Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Progress Report - New Lighting at Ottawa

This morning, I continued to work with various locomotives (not frying any additional decoders) in attempt to resolve some of the performance issues plus get some of the shopped locomotives back on the layout.

I believe I have found a solution for the problematic Proto GP38-2s.  I'll be looking at re-powering those with Altas GP40 chassises.

Today, at lunch, I went to Home Depot to pick up some materials for a canopy over Ottawa to affix the 16ft LED light strip.

This evening, I began construction.  It was pretty simple to build.  The LED lights make a *huge* difference to the upper level.  This was greatly needed last session as it was a cloudy day.  All those sand hoppers begin to look alike on a good day much less on a day when you can't read the reporting marks clearly.

I will hopefully complete this project before the next op session.  My plan is to go in a U-shape providing light along the walls of the upper level.

Below are before and after shots of the area as well as some detail shots of the canopy.

The upper level with the ceiling fan light fixture

My eyes are pretty good, but I can't read the reporting marks under this light.

The new assembly starts to go up.  Two simple heavy duty steel bookshelf brackets turned upside down.

A 2x2 was screwed to the steel bracket.

A 1x3 was screwed to the 2x2.  Later the 5mm luan fascia will be attached to the front.  The LED light string was attached to the 2x2 hidden by the 1x3 and eventually the fascia.

Let there be light!

It appears much brighter on the upper level.

The lights are hidden behind the 1x3 avoiding a blinding glare for the more height challenged operators like myself.

Looking good!  Ottawa has never looked so good in photos.

Wow!  I can read the reporting marks!  Most excellent!

A view from the cat cam looking up.

An overview of the area when you walk in the room.


  1. Steven,
    What dramatic difference those LED's have made!
    Are you planning to run the LED all the way around the layout?
    Do they have enough flex that one can flex them laterally to follow a curved fascia?
    If I can figure a way to put a valance above my layout, I think I will use the same thing! Then during an ops session one could almost turn off the overhead lights.
    Great idea, thanks for sharing it!

  2. Thanks Allen!

    Yes, I do plan on running the LEDs around the remaining portion of the upper level (already completed all the lower level). The only section that won't have LED lighting is the peninsula in the center of the room which is under the ceiling fan/light fixture. The LEDs do have enough flex to go around curved fascia. You can always cut the light strip (at every third LED - marked on strip) to make any hard turns that are required. You simply solder connector wires to both sides to keep the electrons flowing.

    Here's a link to the lights at Amazon:

    and the power supply

    I highly recommend the LED light strips. They are relatively cheap and provide great consistent lighting on the layout. I'm very pleased with the results on my layout.

  3. Two comments:

    First, wow! Those LED lights make it look like a professional photographer was lighting the layout for photos.

    Second, we need more cat cam photos.

  4. Thanks David! I'm really pleased with the LED lights. I'll try my best to provide more cat cam photos too. lol