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Discussion Starter #1
I am getting ready to start applying lights to my buildings and streets etc. Asking forum members what way you find works best for you. I was thinking o when I do a row of building like Walthers , which may be three/four buildings in one kit (row bldg.) that maybe I would attach all the lights for that building together inside the shell then just drop two wires through the layout to a strip which is fed by the power supply. Comments please, thanks
 

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I'm fussy. While the exterior light on my row houses are all on the same circuit, every interior light is on a separate circuit. I use floor and wall dividers as "blackouts" so that rooms 1 and 3 can have the lights on while room 2 is dark. I use an Arduino to turn all the the lights on and off.
 

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Lighting buildings is an interesting layout chore.

The first thing to consider is 'blacking out' the walls
roof and floor. I used thick black paint, black electricians tape
and card strips to get it all done.

Blacking out some rooms is also a very neat and realistic trick.

I used the warm white strip LEDs for room lighting...they take
12 v DC...but I also used mini incandecents for porch lights and
the like. These are usually 1.2 or so volts so require dropping
resistors unless wired in series to equal the 12 v used for LED strips.

I like the idea of using computer control of the building lighting. It
would be very interesting to see this or that building or room light
go on or off randomly as happens in real life.

Don

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks for the input. I like the idea of the random on and off too. However that may be too tech for me to understand although the Arduino is an interesting concept to think about.
 

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A couple of common options that are frequently used:

1) Use a 12V power supply and work with the typical LED strips that have limiting resistors already built in. The advantage is that you only have to understand electronics enough to recognize that you can cut the LED strips at multiples of 3, and you need to do some light soldering to attach wires to your 12v power bus. You can get LED strips in just about any color and mix them up for various uses.

2) Use a 5v power supply and add your own resistors. The disadvantage of this method is you need to take a little more time to understand how to use LED resistor calculators (found online) and you have to do a lot more soldering to connect every individual LED. The advantages are huge though... First off you can use different resistor values to adjust the brightness, so different rooms in a building could have different lighting levels and look more natural. And you can use individual LEDs for tight spaces, or you can wire several LEDs in series (just like the pre-made strips) to share a resistor but still have the individual bulbs to wire up something like a string of street lamps. And if you're willing to take the time to learn about resistors, then you're only a few steps away from being able to work with an arduino to randomly turns lights on and off (you have to install the software on your computer, plug the aurduino into a USB port, connect an LED and resistor to the arduino, and copy one of the many example programs found online to blink an LED). Once you start working with arduinos, it opens up a whole new world of breathing life into your layout, and you can easily combine lights that stay on (wired directly to the power supply) with intermittent lights connected to an arduino.

The good news is there's plenty of folks around here with experience in both types of setups, so you can get help with anything between the most basic wiring and setting up DCC-controlled (from an arduino) lights, and someone can point you in the right direction or help troubleshoot.
 

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I use LED's that have the power wired in parallel but have a data in and data out pin such that the data line is daisy to all the LED's. Then you can use an Arduino and output a 24 bit packets in a serial stream that will allow you to individually address each LED in the string and control its color and brightness. If you've seen some of those fancy Christmas lights, this is how there controlled.
 

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Lemohawk -- sounds like the WS2812 LED light strips? I've seen people using rows of those on their roof for christmas lights, they program the whole thing to act like a TV screen and display a video.
 

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Yes, there are all kinds of versions including ones that look like regular LED's (see Pololu electronics). Nice thing about these is you wire them all up then decide what you want them to do! The PWM allows true control of the brightness.
 
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