One of my projects recently was to light my layout properly. I did this in August, and I’m only blogging about it now. Yikes! They were visible in my last 2 posts, so you’ve probably been wondering how I did it.
Power limitations are something I’ve run into time and time again in building this layout – without a panel replacement and a new service from the local transformer, I was limited to a pair of 15A breakers. (20A is not allowed for a branch circuit in a residential dwelling, no matter how sure you are about your wire size.)
One of these 15A breakers was devoted to a branch circuit serving all the receptacles in the room. The other I’m devoting to LED lighting. Room lighting (work lights) are on the original lighting circuit which had a pair of incandescent 60W bulbs on it. It’s fine, honestly.
The circuit goes straight from the main panel to a duplex switch at the entrance to the layout room – directly above another duplex switch which controls the work lights and the layout power. The LED switches control the lights separately for the lower and upper deck.
From the switches, each branch goes to a 600W (12VDC/50A) transformer – one for the upper deck, and one for the lower. These are in a 12×12 electrical junction box because I ordered them off eBay and I’m terrified of fire.
These generate a LOT of heat, so I drilled a bunch of holes in the case for air flow. More than are pictured. I also added 4 80mm computer fans, 2 on top, and 2 on the bottom, to force air through the units in addition to the onboard flow. These blow air in from the bottom and out the top, and are spliced into the terminals of the lower deck supply (which I have on more often.) They probably make it way louder (probably like 50 or 60dB) but I like a lack of fire.
From there, I divided the layout into 6 districts, 3 per transformer, as equal as I could make them so that no circuit exceeds 15A.
On to the LED strips themselves!
I did a fair bit of experimenting with the strips to find what appeared ‘correct’ to my eye. The brightest strip available as of this writing is a 5630/5730 chip with 60 LEDs per meter. I couldn’t find a single colour that appeared correct, but I found that a combination of ‘white’ and ‘natural white’ side by side worked.
They have adhesive backing, but it doesn’t adhere well to wood and I placed my stripes directly on my benchwork. To solve this, I used hot glue to secure the strips as I went.
Now that they’re in on both the lower and upper levels, they look fab. Fab! Just don’t look straight at them if you value your eyesight.