Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Creating transparent paint for LEDs - Update 3/31/20

2734 views
28 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Creating transparent paint for LEDs - Update 3/31/20
Posted by tstage on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 11:08 PM

Are there any modeling paints that will dry clear vs opaque?  Or, could I mix a clear coat and bottle paint to achieve that? - i.e. being careful to match paint types (e.g. acrylics with acrylics, enamels with enamels, etc)

I want to achieve a slightly yellowish hue to a 3mm bi-color LED to mimic a "warm" or yeloglo" LED.  The red-white bi-color LED emits a frosted and harsher white beam.  I colored the entire LED bulb using a yellow (non-fluorescent) Sharpie pen, which works okay but it's a bit too yellow.  Another idea is to apply the yellow over the round portion of the LED bulb and let the white beam "wash it out".

I appreciate any other suggestions or ideas you might have...

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 10,225 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 11:16 PM

Hi Tom.

Tamiya has a line of clear acrylic paints.

You might have to blend yellow and orange to get the exact hue you are looking for. 

https://www.hobbiesandbeyond.com/shop/paints-finishes/acrylic-sets/tamiya-clear-paint-effects-set/

 

https://www.tamiyausa.com/shop/paints/bottles/

 
Cheers, Ed

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Posted by tstage on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 11:23 PM

Thanks, Ed.  Do you think a drop of clear acrylic yellow watered down with an acrylic clear coat would accomplish what I'm trying to do?  That would make it more consistent than using a yellow Sharpie pen.

That said, I tried the yellow Sharpie on just the rounded dome of the LED and like the results.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 10,225 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 11:33 PM

I've used several techniques including several shades of the Sharpies to try to change the tint of various LEDs. One downside of the Sharpie is that you can not "build up" the color as each swipe of the pen tip wipes away the previous layer Super Angry Sharpie has a multi-color set that has other shades of brown, tan and orange that might work better for you. Perhaps some light burnishing (1000 grit) of the LED would help, too.

https://www.sharpie.com/collections/ultimate-packs/SHUltimatePacks

 

Yes, I believe the Tamiya clear would do the job better and you can add layers as each coat dries if you need to increase density of the color. It might be a bit of a trial and error to pin down the exact blend.

I have some mylar sheet that I have used to change the hue of LEDs and it is kind of a "tea" color. Maybe rusty brown. Perhaps you could mix a little red/orange/yellow to achieve the tint you need. 

Many of the military and car modelers use the Tamiya for tail lights and such.

Hope that helps, Ed

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 11,485 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 11:44 PM

Hi Tom,

I have had mixed results using Tamiya's clear yellow to tint white LEDs. The light ended up having a rather unpleasant green to it in one case, and in the other, it turned out way too yellow and it still had a slight greenish tine to it.

I think the problem in the first case was that the LEDs were 'ultra white' which is actually blue to the naked eye. Adding yellow produced green. I started with the wrong LEDs. Here is what they look like:

In the second case, I think that if I had used your suggestion of diluting the clear yellow with plain clear it might have worked out better, but there is still a very slight greenish tint to the LEDs so apparently I started out with the wrong colour LEDs there too. I don't have any pictures of that project.

If you like the results with the Sharpie pen, I'd just go for that method.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 10,225 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 12:07 AM

I actually haven't tinted any LEDs in recent years as the choices in warmer color temps are much better today than they have ever been.

Remember some of the early "golden-glo" LEDs used an amber colored plastic capsule. That is the color I'd try to shoot for if you want to "roll-your-own". More orange than yellow.

I've been pretty satisfied with the headlight color of the recent warm-white LEDs from the Asian vendors. As I mentioned, I do like to tone down the color (and brightness) for LEDs used in number boards and cab lighting.

Ed

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Posted by tstage on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 12:13 AM

Ed,

I'm stuck with these because I need the red-white bi-color LEDs for the classification lights of an FM H16-44 road switcher.  I can control both the front and rears classification lights with F1-F4.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 7,969 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 5:58 AM

I think diluted paints is the answer here, specifically dulited Tamiya clear colors thineed with Tamiya thinner.

.

Straight from the bottle I think Tamiya paints will dim the output of the LED too much.

.

Vallejo has "transparent" paints in their line, but they are way too opaque to work for this.

.

Getting a smooth and even coat on the LED will be the real challenge as I see it. I wonder if dipping the LED would work best?

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    July 2007
  • From: Yorkton, Sk, Cnd
  • 362 posts
Posted by wvg_ca on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 6:03 AM

i regularly use Tamiya clear orange to colour LEDs,  sometimes it takes two - three coats to get to the desired shade ..

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,178 posts
Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 8:42 AM

 SO what's the yellow Sharpie and so forth doing to the red setting on the LED? 

At least they are useable colors - the ones that use standard red/green bicolor LEDs are next to useless for most modelers as the green extra section indication is not all that common.

 Something that may work - if this is a 2 wire LED, you'd need a plain diode plus a resistor - so that there is a larger resistor in circuit when white is selected. Put the diode and resistor in parallel, and put the combo in series with the LED. If the red dims instead of the white, flip the diode/resistor combo around. 

 If it's a 3 wire LED, just a resistor is needed, in the white lead. Idea being, dim the white part of the LED so it's not so harsh.

Or it may be possible to combine the 'dim' output as used to dim the headlight with the white selection, but have it full brightness for the red indication - is this a Loksound decoder driving it? 

                                --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Posted by tstage on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 5:16 PM

Randy,

The 3-pin bi-color LEDs are already wired in and soldered to AUX 1-4 of a TCS A6X decoder.  The yellow Sharpie tints the white LED slightly, if looking head on.  With one LED "tinted" and the other not, I see no difference when the red aspect of the LED is turned on.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: San Diego
  • 954 posts
Posted by stokesda on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 6:24 PM

Try Future or another clear acrylic gloss tinted with a drop of food coloring.

This website suggests that as a way to tint model airplane canopies (see about halfway down the page):

http://www.swannysmodels.com/TheCompleteFuture.html

Dan Stokes

My other car is a tunnel motor

  • Member since
    November 2006
  • From: NW Pa Snow-belt.
  • 1,742 posts
Posted by ricktrains4824 on Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:52 PM

I’ve sprayed the Tamaya clear "Smoke" to creat tinted windows, and it works real well for that, so the orange/yellow mixed in theory should tint LED's a little warmer hue.

The catch is, "in theory", because, "in theory" bublebee's do not have the correct aerodynamics to be able to fly... Good thing bumblebee's don’t understand aerodynamic theory's!

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 7,106 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, September 12, 2019 9:21 AM

Tom what did you end up doing?

I was given a RR station with bright white LED's.  They aren't accessible to swap them out, but I could drill holes in the floor and paint them.  The post above, where they turned green, would not be an improvement.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    July 2007
  • From: Yorkton, Sk, Cnd
  • 362 posts
Posted by wvg_ca on Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:29 PM

so, just out of curiosity, which way did you end up going ???

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,596 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, September 13, 2019 11:09 AM

There is another potential issue here: the 'art' of determining the correct "tinting color" to get an effect from a pseudocolor LED.

What I recommend is some way to determine the actual visible emission spectrum of the LED device in question, perhaps with a cheap grating, andf then see if we can develop a database of colors that shift or absorb the emitted color balance to give the desired effect.  Some of this has already been done for various types of LED, including discussion of the physics, but so far most of what I've seen is in the "isn't this quaint" realm of experimentation, like playing with polarizers, and not directed toward specific blends or mixtures of products, or how to set about working up a good formula.

It occurs to me that something like a transmission 'swatch' for solutions could be made, on plastic film or glass like a microscope slide, that could simply be held up in front of a target LED to see the practical effect, and this might be done as the equivalent of a Ringelmann chart or a calibrated gradient for comparison.  These could be made up and shared as references, perhaps even 'standardized'.

Forgive me if such a thing is already available in the community.

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Posted by tstage on Friday, September 13, 2019 2:32 PM

The yellow Sharpie didn't work as well as I had hoped.  The LED ended up appearing slighty green-ish once I put the shell back on. Sad

I'm going to try the Tamiya clear acrylics but will have to order that online after I get back from vacation.  Went to Hobbytown but they didn't carry the X-24 clear yellow or any of the other clear paints.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 7,106 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, September 13, 2019 6:41 PM

Thanks Tom, I think Star Hobbies, just down the road has Tamiya clear.  Orange is opposite blue on the color wheel so I will get some tomorrow and let you know.

https://i1.wp.com/digital-photography-school.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/colorwheel-1.jpg?w=750&ssl=1

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 7,106 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 7:00 PM

To bring everyone up to speed, I have a building that was a gift, built with bright white LEDs .  The light has a definite blueish cast.  The tops of LEDs in the second floor were accessible.  I tried Tamiya clear orange painting the top of the LEDs hoping it would cover the sides.  That's all I had access to. 

The top floor lighting was a tad less bluish, but I was not satisfied.  I unsoldered 2 of the top 4 LEDs and gave them 2 more coats of clear orange.  They look evenly covered, but when I photographed them, one side gives off blueish light.  I had to give both another coat.

Importantly, there is no greenish color. They are powered by 2 D 1.5 V batteries. 

In real life, they look as yellow as they do in the pic.  The blue is not visible unless placed against a white background.  We will see what happens when I solder the LEDs.  There are 2 more that can be given another coat.

The first floor lights aren't accessible except maybe from the side.  I can't drill up from the floor, because there is a "wood" floor, either painted styrene or a photo and I don't want to muck it up.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 7,106 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, September 19, 2019 10:55 AM

The small room upstairs had 4 led's. I painted 2 of the transparent orange.  It person it looks more believable than it does in the photo.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 7,969 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 1, 2019 10:44 PM

My wife suggested soaking the LED it RIT Clothing Dye.

.

I don't know... some of her ideas work out very well.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    May 2016
  • 47 posts
Posted by Atchee on Saturday, November 2, 2019 9:42 AM

I don't know if it's still around but they used to make a glass paint for painting up "stained glass looking" items on clear glass.  I used to use it for painting light bulbs to mimic traffic signal colors.  Dip and drip wirked pretty well

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Posted by tstage on Saturday, November 2, 2019 10:55 AM

SeeYou190

My wide suggested soaking the LED it RIT Clothing Dye.

.

I don't know... some of her ideas work out very well.

.

-Kevin

And I'm sure your "wide" appreciates you saying that about her...

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 7,969 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, November 2, 2019 4:28 PM

tstage
And I'm sure your "wide" appreciates you saying that about her.

.

I fixed my post. Why are the "D" and "F" next to each other on the keyboard?

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Posted by tstage on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 1:45 PM

I wanted to finally give an update to this thread.

After playing around with the color balance of my (5:1) solution of Tamiya "Clear Yellow" & "Clear Orange", I gave up on it because I still was not happy with the results with my bi-color LEDs.

The red-white LEDs I'm using for the classification and marker lights on my Atlas H16-44 have a stark but frosted white aspect that is slightly blue ("cool white") in tint.  The yellow/orange solution I applied to the LED bulb helped that some but the LED still emitted a slightly greenish tint when illuminated - even after adding more and more orange to the solution.  I ended up completely removing all the previous layers of paint from the LED bulb with Tamiya thinner and a Q-tip then re-painted the LED bulb with one coat of undiluted Clear Orange.

With the shell off, the painted LED looks very orange from the side.  However, when looking at it head on, it's a very close match to the warmth of the Miniatronics Yeloglo LEDs and I'm quite pleased with the results.  With the shell back on the chassis and looking through the lense on the shell, the difference in the white hues between the headlight (with the Yeloglo LED) and the classification/marker lights (with the painted bi-color LED) is negligible.  And the orange tint on the LED bulb doesn't noticeably affect the red aspect when it is activated.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    February 2020
  • 24 posts
Posted by sandjam on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 2:19 PM

Glad you got something suitable to your liking. Just found this post as I am new here. I would have suggested a bit of Kapton tape. It seems all is well.

  • Member since
    July 2007
  • From: Yorkton, Sk, Cnd
  • 362 posts
Posted by wvg_ca on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 6:22 PM

Glad you found something that was to your liking ...

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,226 posts
Posted by tstage on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 6:57 PM

Hi sandjam,

Welcome!  I actually tried Kapton tape early in the experiment but the beam was too yellowish.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

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

  • Member since
    July 2007
  • From: Yorkton, Sk, Cnd
  • 362 posts
Posted by wvg_ca on Sunday, April 5, 2020 9:27 AM

actually the yellow or orange transparent Tamiya paint can be used .. it depends more on the desired color wanted by the end user ...

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!