A guide to adding lighting to a model railway, or indeed any small project (but I am focusing on modelling for this instructable). Simple and quick, this makes a nice little extra touch to your layout. It's also really cheap (adding one light to one building costs as little as £0.21 ($0.33 as of 12th June 2012), less if you buy the parts in bulk) and long-lasting if you use LEDs (as shown here). With LEDs, it is slightly harder to install than with normal bulbs, but it is cheaper, longer-lasting and safer due to LEDs having no heat build-up. I generally use cylindrical 5mm LEDs in yellow, to simulate gas lighting (the cylindrical LEDs have a nice, even light distribution compared to normal LEDs, which can 'focus' the light).

You will need:
LEDs, (see above for colour) available from here
Resistors, available from here
Soldering materials
A building (kit form is easier to install lights in)
A power source (probably the auxiliary output of your main controller)

Step 1: Wiring.

Solder a resistor to the negative leg of an LED (if you don't know which leg is which, see the picture above). Then add wires to this assembly (make the wires as long as you need them to reach a power supply). It's a good idea to test it at this point, before putting it into the building. This is also a good opportunity to mark the wires so that you know which one goes to which side of the power supply (+ve or -ve). You don't need to do this if you can afford 2 different colours of wire! I have also included some electrical diagrams for those of you who like this sort of thing. See the pictures for more details. 
<p>Is it possible to make or buy a pressure sensitive switch? - the light goes on when the train goes over the tracks and then off once the train passes.</p>
<p>Hi, sorry it took me a while to get back to you. That should be possible, you could use a <a href="http://uk.rs-online.com/web/c/displays-optoelectronics/optocouplers-photodetectors-photointerrupters/ldr-light-dependent-resistors/" rel="nofollow">microswitch</a> with a cover on it so it looks like scenery or more practically you could use an <a href="http://uk.rs-online.com/web/c/displays-optoelectronics/optocouplers-photodetectors-photointerrupters/ldr-light-dependent-resistors/" rel="nofollow">LDR</a> to activate a relay that turns the lights on when the train is over it. There are loads of good instructables on wiring those up, but feel free to message me if you want to know more :)</p><p>TS</p>
Nice instructable. I really like the street light design using the wires to make the decorative fixture. Thanks!
<p>Thanks for your feedback :)</p><p>By way of an update, it's not too difficult to make a post for these using copper tube, a step I may add to this instructable if I get time.</p><p>TS</p>
Could you please add a closeup picture of your streetlight so we can see what you did with the wires to make the ornamental fitting? Great ideas.
I've added a step to show you how in more detail. <br>Thanks!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an Engineering student making cool stuff in my spare time, mostly modelmaking and electronics - at least, it's cool if you're as ... More »
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