Fun New Projects
One of the vendors at the 2015 Denver National Garden Railroad Convention was selling strings of waterproof micro LED lights (see photo #1) in white and various colors. While the 10ft length string lights are marketed for nighttime use on bicycles, Sue and I immediately saw the potential for use on our TooMuchFunRR. The price per string was approximately $17 but can be found on the Internet/Amazon possibly for a little less.
The lights are very bright, small in size, flexible and appear to be adequately durable for multi year use. They come in the following colors: blue, gold, green, multicolor, orange, pink, red and white. The lights operate on 3AA batteries for 4.5 volts. The company’s website – www.brightz-ltd.com
String waterproof LED lights
As we have installed the lights in various parts of the layout, the hassle of having to hike up and turn each of them on manually is less than desirable. Trying to find an easy and permanent solution with my limited electronics abilities, I found, with the assistance of a salesman at Orvac Electronics in Fullerton, Calif. a small and “relatively” inexpensive DC-to-DC step down converter - 2 Amp with LED voltmeter. I found on eBay the exact same device at a much lower price (around $6).
The converter will take 4-35 volts input and provide an output range of 1.5 to 30 volts. With the LED readout there is no guessing about the accurate output voltage. The converter is approximately 1.5” x 3”, so it’s easy to hide. I install the converters in vented and waterproof boxes or buildings at the sites of the light locations.
Installation is so easy that even I can do it. Install the accessory/transformer power wires on the side labeled input, adjust the output voltage next, and then attach the accessory wires on the side labeled output. Power it up. That’s it!
So far, we have installed the lights on our gondola ride, rope suspension bridge and Route 66 Texaco Station and have several other locations in mind. The lights are turned on at our control center with all the other TMFRR lighting. While only in use for a couple of months, we expect long durability especially as compared to the intended rough use on bicycles.
Blue lights on the gondola ride
White lights on a rope bridge between the restaurant and castle
Multi colored lights on the Route 66 Texaco Station
So, if you are looking for an easy way to step down DC voltages for lighting, animation or even Dept.56 type scenes using your DC accessory railroad power, these devices may be helpful.
Vic and Sue