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chris

LED Christmas Tree Lights

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While in Maplin, failing to purchase a very simple 4 wire connector, I picked up a set of battery powered Christmas tree lights.

25 white LEDs powered by a couple of AA batteries. At a cost of £5 this is a pound cheaper than I usually pay for 6 white LEDs.

I'm going to have a play with them tomorrow and see how useful they are when they are separated from their wiring and used individually. Ideally they should be a cheap supply of coach interior lighting. They could also be rather good for lineside buildings. A pair of small AAA batteries could be snuck inside a signal box, or for DCC users a resistor and a diode and a link to the track.

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The self adhesive LED strips should be useful too. You can get five meters on eBay for less than a tenner.

These strips can be cut after every three leds and are available in various colours and even colour changing with remote controller.

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The LEDs from the Christmas tree lights were easy to detach and reuse. I was careful to not the negative leg and cut that shorter than the positive. They worked fine on a 3volt supply, rather brighton 4.5volt and from a 12volt supply I added a 1K ohm resistor in series to get a suitable brightness.

They are a cooler white than the previous "warm white" LEDs I've used, but I can live with that a 10% of the cost.

That said, Ian's suggestion of self adhesive strip LEDs looks spot on. I'm now thinking about adding lights to all my DMUs and coaches.

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Well if they are in a string, you should be careful of burning them out as they must be very low power. You might try using those LEDs as a set and just extend off the main wires to get them to houses and such. If they run on two batteries, could possibly use a pair of those solar lawn lights to power the whole thing.

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They were wired in parallel, so they were all getting the same 3v voltage. Traditionally Christmas lights were in series which was a pain when you had to find the one which had blown.

I've added lights to my first building. Six of these have gone into my Diesel Depot and just to show off I've DCCed them, so I can switch the three pairs of lights on and off from my iPad if I so choose.

I was thinking how to wire them all up when I remembered that I had a faulty DCC loco decoder. The fault was on the motor output, it was either stationary or at full speed, but the function wires which control lights still work fine. It's a small chip so hiding it in the building wasn't a problem. Power comes from the accessory (track) bus and is drawing a milliamp or two, which won't tax the system.

It all went very smoothly, until I decided to reprogram the decoder to a new address. I didn't pay enough attention to what I was doing and ended up reprogramming all the trains which were sat on the track (everything other than thomas and friends) to loco address 111. It took half an hour of working on the programming track to get them back to their correct addresses :oops:

Didn't think to check if this screwed up my accessory decoders as well. :shock:

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IanR said:

The self adhesive LED strips should be useful too. You can get five meters on eBay for less than a tenner.

These strips can be cut after every three leds and are available in various colours and even colour changing with remote controller.

Just in case anyone on here is particularly slow on the uptake, once again this is a reminder to you that when Ian offers advice, you follow it.

I picked up a strip of LEDs while buying and air brush and a grass mat in Lidl the other week. Today I cut a 20cm length off and installed it in a DMU coach. It took lees than 5 minutes to wire it up to a spare DCC output. 10 minutes for the whole job.

Cheers Ian, this is certainly the way forward for me, fast and cheap.

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chris said:

...I picked up a strip of LEDs while buying and air brush and a grass mat in Lidl the other week. Today I cut a 20cm length off and installed it in a DMU coach. It took lees than 5 minutes to wire it up to a spare DCC output. 10 minutes for the whole job...

What exactly do you have to do to add the coach lighting? I don't have a clue with electronics - could you show us a few photos of the installation?

I actually purchased a 5-metre length of LED's with transformer only last week with the idea of lighting up the top of the pond but I've yet to see how suitable they would be. They're certainly bright enough and they're also supposed to be waterproof! They really do look like they could be very useful round the garden.

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mick said:

What exactly do you have to do to add the coach lighting? I don't have a clue with electronics - could you show us a few photos of the installation

I've still got the motor coach to do so I'll take some pictures when I get round to it.

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chris said:

...I've still got the motor coach to do so I'll take some pictures when I get round to it.

That would be great Chris. Look forward to it.

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I wish I could learn to not start so many threads. Took me ages to find this one.

Right-oh. Rainy evening but wanted to get something done. I'd lifted the lid on the second coach of the 156 sprinter a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't been brave enough to do the job. I wanted to add a custom lighting circuit to change how the head and tail lights work. I'd come up with the idea myself, so was hesitant. I cracked on and was successful :D

I may write up the circuit in a suitable part of the forum (there I go again).

With the redesigned headlights sorted I got on with the coach lights and took pictures...

This is the LED Strip, as you can see its flexible and theres self adhesive tape on the back.

bd2b74f1e945ceebad3dd5b2d8e39ae8.jpg

I cut 20cm off and exposed the contact points.

5e368c823595863abaa83835332c9436.jpg

Next I soldered up the two wires from the DCC decoder. The brown wire should be blue and that is the common positive, it's soldered to the positive contact. The yellow is the function wire and is soldered to the negative terminal.

c5.jpg

And that's it. Pop it on the track and turn the function on and BRIGHT LIGHTS.

5c636e82e5cad642518884a6bf7a0b40.jpg

Proably a bit too bright for 9pm in the shed, but on a summers day you can just about make out that they are on.

Here's the first coach I did with the roof back on.

c6.jpg

And toe to toe.

2ba7685093152485dfd7fdc4c01be6d8.jpg

If I wanted to tone them down I could add a resistor into the circuit. 5 mins of trial and error would get it dimmed. Thinking about it, I think this decoder allows for dimable lights, I'll have to look into the programming.

I've not finished the job. I just need to add the door warning lights and then it's done, my first 5 function train.

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Griff, I picked mine up from a supermarket, but you'll find them in lots of places, especially ebay.

I finished this project off today, it wasn't garden railway weather this morning.

I did decide to dim the lights a little by adding a 300 ohm resistor in series. I also committed to the project and used the adhesive on the back of the strip to stick it to the underside of the roof.

e96e3941ec6f786245ffdd3dea470eee.jpg

My new lighting circuit can just be seen in the left of the photo, it's only a transistor a resistor and a couple of diodes.

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