Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Let There Be Light! Brightening Up The Lower Deck

 One of the challenges of a multideck railroad is providing appropriate lighting.

You have overhangs and shadowing to grapple with, and whatever solution you select needs to fit into the space you have without potentially impacting the modeling area.

Thankfully for this layout, the stick on LED strip lights have become cheaper and more available, and the color of the light seems to be consistent across multiple lots of strips, which wasn't always the case.

I use a "daylight" strip, which is around the 5000K "temperature" of the overhead lighting source (in my case, LED bulbs in track light heads). Working to get the light to spread out evenly, while being mounted in as small an area as possible took me a couple of tries to figure out.

I started with a strip of aluminium bar. This did provide a bit of a heat sink, but it did not have the rigidity that I wanted. Note the "wavy" in this photo:

This brought me to using aluminium angle stock instead. My first though was just to use the angle stock to provide the solid mounting surface I wanted. After some testing, I realized that mounting the LED strip to the outsides of the L would give me a spread of light - letting some of the light hit the models directly, but also bouncing off the backdrop to light what would potentially be in shadow in the light was coming from straight overhead.

Note the light for Acca behind the front light.

I share the same 12V DC supply for these lights with the LCC nodes or accessory boards that require a dedicated DC supply. There are 3 of these supplies installed around the layout. I use an open frame supply that I recovered from old IT equipment that was being e-wasted and retired. Similar supplies are available commercially or offered by online auctions off of eBay for anywhere from $15 to $50. The supplies I have are set to give +5V, +12V, -5V and -12V DC. I only use the +12V rail.

LED strips only, no room lights.

More pictures in the gallery at richmond-terminal.org.

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