In a message on Sun, 23 Oct 2005 04:21:37 -0400, wrote :
"TA> Hi yall:"TA> I'm building a two level ho layout. my upper level is 20" above the"TA> bottom and the shelf is 30" wide. what kind of "inexpensive" lighting"TA> are people using under the top level. I'm experimenting with clear"TA> Christmas tree lights. I'd like to hear from people who have used these"TA> also .
On the Dream, Plan, Build MR DVD they talk about using 'rope' lights to
light the lower level.
"TA> Thank for any help you can give."TA> Eddie"TA> "TA>
Robert Heller ||InterNet: email@example.com
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Christmas tree light strings sound good in principle, but I've found
that the ones with miniature bulbs don't give enough light. Rope lights
are much better - I'm using a rope to light the stairs to the basement.
Outdoor Christmas tree incandescents give lots of light, but there is
also lots of heat - each bulb is 3W or 5W, and that can add up in a
hurry. I've tried LED Christmas lights, too, but they give even less
light than miniature incandescents (but those strings are a cheap source
of LEDs for other uses, and the "white" ones give a nice bluish light,
good for a bright moonlit night effect.) Probably the best bet is
fluorescent tubes, but I haven't tried those yet.
Tony Koester had an article in MR about a year ago IIRC in which he
reported that his tests showed that fluorescent have to be mounted end
to end, with no gaps, if you want even lighting with no bright spots.
Pelle Sjoberg and others have recently written articles that suggest a
combination of fluorescents for general lighting and incandescent spots
for highlighting may be best. It seems you should think of the layout as
a stage set, and use lighting to draw the eye to the parts you want
visitors to notice and operators to see. That's what Frank Ellison
suggested decades ago, when he wrote about his Delta Lines, and it still
"You can't win. You can't break even. You can't get out of the game."
The light rope is against the upper shelf of the layout and that is approx
18 inches above a lower shelf of the layout. WalMart carries thes things
in colored light also but I dont like them, I have the white or crystal
ones. Cant remember the price but they are quite cheap and the lighting is
very even across the entire lenght of 18 feet. I have not tried them on a
reaostat but it might be worth a try for various lighting effects.
Additionally I have 5 strings of them around the deck out the back door
approx 30 inches above the floor and just inder the top handrail. They
light the deck floor nicely.
The Christmas ones are amazingly cheap just after Xmas!
Usually you can remove the coloured layer with meths.
Rather than using a rheostat to reduce the brightness, just splice in a few more
holders and bulbs in the string.
I found that it's cheaper to buy another "after Xmas" string than to buy
replacement bulbs, and you get a free transformer for street lighting etc.
If you need more light then just tack the bulbs/holders closer together.
You don't change the bulbs - the rope is a sealed unit. The bulbs' leads
are welded to two continuous wires that run the length of the rope.
thatThe rope we're using to light our stairs to the baseent is 10ft
long, with a bulb every inch, for a total of 120 bulbs. It's rated at 60
watts total, or 1/2 watt per bulb. It has been in use for over 5 years,
lit for 2,000 hours a year or more, with no signs of any bulbs burning out.
After a fifteen minutes or so, it's warm to the touch, about body
temperature. The light is very "warm", a golden yellowy tint, which
would give the effect of a summer evening if used on a layout. They do
come in other colours, red, green, and blue being the most common, so a
combination of parallel ropes in different colours could give you more
of a daytime light effect. If you try that, why not report back here on
How much light do the ropes give out? If it's adequate (say, at about a
24" range), and tint is acceptable, then it sounds like it would a
cheaper alternative to end-to-end fluorescents (both in installation and
I just went out and bought an 18 foot string of clear rope lights and strung
them behind the valance of the upper deck to illuminate the lower level.
They don't give off much light but that dim glow is at least even. If you
want proper light , you'll have to supplement the rope light or forget it
Up hill slow, down hill fast, tonnage first, safety last.
String two, three, four, ... rope lights in parallel until you get the level of
light you require.
While multiples will cost more, they will be easier to switch for varying light
levels and effects - and as for cost, what limits do you put on a particular
train that you _must have_ on your layout?
"Arizona Rock & Mineral Co." wrote:
It is the "evenness" of the light that I find to be a drawback.
Natural light is only even on heavily overcast days. I feel that light
that casts a distinct shadow is more natural to the eye, leaving out
rope lights or fluorescents.
Directional light can be difficult to arrange, given that there is minimal
vertical space under a double deck and that prototype north wanders around
Have you solved the problem?
Although it is difficult to arrange, the results are worth it. Someone
here said that the layout should be lit like a stage, with accent light
on the areas of most interest or importance. I concur.
But modern stage lighting technique uses more individual lighting
instruments than are practical for a model and most modelers would not
have the interest to arrange that many anyway. I suggest this
approach: use fluorescents to provide a soft, overall fill light and
punch up the accent areas with small incandescents like MR16s. This
minimizes the adverse effects of the heat build-up from the
incandescents and maximizes their effect of stark shadow against the
Color is important, too, but it's getting late here. Another time,
I'm just finishing up a 2nd floor dormitory 3 rail O Gage shelf
My shelves are 12" wide for 2 main lines (75' loops with 2 4" grades)
17" wide for the 2 main lines & a 40' parking track w/15 turnouts
mounted via 55 10" by 10" by 1/4" thick steel angles on the wall
I've tested white rope light in 24' length (3/8 " dia) & like it.
I use 3 of the brand new LuTron slide dimmers ($10ea) from Home Depot.
THe rope light will be used only on the 2/3s of the layout most
from the operator... I'm still looking hard for 7/16 " channel
that is flexible which shields the rope light bulbs... Want light
toward tracks only, want to view the wheel trucks, & want
rope light on inside of the 75' loop lighting the grades & distant
main line areas....
Rope light could be used for under the table display cases too....
I didn't read all the replies but I have a suggestion.
Try rope light on a dimmer switch. You can use a combination white & blue.
Dimming the white and bringing up the blue make a real nice imitation of
night time operations.
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