Hi yall: I'm building a two level ho layout. my upper level is 20" above the bottom and the shelf is 30" wide. what kind of "inexpensive" lighting are people using under the top level. I'm experimenting with clear Christmas tree lights. I'd like to hear from people who have used these also . Thank for any help you can give. Eddie
"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>
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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 holds true.
"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 bulb holders and bulbs in the string. I found that it's cheaper to buy another "after Xmas" string than to buy individual 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.
I'm just finishing up a 2nd floor dormitory 3 rail O Gage shelf layout...
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 total... mounted via 55 10" by 10" by 1/4" thick steel angles on the wall studs.
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 distant 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....
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 what works.
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.
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 fluorescent blandness.
Color is important, too, but it's getting late here. Another time, perhaps.
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 entirely.
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?
"Ariz> I just went out and bought an 18 foot string of clear rope lights and strung