Wiring for lights

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by FrankG, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. FrankG

    FrankG Member

    I'm relatively new to model railroading and have been focusing on building structures, so I don't have a layout or track down yet. Just a general idea of what I want to do and where things will go.

    My question is.... in the structures I've done so far, I'd like to add lighting and have them all ready to go once the track is down. How can/should I wire these so that they'll work when I'm ready to use them without much modification?

    Also, is there a way I can temporarily hook them up to a power supply to see my progess? What's involved in that?
  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Most hobby shops sell lamps that can be put inside model structures. They usually are 12volt and can be powered from you power supply. The power supply controls the speed and direction of your locomotives and usually has a connection for lights like the ones in structures. The ones I get come on a small plastic stand so the hold the bulb about an inch above the floor. The wires can be led out of the base of the building. When installed on your layout just lead the wires through a hole and hook them up to wires leading to your power supply. The walls of the buildings must be light proofed so the only light seen is through the windows and doors.
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    As Robin said, most lamps on a loyout run from 12 volts and most power packs have a separate steady output for "accessories". This output is usually around 12 volts AC, but some supplies also have a 12 volt DC output. The AC output can run switch machines and lamps, while the DC output can be used for LEDs, lamps and other accessories requiring DC.

    You can either pre-wire your structure and run your wires through a hole in the layout as you place the structure, or you can place you lamps on the layout first, than put your stuctures over them. Each set of wires from the lamps should be wired to this accessory output, usually through one or more switches so you can turn you lights on and off, either indvidually or in groups.

    If you are using lamps or LED's that are made to run on less than 12 volts, you will than need to run them in series or provide a voltage dropping resistor to keep them from burning out. And yes, you can always pre-test you wiring on your layout, it is always a good idea to be sure it's what you want and that everything is working before things get put in place.

    Please don't hesitiate to ask more questions, and let us know how you're doing.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    A really easy way to light your structures is with something like this...


    No wiring required...! Just mount the battery pack/switch somewhere convenient, and run the bulbs into each of your buildings. Also works great as a temporary solution, as everything is ready to go.

  5. XavierJ123

    XavierJ123 Member

    Thanks for the link Andrew. That's what makes The Gauge so great; helpful links to sources of stuff we need. :thumb:
  6. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Another question:confused: I have several lights to hookup to my layout and I am tired of burning them out so need some help. Some of the lights are 30 MA, 14 Volts, some 0,05 A, 16Volts, some have no markings other than to say they are for HO structures. I also have 12 Grain of Wheat bulbs with attached leads. I am asking for some help on this to make sure that I can place them without my usual burning them out. Also any ideas as to how to possibly test them to see if they will not burn out as soon as installed.

    Hummmmmmm...I am findig out that there is much more to this HO Train Hobby than I thought.hamr
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Floyd, what I did on another layout was wire the lights to the variable terminals on an old tyco power supply. The bulbs get less voltage and you can also dim or brighten them for lighting effects.

  8. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Loren...... thanks for the information. I have a couple of those packs so will try them.:thumb:
  9. dbogot

    dbogot New Member

    LED's on AC

    You should be able to run LED's on AC power as well. As diodes, LED's will allow current to flow in one direction only, so on AC power, they will only light for 1/2 of the AC cycle. The effect is that they light less brightly than they would on DC.

    Of course, as noted above, be sure you wire several in series or use a resistor to avoid too large of a voltage drop, which would burn them out...

    Best of luck.
  10. roch

    roch Member

    Cool thread. :thumb:
    I will have to remember this one for when I get adventurous enough to do some structures.

  11. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...I use grain of wheat light bulbs for my structures wired to an old power pack so I can substantially reduce the brightness of the lights. Lights that are too bright will make your structures seem like they have 1000 volt halogen lights inside..!!

    Also, place them so they can't be seen from the outside-nothing spoils the effect of the lighting more than seeing big ol' bulbs on the inside. If you have plastic structures make sure they are shielded on the inside or the walls will glow....Another bad side effect of poorly planned lighting.
    Finally, I have the room lights wired through a variable light switch so I can lower the room lights to a point where the trains can be seen, but everything else is pretty much in the dark. You do this and you'll find "night" operations add a totally new dimension to your trains..!!
    Good luck..!!
  12. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    OK:confused: Here is another question. I finished hooking up lights in some of houses on the layout. I have several Atlas Connectors which I connected together to a couple of small tyco power packs. Lights are wired individually, i.e., three to one connector. All lights were working fine until I hooked up a water tower with a blinking light onto one of connectors. Now all of my lights blink when they are on and I switch the water tower on:mad:. Do I need to power the water tower on it's own power pack to correct this? I am sure that there is a simple answer, but what is it.....H E L P (Again) and thanks
  13. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Do the other lights all blink off and on or just get dimmer and brighter?
  14. roch

    roch Member

    Great advice. :thumb:
    The more I read in this thread the more I am thinking about doing buildings and not just trees and stuff. I will try a log cabin and see how that works.
  15. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Cid....all of the lights blink when the tower light blinks. There is surely some simple correction to the problem but I have no idea. Thanks
  16. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Gotta be in the wiring....:p
  17. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    :mrgreen:Seriously tho, floyd, I don't see why it would do that if the Connectors are all connected properly. Can you scan the connector diagram, I can't remember how the through-bus works exactly. wall1 Is the tower connected to the first switch in the group? It's a little weird, but maybe just a bad connection somewhere.:confused: Putting on its own pack would fix it, all right! But then we would never know why!!:mrgreen::mrgreen:
  18. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Cid thanks again for your reply. I have three connectors ganged together as per Atlas instructions and I have hooked the tower light to each of the contacts and it doesn't make any difference if it is connected to the first, connector or any of the other two. Guess I will hook the tower to its own toy power pack. I appreciate your input.
  19. dbogot

    dbogot New Member

    What kind of blinking light?

    If the light blinks by SHORTING itself out to turn off, I can see that bringing the whole pack voltage down to zero, effectively turning everything else off... That seems like a strange way to cause a blink, but who knows!

    What kind of blinker is it? Does the blinking light itself work, or does it stay dim or off as the rest of the lights blink?
  20. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    db....thanks for your reply. The water tower that we have come with a bulb that blinks. It blinks like it should but it causes all of the other lights to blink also.:confused: I have hooked the water tower to a seperate controller but it seems like a waste to have only one thing connected to a seperate pack.

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