   The magic wand just doesn't seem to work that well. On some Kato cars it works fine. On the MT heavyweight cars it is a random event.

No idea it it is the thickness of the shells or what.   Your experience may vary. To me, they have not proven to be worth the cost. 


I do congratulate Rapido, however.  I broke the reed switch while trying to fit one into a MT car and they gave me a free replacement board and a couple of batteries to boot.  Thanks guys. !
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 01:15:27 AM by eja »