Lights4Models’ Simulated Welding Kit provides a realistic effect that is easy to install on any model railroad or diorama.
Simulated Welding Kit Effect for All Scales
by George Riley/photos by the author
Arguably the one feature that makes Model Railroading so compelling is the addition of animation to finely crafted scale models when they are operated and displayed in a realistic miniature environment. One of the easiest ways to add animation is through the use of lights to capture the look of the larger world. Until fairly recently model lighting made exclusive use of miniature incandescent light bulbs. No only were these power hungry, but they also created a surprising amount of heat which with the current use of plastics in model construction frequently caused many carefully build models to distort.
The introduction of LEDs (light emitting diodes) to model railroading provides scale illumination while side stepping many of the negative issues posed by incandescent lighting. LEDs use lower voltages, consume less wattage and give off almost no heat. Additionally, they have a usable life span that is measured in tens if not hundreds of thousands of hours of use.
The only negative of using LEDs is that electric current frequently needs to be stepped down from the normal voltages commonly used to power model trains and their accessories. This requires a bit of computation to choose the correct resistors and rectifiers to adjust the voltages and polarity to operate LEDs. This can be daunting for a novice electrician. Happily, Lights4Models has taken the guess work out of adding lighting to one’s models. The firm offers a wide range of lighting and animation kits with various colors, sizes and features. Most require the modeler to hook up two wires to a power supply with an output ranging between seven and nineteen volts, AC or DC.
The Simulated Welding Kit from Lights4Models is one of these easy to use animation kits. The kit features three 3 mm LEDs wired directly to a voltage regulating bridge rectifier. Other than attaching the two feeder wires to a power supply and mounting the components in a model or on a layout base, no other assembly is required. To create the welding effect, one constant blue LED and two flashing cool white LEDs are used. The entire unit draws 20 milliamps of current and can easily be operated using any power supply from a model railroad power pack to a nine volt battery. This low current draw also will allow the feature to be controlled using a DCC function decoder such as Digitrax’s TL1 or TF4, both of which have a 125 milliamp rating.
2460 Tevis Ann Ct.
Dublin, OH 43016-9194
Simulated Welding Kit with 3 mm LEDs
For testing our sample was included as part of an O scale micro layout currently being used as a product test bed. The circuit was powered using a 9 volt battery mounted underneath the bench work with the voltage regulator. The LEDs were run through a hole and clustered together above the sceniced layout base. A light diffuser made from a teased out piece of cotton ball heightened the illusion by concealing the LED while allowing their light to be seen. To complete the welding scene a group of Woodland Scenic figures from the company’s O scale welding set was placed around the welding lights. The overall effect is very convincing.
Lights4Models’ Simulated Welding Kit proved easy to install and use in addition to providing a realistic effect and being reasonably priced. The company's range of products should go a long way to making the use of LEDs for model animation within even a beginner’s reach.