Home Page
PRR Chartiers Branch
The Layout
My Library
Site Map

Peter's Model Railroading | Articles | Electronics | Layout Lighting
LED "Bulbs"


The one thing I don't like about LED strip lighting is that you wind up with a "hundred suns". It creates odd shadows. I have not yet done so, but I plan on experimenting with the diffuser panels that are installed in office building ceilings, to see if that helps that problem. So, my next experiment was to buy some high-powered LED "spot lights".

These require some serious power, so I bought a 2100mA constant-current driver, and hooked it up to my 5-amp power supply. The instructions tell you to not look at the LED, and they weren't kidding. These things are insanely bright.

While the camera mutes the brightness, of course, this is the LED on. As per the recommendations I bought a diffuser that fits this LED. One of these lit up my entire room with everything else turned off. My plan was to install one of these above each module that I was starting to experiment building at that time. They get extremely hot, so a dedicated heat sink is required, and they also use a lot of power. While they worked, and they got me back to a "single sun" effect, their installation became a bit of a complication.

But, one day I was walking through Lowes, and went into the section of the store where they sell materials for repairing window screens for your home. You can build your own, for custom-sized windows. To do that, they sell 7-foot sections of aluminum framing in several different colors. They don't cost much and are extremely lightweight. I bought a couple of them, and to one of them I attached the heat sinks of the LEDs. A bolt's head fit just through the fins of the heatsink, and that allowed me to make that connection.

I installed all three of them on a single frame piece and it lit up the module, that I was working on at the time, just fine, with even lighting. While the idea worked, there was a lot of "stuff" to buy to make these lights, and they are not cheap. Doing that over a larger layout would be expensive. So, I retired these lights when I demolished this module (I still have them, though).