Train room lighting

oldrk Apr 16, 2011

  1. PGE_Modeller

    PGE_Modeller TrainBoard Member

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    The illumination of Tim Horton's layout is, indeed, more than adequate. The photograph below is the result of a test set-up using flexible LED strips augmented by LED floods at the spacing noted in the text on the photo.

    [​IMG]

    The scene shown is 28" deep and the lighting is from a single strip directly behind the fascia angled about 45 degrees toward the back of the scene. For comparison, 500 lux is the legislated lighting level for an office within the European Union and typical TV studio lighting is 1000 lux.

    Cheers,
    Greg Kennelly
    Burnaby, BC
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2011
  2. nolatron

    nolatron TrainBoard Member

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    For room lighting: I'm in a rented house with the layout in a single car garage. What I did was put some hooks on the walls, wrapped a velcro hook/loop strap around some T4 Fluorescents, and hung them on the wall all daisy chained together. 3 on the left, 3 on the right, 2 over the garage door. It really lights up room well.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    These are the same T4 tubes I used on my shelf layout back in 2007-2009. Worked really well and had a good color using the 6400K "daylight" color tubes.

    (first photo has a grey painted backdrop, 2nd photo has the better blue paint. That explains the drastica color change there.)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. ThirdCoastRail

    ThirdCoastRail TrainBoard Member

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    We used some LED lamps in a demonstration house I worked on. The goal was to run the house off 100% solar energy, so we used a combination of halogens some LEDs for their energy efficiency, but I'm going to guess that we used mainly halogens for their better light quality and higher intensity, although they may be less efficient than LEDs. Though that was almost 2 years ago, I'm sure a lot of improvement has been made to LEDs.

    Anyway, here's an outside photo at night, haven't found one from inside at night, but you can see it was plenty bright enough.

    [​IMG]

    Again, I wasn't the lighting guy on that project, but I'm gonna say most of that was halogens.

    CFLs can have a reputation of causing eye strain, especially for task lighting, their white color can come off as too bright, and they can't really be used with a dimmer, but they are good for lighting large areas quite efficiently. If you'd worked in an office or any retail location, you can understand how you might need to take more effort to make sure the bulbs are more "hidden" so you aren't staring directly into them. Some of the newer ones try to have better colors, but they can be hit or miss.

    LEDs I haven't had much experience with, they can be quite expensive but are very energy efficient, but I don't know personally how well they work for large areas, or how well their color quality is, so I can't comment on that. Depending on how technology has advanced they may be a good option if they've worked out any kinks, it's something to look into.

    Halogens are pretty much like standard light bulbs only they are more efficient. They work well in large areas or for close up tasks, color quality is good, and you can dim them.

    I don't have a layout at the moment, but I'd definitely investigate LEDs, maybe find some kind of lighting showroom in your area to see how they look, otherwise halogens might be wise to investigate. I'd absolutely buy a sample and take it home and test it somehow if I could, there's no better way to see if you'll like the results than to find out for yourself, and much easier than buying a whole rooms worth and finding out it doesn't work out as well as you've hoped.
     
  4. steamghost

    steamghost TrainBoard Member

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    Going hybrid is one solution.

    Start with key areas being lit by the better quality/more realistic LEDs. Other areas would have fluorescent tubes in standard fixtures so they can be replaced by LED units over time if desired.

    Another idea is similar to ThirdCoastRail's project, mix the current cheaper/wimpier LEDs with a string of halogens spaced out every few feet. Those halogens will of course get hot. They'll also provide you with some stronger light, color balance and pretty decent shadows (I think).

    Didja know California will ban sales of incandescents in 2012? But since the main alternative, fluorescents, are toxic waste (mercury) they are supposed to be recycled, but you can't just return them to where you bought them. So the recycle rate is currently 2%. California, the Mercury State. So think about where your fluorescents are going when they're used up. LEDs OTOH could last many decades, depending on use conditions. So far, the failure condition seems to be based on reduction of light output rather than outright MTBF.

    That said, I like results of the Tim Horton experiment. For most of us approaching or living in geezerhood, the more lumens the better. So we just add more LEDs.
     
  5. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    After 4 million years of being hunted, :mooh:humans developed irises in their eyes to adapt to light levels. After a few minutes, even a dimly lit room is bright as day. What people notice as "not enough light" is actually "shadows" where there is even less light than ambient.
     
  6. dave n

    dave n TrainBoard Supporter

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    SD&AE modeler's post in another thread has a discussion around the impacts of flourescent lighting on styrene. As a scratchbuilder with flourescent tube lighting on my layout currently, I find this a very interesting thread.

    I had never thought of (or realized) that flourescents are damaging to styrene. I haven't seen any ill effects on my layout as a result yet, but I'm curious now as to how these other lighting systems stack up in terms of styrene compatability?

    And, has anyone else had any experience w/ flourescent tube lighting damaging styrene? I haven't (yet anyway).

    Thx
     
  7. PGE_Modeller

    PGE_Modeller TrainBoard Member

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    On the matter of cost of LED lighting, when I started my experimenting with the strip lights in early 2009, the cost was $15 per foot. Various on-line vendors now list the same strips for about $6 per foot and the last two reels that I bought I got from a kiosk at a local mall for $4 per foot. If I recall correctly, the units Tim Horton is using are about $20 for a 20" long unit, or about $1 per inch. The LED small flood lights refered to in my earlier post (#21 in this thread) are imported by Globe Electric Co., http://www.globe-electric.com . They contain 21 LEDs, have a 2-pin MR-16 base, give a light output of 20 lumens and operate on 12V DC with a power comsumption of 1.2 Watts. The strip lights also operate on 12 V DC, have 3 LEDs per 2" segment and can be cut every 2" if needed to bend around corners - there are pairs of solder pads every 2" to allow reconnection. At 12 V they draw about 0.5 amps per metre of length, so require about 2.5 amps for a 5 metre (16 foot) strip.

    I estimated that my total power consumption for lighting a double deck 15' X 17' layout will be about 200 Watts.

    Cheers,
     
  8. 3DTrains

    3DTrains TrainBoard Supporter

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    Beautiful room, Shaun! :thumbs_up:
     
  9. steamghost

    steamghost TrainBoard Member

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    Maybe to you, but as most people age, they lose sensitivity and the ability to adjust quickly from light to dark, as in train rooms that are lit up under valances but dimly lit otherwise. Just wait til you have somebody having trouble reading a switch list, holding it under the valance to read it and derailing your train onto the floor in the process.

    You just don't want a light level that is so low that us geezers get fatigued doing close work like reading paperwork.

    I assume you're talking about UV damage. Fluorescent tubes can be sleeved with a UV blocker (polycarbonate tubes). The CFLs that look like big light bulbs ("double envelope") block most UV emission.
     
  10. Mike C

    Mike C TrainBoard Member

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    As far as intensity goes, I know that there are LEDs that are sold that will rival the intensity of high output compact floresents . These are a relitively new type and are being used by saltwater reef aquarists. Many people say that they are just as brite as Metal Halide bulbs, but without all the heat. So I am guessing that there must be a relitively inexpensive LED light source that will work for us......Mike
     
  11. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    I think we're 'close' on LED's but not there yet for practical and financial purposes.

    I think I've tried everything about once here. Started years ago with incandescents and went to track lighting, incredibly hot. Went to 12V track lighting, a little better!

    Current layout is HEAVILY lit with daylight fluorescents in a drop-ceiling with diffusers. One of the issues with preventing damage (real or imagined) is solved with that. But I've got the entire ceiling in diffusers and a light behind every panel. As the layout is 8' x 5'6" that's not as bad as you'd think.

    The good part is I have plenty of light, no heat to speak of, and enough light of the right temperature I don't have to set up photo lights at all. I work from a tripod and have an average exposure of about 1 second at f22.

    But.... I had a lot of model photos get rejected because the "lighting was flat". And yeah, very indistinct shadows. So I finally broke down and asked Verne Niner how he did his...and learned about a halogen keylight. But I have low ceilings...this might work with more overhead, but wouldn't for me.

    About two years ago I found a 'daylight' 100W halogen photo bulb unit that matched the termperature of my fluorescents, and has a nice clip on it to go where I want it on the overhead ceiling grid. I use it for photos, and that give the keylight 'kick' for very nice shadows. That's how this is done, the ceiling full of fluorescent light and a temporary halogen for photos.

    http://gustafson.home.westpa.net/IMCAB15.jpg

    I'm very happy with my lighting now.

    I have not seen any indication of styrene damage, but I have had fade issues with computer-printed items and I'm redoing some.

    I'm always astounded how much work people will put in to a poorly-lit layout.
     
  12. dave n

    dave n TrainBoard Supporter

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    You're kidding!! I thought your layout was ALOT bigger than that. Now I'm REALLY impressed!
     
  13. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    Nope, that's all the bigger it is.

    But it's bombed with eight, two-bulb shoplight-type 48" fixtures with daylight fluorescents. All up inside the ceiling. The diffusers also help a LOT to keep dust and dirt off of the layout.

    As I have scenic dividers up to 'eyeball' height, I have to light the inside layout and the outside layout separately.

    That puts a lot of linear layout very close up to backdrops. One advantage of the fluorescents is that you can put stuff up pretty close to the backdrop and not cast much of a shadow. As I can control the direction and location of the halogen keylight, that much is controllable as well.

    In that previous shot the water tank is 1 3/4" off of the backdrop. No shadow in the shot, that's what I mean, and it is lit properly behind it.
     
  14. vashnar

    vashnar TrainBoard Member

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  15. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    Looks like in round numbers that's roughly $10 per foot.

    Interesting enough I way order one to play with for lighting the hidden storage yard though. Really doesn't look much different from the LED 'rope lights' for christmas decorations and those aren't very bright. I am intrigued by the color temperature though.
     
  16. CAPFlyer

    CAPFlyer TrainBoard Member

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    My little weigh-in on the project.

    LED is still a rapidly developing technology. The LED's used on my light bar and those of all Class III vehicle lighting systems are extremely powerful while drawing a low amount of energy, however they do suffer from a problem - the intensity required to generate the light levels is harmful to your eyes at close range. Until this can be safely solved without loosing too much light in the diffuser, LED lighting will probably be hard to convert to fully. This is also the problem with some of the new aircraft-grade LED's. They have been forced to use diffusers to make them eye safe which has been part of why LED Landing Lights are only just now coming online and still are generally inferior to their conventional counterparts. However, the navigation beacon, and strobe lights, under diffuser, are quite effective.

    I think what we'll end up seeing in the next 2-3 years is new diffuser technology that will allow the high-power LED's that can perform at the level of a CFL with a fraction of the consumption and that will be what really get's LED's fully into the forefront of lighting. Until then, you're either spending a lot of money on the "high quality", but still per-unit inferior LED's or you find an interim solution that will make conversion to LED later easy when the technology matures enough to make it safe and competitively priced.
     
  17. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    http://www.amazon.com/Maxi-Aids-Itty-Bitty-Book-Light/dp/B00012BZMO


    Design Rule #1: All important control points must be around a corner and out of view.
    Design Rule #2: All switch ladders in hidden yards must be just inside a tunnel and impossible to maintain.
    Design Rule #3: All industry spurs must end at the layout edge.
    ...
    :tb-biggrin:
     
  18. mrpig

    mrpig TrainBoard Member

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