to the forum! Good to have you aboard!
Hmmm. I model HO so I'm more familiar with wiring in that scale. However, there are some things that can be scaled down. First question for you: Are you asking about interior lighting, exterior lighting, or both?Personal preferences: Incandescent or LED?
Personally, I like the look of incandescent lighting because:
- It's gives off a warm and indirect beam.
- That's what we use in our homes - just in a larger sense - so why not mimic that realistic look.
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) last longer but - to me - their light is more direct and harsh. (Great for the headlight of a locomotive. Not so great for lighting a building.) Even so, some folks do light their layouts with LEDs.Lighting your buildings and structures
For interior lighting
, you can fudge a little, since the "effects" of the lights will be seen more than the actual bulb itself. If you have an old power pack, you can hook your lighting wire/switches up to that and adjust it up or down to vary the level. I use 12V incandescent bulbs for my interior lighting and run them with a 15VDC (or volts DC) power pack. Since the power pack is rated higher than the bulbs, I can only safely run 12V bulbs at 80% power. (80% of 15VDC = 12VDC). In all actuality, I run my bulbs at about 50-55% power (or 7.5-9VDC). This serves two purposes:
- It makes for a more softer lighting effect.
- Extends the life of the bulb.
For exterior lighting
, you can use N-scale lights with the shade already attached. Miniatronics makes a 1.5V version that's rated at about 1000 hrs. The lights come with the 8-9" of 30ga wiring already attached. I use 24ga wire to wire from my switch to the lighting wire. For my exterior lighting, I have my lights hooked up to a regulated 1.5VDC wall transformer so that it remains constant.Wiring your lighting: "In parallel" vs "in series"?
That leads to how best to wire your lighting. I prefer to wire my lights "in parallel". Essentially that means that the wires for each light are connected to their own on/off switch - also known as a single-pole, single-throw or SPST switch - and the switches are in turn connected to one another from the power source. This is the best way to individually control your lighting and to know which bulb(s) has burned out.
The other method is to wire your lights "in series". The best example of that is a long string of Christmas tree lights. If one light goes out; they ALL go out. Most folks prefer wiring their lighting "in parallel" for that reason.Switches
I use Atlas #205 connectors to control my lighting. I would actually prefer toggles because the on/off contacts on them are more precise. The slide connectors are nice because you can daisy-chain them together. However, the contacts are not as definitive as the toggles. This is what an Atlas connector looks like:Preparing your buildings
tjm, do you already have your buildings built? Are the roofs of your buildings glued on? The reason I ask is that you will need to think about how you will change your bulbs when
they eventually burn out. If you already have the roofs glued on, you may want to light your buildings from below. There a few ways of doing that, too.
It's best to buy your bulbs with the longest or highest rating (in hrs.) so that you minimize the amount of light changes you'll have to make. It's also good to muse what is the most efficient way to mount your lighting that will make bulb changes as painless as possible.
Here's a link to a neat product that may work well for you: Cir-Kit Concepts
. I haven't had a chance to use it but I like the concept. They use it for lighting the interiors of doll houses. In some instances, it seems to me that it would make fast work of lighting the inside of structures, especially ones that you might eventually want to show off the interiors of - e.g. a roundhouse.Making connections
Lastly, my wire-to-wire connections are soldered. The only place they aren't soldered is where they are connected to the connector terminals, with that being a mechanical attachment (screw). I still tin the tips of those wires to keep them from unraveling. As I said above, I use 24ga wire to make all my connections that lead from and to my connectors (or SPST switches).Epilogue
Anyhow, tjm, that's just a short explanation on lighting. (And a pedantic one at that.) Check out my web site link below and see what I've been able to do with both interior and exterior lighting. And I just got into it myself only a few months ago. If this non-electrical engineer can learn how to wire, so can you. And, as the real pros on here can tell you, I still
have a lot to learn.
I'm sure others will chime in to fill in the gaps that I left out.
Hope that helps...