Author Topic: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project  (Read 7728 times)

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lashedup

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2018, 08:03:10 PM »
+1
Thanks for the kind words guys.

Really nice work. Do you have your own laser, or using a service? It would be really cool to see an article on the laser process, artwork, materials, equipment etc.

I also spy an ESU throttle on the bench. Any thoughts on that system yet? It’s on my short list of things I want to try.

I went in on the laser over two years ago with a couple other people. This one started as a Kickstarter (laser is called GlowForge) and so far it has worked great. Still requires a little black book of notes on speed and power settings for various materials and depending on what you want to do (engrave, cut or score). It has it's limitations as well, but a great tool to have. I'm working on all the support buildings for the Cascade tunnel right now:



and a snapshot of my crazy computer desktop during the process:




I have drawn most of the buildings out and printed most of the core walls but haven't glued anything yet...




So when I write this article up, I'll cover it in more depth with the process involved.



So far I like the ESU throttle. It is heavier than a digitrax handheld and I miss the exact detents of the throttle adjustments on the Digitrax (the ESU throttle is electronic and very nice in its own right) but I have a lot more control over all the various functions and it works flawlessly so far. Plus the digital display allows a lot more flexibility to select locos and it just works. ESU also provides firmware and software updates that continue to add more functionality.

- jamie
« Last Edit: March 15, 2018, 08:42:14 PM by lashedup »

Cajonpassfan

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #31 on: March 16, 2018, 12:17:09 AM »
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Dang, that's an awesome project! I like the research and implementation, keep on it! Love protobased modeling!
Otto K!

lashedup

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #32 on: March 22, 2018, 02:19:56 PM »
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With the idea that I’m going to use an upper and lower valance on this layout, I needed to think about how I’m going to light the scenes. Traditionally people typically used strings of regular incandescent light bulbs to light their layout. Usually a bulb holder is installed every 2-3 feet to try and eliminate dark and light spots.  The downside if you have a larger layout is that each incandescent bulb even on the lowest end is at least 40 watts and you generally need a bulb every two feet to avoid dark spots (and even then it is tough to eliminate them). That a lot of light bulbs, but more importantly a lot of heat and a lot of watts being used that add up quickly and can exceed typical 15 amp circuits. Switching from old school incandescent to fluorescent or LED bulbs can help lower your wattage usage to  much lower levels (in the case of LED bulbs) taking care of the wattage issue.  If you want to be able to dim the bulbs, just make sure the fluorescent or LED bulbs you buy are dimmable (some are not). Likewise the dimmer switch you use needs to be compatible with LED bulbs as well. But the difficulty with this setup remains when trying to eliminate dark spots.

Using LED strip lighting where the LED’s are affixed to a strip of circuit tape with adhesive on the back will eliminate dark variations in lighting as the LED’s are spaced evenly across the strip. This produces nice even lighting but there has been some discussion regarding the lighting being too even where there aren’t any shadow details being produced on the models. Personally my feeling is that I’d like nice even lighting when running trains or operating and the shadows are secondary unless I’m taking photos. In that case, I’ll use a stronger single light or two as my main source of light on the scene to get shadows the way I want and rely on the strip LED’s for ambient lighting. By using a dimmer on the strip lights I can control the amount of light and, as I discovered, the temperature as well.

So, searching online for LED strip lighting will give you a TON of solutions and at a wide variety of price points. Everything from regular white in typically three flavors (warm, neutral and cool) and full color RGB LED strip lights where you can vary the color completely and lots more. However you typically are going to want 300 lumens or more to give yourself enough light. This will vary depending on how deep your scene is and how far away the lights are. 300 won’t cut it in a wide 36″ deep scene with the lights 3 feet above the layout but it may work with a shallow scene on a shelf. Plus, when you can dim them manually, you can adjust the amount of brightness and dial them in just the way you want them. So I’m leaning towards the higher lumen ratings.

Knowing that I wanted nice bright lighting and the ability to dim it when I want better control, I went big and ordered some 1300 lumens lights (yeah I know, quite a jump) to test because I have some large areas that will be tougher to light. These are wider 4 LED wide strips (a LOT of LED’s) and were about $180 per 16 foot strip length. Check these out:



I ordered the “neutral” white color they were not only crazy bright, but the color temperature was still too much on the cool/blue side of neutral for my tastes. Plus these use about 12-13 watts per foot so they add up quickly and I’d end up with a lot of power packs to run them. And these aren’t cheap. I was originally thinking I’d use these super bright strips for a deeper scene on the layout (almost 48″ deep) but after holding these up and testing them, I’m going to be better suited with a deep scene by installing one strip on the back of the upper valance and another midway between the upper valance and backdrop. Basically one very bright strip isn’t going to work.

So back online I went and I found some temperature adjustable white LED strips online and ordered them at $129 per 16 foot length. Temperature adjustable white means I can dial in either a cool white, neutral or warm to my taste or mood. This way I don’t have to worry about which LED strips I order and whether they will be truly neutral or not (they can vary a bit). A few days later I received them, plugged them in, turned them on and bingo, I can get the temperature just the way I like it and they put out 500 lumens per foot which is nice and bright when I need it (plus I can dim them!). Bonus – they only use 4 watts per foot. So, other than the $129 price tag, these are darn near perfect.

A little more research online and I found similar temperature adjustable LED strip lights available on Amazon except that these use a different LED type and they were only $33 dollars per 16 foot strip. Hmmm, this sounds too good to be true right? I figured I’d order one length and try them, worst case I will know better in the future. Best case I can buy 4 of these for the price of one length from the other online retailer.



The top LED strip are the original $129 temperature adjustable LEDs I bought and the bottom larger units are the Amazon (LEDENET) $33 units. I plugged them in and taped them next to the other temperature controlled units and they look identical in temperature adjustment and brightness is slightly better (specs say 600 lumens, so slightly more). It is always nice when you end up saving some money for a change. If you look at the photo above you can see that they strips have alternating “yellow” and “orange” LED’s  The yellow are actually the “Cool” LEDs and the orange are the “Warm” LEDs. Varying power between them produces the different color temperature mixes.

So to power the LED strips you have two choices – a brick power pack similar to what comes with a laptop computer or a larger power supply similar to what you find inside a desktop computer. The laptop bricks have more limited wattages but if you have a small shelf layout would work perfectly. Nearly all of these LED’s come in a 16 foot long strip. In the case of the $33 units I bought above, they are rated at 4 watts per foot or 64 watts total for the 16 feet. A single laptop-style brick power unit will power a single strip fine. However if you need more wattage to supply say two 16 foot strips, you’ll need to consider using the power-pack style similar to this:



You can find a ton of these online for sale and I wouldn’t doubt that there are a handful of manufacturers making these with various companies private labeling these with their logos and names on them.  At the bottom I’ll include links to these as well. I’m using 24v LED’s and a 16 foot length uses about 96 watts of electricity. If you give yourself some overhead (say 10%), you’ll need to buy a power pack that can support the wattage you need. The above is 240 watts which gives me plenty of overhead for 30 feet of lighting.

To control the lighting you also have a lot of different options that use either some type of switch or a remote control. I’m playing with both and trying to decide. Here are two that I currently have for testing:



The one of the left is a touch pad that can be flush mounted to the layout and is backlit as well. The remote on the right is another choice and works quite well. There are a lot of options for control and I’m still trying to decide which route to go. Do I want to deal with the whole “Where did I leave the remote?” thing and changing batteries in it? Or just have the panels mounted on the front fascia of the layout where people can easily find them? I’m leaning towards the last option right now. Only potential issue is how many lights a single touch panel can control.

Lastly, let’s talk about the temperature adjustable white LED strips. As we talked about, the strip has both warm LED’s (the orange looking LEDs) and cool LED’s (the yellow looking LEDs) and the adjustability in color temperature comes from varying power between the two different LED’s on the strip. Full “Cool” uses only the cool/yellow LED’s. Full “Warm” uses just the warm/orange LED’s. Neutral uses both in adjustable amounts. Here are the extremes of the temperature ranges of these LEDs –

WARM:


NEUTRAL:


COOL:


It is worth pointing out that the above photos are very tough to capture correctly. First I had to force the camera to a neutral white balance manually so that it would capture the warm and cool more accurately. If you pulled your cell phone camera out of your pocket, the auto white balance in your camera  is sophisticated enough to adjust for the color temperature and it would all look fairly neutral. The other issue trying to capture this in photos is that digital cameras just don’t have enough dynamic range to capture all the variations in light and dark. So the above are decent approximations, but required a lot of fiddling around to show here.

So one big thing to go back and look at above is the shades of blue samples. Under “Cool” lighting they look very blue. Under “Neutral” you start to see less blue and more of the purple tints coming out. Under full “Warm” those blues start to wash out to nearly grey looking and your sky is suddenly lacking in blues. Likewise the effect on scenery will be similar. The nice thing is that you can vary these a bit and could “dial in” time of day depending on the mood. You could also get creative and use an Arduino or similar controller to vary temperature with a fast clock to simulate time of day. Just some ideas…

Personally I find that 1-2 steps towards warm from neutral gives me a really nice halogen lighting look that works well for most things. Plus the dimming feature is really nice when the lights are off in the layout room and I don’t need daylight conditions.

I’m figuring at this point I will circle back for part 2 on these lights. Once installed I’ll have a better idea of coverage, spread, falloff and more. So stay tuned for more on the lights in the future.

So moving on from the lights for a moment, I made some progress on the benchwork for the Gaynor Trestle bridge area:



The first thing I did was clamp up a board to represent the grade across the top of the bridge. Then I taped the bridge piers to the bottom so I could get a better idea of depth. The laser helped me to mark the bottom of the river bed and the lowest point I need to worry about. The board under the bridge roughly represents the bottom level of this scene. I also needed to think about the backdrop as well as it needs to come all the way down to the bottom. The piece of pink foam on the left I used to give me an idea of where the landforms will be and I moved it around a bit to visualize where those forms would be. So I marked everything up and cut a piece of 3/4 plywood with a large dip where the river comes in as my front support on the benchwork. I also measures and marked out where I needed to cut this piece of the backdrop. Lastly a little look at a piece of equipment on the bridge…



Backdrop masonite and continued building construction is next.

Chris333

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #33 on: March 22, 2018, 02:42:03 PM »
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On the lights I would say the neutral looks best. I bought some once that were too blue so I sprayed every other LED with clear yellow paint.

Also I wouldn't count on the sticky tape to hold those up. They will get warm and the tape will sag.

wazzou

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #34 on: March 22, 2018, 03:26:54 PM »
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Yeah, I'd say the models and track clearly look the best in the neutral set-up, however I see what you mean about the sky blue samples.
I think they are probably closer to accurate in the "cool" photo.
Bryan

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DKS

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #35 on: March 22, 2018, 03:39:37 PM »
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I have a feeling that many of the problems in color rendering may be due to how different materials respond to the UV component of white LEDs.

All white LEDs use blue/UV emitters that excite a layer of phosphors above the emitter, which then transform it into some variation on "white" (not unlike how fluorescent lamps work). The problem is that white LEDs release far more UV light than any tungsten lamps, or even many fluorescent lamps.

All of that UV light causes different materials to react differently, although this isn't as evident to the eye because the white light tends to drown out this response. But many cameras will pick up on this, resulting in shifts and distortions in colors that may not be seen under normal conditions.

You will need to decide what light is most pleasing to you. That said, when taking photographs, be prepared to either adjust the lighting, or photo-shop the image afterwards.

 
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 03:45:06 PM by David K. Smith »
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lashedup

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #36 on: March 22, 2018, 03:44:59 PM »
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Good point David. It's been a while since I took a color theory class, but lots of it has come back with this backdrop sky color stuff. I already painted part of the backdrop a sky color and I've used 3 different shades of blue (each one getting darker) to finally get one that works well under the various lighting settings. See bottom images for a blue that holds up well under warmer light but doesn't look too crazy under the regular LED shop lights.

Chris I heard about the tape not holding and will use my own methods (whatever that may be I don't know yet. :) ).   I also found flexible coving that would get me the 45 degrees I'm looking for under the valance and still allow me to flex it around corners. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it though as I'm not likely to put the upper valance up for a while as I rather not have it in the way while I'm working.

Here are four degrees of warm from full warm through neutral on the lighting remote:









Gives you some ideas.

lashedup

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #37 on: March 22, 2018, 04:00:11 PM »
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Also, if David remembers back from the Franksville building I did way back in my quest to make standing seam roof pieces. I used David's advice and used tin foil rubbed over magnet wires spaced out on a board. That worked well, but the foil was very fussy to keep straight or down on the model. So I've been trying to make it with the laser cutter. First attempt was to engrave the grooves and put pieces of .010 x .020 styrene strips in it. Total PITA and still didn't get the results I was looking for. So then I decided to try cutting the ribs with the laser cutter which required large rectangles (so I thought) to cut the pieces out. Several tries to see how thin I could get them and dealing with kerf issues, I was running into issues where the laser was burning through on the ends. So I staggered the rectangles and that took care of one problem but still left issues with burn through on some of the ribs. So I converted the rectangles to rounded rectangles and got where I needed to be (I do need to go back and create the rounded rectangles properly as there are cut lines overlapping):



Then place that on top of the grooved piece:



I dusted the backside of the ribs with 3M adhesive, pressed them in and trimmed the edges with a razor.  Got here:



I believe Skibbe told me that just because I have a hammer doesn't mean I need to use it. So this is probably overkill and produces a fair amount of waste for the ribs. I just need four roof pieces so I'll finish these off anyway.

Lots of black art to the laser cutter, but I'm slowly figuring it out. :)

-jamie

Cajonpassfan

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #38 on: March 22, 2018, 04:06:15 PM »
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Nice test and writeup, thanks you for sharing this. I find light colors very subjective and I'd say find what you're comfortable with and don't look back. Pricey though....
I'd be more concerned about the "disco light" rail bounce back that occurs on virtually every LED string-lit layout I've seen, including a section of mine. Your photos don't seem to suffer from that; is that because of the viewing angle/orientation, or because the density of the four LED rows creates a more even coverage without the individual LED's  reflecting back at the viewer? Interesting....
Otto K.

DKS

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #39 on: March 22, 2018, 04:06:43 PM »
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I do remember. Re: the laser cutting, I've been doing some experimenting, too. I've had good results just rastering long rectangles (solid black) in ~0.022" thick laserboard. Glue one edge of the aluminum foil to the laserboard, rub, slice, done.

 
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 04:30:52 PM by David K. Smith »
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse

mark.hinds

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #40 on: March 23, 2018, 01:54:33 AM »
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Quote
Using LED strip lighting where the LED’s are affixed to a strip of circuit tape with adhesive on the back will eliminate dark variations in lighting as the LED’s are spaced evenly across the strip. This produces nice even lighting but there has been some discussion regarding the lighting being too even where there aren’t any shadow details being produced on the models.

You might want to experiment with a home-made angled louver arrangement in front of the strips, and hidden behind your upper valence.  (Like this:  \   \   \   \   \   etc.).  I successfully tested this a long time ago with 3-foot fluorescent bulbs, and it gives fairly consistent shadows off to one side (depending on how you angle the louvers). 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 01:56:58 AM by mark.hinds »

lashedup

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #41 on: March 23, 2018, 10:59:53 AM »
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I do remember. Re: the laser cutting, I've been doing some experimenting, too. I've had good results just rastering long rectangles (solid black) in ~0.022" thick laserboard. Glue one edge of the aluminum foil to the laserboard, rub, slice, done.

So when I engrave laser board material I get texture:



Does that texture come through on your foil?  There is a technique where you can defocus the laser by telling it the material is thicker than it is and guys have had very nice results on acrylics where the output is smoother.

lashedup

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #42 on: March 23, 2018, 11:00:35 AM »
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You might want to experiment with a home-made angled louver arrangement in front of the strips, and hidden behind your upper valence.  (Like this:  \   \   \   \   \   etc.).  I successfully tested this a long time ago with 3-foot fluorescent bulbs, and it gives fairly consistent shadows off to one side (depending on how you angle the louvers).

Got any pics Mark? Sounds interesting...

DKS

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2018, 12:25:44 PM »
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Does that texture come through on your foil?

Yes, not much, but it's there. I guess it doesn't bother me, probably since I usualy rust the hell out of it.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 12:28:02 PM by David K. Smith »
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mark.hinds

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Re: A Tension Dephasit Layout Project
« Reply #44 on: March 23, 2018, 01:15:00 PM »
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Got any pics Mark? Sounds interesting...

Sorry; no pics; this was an experiment from the 1980s.  It worked though, producing angled fuzzy shadows of the type you'd get on a hazy sunny day.  A minor drawback of behind-valence-lighting was that the shadows up close to the front edge of the layout were at a different angle than those to the rear.  In other words the foreground shadows had a smaller forward-rear component (y-component to the overall shadow vector in the x-y plane) than those in the background.  I figured this could be made less obvious by terrain object adjustments, including avoiding tall objects right at the front edge.  Also, an near-eye-level viewing angle minimizes this problem. 

IIRC, my experiment involved small rectangular cardboard pieces right in front of the light, spaced every few inches, and angled so as to allow light to pass to the (say) left, but not straight out or to the right.  You could mock something similar up, and position it in front of a portion of your test LED strip.  You would try to minimize the size and depth of the rectangular pieces, and maybe experiment would result in a non-rectangular piece. 

MH
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 01:04:24 PM by mark.hinds »