Author Topic: Layout Lighting  (Read 1284 times)

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Baronjutter

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Layout Lighting
« on: January 31, 2014, 04:24:58 PM »
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Hi guys,  I'm making a double-decker layout and I have LED strips for my bottom deck but I'm realizing the single dim ceiling light in my train room is NOT enough to light the upper deck.  I'd love to have a fancy valance and storage above my layout but I'm in an apartment so nothing can be fixed to the walls.

What are my option here?  Could I create a shallow valance above my plywood backdrop and have a strip lighting it or would that look bad?  Is there a way I could replace the light in my room with something brighter? 

Philip H

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2014, 05:12:44 PM »
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Lots of guys use small clip on lights (Ikea has several models) to add fill spots attached to the backdrop. Others get old cheap trac lights (from your nearest Habitat ReStore) and use those.

Ed did a thing with Christmas tree lights over his styrofoam layout. sad to say but it's surprisingly effective in person.  :facepalm:
Philip H.
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Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

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Baronjutter

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2014, 05:31:34 PM »
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How would you mount/wire those options?

I guess LED's are pretty light,  in theory I could probably make a very simple foam valance or something attached to just the ply of my backdrop.

Would it have to be as deep as my layout or would a single strip maybe only 1' out from the backdrop do on a 2' thick layout?

Something like this?
« Last Edit: January 31, 2014, 05:37:29 PM by Baronjutter »

robwill84

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2014, 06:15:14 PM »
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I'm considering something like this on a 26 (wide) x 38 inch layout. I would expect that if the lighting only came out to the middle of he layout, the front edge would look much darker by comparison. I plan to build a lighting valence out of 1x3 lumber, and install 3 compact 36" long flourescent lights on the front edge, middle, and against the backdrop. What kind of LED strips did you use on your lower deck? Something more compact like that might work better, and keep the valance thinner and lighter.

Baronjutter

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2014, 06:18:02 PM »
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I've got the cheap cheap chinese super bright LED strips with the tape on the back. They're quite nice.

Philip H

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2014, 06:20:43 PM »
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The Ikea clips are prewired with individual plugs and switches. They have spring clips and flexible necks. You could mount 4 of them on the top of the backdrop and plug them into a power strip to serve as a single on/off switch.
Philip H.
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Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

jimmo

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2014, 09:27:40 PM »
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You really want the lighting to be out front to illuminate your scene, especially if your trains are anywhere near the edge. Backlit trains just don't show well. The valance on my shelf-style layout actually protrudes out beyond the layout edge so the places where the track meanders closer to the front, it doesn't go into shadow. This works out well because the layout is mounted fairly high (58" to railhead) on the wall as it shares the room with my office. Since it's mounted on vertical double-slot metal shelf brackets both the layout and the overhead mount to them.
James R. Will

robert3985

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2014, 01:26:01 AM »
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I live in a rented home and can't hang anything from the ceiling.  My modular layout is portable, which means lighting valences are problematic.  So, I solved the problem by using the cheapest clamp-on swing arm lamps (with ceramic 100W sockets) I could find.  I had some light blue ones, but that color is long unavailable, so I ordered a dozen white ones.  They plug into the tops of the 2X2 balusters which support my skyboard and I space two or three per 6' section as appropriate.

I also have tossed the 100W incandescent light bulbs and now me and my partner use 23W (100 W incandescent equivalent) 6500K fluorescent CFL's, which mimic daylight.

They're not the most high-zoot, high speed/low drag way of lighting things, but I don't notice them as my eyes are on my trains.  It's also nice to be able to reach up and pull one down for a really close look at something I'm installing or repairing.

Here's a photo of the lights and modules at the Evanston Roundhouse Festival in 2012:


I bought mine four years ago for around 12 bucks apiece, but the price from my source has gone up.  Here's where I got mine: http://www.dickblick.com/products/swing-arm-lamp/

wcfn100

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2014, 01:50:37 AM »
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Here's a photo of the lights and modules at the Evanston Roundhouse Festival in 2012:


How do you power all that and stay within fire code in regards to extension chords and power strips?

Jason
« Last Edit: February 01, 2014, 01:52:17 AM by wcfn100 »

robert3985

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2014, 02:13:09 AM »
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How do you power all that and stay within fire code in regards to extension chords and power strips?

Jason

They're only 23 Watts apiece as opposed to the old 100 Watt incandescents.  Haven't had a fire inspector say anything about 'em or our setup and there's no hot extension cords like with the incandescents a decade ago.  The big cord stays nice and cool.

I also don't connect the modules using power strips.  I hardwire the 120 AC with Romex and steel boxes stapled and screwed to my benchwork.

Here's a photo of the underside which shows DCC wiring, 12V DC wiring and 120AC:


Here's an overall view of the setup at shows:


20 lights, 23 Watts each, 460 Watts.  Not much.  I have a hair dryer in my workshop that's 1500 Watts and works just fine in a wall socket in my workshop.  That's 3.26 times the wattage that our lights draw.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2014, 02:34:07 AM by robert3985 »

Baronjutter

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2014, 03:37:37 AM »
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I've been trying to search for good 100w equiv LED bulbs but I'm having trouble finding ones for a good price and quality, any recommendations on bulbs?  I'd love to replace the dim little 60w grandpa style bulb in my train room with the best brightest LED money can buy.  Heck I'd love a 60w LED with like 2000 lumins or something crazy.

bdennis

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2014, 05:00:15 AM »
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Guys,
I did a fair bit of research on lighting as I was going to use the LED strips on my layout.
I found that they don't throw enough light when 1 strip is used and you really need 3 strips together to get anywhere near acceptable light. (ie up around 1000 Lumens.)

Also, it is better if the light is as close to the front of the layout if not slightly over hanging the layout so that the view / isle side of the cars is lit..

My valance is 40mm wider than the layout deck so that the fluro is directly behind the valance.

See my blog for updates.
http://dh2ndsub.blogspot.com.au/search?updated-min=2013-01-01T00:00:00%2B11:00&updated-max=2014-01-01T00:00:00%2B11:00&max-results=28
Brendan Dennis
N scale - Delaware & Hudson Champlain Division

Chris333

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2014, 05:05:50 AM »
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My house was built in 1925 so the basement isn't much. I threw up some cheap OSB to keep the dust down and put a strip of these "party lights" around the layout:
http://www.partylights.com/Commercial-String-Lights/Commercial-Medium-String-Lights/48-Medium-Base-Stringer-Black
The one strip worked perfect on my layout and I even bunched the lights closer together. I have 24 14W bulbs so 336W all with one plug at the end.



I read about the strips here:
https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=26212.60

Great thing is I can un-screw bulbs I don't need, like if I'm working on only one part of they layout no need to light up the whole thing.

If the ceiling was higher I would put up a valance.

Kevin C

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2014, 07:04:38 AM »
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I have added photo's below of the light boxes I will be using. I used this method because I also did not want to drill or fasten anything to the wall.

The uprights are a bit overkill but they do support the light boxes, as well as the backdrop for level 2. They can be made much lighter to suit the application. This lighting will be sufficient for Level 1. The other levels will have their own light boxes made to suit. 
The profile is very thin, ( approximately 1 inch ) so the whole assembly does not take up much vertical space.

I have still to decide on the final valance but my second photo's shows a temporary one I used for a mock up.

I have a contact who has a lighting business that has kindly offered to lend me a few lengths of different LED strip lights so I can try them out to get the intensity and color right.




DKS

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Re: Layout Lighting
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2014, 09:19:13 AM »
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FWIW, a couple of shelf brackets (mounted upside down), a stick of 1x2, and some LED strips worked well for me. Oh, and a small Foamcore valance.

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