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Your Layout and Models => Electronics => Topic started by: rob_au on December 17, 2019, 04:55:06 AM

Title: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: rob_au on December 17, 2019, 04:55:06 AM
While the Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system appears to be relatively popular, this appears (to me) to be relatively expensive with respect to the individual LED point cost. What alternatives to this lighting system have others employed on their layouts, particularly on those layouts incorporating a large number of LEDs?
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: Bealman on December 17, 2019, 05:01:46 AM
Much cheaper to wire the leds yourself if you know what you're doing.

That's why the WS gear is expensive - you pay for the plug & play bit.
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: rob_au on December 17, 2019, 05:10:05 AM
Much cheaper to wire the leds yourself if you know what you're doing.

Agreed. I am interested to see whether there is any specific alternative such as a constant current power supply or alike that others may be using. Otherwise I will probably just end up building one myself.
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: LASteve on December 17, 2019, 05:28:24 AM
Hi Rob

As George says, much cheaper to buy generic. You can source 100 LED's of either white or mixed colors, plus 100 resistors to go with them, for the same price as you can buy a single WS "Plug and Play" accessory. You can also  buy LED's with resistors already wired for cents on the dollar.

The "expense" comes if you want street lamps or other "scenic" lights, but I've bought both platform and street lights by the 10's from China for very little. I'm looking right now at some wall-mounted lights for a loco shed and a pub scene that I'm working on. Fractions of the cost of the WS options.

As for the power supply, almost any 12V plus-or-minus DC source will do the trick. You almost certainly have a couple of old cellphone chargers kicking around that you don't use any more (you probably don't even have the phone). I've seen ones that kick out up to 2A, but 100mA will do just fine. Remember that your LED is a diode, so if you connect it up the wrong way around it won't light (that's what a diode does). Just swap the wires around and off you go. If you connect them directly to your DCC bus this isn't a problem - the DCC is actually 14v AC, so every cycle you'll be lighting your LED. You won't notice any flicker, but people say that it's not good for the life of the LED. On my new layout I've got a dedicated DC bus just to keep everything separate.

However, the wires from the LED's are super-fine, I'm not sure even if there is a word for the gauge of wire, so you'll probably need to solder them at some point to some 30AWG to make things easy to route to your DC bus.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: Bealman on December 17, 2019, 07:32:12 AM
Steve has just provided the perfect answer!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: dannyboy on December 17, 2019, 08:58:43 AM
I have lots of lights on my layout, both LED's and 'grain of wheat' type bulbs. They are all powered by plug in chargers which feed distribution boards. A good reply by Steve.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: Bealman on December 17, 2019, 09:29:07 AM
And a good solution by David!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: geoffc on December 17, 2019, 09:54:13 AM
It depends on what you want to do, you can buy a reel of leds on an adhesive backing, they can be cut into multiples of three and ran from 12V. They are rather bright so a suitable resistor in the power feed will dim them.

Geoff
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: rob_au on December 17, 2019, 09:48:56 PM
Thanks for the comments - They confirm much that I had expected with respect to the Woodland Scenics Just Plug system. I will probably end up building some lighting controls around something like the TLC5947 IC from Texas Instruments (http://www.ti.com/product/TLC5947 (http://www.ti.com/product/TLC5947)). This provides 24-channel, 12-bit PWM constant-current LED control and can be cascaded to control a larger number of LEDs. There is also a ready-made prototype board which can be purchased from Adafruit (https://thepihut.com/products/adafruit-24-channel-12-bit-pwm-led-driver-spi-interface-tlc5947 (https://thepihut.com/products/adafruit-24-channel-12-bit-pwm-led-driver-spi-interface-tlc5947)).
Title: Re: Alternatives to Woodland Scenics Just Plug lighting system
Post by: Nigel Cliffe on December 17, 2019, 11:06:45 PM
Thanks for the comments - They confirm much that I had expected with respect to the Woodland Scenics Just Plug system. I will probably end up building some lighting controls around something like the TLC5947 IC from Texas Instruments ([url]http://www.ti.com/product/TLC5947[/url] ([url]http://www.ti.com/product/TLC5947[/url])). This provides 24-channel, 12-bit PWM constant-current LED control and can be cascaded to control a larger number of LEDs. There is also a ready-made prototype board which can be purchased from Adafruit ([url]https://thepihut.com/products/adafruit-24-channel-12-bit-pwm-led-driver-spi-interface-tlc5947[/url] ([url]https://thepihut.com/products/adafruit-24-channel-12-bit-pwm-led-driver-spi-interface-tlc5947[/url])).


without spending time delving into the library, the Adafruit board looks quite useful for lighting projects.  Hook up several of them to one Arduino or PI as the controller, and lighting sequences galore are possible. 
Could be interfaced to DCC for anyone wanting colour light signals, or similar, with the fairly standard Arduino-as-accessory-decoder circuits and code.

A good find Rob !

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