Author Topic: Lighted layouts  (Read 883 times)

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OldEastRR

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Lighted layouts
« on: March 25, 2024, 03:22:56 AM »
+1
Looking at the huge number of N (and other ) scale streetlamps for a bridge I'm building almost all of them have LEDs. Is this just a thing now? Or is there a big demand from modelers for lighted street lamps? And car headlights? I wonder how many modelers run their layouts in semi-darkness or darker (certainly not during ops!) with all the streetlamps, buildings, cars, cabooses, and the passenger train cars lit up. I mean, you've gotta have a somewhat dark room to see the actual effect of these small LEDs.
I believe in lighted passenger trains, and can do that. Keep thinking of populating a long train with a goodly amount of passengers but that's a lot of time and effort and money to do. The few cars I've done have turned out OK, but it's tough to see the little people in them unless it's a dome car.

spookshow

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2024, 05:39:38 AM »
+15
Adding lighting to a layout has been a thing for as long as I can remember. I don't use it frequently myself - generally saving it for the grand finale of layout tours. Always gets a big fireworks style "oooohhh!" from the crowd  :D





-Mark

peteski

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2024, 08:24:32 AM »
+2
I had street ligths and illuminated structure interiors on my very first layout (TT gauge) in the '70s.  Typical lights made by model manufacturers. Incandescent lights of course - long before white LEDs were even available.

But illuminated accessories go back much earlier.  The pre-WWII Lionel and other large scale models also features street lights and illuminated building interiors.  This is nothing new, but the current technological advancements allow to easy and inexpensively light add lights to your miniature world.
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Maletrain

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2024, 10:29:16 AM »
+1
My Lionel O gauge layout that started around the Christmas tree by my grandfather in 1948 had lighted passenger cars by 1949, and lighted buildings somewhat later.  By the late 1950s, it had expanded to 4' x 16', with a village of Plastruct buildings, each with a light bulb high enough that it cast realistic light patches on the "ground" outside the windows.  And, of course, there was that Lionel tower with the rotating green/red beacon.

Because the trains just ran in circles, "ops" in the dark was no problem.  And, it was a "crowd pleaser" even in that simple form.

So, my "ultimate layout" (if it ever comes to be) will have some lights, especially at stations, but just  few elsewhere - night time in the countryside.  But, ops in the dark will just be a few train run-throughs and maybe some simple end-of-the-day locomotive tasks.  Switching N scale in the dark is not something I intend to pursue.  For one thing, I have no idea how to model an N scale flashlight for the brakeman, nor how to animate it as he would walk the train.

randgust

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2024, 11:20:37 AM »
+5
Yeah, I've done the full deal on my original ATSF layout with functioning signals, fully lit passenger cars, town and building lights, and enough yard spotlights that limited operations can run if you're careful.

And it's universal, people really like the layout in the normal daylight, but power the lighting system up and it's simply spectacular.   The ability to light stuff with the tiny LED's is amazing, first real try at it was my Winslow shops fueling rack and it's still just awesome.  I also have a subwoofer under this scene with a continuous loop of EMD idling.....



Link:  http://www.randgust.com/Winshopnight02.jpg


dem34

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2024, 11:24:40 AM »
+1
With how cheap LEDs are. Might as well throw them in. Wiring is also exceptionally easy if you use a conductive material for the pole. My hangup though is building lighting. Since you have to block out everything believably to make it look realistic.
-Al

randgust

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2024, 07:31:39 PM »
+1
I'm using a mix.   I have multiple circuits; still use incandescent for most building lights, and supply them at way lower voltage like 6V, I don't want the entire building glowing and I want that yellow light.   Then I have a higher voltage lighting circuit for spotlights as those old Miniatronics ones are all bulbs, want more power there.   Then I have two different circuits for LED's, a power supply line for anything that has it's own resistors, and a low-voltage line for misc. LED's without resistors.

Most of the time you don't want to supply much of anything at it's full rated voltage.  I also run everything on DC, not AC, so I can control it with old train transformers, MRC rheostats, etc.

robwill84

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2024, 11:46:57 PM »
+1
Consider it as an upgrade that can be added later. Get your scenery in place, buildings arranged like you want. Then sometime down the line you can add enhancements like lighting, working signals, maybe some interior details on buildings, 

randgust

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2024, 11:43:19 AM »
+2
I do have to say though, that if you're 'playing to the crowd' of friends and family, what really works is the night scene.

You spend all that work and time on getting everything detailed, and then turn off the lights.... and that's what they remember.  And talk about.  And you wonder why you were ever worried over grab irons that were .010 instead of .008, or it that color red is a little off.

But if you're after emotional impact, there's nothing else like it.   So the only thing to add is at least plan for it, set up power supply conduits just like you do for track power and everything else, figure that part out in advance.  And if you're doing buildings, doing the interiors and lighting during construction is a LOT easier if you plan for it; i.e. routing wires, bulbs, etc.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2024, 11:44:55 AM by randgust »

GGNInNScale

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2024, 08:39:09 PM »
+1
Here is my Granite Gorge and Northern in night mode.



OldEastRR

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2024, 03:29:59 AM »
+2
Oh yes, it's wonderful, I love powering down my room lights and having the lighted trains run around a darkened layout. It is a visual experience that makes the layout seem to expand to real life (or the observer to shrink). Watching the lighted ConCor M10000 zipping around my large layout in the complete darkness is pretty neat.
I haven't done any lighting other than the trains themselves, not really sure I'm up to the extra wiring: randgust's multiple wiring circuits and voltages sounds a bit daunting.
My comment was it doesn't seem like a LOT of people add lighting to their layouts, but obviously there are since both Atlas and Woodland Scenics are producing "plug and play" lighting accessories (makes me wonder how easy they are -- yeah, people can say "oh wow, I can just plug it in" -- except they have to install the outlets and wiring and transformers to plug INTO). Still, almost every scale light fixture you can find on the 'net has LEDs (sometimes w. resistors) in it, so it's popular.
Thing is, the lamps I want to install will run down the median of a long overpass (which keeps getting knocked into during ops) and would prefer just lamps, no wiring. Even if I don't wire them, spending $13 for each non-working lamp is a bit steep.

Hmm, I suppose I could install non-working but lighted track signals here and there along the ROW, just for the atmosphere.

Thanks for all the great pix. Hey, model railroaders -- come over to the dark side -- of train running!!

peteski

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2024, 11:37:40 AM »
0
Thing is, the lamps I want to install will run down the median of a long overpass (which keeps getting knocked into during ops) and would prefer just lamps, no wiring. Even if I don't wire them, spending $13 for each non-working lamp is a bit steep.

Why not make the overpass removable?  It would make for easier track cleaning and damage-free ops.

As for the lamps themselves, can you post a photo of what you are looking for?  Maybe you can just scratchbuild non-working examples.  Most street lamps are rather simple objects, and you only need few for the overpass.
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Dave V

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2024, 12:37:06 PM »
+2
Jeez, @spookshow Mark, just when I think you're at the top of your game, you take it up another notch.

spookshow

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2024, 05:21:46 PM »
+2
Jeez, @spookshow Mark, just when I think you're at the top of your game, you take it up another notch.

Thanks Dave, that's very kind of you to say!  :)

-Mark

carlso

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Re: Lighted layouts
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2024, 11:20:52 PM »
+2
You have, most likely, seen these images before but here goes again.

First let me say that these are all LEDs and not one resistor involved in the powering of these lights. One system there are 50 LEDs on one "regulated" 3volt wall wart. Very simple to wire.

A). daylight scene of my oil refinery
             

B). these shots were made during a public show and when we turned out the room lights and presented the following image there was quite a cry out from the viewers, especially the kids. After all we are attempting to interest the young folks in model railroading.
             

Not really too much work but well worth the effort.
Thanks for looking and be well !

PS- I found another scene I made. I use 0402 LEDs and sound on this one but without lights it would not be much. Maybe it is not anyway. This image made on bench.
             
« Last Edit: March 31, 2024, 11:41:46 PM by carlso »
Carl Sowell
El Paso, Texas