Layout Lighting – using LEDs

The photos above typify what my layout looked like in the past. There were small pockets of light and large gloomy areas.

My plan has always been to use LED lighting above the entire running surface of the layout. This has been achieved with low cost products available on-line or locally.

The first step was to build a lighting pelmet above the layout with the front surface directly above the fascia board around the layout. This was attached to the walls (or window and door architraves) as shown below:

Clearly this is a corner section above the room entry door.
Here you can see what the sectional profile looks like at a later stage when all the sections were painted The pelmet face is down. and the reinforcing rib is up.

The complete surface which will be facing the walls has been painted gloss white for maximum light reflection. Back to the preliminary fitting:

This is the only corner which requires fitting to a wall. To facilitate this I have attached a mounting plate to the wall spanning a bit more than the distance between two (steel) studs. The right angle joins have been made using pieces of slotted gal. angle from Bunnings (Metal Mate Galvanised Heavy Duty Slotted Steel Angle  38mm x 38mm x 1.8mm angle  x 900 long …$11 AU June 2018)
I used timber (hoop pine) which I had on hand to a finished size of 170 x 17mm but those dimensions aren’t critical.

The LED self adhesive LED strips were obtained on-line from Oatley Electronics at Ettalong Beach : Check the Website
I purchased 4 x (SB-5m long 24V -NW-PW) Pure white LED Strips at a total cost of $36 inc GST [so a 5m strip costs $9 excluding postage]

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For testing purposes I also bought  a KC24 24V/1Amp power supply but it was not up to the task when I tried it on a 4m length of LEDs. The non ventilated plastic pack couldn’t handle the load and overheated as expected. This is explained fully in the PDF Oatley makes available on their website:  PDF

Some of the strips they supply are 12v but they would not have been bright enough for my

This is the power supply but you would need to purchase a proper 24V ventilated unit to run LEDs in a room such as mine. I used 2 units rated at 5Amps – each one to power two 4m strips. They were purchased on eBay.
Here you can see a corner bracket and one end of a strip of LEDs which have a self adhesive backing.
This corner feeds power to 2 pelmets and this is one of the 5amp supplies I purchased. The other supply is fitted under the layout:
The supply to the other 2 led strips is in the diagonally opposite corner to the one mentioned above and instead of mounting the supply at the pelmet, I fed 24V DC to from the supply mounted under the layout. I had the screw terminal strip on hand, but you can buy a 2 way one from Jaycar Electronics for $3 (HM-3167).
The reinforcing rib has a top surface also and I am considering adding a blue LED strip to that side. With a dimmer to shine towards the ceiling it might provide night effect?

The end result below is the effect I am after with most of the light restricted to the layout only. There is a problem visible here …

In the corner above, I should NOT have taken the LED strip right through to the wall near the blind as I am getting a doubling-up effect with a super bright pool of light. The LED strip can be cut at 100mm intervals as shown below:
You can see that it is marked 24V and the bottom side is marked “-” for negative, just below the DC24V. These strips can be cut with scissors but only at a line marked across the strip of copper. Because the LEDs are wired in parallel the supply voltage to the SMD (Surface Mount Device) LEDs reaches each one. The SMD resistors are already in place. How good are these little strips for lighting building etc. however 12V ones would probably better on a layout.

I suppose the question is DOES IT WORK?

It’s getting there. The layout surface is now well lit and you can see OK to uncouple wagons. The white ledges around the lower fascia will disappear when painted green. But – the decision to paint the pelmet flat Old English white is wrong I think. Various advisors suggested other wise …

What I was trying to achieve was something like a continuous “stage” effect. I think the pelmet should be painted Brunswick green, the same as the fascia. Here is trial run with Photoshop to see what it might look like then.

As is:   “A”

How I think it should be:(it’s a shame I took both pics with the main overhead room light on. What do you think????
Option “B”

There may be a bit more as I finish it off … Rick

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Rick Fletcher

Born in the steam era and developed an interest in railways when given a clockwork Hornby "set". Surrounded by steam when travelling to school (by train of course) and holidays were always by steam train as we had no car. How lucky was I?

2 thoughts on “Layout Lighting – using LEDs”

  1. Rick,
    My personal opinion is that the brunswick green gives a much better overall effect.
    The simple system that you have devised appears to be very effective.
    Bob
    .

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