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I own a brand new American Models hi-rail Pennsylvania K4 Pacific loco and tender that was upgraded for DCC operation, as well as six American Models Budd passenger cars [all of which are relatively heavy]. Set control is via a Digitrax Zephyr DCS50 system. The max possible consist speed- -even hauling only three [3] of these cars- -is quite slow around my small loop of Lionel AF FasTrack. What electrical component upgrade must I make so that my loco can pull all six of these cars at a reasonably fast speed?

 

Original Post

How well does the locomotive run by itself?  I'm no DCC expert, but depending on the decoder, there may be a CV to set for maximum speed.

Also, the smoke unit and incandescent lamps in the passenger cars may be drawing a lot of the current.  The power supply output for the DCS50 is 2.5 amps.   You may need a more  powerful power supply.  If the Locomotive is OK, try adding one car at a time to see if that affects speed.

While DC, I know that seven AM Budd's and two AM E8's is about the maximum that my 3.0 amp DC power supply can handle.

Rusty

 

Last edited by Rusty Traque

As expected, the loco runs reasonably fast by itself...certainly much faster than when pulling any of my cars. 

Digitrax Tech Support advised me that as a minimum, I should upgrade my control system by adding their DB210 booster and PS615 power supply, which would provide up to 5 amps to the rails. That's going to be a bit expensive [total list price: $228], but I guess I have no choice in the matter.

Thanks for your helpful guidance, Rusty.

 

 

 

 

How large is your loop, and how long does the consist take to complete a circuit?  It might be running faster than you think!

I remember the first time I ever saw the video feed from one of those camera cars, that provides an “engineer eye” perspective of the layout.  It looked like I was riding a roller coaster!  Bottom line, the top speed of the prototype is kind of irrelevant.  On a small layout with train set curves, 60 mph or even 45 scale mph is plenty fast.  What’s harder is getting smooth, realistic slow speed performance.

Last edited by Ted S
Bob G (WNY) posted:

As expected, the loco runs reasonably fast by itself...certainly much faster than when pulling any of my cars. 

Digitrax Tech Support advised me that as a minimum, I should upgrade my control system by adding their DB210 booster and PS615 power supply, which would provide up to 5 amps to the rails. That's going to be a bit expensive [total list price: $228], but I guess I have no choice in the matter.

Thanks for your helpful guidance, Rusty.

 

 

 

 

The good thing is the larger power supply and booster is a one-time investment.  I don't think you'll regret it.

I bought the MRC Prodigy system years ago along with the then available separate sale 10 amp booster.  Now, I know I'll never need all 10 amps, but it's nice to know it's there...

Ted S posted:

How large is your loop, and how long does the consist take to complete a circuit?  It might be running faster than you think!

 

I recall measuring an AM Budd car individually drawing about 1/2amp.  (I don't know about the domes, which use LED's, I never measured them) The current draw isn't quite linear when adding cars, but it does add up.

As I mentioned above, in DC operation, two motors and seven AM illuminated Budd cars are about the max my 3 amp DC throttle can take.  When I ran seven illuminated Budds with three SHS F7's, the train moved at a crawl and my throttle got very warm very quickly. 

Removing one of the F7's from the consist, everything was fine.  I then had a choice, run with two F7's or remove the lamps from the cars.  I chose to remove the incandescent lamps from the passenger cars.

Rusty

I have three of those AM Pacifics, two of mine are converted to TMCC/Railsounds to run on Legacy. They pull 6 AM Budd cars around the layout with no issue. This includes some 2.2% grades. I will say that consist takes at least 4A to run well. I have 10A supplies to each of 8 independent power districts around the layout. I do not use DCC so I have no experience with it, but regardless of the decoder and its settings my experience suggests at least a 5A supply dedicated to that track is necessary. I have 14VAC on the track. If the DCC output voltage is much less than 14V it may cause problems when the engine is loaded.

It sounds like your loop is about 189" long.  In your ~10 second video, the train completes about 3/4 of the loop.  That works out to 51,000 inches per hour.  The "scale factor" for S-gauge is 64.  So it's actually travelling 3.3 million SCALE inches per hour.  This equates to 51.5 scale miles per hour.  

Think about how your passengers would feel... In real life, passenger trains only achieved those speeds where there were ample straightaways and gentle curves.  I guarantee if the loco were shoving a camera car into those curves at that speed, you would get dizzy watching the video.  If you want a little more speed, add voltage.   Also, make sure your passenger car axles turn freely and have one drop of lubricant on each bearing.

The American Models Pacifics are outstandingly well-engineered locos.  There is NOTHING in O gauge outside of Brass that compares.  If I could trade, I would.  Enjoy the realistic performance your loco has to offer!

Last edited by Ted S
Ted S posted:

It sounds like your loop is about 189" long.  In your ~10 second video, the train completes about 3/4 of the loop.  That works out to 51,000 inches per hour.  The "scale factor" for S-gauge is 64.  So it's actually travelling 3.3 million SCALE inches per hour.  This equates to 51.5 scale miles per hour.  

Think about how your passengers would feel... In real life, passenger trains only achieved those speeds where there were ample straightaways and gentle curves.  I guarantee if the loco were shoving a camera car into those curves at that speed, you would get dizzy watching the video.  If you want a little more speed, add voltage.   Also, make sure your passenger car axles turn freely and have one drop of lubricant on each bearing.

The American Models Pacifics are outstandingly well-engineered locos.  There is NOTHING in O gauge outside of Brass that compares.  If I could trade, I would.  Enjoy the realistic performance your loco has to offer!

It's a loop on a carpet around some furniture and an elf, not real life.  Even I, "Joe Scale Guy" likes to let 'er rip every now and then.  Very therapeutic...

I believe Bob's complaint it that is the maximum speed he can get right now, there is no more headroom.  Besides, S Scale (or any other scale for that matter) passengers tend to be very sedentary and pretty much unaffected by the laws of physics...

Besides, if that short train is taxing the output his power supply, he will eventually repeatedly blow its breaker or let its smoke out.

Rusty

The AM Pacifics weren't meant to go that fast anyway, but the Budd cars draw a LOT of current with the light bulbs in them.   My set with six cars drew more than a small transformer could put out.  So I simply disconnected the wires on the trucks leading to the inside circuit.   Runs great, but no lights.  If I had the time, I'd convert the bulbs to LEDs.  Way too many projects now, including getting my PE to smoke again.  That one may be a lost cause, though.

By the way, Ron at American Models uses white lithium for axle lubrication. on these cars.   Just a LITTLE dab will do ya...

Something is not right with Bob's setup. I just ran my New Haven AM Pacific, converted to TMCC but otherwise all original pulling 6 AM Budd cars. I ran it on the upper loop, line 3, which is about 70' around the layout. I set the Legacy Cab 2 to 1/2 throttle, 14V on the track from a ZW-L. The ZW-L will provide 10A with no measurable voltage sag. The track is MTH nickle silver flex code 138. Minimum radius is 30" with superelevation and easements. The scale speed around the loop calculated to 105smph, it was really moving! I doubt the engine would stay on the rails at full throttle. And this is with a 14V setting, many people use the full 18V output from the ZW-L's but I find the incandescent bulbs get too hot and are too bright at 18V.

I replaced all the incandescent lights in the Budd cars with strips of LEDs. An AM Pacific pulling 6 Budd cars at 10 volts, which is very fast, draws 0.5 amperes of direct current. The headlight in the Pacific is still an incandescent bulb. An American Models E8 pulling the same cars at the same 10 volts draws the same amount of current but runs very slightly slower--still faster than any of the plastic figures in the cars finds comfortable. An ABBA consist of SHS F7s, all powered, draws 2 amps pulling the same cars. Their speed is much slower under Locomatic control at 10 or even 12 volts, but that speed is still a bit faster than realistic on my layout.

The LEDs in the passenger cars reduce the required current--and heat--significantly. Buck-boost modules keep the lighting uniform and steady no matter what speed the trains run, as long as the applied voltage is above 3.5 volts or so. The conversion to LEDs was worth the effort.

I am a former Lionel O guy who sold virtually all of those trains and got back into the hobby by purchasing a variety of S, HO, N, and OO trains...all of which have not yet been placed on a layout of any kind [indeed, most may never be].  I must have been "spoiled" by the childlike sensation of seeing my Lionel steam-, diesel-, and electric-motive power "fly" by with their respective consists at [admittedly unrealistic] breakneck speeds on long stetches of straight track.

The S FasTrack loop shown in the video clip was set up for the enjoyment of my daughter and son-in-law who live out of state and will be staying with us for a few days during the holidays. When I finally manage to clean out my 15-foot X 15-foot finished and carpeted basement Rec room, I'd like to construct a shelf-type permanent layout where I can fully "exercise" my AM DCC-equipped/modified K4- -chugging, with headlight blazing, smoke puffing, firepan glowing, bell ringing, whistle blowing- -pulling its full complement of six illuminated AM Budd cars [plus a matching observation car I plan to buy] on long straightaways and gentle curves [to the extent feasible, given the limited large-radii choices for curved track].

That all said, I'll opt for upgrading my Digitrax Zephyr system with an additional booster and increased amperage power supply. I found that Litchfield Station sells these components for considerably less than the Digitrax list price: $116 for the DB210 booster, $63 for the PS615 power supply, and $148 for the PS2012E power supply [which is the better long-term solution compared to the PS615 because it can provide up to 8 amps of power, rather than "only" 5 amps]. 

FYI, Bob Guckian: 

I bought my AM K4 hi-rail loco from Chick’s Hobby Center [http://chickshobbyshop.com/]; the DC to DCC conversion and other feature upgrades [including wireless tether] were done by the shop owner, Charles Viggiano. My unsolicited testimonial: Charles [Chick] did a great job and I absolutely love the way this loco & tender looks and performs- -it's better than any Lionel O product I ever owned and operated!

 

TOKELLY posted:

I replaced all the incandescent lights in the Budd cars with strips of LEDs.

The LEDs in the passenger cars reduce the required current--and heat--significantly. Buck-boost modules keep the lighting uniform and steady no matter what speed the trains run, as long as the applied voltage is above 3.5 volts or so. The conversion to LEDs was worth the effort.

TOKELLY,

You have my attention. Could you add more detail like what you used for LED strips? I tool a quick look at the Buck-Boost website (analog.com) and was not sure what I was looking for. Do you remember the Buck-Boost model number?

This sounds like a great way to get consistent lighting at low voltage (slow running).

Thanks,

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Hi Tom,

The conversion is not hard, it's just a bit tedious. I used the circuit boards provided by American Models because they did contain usable parts and spanned the two trucks from which to draw current. They also were up toward the ceiling to provide better light. I started by disassembling the car, removing the circuit board, and de-soldering and removing the incandescent light bulbs.

I drilled a small hole through the printed circuit line to break the connection as described on the left of the picture below.  I did this so that I could insert a 22mH choke to bridge the connection. The choke was a recommendation for anyone who wanted to use the MTH DCS system and prevent interference with its signal to DCS-controlled locomotives. (I don't use DCS, but when the patient is open for surgery, I might as well do easy fixes for whoever owns the cars after me.) The choke is the black rectangle with the red outline.  The break is represented by the disconnected yellow line below the choke image.

The next element is the bridge rectifier, the gray circle in the diagram. The rectifier's job is to take in either DC current or alternating current and send out only the DC current required by the LEDs and the buck-boost module. The two yellow lines represent the current from the two trucks and connect to the proper legs of the rectifier. The rectifier cannot span the PCB board lines that are parallel on the board because those two lines are to be reserved for the "rectified" or "corrected" DC current out from the rectifier. 

The rectified current out from the rectifier are represented by the black ( -) and the red ( + ) lines than can connect to the parallel printed circuit board lines on the PCB board. Be sure to note which line is going to be positive and which is negative because the buck boost converter has to connect to the right one. The capacitor, the blue cylinder in the diagram, also has to connect to the correct lines because it has a positive leg and a negative leg (represented by the white marking down the side of the capacitor. Capacitors have markings on them to show which leg is negative.) The idea behind the capacitor is that it acts as a "battery" to temporarily store a charge on it so that lights don't flicker when current from the wheels on the trucks sees slight interruptions due to dirty track or crossing switches.

The buck-boost converter has pads on each of the four corners for connections. Each is marked--two on one end for input and two on the other end for output. The red and black lines on the diagram represent the positive and negative current from the capacitor or, more easily, the correct parallel printed line on the PCB board. I just used the holes from a removed incandescent light bulb to solder a connection from the positive or negative line to the correct positive or negative input pad on the buck-boost module.

The buck-boost converters I used had voltage output settings too high for the LEDs when I removed them from their packages. To make initial adjustments, I hooked each one up to wires with alligator clips on both ends of the wire. I attached one end of each wire to the input ends of the modules and the other ends to the track. I applied 10 volts from the track and tested the voltage at the output pads of each converter module. The initial voltage was between 25 and 30 volts, so I turned the brass rheostat screw on each module counterclockwise so that the measured output was about 7-8 volts. If the track voltage was 5 volts, the module put out 7-8 volts. If the track voltage were 12 volts, the output would still be 7-8 volts; and that is how the lights stay "constant" even when the passenger train is moving fast or slowly. (It's easiest to adjust all the buck-boost converter modules in a batch rather than adjust each one to complete one car, then go to complete another car, and so forth.) I set all the readjusted modules aside. When I need one for the PCB board, I glued it to the underside of the PCB board, away from any windows so that it would not be visible. Then it was easy to solder connections to the module's pads to the old holes in the PCB board using small wires.

The LED light strips have adhesive on the the reverse side. Before I attached them to the PCB board, though, I soldered wires from the converter's output pads to the correct positive (red) and negative (black) inputs on the LED strips. The strips are marked as to + or - connections, and they have small solder spots on them to make the connection easier. (Getting a good connection at this point , however, was the most difficult part of the assembly and required testing multiple times to make sure the LEDs lit up.) Once I was convinced the connections were good and the LEDs lit up, I stripped off the waxy paper over the adhesive and glued the strips to the bottom of the PCB boards.

I reattached the PCB boards to the under frames of each car but left the upper body off for further testing. Once I had finished all the cars--a long process because I included heavyweights, streamliners, Amtrak cars, and cabooses--I lined up all the cars of the same type on the same stretch of track and applied current to the track. The lighting varied a bit from car to car, but adjusting the brass rheostat on each converter allowed me to make the lighting entirely uniform for each car. Each car now had the same amount of illumination--at 4.5 volts up to 15 volts. I moved each car along the track to check whether the connections were sound. After each car passed, I reattached the bodies to the frames. (That's when some worked and some didn't--the way the world works. It just meant going back to make better solder connections in those cases.)

The benefits outweigh the work involved: uniform lighting from car to car, uniform lighting at any speed above that requiring more than about 4 volts, low current draw, and minimum heat generated in each car.

The parts I used are similar to those listed below. The cost per car was about $6, far less than buying a complete module kit that you would still have to install with almost the same amount of work.

 Buck-boost converter:  Buck Boost converter example

LED strips

 Budd LED Layout

 

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Last edited by TOKELLY
TOKELLY posted:

Hi Tom,

The parts I used are similar to those listed below. The cost per car was about $6, far less than buying a complete module kit that you would still have to install with almost the same amount of work.

 Buck-boost converter:  Buck Boost converter example

LED strips

 

 

Rayin"S" posted:

Tom

Not complicated at all, I am very novice in electronics and have done a ton of cars with the LED strips . A rectifier followed by a capacitor, then an inexpensive regulator to the LED strip. Cost will be under$3.00 per car.

Ray

Wow, that’s a lot of information. What I am not clear on are the specifics. I run DC so I understand I have no need for the rectifier, but from there, a capacitor (what value?), a regulator (again, what value), and a Buck Booster (is the one in the eBay link the one I should use or just similar?).  Then there's the resistor's for each LED.  When I try to put together the 3 threads, I get lost.

Am I missing something?

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

It's a lot to swallow at once, and it took me a few months to learn what I needed. This is what worked for me. From left to right on the diagram:

  • a 22 milli-henry choke for about $0.44 each. This is an inexpensive option that makes the car more compatible with MTH's DCS system and more attractive if you decide to use DCS or to sell to the car to a DCS user later on. 
  • a bridge rectifier to allow the passenger car to run on AC as well as DC. It is necessary to keep the LEDs illuminated when you change DC polarity to reverse an engine. (Without the rectifier, the lights would go out when you back up because reversing changes the positive DC track wheels to negative DC and the negative wheels to positive. The rectifier keeps the output current the same polarity even if the input changes. ) Rectifiers cost about $0.44 each.
  • a 1000 micro-farad capacitor capable handling 35 volts (far more voltage than the track will ever see)
  • the buck-boost converter in my example or a similar converter
  • the LED strip in my example. The resistors and other components for the LEDs are already in the strip. It's just a matter of connecting the positive wire from the buck-boost to the the + solder point on the strip and the negative wire to the - solder point.

There is no need for a regulator with this setup. The choke filters the current. The rectifier keeps the same DC polarity to reach the LED strip whether the track has AC or DC current on it and if the DC polarity changes to reverse the locomotive. The capacitor stores a bit of energy to reduce flicker. Everything else is already built into the LED strip.

choke:

http://www.mouser.com/ProductD...PHl1FCPZucit6Q%3d%3d

rectifier:

http://www.mouser.com/ProductD...bUysgCFckWHwodiPoK-A

capacitor:

http://www.mouser.com/Search/R...word=647-UPW1H471MHD
TOKELLY posted:

It's a lot to swallow at once, and it took me a few months to learn what I needed. This is what worked for me. From left to right on the diagram:

http://www.mouser.com/ProductD...PHl1FCPZucit6Q%3d%3d

rectifier:

http://www.mouser.com/ProductD...bUysgCFckWHwodiPoK-A

capacitor:

http://www.mouser.com/Search/R...word=647-UPW1H471MHD

TOKELLY,

I believe the diagram did not come through.  It is getting clearer, though.  You call the Buck-Boost a converter.  What does it convert?  And is the one in your eBay link the one I should use?  When I looked at their website, there where hundreds to choose from and as you are probably noticing, I don't know up from down in this stuff.

Thank again,

Tom

buck boost converterBudd LED Layout

The buck-boost takes a wide range of DC voltage inputs, from 5 to 32 volts, and puts out a voltage you choose from a range of 1.25 to 35 volts. You select the output voltage by turning the brass colored screw on the top of the tall, rectangular blue element on the module shown in the link I sent. The buck-boost should more correctly be called a controller because it converts/controls/adjusts input voltage to the output you want. When starting a train, the LEDs will illuminate just before 4 volts on the track. As the train picks up speed when you apply more voltage from the transformer or power supply, the illumination stays at the same brightness because the buck-boost module takes in whatever voltage you apply but only puts out the voltage to the LEDs that you selected when you adjusted the brass screw. (You need to check the output voltage before connecting the LEDs because I found that the output on the ones I bought was about 25 volts, too much for the LED strips. I adjusted the screws to reduce the voltage to 7-8 volts, and then trimmed each one to match the lighting of all of the finished cars.) The LEDs have the same brightness when the train is almost at a crawl or when going at top speed.

The buck-boost converter on the website is nearly identical to the ones I used and has the same specifications. In the web picture, the bottom corners are the silvery pads for input--negative on the left and positive on the lower right. Those pads easily take a spot of solder when a wire is passed through the hole and bent over the edge. The output pads are on the opposite side of the converter/controller.

Let me know if the diagram did not appear this time. I see it in my browser, but different browsers act differently.

Good luck and Merry Christmas,

Terry

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  • Buck-boost converter
  • buck boost converter
Last edited by TOKELLY

WOW  LED conversion is involved.  Have any of you all considered replacing the lights regular bulbs with mini Christmas 12v (or two or three 6v in series) light bulbs which should will draw less current than the standard train light bulbs but be dimmer?

regular bulbs

18 v #1447 screw bulb draws 2.7 watts

14v #53 Bayonet bulbs draw 2.8 watts

18 v #432 screw bulb draws 4.5 watts compared too

 BUT a Mini 12 volt or 6v Christmas light draw .48 watts

Mini Christmas lights used to be easy to buy at Walmart, drug stores etc. 10 years ago but are now hard to find.  Mini Christmas lights are available at https://www.hardtofinditems.com/cart.php but 12v bulbs were out of stock today. 

They are easy to use if you obtain, by buying or from trash strings, of mini lights of any size bulbs ( strings with 10 bulbs have 12v bulbs and strings with 20 bulbs have 6v bulbs which can be a plus if most bulbs still are good, strings with 35 bulbs have 3v bulbs which can work in series of 4 to give 12volts or 5 to give 15volts) .  Cut the strings up to obtain wire and sockets to use for installation as singles, doubles or triple in passenger cars and as building lights on the layout.   Match the bulbs voltage to that of the voltage source by according to the bulb voltage (6v or 12v), the need for number of lights needed to cover the car or building and use the bulbs in series of one, two or three to make the sum of bulb voltages match the source voltage.

To install in a Lionel 2400 series passenger car, just remove the old light bulbs, leaving the old sockets.  Then solder or crimp clamp one end of the wire and sockets in series, to the terminal from the truck power pickup and the other end to a car ground.  Attach the sockets and wires to the roof of the car with two sided tape or some silicone caulking or Aliens Clear glue or E6000 glue.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

This has been an interesting discussion on lighting, and the buck booster is the way to go for constant LED lighting.  However, the unit is LARGE!  I have an application of 6 stretched Osgood Bradley cars with open vestibules and complete interiors.  Absolutely no room for the booster.  So I'll have to be content with LED lighting that varies with voltage.   Either that, or wait for the boosters to be miniaturized more...

poniaj posted:

This has been an interesting discussion on lighting, and the buck booster is the way to go for constant LED lighting.  However, the unit is LARGE!  I have an application of 6 stretched Osgood Bradley cars with open vestibules and complete interiors.  Absolutely no room for the booster.  So I'll have to be content with LED lighting that varies with voltage.   Either that, or wait for the boosters to be miniaturized more...

Jerry, How about the size of what I use in my coaches.

Sorry for the quality of the pic. but these are about 5/8" x 7/8" and less than 3/16" high. Ray

https://www.ebay.com/p/1402279667?iid=1237989

IMG_20191225_092122696

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Last edited by Rayin"S"
TOKELLY posted:

buck boost converterBudd LED Layout

The buck-boost takes a wide range of DC voltage inputs, from 5 to 32 volts, and puts out a voltage you choose from a range of 1.25 to 35 volts. You select the output voltage by turning the brass colored screw on the top of the tall, rectangular blue element on the module shown in the link I sent. The buck-boost should more correctly be called a controller because it converts/controls/adjusts input voltage to the output you want. When starting a train, the LEDs will illuminate just before 4 volts on the track. As the train picks up speed when you apply more voltage from the transformer or power supply, the illumination stays at the same brightness because the buck-boost module takes in whatever voltage you apply but only puts out the voltage to the LEDs that you selected when you adjusted the brass screw. (You need to check the output voltage before connecting the LEDs because I found that the output on the ones I bought was about 25 volts, too much for the LED strips. I adjusted the screws to reduce the voltage to 7-8 volts, and then trimmed each one to match the lighting of all of the finished cars.) The LEDs have the same brightness when the train is almost at a crawl or when going at top speed.

The buck-boost converter on the website is nearly identical to the ones I used and has the same specifications. In the web picture, the bottom corners are the silvery pads for input--negative on the left and positive on the lower right. Those pads easily take a spot of solder when a wire is passed through the hole and bent over the edge. The output pads are on the opposite side of the converter/controller.

Let me know if the diagram did not appear this time. I see it in my browser, but different browsers act differently.

Good luck and Merry Christmas,

Terry

Terry, Sorry for the delay in getting back, but my Xmas layout project hit crunch-time and tool top priority… I even sort of made it.

Thanks you for the detailed info, I can handle this. Still not sure of which Buck-Booster to try, there are many different values. Running straight DC, I’m under the impression I don’t need to use the choke.

And with the Buck-Booster, Ray has now shown another (mini) brand, but still no talk of specs.

Happy Christmas to all,

Tom

Tom,

The choke is only an option for DCS operation. I only put one in mine because it was quick and easy when I had the passenger cars apart. It was bit of a challenge hiding the large buck-boost converters in some passenger cars, but the Budd's were relatively easy to do. The American Models streamlined and heavyweight cars originally had the incandescent light PCB boards sitting on the floors of the cars, so I used the boards and raised them to the roofs. If I remember correctly, I glued the buck-boost converters to the raised PCB boards in areas not visible through the windows or on the ends as in the Budd cars. The converters are not visible at all from any of the windows in any of the cars.

Ray's smaller version would make hiding them even easier because they are much smaller. These were not available when I started my project. The link Ray provided showed converters capable of inputs ranging from 4.75 volts to 23 volts, well within the range of voltage used by S gauge locomotives and lighted rolling stock. The 4.75 volts is a bit low so that LEDs will illuminate only when a DC-only locomotive is beginning to move at a good pace; but American Flyer Legacy locomotives that can handle DC and DCC locomotives need at least this voltage to respond to commands. The output voltage from Ray's suggestion is 1-17 volts--perfect for the LED strips. You will probably find that 7-8 volts is enough to give the passenger cars enough realistic light. Those smaller buck-boost converters fit in my diagram exactly the same is the larger ones I used. Using longer wires from the PCB boards to the converters will give you the freedom to tuck them wherever you like within a passenger car. (While you have the tops off the American Models frames, you can add some paint to the interiors as well as passengers and table lamps in the dining cars. Staples has "paint pens" in silver and in other colors that make it very easy to dress up the interiors a bit. I used the silver to add "chrome" touches to the upper parts of seats and to the legs of some tables in the dining car.)

Rayin"S" posted:
poniaj posted:

This has been an interesting discussion on lighting, and the buck booster is the way to go for constant LED lighting.  However, the unit is LARGE!  I have an application of 6 stretched Osgood Bradley cars with open vestibules and complete interiors.  Absolutely no room for the booster.  So I'll have to be content with LED lighting that varies with voltage.   Either that, or wait for the boosters to be miniaturized more...

Jerry, How about the size of what I use in my coaches.

Sorry for the quality of the pic. but these are about 5/8" x 7/8" and less than 3/16" high. Ray

https://www.ebay.com/p/1402279667?iid=1237989

 

Ray,

Those look GOOD!  Where do you hide them in your coaches?  My coaches have no room inside, but maybe the sparky stuff can be affixed to the underside of the floor and disguised as a battery box or something.  It's worth a shot.  If anyone is interested, I'll post a shot or two of the cars.  Imagine currently available Lionel heavyweight coaches with completely visible interiors.  There's a discussion on the forum at New Haven

The specs on the site call call it DC to DC, so I'll still need a bridge rectifier to make it all work if I use AC.  Do these things provide a constant voltage at less than 12vDC?  Hard to tell from their specs.  Plus this is kind of new to me.  I usually gin up much simpler circuits.

Sorry to have hijacked this thread, guys.   But to those of you who have used the LED strips, did you affix the strip directly to the roof, or did you provide some sort of buffer to avoid possible heat damage?

I set them either low in the vestibules or in the "bathrooms" in the sleeper cars. Many of my passenger cars have window shades that are pulled partially down or completely closed while other windows are fully open to view a seat or a passenger or two in the seat. I put the buck-boost in a place where it cannot be seen through a window with the shades down.

The example for which Ray provided a link will provide a constant voltage range of 1 to 17 volts. Less than 5 volts is too little voltage to light up the LEDs, and I found that a setting of 7-8 volts worked well. The light is not so bright that it is obvious when the room lights are one, and at night the amount of illumination is perfectly natural--and the body does not "glow" with too much light shining through when the train is running fast.

Heat damage is unlikely because the LEDs are extremely efficient and give off very little heat. In those cases where American Models had the PCB board suspended near the ceiling, such as the Budd cars with their detailed interiors, I fastened the LED strips to the PCB board itself so the the light came prototypically from the ceiling. In the streamlined and heavyweight cars, I used a wooden support running from one end of the car's vestibule to the other vestibule and glued the strip to that support. The two ends of the support were heavy cardboard with the image of a real vestibule door glued onto the side visible from the vestibule windows. A viewer looking into the car from one coupler or the other could only see the paper/cardboard vestibule support as if it were part of the car interior. The wooden support was at ceiling height so that the illumination came from the ceiling rather than from the floor where the original incandescent lights were.

I did not fasten the LED strip to the ceiling because of concern about heat. I used either the PCB board in the Budd cars or the wood strip held up by the cardboard vestibule wall because that allowed me to remove the body from the car to make any adjustments without having to worry about stretching wires connected to the top of the body. One could attach the strip to the underside of the body, but it would mean limited movement whenever the body were removed for maintenance--and the longer wires would probably be visible through the windows.

I guess I'm concerned with a component of the LED strip failing and frying.  I've had diodes heat up and smoke, and don't want anything to melt the car's roof.   Each of the 6 cars has at least 15 hours of work into it.  I hate to have a diode fry.  Yesterday I put the LED strip along the outside of the other side of the car just to see what it would appear when illuminated.  I applied a full 12vDC to the strip and here's what it looked like:

The blue tint is OK with me since it simulates florescent light fixtures, although I may overcoat the LEDs with some orange tint.  The full 12vDC is also a bit much.  The whole interior has light blue walls, dark blue seats and blue and black floor tiles.  The small window on the left isn't illuminated since it's the "bathroom."  I plan on running wires through the bathroom with a 2 pin connector so I  can remove the shell, but not much room there.  Here's what it looks like viewing through one of the vestibules toward the bathrooms:

There's a bit of room along the ceiling.   Maybe the circuitry could go there, but the LED strip covers the whole distance from vestibule to vestibule.  As far as the view of the interior through the windows, here's a sample:

No window glazing yet.  There's a way of making flush windows, but that's not what I'm going for.  Just a "what if" Gilbert of Lionel were to make these cars.  I seriously doubt they'd go so far as to make flush windows. 

Ray's suggestion looks good.  If I were to add a cap, I could also run it along the frame and disguise it as an air tank.  I've remoted caps before in other applications for better fit. 

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys.   Happy New Year!

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