Tuesday 17 April 2018

Lighting with LED's - experimentation

I've been looking into LED lighting for layouts for some time, with the build of Hexworthy underway. They offer distributed light in a light-weight flexible format, with low power consumption and heat output. There are potential pitfalls though, I've seen layouts far to dimly or unevenly lit, or worse still, with an unnaturally blue light (I've even seen a layout actually lit with blue LED's!).

One problem is that "white" LED's are not often white, the options seem to be "cool white" at the bluer end of the spectrum (6000K), or warm white (3000K) which is much more yellow. I find the cool white is too blue, and while the warm white is more preferable it is rather too yellow - more Mediterranean than British! However I recently found that it was possible to get "Natural white", which at around 4000K is somewhere between the two.


So here's what I bought:
  • Natural White 4000K SMD 5050 LED strip, 60 LED's per meter (link)
  • A 12V 2A Power Supply Adaptor, which should be good for about 2m of LED's (link)
The adaptor came with a socket fitted with screw terminals, allowing easy connection of the LED's. I cut about 50cm of the LED strip and stuck it to a strip of foamboard to experiment.


This assembly was then roughly taped to the lighting beam above Awngate, at a slight angle towards the rear, to see how it looked.


The result looks good, the colour does look "natural" to me, and while far less yellow than the tungsten strips used on Awngate, it does not have the blue tint of cool white LED's. Placement may be better - objects near the front are in shadow - and shadows are a little harsh, but otherwise light distribution looks OK.


The effect in a darkened room looks good to me. I wasn't sure if it was bright enough at first, so how does it compare to the existing lighting?


This shows the layout lit with the LED strip on the left side, and the existing 30W tungsten strip lighting the right hand end (the one at the left end is switched off). The difference in colour balance is obvious, the tungsten light is much more yellow - cheerful and summery perhaps, but less realistic. Brightness seems reasonably consistent to me, although the LED light may be less well spread, and shadows are perhaps a little sharper. So a 12" deep layout may be adequately lit by a single strip of LED's, but using more lights and possibly use of reflectors and diffusers might spread the light better.

2018-04-16 22.21.08

I also got this dimmer switch (link), mainly because it was so cheap. I wonder if it may be helpful if adding more LED lights to dim down to what is needed. Also I suspect that the small power supply I got will do for very small layouts, but I may need to get a bigger power supply for larger layouts. More experimentation to follow, but I am happy with the colour balance of these lights.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

New venue, same format for Narrow Gauge South

Last Saturday I went to the Narrow Gauge South exhibition at it's new venue in Eastleigh, which was handier for me than the last one near Winchester. The format was much the same - lots of NG layouts, a leaning towards 009 but with a variety of other scales, a range of specialist traders and groups, plus the 009 Society AGM (although I admit I skipped that to see the layouts, but I did have my son with me). This sort of event is about meeting people as much as seeing layouts, so a good deal of talking was done, plus some browsing of the trade. It was a big day for my son as he bought his first 009 loco (well, an HOe Roco diesel) for a project we're working on.

However I did manage to get some photos, so in no particular order, here are some of my favourites:


Oresome Aggregates (HOf) - Peter Smith. Superb industrial modelling with an array of interesting locos in a convincing scenic setting, yet this is all so tiny. I've been watching this develop on the NGRM forum so it was good to see it for real.


Berger Hall (Gn15) - Bill Corser. Compact, detailed, and different, with a sense of humour. Another NGRM forum layout.


First (009) - Steve Clulow. Or "I can't believe this is your first...". Nicely done, one of those simple "I could build that" layouts but with great scenery and trains, and runs well too. See Steve's blog for more details.


Vale Quarry Preservation Society (009) - John Bruce. Yes I've seen it before, yes it's small, yet always a delight.


Albion Estates (1:12, 32mm gauge) - Bill Bateson. More detailed large-scale but a different sort of estate railway.


Plaxtol Road (O) - Tim Ticknell. One of a handful of standard gauge light railway layouts invited to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Colonel Stevens. Lovely atmosphere.


Bryn-Y-Felyn (009) - Matthew Kean. Another Colonel Stevens layout but quite different, WHR atmosphere and trains in a relatively compact layout.


Ryedown Lane (009) - Patrick Collins. Another layout I've seen before but remains a favourite. Also Colonel Stevens inspired. And a lovely loco that reminds me, I've got one of those to build!

There were loads more layouts I could put here, but too many to put in a post, so see the Flikr album for the rest.