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Electronics for dummies...


Paul Robertson

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With my initial success of my high lighting mast under my belt I set forth today to install a lot more lighting. I wanted the lighting under the bridge to represent sodium lighting which is typical of the prototype so installed a couple of LEDs in there and did my best to cover up the wiring from view. 

 

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(yellow lights installed in under bridge) 

 

So far so good. Next was the Linkspan proper. I wanted white light on this as looking at prototype night shots from Dover it's all white lighting on the linkspans to give the best light in these dangerous areas. 

 

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(Linkspan lighting going in with the wiring to the second high mast included.)

 

After every instillation I wired it up to my controller and made sure everything worked. 

 

Finally for today I decided to install some port and starboard navigation lights on the Linkspan (not sure how prototypical this is but I like the look as well as another white LED on the lower link span. 

 

Again wired it all up switched it on and... 

 

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(oh...) 

 

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(ah...) 

 

Well the navigation lights work well! I had been merrily daisy chaining all the LEDs with their built in resistors so what power that was left over would power the next. You can probably tell its been about 30 years since someone last tried to teach me basic electronics! 

 

So out with the wire cutters and strippers and a cats cradle of wiring emerged under my base board as I broke up the light fittings into max of 3 LEDs wired in sync and then wired the whole lot back to the transformer again. 

 

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(suddenly alot more wires emerging from my baseboard) 

 

Wired it all back up, crossed my fingers and switched on the juice and hey voila! 

 

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(sodium lighting under the bridge) 

 

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(some light on the matter) 

 

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(the layout lighting beginning to take shape) 

 

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(there will be more white lighting to go on the top Linkspan but the navigation lights give a dramatic feel. I also like how the light shines off the water) 

 

One thing I found quite effective for the high masts was putting a layer of tin foil into the bottle cap to help reflect the light better and give a more even distribution as I only have one bulb up there. 

 

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(light mast with tin foil reflector added) 

 

I will need to order some more white LEDs for the ship and building but should be able to make a start on lighting it up. Ferries tend to be lit up like Christmas trees! 

 

Thanks for reading

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Lighting really makes your layout look dramatic (as if it wasn't dramatic enough with a train ferry!). How tall are the mast lights in terms of scale height? I know you are using them for a general wash of light, but they look very tall (or is it because the left hand one looks taller than your cliff face?) Not a criticism, as I haven't looked at exactly how tall these things are in real life!

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6 hours ago, SteveyDee68 said:

Lighting really makes your layout look dramatic (as if it wasn't dramatic enough with a train ferry!). How tall are the mast lights in terms of scale height? I know you are using them for a general wash of light, but they look very tall (or is it because the left hand one looks taller than your cliff face?) Not a criticism, as I haven't looked at exactly how tall these things are in real life!

Hi Steve. They are 300mm 5mm diameter brass rods which represent a 45m high light mast. Pretty tall but about right for prototype (found a manufacturers website that had a case study on Dover harbour which was useful to gain some insight). Some of these things can get up to 60m!! The pipe should really taper as it goes up but I haven't found a way to do that so it looks a bit thick at the top. Although I need that thickness to fit the wires in. Also the bottle tops are a bit overscale in diameter fo a light cluster but to be honest I need that to cover up the LED and resistor at the top. 

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4 minutes ago, goldngreen said:

Are you wiring the LEDs in series or in parallel?

If a knew what that meant I could tell you! To me if I wire something up and it works I regard that as a victory! Seriously though, I think I had been wiring up in series hence the ever diminishing returns of light where as now I believe parallel as there is direct power and return to the transformer for a maximum of 3 leds. Is that right? You wouldn't believe my father was an electrical engineer. He'll be shaking his head when he reads this!!

 

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15 minutes ago, Paul Robertson said:

If a knew what that meant I could tell you! To me if I wire something up and it works I regard that as a victory! Seriously though, I think I had been wiring up in series hence the ever diminishing returns of light where as now I believe parallel as there is direct power and return to the transformer for a maximum of 3 leds. Is that right? You wouldn't believe my father was an electrical engineer. He'll be shaking his head when he reads this!!

 

 

I am not an expert but guessed that, if you were finding that the brightness diminished as you added more, it was probably in series. I have not wired up LEDs before, only traditional bulbs. That prompted me to look on the internet to see what was said about LEDs specifically. I found this which might be useful: https://www.ledsupply.com/blog/wiring-leds-correctly-series-parallel-circuits-explained/. Having said that, the lighting looks great in your later pictures so I think you have a good solution.

 

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29 minutes ago, goldngreen said:

 

 

I am not an expert but guessed that, if you were finding that the brightness diminished as you added more, it was probably in series. I have not wired up LEDs before, only traditional bulbs. That prompted me to look on the internet to see what was said about LEDs specifically. I found this which might be useful: https://www.ledsupply.com/blog/wiring-leds-correctly-series-parallel-circuits-explained/. Having said that, the lighting looks great in your later pictures so I think you have a good solution.

 

Thanks to your excellent link I have now worked out that in fact I'm running my lighting via a hybrid series / parallel circuit! Who knew?! certainly not me when I was stumbling about in the metaphorical and physical dark! I guess that's why model railways are set at 12V and 1 amps so the electronically challenged can't kill themselves when experimenting with the dark science of layout electronics for the first time (Although I had the rather neat experience of using my body to complete a circuit when holding either end of the wires in my fingers with the transformer still on, a very weak light came through the LEDs. I was just grateful it wasn't 240V and 13 amps!)

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17 hours ago, Paul Robertson said:

Thanks to your excellent link I have now worked out that in fact I'm running my lighting via a hybrid series / parallel circuit! Who knew?! certainly not me when I was stumbling about in the metaphorical and physical dark! I guess that's why model railways are set at 12V and 1 amps so the electronically challenged can't kill themselves when experimenting with the dark science of layout electronics for the first time (Although I had the rather neat experience of using my body to complete a circuit when holding either end of the wires in my fingers with the transformer still on, a very weak light came through the LEDs. I was just grateful it wasn't 240V and 13 amps!)

Pleased to hear that it helped. 

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