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Model Railway Electrics - Lights

Model Railway Electrics - Power Clip - This page includes how to fit a hornby power clip, and where to put your power clip or power track. Model Railway Electronics - Train Controllers (AC,DC,DCC,PWD) What's the difference Model Railway Electrics - DC Controller - This page describes what dc control is. Its advantages and dis-advantages. R965 and C990 Model Railway Electrics - DCC Control - Digital Command Control (DCC) Model Railway Electrics - Infra-Red Control - (IRC) Infrared Model Railway Electrics - Point Motors Model Railway Electrics - Switches -  switches include  SPDT, DPDT, on-on, on-off, on-off-on, (on)off(on), Toggle switches, slide switches, and push to make switche. Switches can be used to operate model railway signals, model railway point motors, model railway turntable, Model railway Lights, isolating sections, etc Model Railway Electronics - Lights - This page include LED's L.E.D.'s,  filiment lamps and Bi pin lamp. This page discusses their power consumption heat and suitability for common uses. Model Railway Electrics - Arm Signal - How to Automate an Arm Signal R171 & R172 Model Railway Electris - Light Signals - Signal wire diagrams, How do real light signals work? Hornby, Gaugemaster, Build your own Signal - R406 Model Railway Electrics - Build Your Own Railway Signal, This page discusses how you can build your own cheap model railway signal Model Railway Electrics - How to build a working railway crossing Model Railway Electrics - How to build your own street lights Model Railway Electrics - Hornby turntable - Circuit diagram, Wiring diagram, video Model Railway Electrics - Isolating Circuit - What are isolating sections for, Circuit diagram, Build your own isolating section, How to wire isolating sections. Model Railway Electrics - Control Box - How to build a model railway control box to control your signals, points and other model railway electronics.

There are two types of lights, Filament Lights and Light Emitting Diodes (LED's)


Filament lights (incandescent lights)


3mm Filament LightFilament lights produce their light as a result of passing electricity through a thin piece of wire (filament). The electricity passes through the wire heating it up until it produces light. The glass bulb stops oxygen from reaching the filament which would result in the wire burning out.


The most common filament lights used on model railway layouts are "Grain of Wheat" and "Grain of Rice Bulbs" due to their small size. Filament lights can come in many colours although the colour comes form the colour of the bulb/lens rather than being produced by the filament.


Because filament lights produce light by heating wire it is not surprising that the bulb itself also becomes hot. This can pose a fire risk in some circumstances. This heat is a waste product and accounts for approximately 90% of the power consumed meaning filament lamps are very energy inefficient.


Filament BulbFilament lamps do however produce a more natural light. As filament bulbs have in the past been the main source of light in homes it is not surprising that they still produce the most realistic light when lighting model railway buildings. LED's tend to produce a light that is more akin to that produced by modern energy saving light bulbs than the incandescent bulb. The time period you are modelling may affect your decision on lighting.


Grain of Wheat and Grain of Rice bulbs often come pre fitted with wires to allow for easy connection to a power source.


Where to use: Street lights and Building lights.

Advantages: Produces a more natural white light. Light is not restricted to the direction of current they are connected to.

                                                   Disadvantages: Become hot when in use, less reliable than LED's, more        

                                                   power hungry than LED's, and are more fragile than LED's (glass bulb).


Light Emitting Diodes (LED's)


3mm LED's Yellow Green RedIt is important to remember when using LED's that they can only be connected one way round and for this reason you should use a Directional Current (DC) power supply. You should connect the positive (+) wire to the anode (a) and the negative (-) wire to the cathode. You can identify the cathode and anode by the length of the lead coming from the LED. The shortest lead is the Cathode (you may also notice that the cathode side has a flatten surface.) and the longest lead is the anode. If you are unsure because for example you are using salvaged / second hand LED's you can look inside the LED. The side with the largest wedge shaped electrode is the cathode. Of course you can simply use trial and error.


You can connect LED's to an Alternating Current (AC +/-) power supply but the led will only light when the current is the correct way round resulting in the LED turning on and off at the frequency of the AC power supply.


LED's require a very small amount of current. Standard LED's usually require a resistor to be placed in the circuit to reduce the current. Failure to do so will result in the LED burning out and becoming unusable. A 1k resistor should be enough to connect an LED to a 12V (volt) or less power supply.


Side View LED GreenSide View LED RedLED's are available in a range of colours although you will pay a premium for Blue and White. LED's are also available in a wide range of shapes (round, square, rectangular, and triangular) and various sizes. Personally I tend to use 3mm (millimetre) LED's when the LED is to be on show as they are closer to scale without becoming too fiddly to wire. I have used them to build railway crossing lights, and railway signals but they would also be perfect for streetlights.


1.8mm rectangular LED' s are perfect to be converted into railway lamps by simply painting them and using one of the leads as the handle. I have also seen them widely used for locomotive directional lighting.


In general round LED's are easier to fit as they only require a hole drilled or you can use LED panel clips. LED holders provide a quick and effective way of connecting your LED to a power source without the need to solder wires onto LED's.


Tri-colour LED's - LED's also come in Tri-Colour combination of which the most useful version is the Green / Yellow / Red.

The LED comes with 3 leads one of which is the common feed, one for the Red and one for Green. The yellow is produced by supplying power to both the red and green LED. The mixing of red and green produces yellow.


Where to use: If using batteries, Where heat is a problem (fire risk), When requiring large numbers of lights.

Advantages: Low power consumption, Very reliable when correctly powered, Does not get hot.

Disadvantages: Can only be connected one way round when using Directional Current (DC).




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Hornby Model Shop

R8312 - E-Link Computer Controlled Model Railway

Hornby E-Link
Computer Control


Hornby Model Railway Train Sets - Hornby Mixed Freight Train Set - R1126

Hornby DCC Mixed Freight Train Set


Hornby Trakmat

Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack A - R8221

Hornby Extension Track Pack A


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack B - R8222

Hornby Extension Track Pack B


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack C - R8223

Hornby Extension Track Pack C


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack D - R8224

Hornby Extension Track Pack D


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack E - R8225

Hornby Extension Track Pack E


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack F - R8226

Hornby Extension Track Pack F


Hornby Trakmat

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