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Ideas for street lights or lamp posts?

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Ideas for street lights or lamp posts?
Posted by gthomson on Monday, May 08, 2017 12:14 PM

Has anyone ever tried creating their own street lights or lamp posts from scratch? I'm trying to build a small downtown layout and find the cost will build up quick if I buy them.

Just wondering if there's any previous attempts at making them worth sharing.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, May 08, 2017 2:11 PM

I doubt if you can make them your self cheaper than the China streetlights.
 
 
I have 40 that look very nice.
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by gthomson on Monday, May 08, 2017 3:56 PM

I guess i was looking in the wrong places because ebay is much cheaper. Thanks for steering me in the right direction.

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Posted by tstage on Monday, May 08, 2017 4:10 PM

gthomson,

FWIW, I have a how-to tutorial about scratch-building exterior light poles on my website: http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com/light-poles

For convenience there is an instruction sheet and diagram in .pdf format on the left side of the page that describes the process.

Hope that helps...

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, May 08, 2017 10:41 PM

I have made 1950s era street lamps for about $3.00 each:

I used a 3mm LED and brass tubing and strips. The base is a washer used for counter sunk screw heads.

Here is a view of the basic pole. The globe is an 8mm plastic bead. They are plentiful on eBay. If I was doing them again I would use a 5mm bead and an 0603 SMD LED:

The brass pole serves as one conductor. I am still working on a socket system which will allow the lights to be removed from the layout by simply unplugging them. I'm experimenting with low voltage power sockets. This is my first attempt. See Mel's post below for a better socket system.

They look reasonably good when painted. My lamp is on the left. The lamp on the right is a Walthers Built Up model which cost somewhere in the $18.00 range each!

I have made lots of Tom's yard lights too, based on his inspiration. They are quick, cheap and easy, and they look great!

Dave

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Posted by gthomson on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 6:44 AM

Ok, I'm glad to see there are examples of scratch built lights and these look much nicer than store bought. Originally I was looking at just Walthers catalog and found it a bit expensive to install 30-40 lights but thanks to RR Mel, realized you can find them on eBay or Amazon for much cheaper.
But, I still like these home made options better. Thanks for sharing everyone.

Is the voltage different for these scratch built lights?

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 7:28 AM

gthomson

Is the voltage different for these scratch built lights?

Yes.  Dave's good-looking scratch-build light poles using 3mm LEDs should be 3V and mine, using 1.7mm incandescent, are 1.5V.

Tom

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Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 8:22 AM

hon30critter

 I'm experimenting with low voltage power sockets. This is my first attempt:

 

Dave

 

This is my socket mod for my street lights.
 
  
 
I soldered a single male connector to the lamp wire and glued (CA) it in the bottom of the support tube.  I used short brass tubes to make a base/socket using a female connector to mate up with the male.
 
 
Link to eBay search for micro connectors:
 
 
I standardized on micro connectors about 7 years ago.  You can cut the connector strips to any contact arrangement and by pushing a pin out and reversing it you can polarize the connectors.
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 10:52 PM

tstage
Dave's good-looking scratch-build light poles using 3mm LEDs should be 3V

Actually I use 12 volts and a suitable resistor, somewhere around 2200 - 3300 ohms. Using a 3 volt power supply would be easier but I think you might still want to experiment with small value resistors to get the desired light level. I don't like the street lights at full brightness. I prefer a bit of a yellowish tone.

One advantage to using a 12 volt power supply for accessories is that everything can be powered from the same source(s) so there is no confusion about which is the 3 volt wire and which is the 9 volt wire etc. etc... All the accessory bus wires are 12 volts. Just don't forget the resistors!

By the way, Mel's sockets are easier to make and much stronger than mine.

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, May 11, 2017 10:49 AM

Dave
 
Did you give my connector a try, they have worked out pretty good for me.  I did the connector thing about 7 years ago and I have removed and reinstalled them many times without a single problem.  I got the idea from a Walthers Bishop’s Crook Street Light.
 
All of my structure and street lights are incandescent 12 volt operating at 8½ to 9 volts for realism and extended bulb life.  I went with switching power supplies for better efficiency, better efficiency means less current draw and less heat dissipation.  Regulators and resistors are inefficient and draw unnecessary current and dissipate heat.
 
My accessory power is 12 VDC and I use switching DC to DC converters to set the operating voltage needed, again much less heat dissipation that regulators.  The regulated switching DC to DC converters are cheap off eBay, under $4 for 8 amps.  They can be adjusted from 1 to 24 volts and are very stable.  I have one set to 1.4 volts for my hundreds of 1mm 1½ volt 15ma micro bulbs used for headlight and taillights in my vehicles.  The converter has held to within ±.05 volts at the 1.4 volt setting for several months drawing up to 3.6 amps with everything turned on.
 
This is a picture of three mounted DC to DC converters on my Arduino card shelf.  Left to right, 1.4 volts, 5 volts and 8.6 volts.  The converter pots are labeled A for current adjust and V for voltage adjust.
 
The card shelf is 9½" wide.
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
 
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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 12, 2017 9:42 PM

RR_Mel
  Did you give my connector a try,

I had forgotten about your sockets until I saw your post. I will use your design when it comes time to mount the lights. The components that I used are too small and fiddely, and I suspect they wouldn't stand up to repeated removal, and yours are much easier to mount. The female socket on mine will be a PITA to get lined up properly.

You are making me re-think my overall power strategy too.

I wish I had seen your vehicle connection methods before I wired my vehicles. I've got a whole bunch of cars and trucks with all sorts of wires dangling out the bottom that will be a pain to install.

Simpler is better!

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, May 12, 2017 10:13 PM

Dave
 
I don’t know where the idea came from to use brass rod and tubing to make the vehicle connectors.  They do work great for my layout.  The real benefit is the ability to move my vehicles easily around my layout.  I have about 95 vehicles with lights and I installed about 120 sockets around my layout.  There is a down side, if you don’t make an accurate drawing of socket placement they can be very hard to find.
 
I use three prongs on vehicles that have flashing emergency lights.  I’m not happy with the three prong connectors but I haven’t come up with anything better.  I only have a couple of extra three prong connectors for vehicles with flashing lights so placement is limited.
 
I made a separate flasher (total of 9 vehicle, 5 fixed beacons) for each circuit so that they never flash in sync. I went with a simple two transistor flip flop circuit for each flasher, all the componets are the same for all flashers.  even when they are first turned on there is no flach sync.
 
All of the yellow emergency lights are on one power switch, police and fire are individually switched.  All of my red flashing beacons, towers, forest lookout, elevated water tanks have individual flashers and are on one power switch.  
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, May 12, 2017 10:35 PM

Dave
 
I fought the power problems on my layout for years, I never liked using regulators because of heat dissipation problems.  The answer is DC to DC convertors.  They are current and voltage adjustable with almost no heat dissipation.
 
Before I switched over to the convertors I was using regulators and they needed fan cooling, the 8 volt regulator was running 7 amps (over 80 watts of heat dissipation).  I have pulled all but one fan because no heat problems using the convertors.  My control panel has two transformers, several wall warts and three DC to DC convertors.  One 3” fan keeps my entire control panel cool. 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 12, 2017 10:35 PM

Hi Mel:

I just ordered some DC to DC converters. I ordered three like yours, and I ordered three that have a digital readout built in that will show either volts or amps both in and out. The ones like yours are good for up to 12 amps output. The ones with the readouts are rated for 2 amps out.

I will also go back and have a look at my vehicles to see if I can simplify the wiring. If I can use the DC to DC converters I can eliminate the resistors which would hopefully allow me to adopt your post and socket system for most of my vehicles.

Learn something new every day! Thanks for the ideas.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 12, 2017 10:44 PM

Mel:

I have a couple of questions for you. What gauge wire are you using for the buses for the various voltages, and how long are your various buses?

Thanks

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, May 12, 2017 11:24 PM

hon30critter

Mel:

I have a couple of questions for you. What gauge wire are you using for the buses for the various voltages, and how long are your various buses?

Thanks

Dave

 

Well that’s a bad question for me.  I did the basic wiring 30 years ago and through the years I stayed with my original concept.  I don’t use buss wiring for my layout but I do use buss wiring in my control panel.  Since the control panel wiring is short runs I use #16 for up to 10 amps and #14 for high current.  My longest bus is less than 4’.
 
I also use #20 bell wire for my block wiring using home runs to a Euro connector in my control panel.
 
I have home runs from every accessory to my control panel.  A couple of years ago I found some #26 ribbon cable that I use for structures with a lot of lighting (Arduino Random Lighting Controllers), sure beats using Telco wire.  My turnouts use #20 three conductor bell wire (red/green/white) from Home Depot.
 
All of my vehicle wiring is #24 Telco wire home runs, a blue/white pair for non emergency vehicles with an added orange for flashing.
 
I use bus bars for power distribution in my control panel, that somewhat simplifies trouble shooting to a 12 position bus bar.  The 1.4 volt vehicle lighting bus has over 120 wires as does the 1.4 volt common bus.  Sounds terrible but it is rater a clean way to do it.
 
 
In this picture only about a third of the 1.4 volt wires are terminited, the white bus on the bottom right is the common and the bus above it is the 1.4 volt bus.
 
The picture below is my block power distribution (24 blocks).
 
 
 
 
This picture shows the Arduino card shelf with the three DC to DC convertors in the left portion of my control panel.
 
I haven't totally finished my control panel modification, it gets tiresome and my bone to bone knee doesn't like doing it very long so it will be awhile before it's totally finished.
 
Are you sorry you ask?
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 12, 2017 11:44 PM

RR_Mel
Are you sorry you ask?

No, not at all! Your methods work well and therefore deserve due consideration. My layout will be a bit bigger than yours (12' x 23') but the distances from the accessories to the five individual control panels won't be much different so 'home wiring' is definitely an option. In fact I can see it being easier to trouble shoot than using buses.

Thanks again for sharing your expertise.

Dave

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Posted by GrandTrunk-HO on Thursday, May 18, 2017 8:57 AM

I apologize for the delay to respond.

RR_Mel

I doubt if you can make them your self cheaper than the China streetlights.

http://stores.ebay.com/WEHONEST/Lampposts-Lights-/_i.html?_fsub=1772574012&_sid=149381402&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322 

I also purchased (30) HO scale street lamp posts from the same Ebay seller. This Ebay seller (wehonest_cn) is selling (20) HO scale street lamp posts for $23.99     (US $1.20) each.

All the hardware is made from brass. The LED used is a 5.MM (.197" Dia.) white LED (blue tint).

HO scale street lamp posts: 

I personally do not like the large size or the soft blue color tint from this LED. Especially when I am building a late 50's, early 60's era model train layout.

I will be replacing these LED's with much smaller 3.MM (.118" Dia.) (Warm White) (Diffused Round Top) LED's. 

3.MM (Warm White) (Diffused Round Top) LED's: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by GrandTrunk-HO on Thursday, May 18, 2017 11:14 AM

Again, I apologize for the delay to respond.

RR_Mel

Well that’s a bad question for me.  I did the basic wiring 30 years ago and through the years I stayed with my original concept.  I don’t use buss wiring for my layout but I do use buss wiring in my control panel. Since the control panel wiring is short runs I use #16 for up to 10 amps and #14 for high current.  My longest bus is less than 4’. I also use #20 bell wire for my block wiring using home runs to a Euro connector in my control panel. I have home runs from every accessory to my control panel.  A couple of years ago I found some #26 ribbon cable that I use for structures with a lot of lighting (Arduino Random Lighting Controllers), sure beats using Telco wire.  My turnouts use #20 three conductor bell wire (red/green/white) from Home Depot. All of my vehicle wiring is #24 Telco wire home runs, a blue/white pair for non emergency vehicles with an added orange for flashing. I use bus bars for power distribution in my control panel, that somewhat simplifies trouble shooting to a 12 position bus bar. The 1.4 volt vehicle lighting bus has over 120 wires as does the 1.4 volt common bus.  Sounds terrible but it is rater a clean way to do it.

You RR_Mel informed us that you were an electrical engineer 30 years ago (1987). The pictures you supplied from your main power control panel, looks very clean and very professional looking. You stated that you use #20 wire (0.032" Dia.) to a Euro connector in your control panel. 

On my very first attempt to wire my (27) Circuitron Tortoise Switch Machine's, I have #20 wire (0.032" Dia.) (to 54 Euro terminal wire connections). After doing wiring testing, (1/3) of the wire connections failed to have an electrical connection. Latter I found out that this type of Euro wire terminal comes in (3) different clamping wire sizes. The bare wire is inserted inside a small copper tube. A regular screw clamps down onto the bare wire and if the wire size is too small for this application, the screw will push the wire aside. This may/will prevent an excellent electrical contact.

I am presently totally re-wiring my DCC system and only using electrical (Euro Type!) screw down terminal blocks. The bare wire is inserted inside a small flat copper plate. A regular screw clamps down onto the bare wire and if the wire size is too small for this application, the screw will push the wire aside.

This wire connector will "Not" insure (100%) electrical contact.

This wire connector (Euro Type) will insure (100%) electrical contact.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:15 PM

I use the 3 amp Euro connectors they easily handle smaller wires without any problems.  In fact I also use #24 & #26 TELCO Frame wire in the Euro connectors and I’ve never had a problem the smaller size wire either.
 
I worked in two-way radio communications for 49 years and 10 months so I do have a bit of experience in electronics.  I retired December 28th 2007.  I got my degree in 1960 from Texas Western College now University of Texas El Paso.  I began my electronics career in February 1958 working for a Motorola Two-Way Radio Service Center in El Paso.
 
I also use the US version of the PCB screw terminals on my Arduinos.  I’ve never had any problems with my wiring.  I’m a gadget guy and to me model railroading is a blast from the past.
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by GrandTrunk-HO on Friday, May 19, 2017 9:11 AM

I apologize for going off subject in this posting.

I am only following up from "RR_Mel" last posting.

Hello; "RR_Mel"

Lets agree not to agree.

You mentioned your past history being an electrical engineer. At one time I was a special projects manufacturing engineer, doing modifications to the F-15 jet fighter.

The original Euro wire terminals are manufactured in Europe with specific approved required electrical standards. This included maximum and minimum wire sizes. The much cheaper Euro (type) wire terminals are all made in China without any required electrical standards. There are no actual approved electrical maximum and minimum wire size standards. 

There may/will be problems if you use #12AWG (.08" Dia.) and #22AWG (.025" Dia.) in a larger size Euro (type) wire terminal. This product is made from ABS plastic (not electrically approved). The Euro (type) wire connector is "Not" a cage clamp. It uses a screw clamp. The flat bottom screw tightens against the top of the wire. There will always be a small gap between the flat bottom screw and the bottom round contact surface.

How much will a small #AWG wire compress under these conditions?

Wire Clamping Screw Gap:

Here is an example of an original Euro wire terminal manufactured in Europe. Made from POLYAMIDE 6 (electrically approved).  Take special note that there is a soft brass plate under the clamping screw, to form to the round electrical contact surface, to act like a cage clamp.  

Original Euro Wire Connector:

UL (safety organization) Electrically Approved

Only a suggestion. I would not recommend using these cheap, electrically unsafe, China made, Euro (type) wire terminals for high amperage usage.

Especially when it comes to the main power supply 115.VAC / 15.AMP power supply to the model train layout. This would also include DCC usage where there are 5.Amp and 10.Amp boosters. There are also 5.Amp and 10.Amp DCC power supplies.

 

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, May 19, 2017 9:22 AM

They work for me, I’ve never had a problem using Euro connectors regardless of conductor size. 
 
I’ve been using Euro and similar connectors for 30 years without any problems, they have always worked great for me.  
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, May 19, 2017 11:23 PM

GrandTrunk-HO
This wire connector (Euro Type) will insure (100%) electrical contact.

100% eh? My experience says otherwise. I was working on some LED lighting for my deck today and I was using virtually identical connectors with approx 28 ga. wire. I had to double the wire back on itself to get a solid grip, and yes, they had contact strips in them.

The connectors that you show will work if you order the right size. You should have mentioned that.

You should refrain from making broad general statements which may be misleading.

Dave

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, May 20, 2017 3:27 AM

hon30critter
My experience says otherwise.

I second that, Dave. I've had those with the "contact plate" insert and once they get compressed they never fully open up again. Forget reliable connections with fine, IE 28 to 36 ga. wire.

There ARE some nice clamping-type wire terminals but I can only find them intended for use on PC boards.

Both of the above types are worthless for fine stranded wire. I use lots of DIN-rail types like these Weidmüller type:

http://www.weidmuller.com/us/products/connectivity/terminal-blocks/screw-connection---w-series

They also make end ferrules that will crimp onto fine wire that insures a solid connection.

http://catalog.weidmueller.com/procat/Group.jsp;jsessionid=2800E904701E94A293F199736CB72776?groupId=(%22group72848779123299%22)&page=Group

 

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by OldSchoolScratchbuilder on Saturday, May 20, 2017 7:11 AM
Great inspiring thread. I learned a lot and will scratchbuild my street lights when the time comes.

Designed naval sonars for Canada, the United States, Australia, and other allies as a career in physics. Elected Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America in 2000. Several of my sonar inventions are in the Canada Science and Technology Museum's collection in Ottawa.

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Posted by GrandTrunk-HO on Sunday, May 21, 2017 11:48 AM

I have found an individual selling true real Euro terminal blocks manufactured in Finland.

Ebay seller: elimia_sales 

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/371873294620?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

- 12 pole position terminal block

- 600V / 65.Amp heavy duty

- Clamping wire range is #18 AWG (.040" Dia.)  --> up to #6 AWG (.170" Dia.)

- Also UL and CSA Listed/Approved Euro terminal blocks.

Telephone wires and RJ-45 (Cat 5) and RJ-45 (Cat 5e) cables are #24 AWG (.020") diameter wire.

 

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Posted by GrandTrunk-HO on Sunday, May 21, 2017 1:34 PM

hon30critter

100% eh? My experience says otherwise. I was working on some LED lighting for my deck today and I was using virtually identical connectors with approx 28 ga. wire. 

I had to double the wire back on itself to get a solid grip, and yes, they had contact strips in them.

The connectors that you show will work if you order the right size. You should have mentioned that.

You should refrain from making broad general statements which may be misleading.

Dave

Question: (hon30critter)

Are you actually stating that your outdoor deck wiring cable is only using (approx.) #28AWG wire (.013") Dia. wire?

gmpullman

I second that, Dave. I've had those with the "contact plate" insert and once they get compressed they never fully open up again.

Forget reliable connections with fine, IE 28 to 36 ga. wire.

Your Quote: (gmpullman)

IE 28 to 36 ga. wire.

- #28AWG wire (.013") Dia.

- #36AWG wire (.005") Dia.

Question: (gmpullman)

Are you actually stating that even the original Euro terminal blocks manufactured in Europe are "faulty" when using small #AWG wires.

Question: (RR_Mel)

Are you presently using Euro (type) terminal blocks manufactured In China?

 

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, May 21, 2017 9:43 PM

GrandTrunk-HO
Question: (hon30critter) Are you actually stating that your outdoor deck wiring cable is only using (approx.) #28AWG wire (.013") Dia. wire?

Yes, the LED strings are using 28 ga wire or close to it. These are what I am installing:

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/20-30-40-50-100-LED-String-Copper-Wire-Fairy-Lights-Battery-Powered-Waterproof-A-/272388127697?var=&hash=item3f6b98fbd1:m:mUsXqMgTr3P-_zgH0mMuVbA

They will be hooked up to a 2.5 v power supply which is located inside a waterproof box. Everything is under a roof which really doesn't matter given that the lights are waterproof to begin with.

I can hardly wait to hear what fault(s) you find with my setup.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, May 21, 2017 9:52 PM

GrandTrunk-HO
- Clamping wire range is #18 AWG (.040" Dia.)  --> up to #6 AWG (.170" Dia.)

Other than for bus wires maybe, what good are those for most wiring needs on a model railway? Are you suggesting that everything should be 18 ga. wire or larger?

Dave

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Posted by xdford on Saturday, May 27, 2017 7:54 AM

If you do want to go "cheap" I have made some streetlights out of Chupa Chup sticks as per http://xdford.digitalzones.com/model%20railway%20lights%2001.htm

as well as using the same principles with K&S tubing or similar for taller lights so the cost is minimal!

Cheers from Australia

Trevor

 

 

 

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