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Lighting a layout

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#1 apepper


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Posted 13 March 2018 - 17:03

I'm thinking about how to light a layout; I've seen some lighting rigs, but I'm thinking that nowadays with LEDs it should be possible to have a low weight system controlled by Arduino(s) that could simulate a "day". Has anyone seen a system like that?

#2 Nick G

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 17:13

I just use a stripe Warm White Led's and a strip of Cool White LED's both strips individually controlled by dimmer switches so the brightness and colour can be adjusted. Cheap and effective but I do have a 'top' on my layout.

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#3 Softvark



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Posted 14 March 2018 - 13:17

I use several different strips of LEDs with different colour temperatures fed from DMX dimmers. DMX is a lighting protocol extensively used in concerts, theatres etc. It's then easy to control them from a PC using free software such as MagicQ. I've also got a few LED 12v spotlights at a low angle to simulate early sun or moonlight.


There's even a DCC to DMX converter so you can control lighting from your command station. See Open DCC.

#4 The Johnster

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 14:36

My approach is to recreate the general gloom of South Wales in the 1950s by using cold blue leds to invoke the atmosphere of an overcast days, possibly featuring the fine soaking drizzle that the Valleys specialise in (listen to Max Boyce's 'Rhondda Grey, and imagine yourself on Cwmdimbath's platform between trains, rain gurgling in drains and gutters to the backdrop of the clanking overhead buckets from the pit ¼ mile down the valley; even the bedraggled sheep are miserable and everyone with any sense is indoors!).  I have not achieved the effect I want fully yet, but find that Maplin's anglpoise led lamps, £25 a go, are very good.  They have 2 rows of cool blue leds and a central one of warm white, and 3 power settings, a versatile lamp that will cover about 5 feet of layout with a floodlit pool of the sort of light you want.  Closing down sale now on; get your skates on!


I like my trains to be lit from the viewing side, and find far too many layouts at shows with strong overhead lighting, so that only the the roofs are properly lit; the sun is never overhead in Britain even at midsummer and for most of the time most of the year come in at a fairly low angle which lights the sides of vehicles and buildings, leaving the shaded side quite dark.  This is true on overcast days as well, although the clouds diffuse the light to a greater extent.  The railway is in a bedroom, which is painted an off-white cream, but I would ideally like a light grey to influence the ambient light.


The long term aim as a proscenium frontage with built in spotlights to control ambient lighting and sightlines, but the anglepoises will do for now.  They seem reliable, but I may have to check out other sources for possible replacements since Maplin's have collapesed.  This is bad news for me; my Maps is a 5 minute walks away and useful for glues and bits & bobs as well.