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Help on illuminating double-deck layout

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Help on illuminating double-deck layout
Posted by TrainzLuvr on Saturday, September 02, 2017 8:45 PM

Hello everyone,

So let's imagine a not so hypothetical situation:

Double-deck layout; lower deck 42" high and 24" deep; upper deck 59" high and 16" deep.

Three LED strips (SMT3528) under the outer edge of the upper deck. Tracks and trains all over the lower deck. Lights on.

WTH moment.

The trains closer to the outer edge on the lower deck are casting a shadow towards the aisle because the upper deck does not reach far over to illuminate it.

How do you, with double-deck layouts, solve this problem and achieve nice, uniform, diffuse illumination throughout?

Givens:

- primary operator heght 6'3",
- ceiling height is ~6'7",
- drywall over joists,
- some pot lights,
- won't use CFLs or flourescent tubes of any kind due to height restrictions and/or environmental concerns.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT: included my own height, adjusted ceiling height

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, September 03, 2017 1:59 AM

My layout is only partially double-decked, with the lower level 36"-38" high, and the upper level at 59".  The height of the suspended ceiling is about 81".
Layout depth varies...in the first photo below, the two levels on either side of the aisle are about 32" deep, while those at the end of the aisle are 39" deep...

For the aisle shown below in an under-construction view, the depth of the lower level is 21", while the upper is 26" deep...

...and seen here with the lights and fascia installed...

The upper level and all of the single-level portion of the layout is lit by double-tube fluorescent fixtures above the suspended ceiling, mostly 4'-ers, with a couple of 8'-ers, while lower level lighting is done with lightweight electronic fluorescents (twin tube 4'-ers).  The latter were placed as closely as possible to the rear of the upper level fascia (not yet in place in the photo below)...

The stacked staging yards are located across the aisle from the previous view, and are lit in a similar manner...

I intend to put a couple of "fill" lights nearer the corners of the deep portion of the lower level, at the end of the aisle in the first photo, using 60watt-equivalent Daylight LED bulbs.

I'm reasonably satisfied with the lighting as it is, but may change the 4' ceiling fixture at the end of the aisle for an 8'.  The other two 4' fixtures in the first photo have since been changed to 8' ones.

Wayne 

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Sunday, September 03, 2017 8:30 AM

Hi doctorwayne,

Thanks for your reply.

I wish I had your 81" suspended ceiling in my basement. :)

How do you manage the 32-39" benchwork depth on the main level at 36" height?

Is it meant for sitting and not standing, because I cannot imagine being able to see the back of that level, at least at my height (6'3"). I'm having hard time seeing the back at my 24" lower level at 42", because of the 16" upper level depth, which is at 59" as well.

I see that your upper level in the other photo (26" deep) overhangs the lower (21" deep). How does it feel operating at those deck ratios?

It definitely provides for good illumination from above, although personally I would be bothered not being able to see all the nice scenery around my track. :)

Also, in that photo, are the 4' tubes at the back of the fascia the only illumination above the lower level?

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, September 03, 2017 9:20 AM

I'm about your same height 6-3, 6-4, and I'm looking at building my dble decker at 40" & 60".

I definitely want to lite it with the newer LED strip/tape lighting for a number of positive reasons. Lighting the lower deck seems to be no problem, BUT I am wondering how to use that same lighting for the upper deck?

 

 

Have not finished putting Masonite board over all of the insulation yet, nor over the ceiling, but hopefully you get some idea of what I am speaking about?....how to mount LED lighting to the 'Masonite ceiling' to lite up the upper dcek of a dbl-deck layout??

Brian

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Sunday, September 03, 2017 10:26 AM

Hi Brian,

A combination of ceiling and below-the-fascia lighting might be needed in both of our cases, to avoid the shadows created by just the fascia mounted lights.

It will also need to be balanced so that one does not overpower the other.

Have you decided whether you are putting a valance on your upper level or not?

If you go without it, then the celing lighting would illuminate both the upper level and exposed lower levels. Perhaps  twin 4' LED tubes placed around the layout/aisles shape would work better than LED strips, due to the distance.

Before you close up the ceiling, mark where those roof rafters/joists are so you can secure  things to them (suspended lights or what not). I wouldn't bet a head injury on thin masonite board holding much on its own. :)

 

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, September 03, 2017 11:25 AM

Wonder it there is some sort of a way to create a 'tube type' LED utilizing those flat LED strips glued to the ceiling, and then some sort of thin clear plastic sheet material bent over the strips in a half circular manner?

...just brain-storming

I would be looking for a very minimalistic light source for that upper deck that would hopefully not have to utilize those fluorescent type tubes and their end fitting receptacles.

Maybe something like these...
https://chicagodist.com/products/adafruit-neopixel-digital-rgbw-led-strip-black-pcb-30-led-m

 

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, September 03, 2017 11:44 AM

or maybe something like these

..oops, got the images on my computer but not their locations

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, September 03, 2017 12:08 PM

 The top deck is the easy part - you just hang a valence the same width as the top deck, the the lights you install will be shining straight down on the upper level scenes. No real shadow issues. It's the wide difference between upper and lower deck widths that start causing issues, for the lower deck. Wayne's all looks great except the one spot where, indeed, the lower deck sticks out a bit more that anywhere else. 

 My plan is to keep my widthes pretty close to the same - and none more than 18" typically. The only wider part will be for my yard, and there I will have the saem lighting issues, because I will not be extending the upper deck over the full width of the yard, in fact the upper deck at that spot may be very narrow, I don;t want to have someone blocking the yard operator while trying to switch some industry on the upper level at the same spot. Rather than strips, that area may have ceiling mounted lighting to light both levels. If not right against the walls, even a 12" wide upper deck at that point won't cast a shadow on the lower level.

 There are also available commercially, LED squares, either 1' or 2' squares, which have 2 wires coming off them, they run off a 12V DC power supply just like the strips. By the time I actually get to where I need to install that, I'm hoping they will have RGB ones so I can extend my blue night lighting over the yard area, as well as the dawn and dusk features - everywhere else I plan to use strips, based on some testing it's likely to be 4 strips total, 2 white, 1 RGB, and one blue.

                                --Randy

 


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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, September 03, 2017 12:24 PM

TrainzLuvr
...How do you manage the 32-39" benchwork depth on the main level at 36" height? Is it meant for sitting and not standing, because I cannot imagine being able to see the back of that level, at least at my height (6'3"). I'm having hard time seeing the back at my 24" lower level at 42", because of the 16" upper level depth, which is at 59" as well....

The lower level is meant to be operated from rolling office chairs.  The upper level can mostly be operated while standing, but I do keep a couple of step-stools handy for occasions when manual uncoupling is necessary.  Turnouts are also manually-operated, and some require the step-stools, but they will eventually be operable (manually) from the fascia.

TrainzLuvr
...I see that your upper level in the other photo (26" deep) overhangs the lower (21" deep). How does it feel operating at those deck ratios?...

Because the two levels are not operated at the same time (the layout is DC, and meant for one operator), the one not in use pretty much disappears, as my focus is on the one I'm using.

TrainzLuvr
...Also, in that photo, are the 4' tubes at the back of the fascia the only illumination above the lower level?

Yeah, the fixtures, all double-tube, are the only lighting on the lower level although, as I mentioned, the deep portion across the end of the aisle in the first photo will be getting an LED bulb in each corner, probably about midway between the fascia and the backdrop. 

These two photos were taken before the second level was added...

...and this one, of the area between the two photos above, after the second level was in place...

I think that it would look better if the background were better-lit (and in-focus Embarrassed).

In a way, the lower-level lighting should have been placed right in front of the backdrop, rather than at the fascia, as from the aisle, the viewer is looking south.  However, that would have made all photos of the trains taken from the side in-shadow, not usually a railfan's choice. Smile, Wink & Grin 
I also take a lot of photos with the camera on the layout, either facing along the track or towards the aisle, and the upper level certainly gets in the way...

 

These shots, taken before the second level was in place on the 39" deep section at the end of the aisle, were easier...

This one, except for the support structure for the second level (installed when the layout was built, many years before the second level was added) worked out quite well, as it was taken from the right side, facing across the aisle shown in the first photo in my first post. The structures and scenery in the distance are really in-the-distance...

...and this view, with the same ugly "clouds", was shot along almost the entire 20' length of that right side of the aisle...

Wayne

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Sunday, September 03, 2017 12:55 PM

doctorwayne,

those are beautiful shots and scenes, and excellent detail work. I can only hope my layout some day would look similar.

You said to instead put the lights in front of the backdrop. I know that would create long shadows towards the operator, but has anyone considered/did put the lights at the horizon level, next to the backdrop. Most of the sky on a nice clear sunny day pales to the horizon from a deep blue at the zenith...

There are plastic LED diffuser strips that I'm thinking could make the LED strips look more like flourescent tubes, but the length needed to cover many feet of LED strips might not be worth it. In China diffusers cost $0.25-$1/ft and in North America they are $10-$20/ft. MEH.

Maybe the LED tubes would be a solution, but they take more space than LED strips, i.e. https://www.1000bulbs.com/category/direct-wire-led-tube-lights-under-1800-lumens/ 

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, September 03, 2017 2:25 PM

I appreciate your kind remarks, TrainzLuvr.

TrainzLuvr
...has anyone considered/did put the lights at the horizon level, next to the backdrop. Most of the sky on a nice clear sunny day pales to the horizon from a deep blue at the zenith...

I think that it would be difficult to hide such lights from some viewing angles, and the effect is easier to accomplish using paint on the backdrop...

I bought a not-too-dark blue for the upper sky, dividing the paint into three lots.  The original colour was used near the top, and the mid-sky was done with the same paint with some white paint added, while that at the horizon was from the third lot, with even more white added.  I tried to blend the colours where they met while the paint was still wet, but with only limited success, as the paint dried too quickly.  Where the second level was to be added later, the process was duplicated for both levels, which looked a bit unusual...

The fluorescent lights do cause the colours to fade over time, and had LEDs been available or now, if they were affordable, they'd likely be my choice.  If the tube-style LEDs come down enough in price, I may start replacing the fluorescents, although I have a fairly large supply of replacement tubes.   I found a good-size lot of 40watt tubes at a good price, and removed all of the 32 and 34watt ones I had been using as the original 40watt ones expired.  For a number of years, at least around here, the 40s seemed to be unavailable.

The small diameter 34s in the electronic fixtures lighting the lower level seem to have a lumen rating very similar to the old-style 40s in the ceiling.  On an earlier, smaller layout, I used colour-balanced tubes, but there were only four double fixtures needed.  At that time, those tubes were about $15.00 apiece.  I've since found that light quality, at least for my needs, takes second place to light quantity, and there are currently 27 4' doubles and 2 8' doubles lighting the layout, all cool white.  In person, your eyes quickly learn to accept the colour as correct, and any current-day camera will compensate for the discrepancy.

My thoughts, when adding the second level, was to make the two levels truly separate by making the upper one as wide or wider than the area below.  That way, each has their own light source and any light from the ceiling lights that illuminates the front edges of the lower level simply supplements light in the area right at the fascia which may not be lit adequately by the lights hung beneath the upper level.  The ceiling lights don't cast shadows on the lower level and, of course, the lower level lights have no effect at all on the upper level.  
While the lighting is controlled by four separate switches outside of the layout room, which would allow me to illuminate only the portion in use, I prefer to have the entire room lit, unless I'm just going in there to obtain some non-train-related stuff which is stored beneath the layout.  If I had more money to blow, and if electricity here were cheaper, there would be even more light fixtures. Stick out tongue

Wayne

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, September 03, 2017 2:32 PM

rrinker

 The top deck is the easy part - you just hang a valence the same width as the top deck, the the lights you install will be shining straight down on the upper level scenes. No real shadow issues

Simple enough, don't know why I didn't think of it.

Perhaps I was thinking that as we got up to those levels of 60" and greater that a person would be looking up into those LED lights?

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, September 03, 2017 5:34 PM

 That's why you put in the valence, and not just put lights on the ceiling, the idea being that the valence board would hide the lights from direct vision.

                                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, September 03, 2017 9:04 PM

Hi TrainzLuvr,

I'd be interested in what you found out from the other fellow who designed and built his own LED lighting

I designed and built my own led strips, you can read about them here: http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/magazine/mrh-2015-03-mar/michael-roses-led-boards

And yes, I'm very happy with the brightness and the quality of the light.

 

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Sunday, September 03, 2017 10:32 PM

Michael's is a high-end setup, imho, because he is very particular about the colour rendering so the light boards and the LEDs end up costing more.

I do not see myself soldering hundreds of SMT LEDs despite having over 30+ years experience in electronics. If I really had to, I'd use a reflow oven to speed things up, but because I'm being cheap, I'll look for SMT 5630 LED strips instead. :)

The LED strips I tried out were 3528, in Warm White, Cool White and Blue from https://www.ledwholesalers.com/v2/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=80&search=Flexible+LED+Light+Strip+with+300xSMD3528

I'm sure that if one is not too specific about >80% CRI, one could find cheaper 5630 LED strips from the usual places such as ebay, amazon, etc.

While my 3528 are also bright, I had problems with shadows on the lower deck when these are mounted behind the fascia under the upper deck. This is due to the upper deck being 16" deep while lower deck is 24".

This could potentially be resolved by either extending the upper deck to 24" in which case it would block the view of the rear lower deck; or mounting brighter LED strips on the valance, and making it 24" deep so it illuminates both the upper and lower deck below it.

I don't know if there's a win-win situation as there appear to be too many parameters involved with multi-deck layouts (and low ceilings in my case), so I'll try to go for the next best option...

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, September 04, 2017 7:41 AM

I admit I need to learn a lot more about the LED subject before I start buying them.

Is his 'system' of putting together a 'fixture' a somewhat dated technology now (3 years old?) ? It seems as though this LED tech is ever changing really quickly, and more custom options are now becoming std fixtures rather quickly.

Would the idea of running several (or multiple) rows of LED's down the underside of the upper deck help with lighting the lower deck, ie: one row just behind the fascia, and one row down the middle of the overhead deck and pointed outwardly?

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Monday, September 04, 2017 9:09 AM

Michael's system is current for the home environment. It has a high cost of ownership because of the investment into good quality LEDs, custom made printed circuit boards and the time taken to solder each LED to it.

Consumer LED strips on thin flexible circuit boards strips are fabricated in huge volumes on automated factory lines, and generally use cheaper LEDs to keep the costs down.

And yes, what I've seen in general, modellers use multiple rows of LED strips, behind the fascia and along the middle of the overhead deck. These are mixed strips of warm white, cool white and blue, i.e. warm white/cool white overhead, and warm white/blue on the fascia.

Note that the blue is dimmed down to the minimum brightness to only add the cold accent. Blue is also used for night-time running which, with or without dimmed down white LEDs for moonlight, looks amazing.

Check this one out for example (1:46:45 in the video):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiVaFnVAka0&t=6405

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 3:29 AM

Some comments on double deck layout lighting:

 

In general - Pay attention to color temperature. I’ve seen some LEDS and other lights that have a very unnatural look to my eye. You may already be locked in to a color temp if you have lots of finished models. If you have been  painting and weathering models in say incandescent light (3500K) and then start lighting your layout at Daylight temps (5000K+) your models may not look right due to the color shift in the new light.

 

As for the upper valence - The lights at the edge of the valence will be little solar flares without some diffusers or other view blocks. This is especially true when looking down the scene parallel to the valence. You will need to figure out sight lines and diffusing to avoid bright spots for the viewer standing in the aisle.

 

I use warm white CPFLS for my layout lighting – I have around 40 or more fixtures distributed between the two decks with 40 watt equivalent bulbs in them. I arrived at that choice after lots of mock ups and experimentation with all of the viable options available at the time. I am very happy with the look - both decks are very bright. If I were to start over - no question it would be LEDS. I may still convert at some point.

 

My advice would be to take your time and carefully examine your options. Your choices here will make a big difference in how the layout looks down the road.

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 9:30 PM

That's a great point about colour temperature with regards to weathering, did not even consider that, thanks!

I'm hoping to mix the warm white, cool white and blue together to be able to get any time of day/night, if ever needed.

Is it viable not to worry about lighting at the moment, as I'm about to start building the benchwork, and just make provisions for it during the construction?

Or, is the lighting done while the benchwork is being constructed (along with the backdrops)?

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 5:02 PM

Upper deck lighting:

5000K CRI 82 CFLs mounted in party light strings on 24" centers above cracked ice drop ceiling acrylic diffusers. 6500K LED strips (5050-300) along front edge recessed 1-1/2" above fascia lip to prevent glare. CFLs provide the bulk of the light while the LEDs add additional blue without casting blue onto the backdrop. The combination of mostly 5000K with a little 6500K thrown in results in a convincing outdoors light effect even with the relatively poor CRI of the lamps. At only $1.50 per lamp I can't complain about CRI.

Roof flashing aluminum roll used as reflectors. Home Depot

Lower deck same arrangement except CFLs mounted inside upper deck grid benchwork. Precut aluminum step flashing used as reflectors. Home Depot

Upper deck valance extends 1" below LEDs so they cannot be seen.

Lower deck not yet constructed. Lower deck lighting is turned off in above photo, obviously. Upper lighting fascia bottom edge at 75", upper deck at 53", lower deck (will be) 32". My height 5'10". Maximum upper deck depth 24" (except in scenery only room corners).

Contrary to customary, my lower deck will be just 12" deep and flush to the front of upper deck. That is why the lower deck lighting is only mounted towards the front. With shallower depth and closer distance to the lighting, the lower deck uses 5W (25W equiv) CFLs while the upper deck uses 9W (40W equiv) CFLs.

If ever the day comes that LED bulbs are inexpensive enough then I can change over to them. Until that day comes the CFLs are working great.

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Thursday, September 07, 2017 3:48 PM

TrainzLuvr

Is it viable not to worry about lighting at the moment, as I'm about to start building the benchwork, and just make provisions for it during the construction?

Or, is the lighting done while the benchwork is being constructed (along with the backdrops)?

 

Building double deck layouts are usually pretty complex affairs with lots of inter-related steps. It is doable to make provisions for your lighting and work out details later. 

I would definitely have at least have some idea of how to light the bottom deck before building the upper deck bench work. Things like baffling, deck thickness, wiring the lights and placement will need to be worked out somewhat in advance to avoid lots of annoying do overs..

Of course, there are things you won't be able to anticipate no matter how well you plan...I re-did lots of stuff in the process of building my current layout....

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Thursday, September 07, 2017 8:06 PM

@lifeontheranch

As always that's some top notch workmanship there.

You said that the lower deck has not been constructed yet. Is the upper deck going to be the main place where things are happening, because 32" is very low unless one is sitting in a chair?

How often do you need to replace the CFLs because when all is added up over the years, it might be worth while just going LED right away? Why wait. :)

Those cracked ice drop ceiling acrylic diffusers...do they make a textured light effect or is the light uniform across the surface below?

 

@trainnut1250 

I sort of have an idea the kind of lighting I'd like to put, and there are some great choices now with chip panels instead of LED strips.

It seems to me that problem might be my own height (6'3"). It doesn't make it easy to find a nice spot for the upper and lower deck height, separation and depth where I can actually see the back edge of the lower deck without obstruction from the fascia above.

Right now I've set my test benchwork at 43" lower and 59" upper. Having 24" depth on the lower level, 16" on the upper, I get some fairly harsh shadows from the light below the upper deck benchwork towards the front of the lower level. And this is with 3 rows of 3528 LED strips.

I can't really go any higher on the upper deck as my spouse will need a step-stool to operate trains beyond 60" height, and I have no heart to do that to her. :)

Dropping the lower deck below 43" makes me feel I'm in a helicopter, watching over the trains there.

If the upper deck was deeper than the lower deck, then I wouldn't be able to see much on the lower deck. My spouse and anyone else shorter than me also couldn't operate the upper deck due to their short reach.

I don't know if there's some happy in-between somewhere, aside from not going double deck, which is not a happy choice to me anyway as I'd be giving up another 80'+ of main line run on the upper deck...

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Thursday, September 07, 2017 8:58 PM

TrainzLuvr

@lifeontheranch

You said that the lower deck has not been constructed yet. Is the upper deck going to be the main place where things are happening, because 32" is very low unless one is sitting in a chair?

 

Yes, the upper deck is the focal point of the railroad. The lower deck is staging, an interchange, and also to facilitate continuous run when desired. It will have a few small lineside industries to switch but mostly for staging.

Simplified lower deck track plan:

32" is the height of a typical dining room table. Not a great train viewing height but very reasonable for operating. Double deck arrangements are always a compromise. I compromised entirely on the lower deck to keep the upper deck at an ideal height. I am using #10 switches exclusively on the lower deck to help improve the view from the helicopter.

TrainzLuvr

How often do you need to replace the CFLs because when all is added up over the years, it might be worth while just going LED right away? Why wait. :)

 

Knock on wood, I have only replaced a single CFL bulb out of the ~150 on the layout in 4 years. That one bulb only lasted maybe a few hours. Obviously, an isolated manufacturing quality control issue. Given the limited amount of on-time they see I don't expect to replace any for a very long time. The $ breakeven for LED bulbs would be way out in the future. Not a good investment.

TrainzLuvr

Those cracked ice drop ceiling acrylic diffusers...do they make a textured light effect or is the light uniform across the surface below?

 

The diffusers, well, they diffuse. They do a nice job of converting the lamp point sources into even diffuse light across the layout. So much so I plan on using them under the upper deck to provide the same diffusion for the lower deck lighting.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, September 08, 2017 7:09 AM

 I've had horrible luck with CFL bulbs, the only one that ever truly lasted were in the basement of my old house which were bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling. In this house, I replaced every bulb in the house with LEDs, they are definitely cheap enough now. Not a one has failed, even in enclosed fixtures - and the light over the sink in the kitchen sometimes is left on for 24 hours if I'm not around to turn it off (read: other people in the house never turn it off). I had one at the bottom of the basement stairs that I put a CFL in - twice in 3 months. I've since replaced it with an LED - 3 years and still good. My electric bill includes charts comparing year over year usage and since going all LED there is a noticeable drop.

But in the apartmetn I was in prior to moving here, I had replaced everything with CFLs - and was replacing them about as often as incandescents needed replacing. No savings there. That was over 8 years ago, maybe the CFLs are better, but so are the LEDs and there's no comparison.

                             --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Friday, September 08, 2017 8:11 AM

rrinker

 I've had horrible luck with CFL bulbs,

                             --Randy

I have heard others say the same but my experience has been quite the opposite. We have CFLs in many locations throughout our house. Some have been in place for a very long time. The CFLs in the garage are many years old and they get a lot of on-time.

I have noticed CFLs are not a good choice for enclosed fixtures. We have LED in our enclosed fixtures.

CFLs were at their height of popularity when I installed layout lighting. LEDs at that time were ridiculously expensive. I bought all my bulbs at the same time along with two dozen extra for replacements so as to avoid replacing with dissimilar bulbs. Considering I still have 23 spares it looks like I'll be using CFLs for quite some time. If I were installing fresh today then LED bulbs are the obvious choice.

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, September 08, 2017 12:29 PM

TrainzLuvr

 

 

@trainnut1250 

I sort of have an idea the kind of lighting I'd like to put, and there are some great choices now with chip panels instead of LED strips.

It seems to me that problem might be my own height (6'3"). It doesn't make it easy to find a nice spot for the upper and lower deck height, separation and depth where I can actually see the back edge of the lower deck without obstruction from the fascia above.

Right now I've set my test benchwork at 43" lower and 59" upper. Having 24" depth on the lower level, 16" on the upper, I get some fairly harsh shadows from the light below the upper deck benchwork towards the front of the lower level. And this is with 3 rows of 3528 LED strips.

I can't really go any higher on the upper deck as my spouse will need a step-stool to operate trains beyond 60" height, and I have no heart to do that to her. :)

Dropping the lower deck below 43" makes me feel I'm in a helicopter, watching over the trains there.

If the upper deck was deeper than the lower deck, then I wouldn't be able to see much on the lower deck. My spouse and anyone else shorter than me also couldn't operate the upper deck due to their short reach.

I don't know if there's some happy in-between somewhere, aside from not going double deck, which is not a happy choice to me anyway as I'd be giving up another 80'+ of main line run on the upper deck...

 

 

Trainz,

 

There you have it...the classic double deck conundrum. How do you accommodate viewers of different heights?  The simple answer is that you don’t. No matter where you set the deck heights, someone will have an issue with the top deck being too high etc. My solution was to set them where I found them to be the best so that the one person who will spend the most time with the layout will be happy (that person is me).

 

Seems selfish? Possibly, but you do have an impossible situation on a certain level. I have several step stools around the layout for those who need them and it works out pretty well.

 

I set my decks at 40” and 60” with some variations due to grades. Deck separation is 20” between railheads most of the time. Top deck is 18” wide and bottom deck varies but is usually 24” wide. I found through mocking up that these dimensions worked best for me.  Sounds like your specs are pretty close to that. You might want to have your wife check out any mock ups to make sure they work for her as well...

 

Alan,

 I have lots of CPFLs on my layout. After 12 years of heavy use, I have replaced maybe a quarter of them. My story is the same as yours regarding the price and availability of LEDS at the time I was making lighting choices. I would definitely use LEDs now.

 

Guy

 

 

 

 

 

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,576 posts
Posted by cuyama on Friday, September 08, 2017 1:02 PM

As has been stated before in these threads, modulating deck widths on upper and lower decks improves visibility and access, reduces construction complexity and cost, and eases lighting issues in many locations.

The broken record continues: building benchwork after a track plan is finalized is almost always much more efficient than building benchwork first.

And I'm out ... best of luck with your layout.

Byron

  • Member since
    December, 2009
  • From: Michigan
  • 302 posts
Posted by lifeontheranch on Friday, September 08, 2017 1:04 PM

trainnut1250

My solution was to set them where I found them to be the best so that the one person who will spend the most time with the layout will be happy (that person is me).

Ditto.

Early on I made a scale drawing.

It was this drawing that caused me to reduce the lower deck depth to 1'. Given the role my lower deck plays in the railroad it works for me.

If you are trying to put twice as much railroad in the same space then the conventional arrangement has both decks the same depth or the upper deck shallower than the lower. Same depth decks are easier to uniformly light but visibility of the bottom deck suffers. Shallower upper deck increases visibility of both decks but is very difficult to light evenly. If you have sufficient ceiling height a mushroom design solves both problems but requires more engineering and detailed planning.

No matter how you shuffle it, double deck railroads have their drawbacks. It is a personal choice where to compromise but compromise you will. :)

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,985 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, September 08, 2017 1:11 PM

 ANd the compromise of how much less railroad I can have if I just do a single deck is the one that is just too great to make, so double deck it is.

 I mocked up some deck heights using spare pieces of foam and some boxes.

 Even my last layout, which was all rectangular sections for portability I didn't add in the benchwork lines to the plan until I was done with the track plan. The only time I've ever done benchwork first was back in the plain island layouts. On all but the last N scale layout I built, I didn't really have a track plan, I could have a 4x8 so I had a 4x8 table and came up with soemthign as I laid track. The N scale one I did build the benchwor first because ocne again it was going to be a plain island layout, but then I came up with a plan before I put any track down. Building around the room, I can't imagine building benchwork before I have a plan.

                                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    December, 2016
  • 187 posts
Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, September 08, 2017 1:18 PM

cuyama
As has been stated before in these threads, modulating deck widths on upper and lower decks improves visibility and access, reduces construction complexity and cost, and eases lighting issues in many locations.

The broken record continues: building benchwork after a track plan is finalized is almost always much more efficient than building benchwork first.

And I'm out ... best of luck with your layout.

Hi cuyama,

Thanks for chiming in.

I am almost finished with my plan and I also like to be efficient and think few steps ahead. Lighting being an important part as it was said number of times above, it should be considered somewhere after the plan is done and before benchwork is made.

What is considered under "modulating" deck widths? How does it work if the upper deck is deeper than the lower for people who are taller?

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