Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lighting Decks on Multilevel Layouts, quick thoughts

I noticed that a vendor I've used to make pc boards and fill other electronics needs had a flexible LED strip light available. (Seeedstudio, for reference) I'm been intrigued by the idea of lighting with LED strips versus trying to install tube or compact fluorescent lights under the upper deck.

I've been holding off, as the prices for the stuff available at Lowe's or HD is very very pricey per foot and is pretty limited. There are some internet vendors that are cheaper, but it still adds up when you want something like 50 feet plus of it per string.

This particular choice came as 1 meter of strip, and price was $11, so I felt that it was worth it for an experiment.

The strip has an adhesive backing that is simply peel off. Getting power to the strip is a simple as soldering two wires to pads, that are clearly labled +12V and -.

The following picture shows what you get from a single strip of these.

WOW!  No, my ankle isn't glowing, that is the strip of LEDs going.

Pretty darn impressive for $11. Power draw runs about 38mA per meter, so I'd say that you could power 10M of this off a good 12V 1.5A to 2A supply and still run at well under 50% utilization.

It did get a bit warm, so maybe attaching this to some aluminum C channel would be the ticket. Stay tuned for some more testing.

Upper Level work continues

Fairly significant progress has been made on the upper level of the railroad since the previous update.

Benchwork and subroadbed is complete from the helix through the opposite corner. The benchwork is homasote over 3/4" plywood that rest on 1x3 stringers supported by shelf hangers.

I decided to go with homasote for the top deck everywhere for a couple of reasons; I was so happy with the performance on the main level in Acca yard that I wanted that same experience on the upper level. If I was going to rebuild the railroad, I would put homasote everywhere and not fool around with the woodland scenics foam roadbed.

The homasote gives a few advantages over straight plywood; it is easy to elevate the main over passing tracks and spurs with cork roadbed. The cork can be sanded down to give a nice ramp to the flat(ish) homasote. It takes spikes wonderfully, which means it is faster to lay track than gluing with caulk and if you find a mistake, it is easy to correct after the fact.

Bus wires were run before the benchwork was laid down and fastened; much easier than trying to fish solid core 12AWG wire through the tiny space that would remain.

A couple of pictures to illustrate the updates follow.

At about mid point in the yard, we look right down the line of supports and bus wires.

Plywood down and test fitting in progress

This give a good visual of the area available for bus wires, switch machines, etc.

Homasote down

Lots of wire... Have to have it for block detection.