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Light Bulbs or LEDs?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Kansas
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Light Bulbs or LEDs?
Posted by jamnest on Monday, March 3, 2008 10:29 PM

I have some older PK2 and Athearn locomotives (HO Scale) that I will be installing DCC decoders.  I have purchased a supply of LEDs and Light Bulbs (both 1.5v).  I am on the fence as to which way to go for lighting.  My era of the KCS (1981) is primarily head lights only, so I don't need any thing fancy such as ditch lights.  I have Digitrax DCC and use Decoder Pro. I would like to hear some PROs and CONs for each methodn of lighting.  THANKS

JIM

Jim, Modeling the Kansas City Southern Lines in HO scale.

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Posted by tstage on Monday, March 3, 2008 11:02 PM

Jim,

For any head lights, I'd go with LEDs.  They are brighter, more directional, last longer, and operate cooler than incandescents.  However, if you ever want to install Mars lights or ditch lights in your locomotive - i.e. something that "pulsates" or flashes - incandescents will look more realistic.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 2:22 AM

Although an incandescent bulb will last a long time, I don't like to install anything that will burn out.  Go with LEDs.  There is far less chance. probably, of getting a bum LED that fails than of getting an incandescent with a filament that fails prematurely.  And as noted, there is no chance of melting your shell.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 6:35 AM

Another vote for LEDs.

I use the "Golden White" or "Yellow Glow" variety.  They are a bit more expensive than the garden-variety bright whites, but they have a more prototypical color.  I use them in series with a 1K (1000 ohm) resisitor.

LEDs also are very directional, so they put out a nice "beam" of light straight ahead.  That's exactly what you want for headlights.  When running at night, I like my engineers to be able to see down the track.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 7:22 AM
I'm old-school. I use light bulbs, primaraly a 14v 25ma type from Radio Shack.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
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Posted by gatrhumpy on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 7:39 AM

Does anyone know where I can find ditch lights for an N scale Proto 2000 GP-60 in the Santa Fe railroad? Did Santa fe even have ditch lights?

On another note, what about red end-of-train lights for N scale? Where can I find them? I plan on mounting this to either a boxcar, flatcar, or even a caboose. Anyone ever done that before? What about an online tutorial?

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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 7:53 AM
 gatrhumpy wrote:

Does anyone know where I can find ditch lights for an N scale Proto 2000 GP-60 in the Santa Fe railroad? Did Santa fe even have ditch lights?

On another note, what about red end-of-train lights for N scale? Where can I find them? I plan on mounting this to either a boxcar, flatcar, or even a caboose. Anyone ever done that before? What about an online tutorial?

Here you go, Ebay page with N scale cars with EOT's.

http://stores.ebay.com/GATR-Works-FREDs-and-EOTs-4-Trains_N-scale-cars-wEOT_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZQ2d1QQfsubZ2QQftidZ2QQpZ2QQtZkm

There are at least two N scale cabooses with EOT's.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
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beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


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Posted by gatrhumpy on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 8:05 AM

Dude, you're the man!

Do you know where I can find just the lights? I can install them myself, although I'd need a little guidance from knowledgable people like you. ;)

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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 8:11 AM

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
History Channel Club life member.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


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Posted by gatrhumpy on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 10:03 AM
Pricey for one blinking light.
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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 1:06 PM
Seems pretty reasonable when you consider how much you'd spend obtaining all the pieces separately.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
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Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
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beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


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Posted by Texas Zepher on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 1:31 PM

 jamnest wrote:
I have some older PK2 and Athearn locomotives (HO Scale) that I will be installing DCC decoders.  I have purchased a supply of LEDs and Light Bulbs (both 1.5v).  I am on the fence as to which way to go for lighting.   My era of the KCS (1981) is primarily head lights only, so I don't need any thing fancy such as ditch lights.
I don't know KCS operating practice but will the headlamps be on all the time, turned on with the DCC controls, or one of both?   If the prototypical railroad allows, I have one headlamp that is lit all the time directly from track power.  This tells me if the locomotive is recieving power from the track.  I always use LEDs for this application to avoid the heating problem.  The other headlamp depends on locomotive type and desired function.  As an earlier poster pointed out if one is going to use the Digitrax FX to simulate MARS, GiraLight, flashing beacons, etc. an incandesant bulb will need to be used.  LEDs tend to like to be on/off rather than some stage of dim. 

For locomotives that have the tiny headlamps that are ususally done with one piece of clear plastic, I like to replace the plastic lenses with two separate bulbs.  Another Place I use bulbs is for the monster headlamps like on an E or F unit (like Santa Fe) where one could normally see the two light bulbs inside.  I've yet to see an LED that looks good in that context.

I use LEDs in situations where the letterboards and headlamps lenses are all on the same monster chunk of clear plastic.  One really bright LED behind those is sufficient to light all three and will last a long time.

One other issue I've had with LEDs was I originally configured a bunch of mine with resistors for our club layout operating at 17.5V DCC.   When I got them home the lamps are dim because I only run 14.5V DCC so they aren't getting enough current.  Sigh.   After learning that lesson, I now use a diode matrix to regulate the voltage going to the LED just like I have always done for the 1.5V incandesant bulbs.

 

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Posted by locoi1sa on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 5:08 PM

  Go with the LEDs and 1K 1/4 watt resistor. As for some posters saying you cant mars an LED is not true. I messed around with a TCS decoder and LED in a baldwin switcher. Looked cool but unprototypicle. With the TCS decoders you can set up headlights that dim when stopped and F4 dimming. And you can set the dimmed voltage for LEDs or lights. I just put LED ditch lights in my Athearn ES44 demo unit. You cant beat ditch light control from an NCE decoder.

  One very important thing about LEDs and resistors is test before soldering. I had a few LEDs burn out due to resistors that were not to spec. Radio shack will replace a bad resistor but not the LED.

   Pete

 I pray every day I break even, Cause I can really use the money!

 I started with nothing and still have most of it left!

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