Sunday, 20 July 2014

Installing the LED strip lighting

Like most beginners I suppose I’m a bit wary of committing money to anything before I have a good idea of how it all comes together. When I’ve scoured other people’s blogs and forum posts I’ve often been inspired but left wondering how they did it. In some cases a quick email brings back an answer, but for the times when you have fifteen minutes to kill on the train or waiting to board your delayed Virgin flight – again – having that info a google search away can make some of that armchair modelling time a little more useful. To that end, this post is heavy on detail and light on photos.  If you’re in a similar predicament, feel free to comment below and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

So, the lighting.

As mentioned in previous posts, I bought a roll of Warm White 5M SMD 3528 LED Flexible Strip Lights and Cool White 5M SMD 3528 600 LED Car Flexible Strip Light from China via eBay, as well as a 12V 6AMP power pack and a 2.1mm screw terminal connector.

This thread on layout lighting was a really good source of info and if you ever read this Linton, I appreciate your time posting it in the first place.

The LED strip is about 8.5mm wide, so I spent an entire day trying to find an appropriately sized dovetail bit - most of the ones I found were 10mm wide and over. In the end Part no H1012 from Carbitool (7.1mm dovetail router bit – catalogue available here) was backordered from the local tool shop.

I routed a test piece of timber (above) to get an idea of how to use the tool and found that after the first cut I needed to make a second to widen the gap by another millimetre or so. The timber used to for both the support for the LED strips and the lighting timbers was 12mm x 65mm pine from Bunnings. After the grooves were cut with the router, I attached the lighting timber to the supports using two 65mm butt hinges, also from Bunnings. The screws to hold the hinges in are longer than the timbers, so they protrude through. On the lighting timber this protrusion will be covered by the pelmet, but I need to figure out something for the top ones to prevent sticking it in my fingers in future.

The LED strips were then laid out and squeezed to make them rounder and easier to press into the grooves. The groove was a tad too tight to drag the strip through, but pressing it in gently with a small flat screwdriver worked a treat. I then cut the LED strip at each end across the copper joins as marked on the strips.

To finish the electrical connection between the strips, I bought these 2.1mm DC socket and plug with screw terminals from Jaycar. I soldered the wires to the LED strip and covered them with 5mm heat shrink tube (also from Jaycar) before attaching the other ends to the plug and socket.

Once all of this was test fit on the modules, and the electrical connectivity tested, the supports were screwed to the module. Despite the urge to press on and get the lighting in, it was easier to fiddle with the wiring still be able to pull the whole system out to adjust or re-solder anything

The end result is:

The backscene was wrapped with bubblewrap right at the beginning to protect it from any filings or inadvertent bumps that would ruin or dent a very expensive part of the process. In short, a sanity preserver. It will come off once I’ve finished the woodwork and painting. Running trains is getting that much closer!

Next to cut, fit and paint the pelmet.