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I currently have two Menards buildings(Watkins city block on the way) on a temporary floor layout. I also have three Woodland Scenic buildings(these lights work off ac voltage and are adjustable). Wanting to use xfrmr acc power for these buildings, the Menards are hooked up to a buss powered by an adjustable ac to dc buck converter(as advised by the expert help on this forum) set by multimeter at 4.5vdc. For my taste however, the lighting is too bright on these two buildings(see pic 1), so as an experiment, I decreased the voltage until the brightness suited me. That voltage turns out to be 2.75vdc. They now match the intensity of the WS buildings, both with house lights on and off(pics 2&3). The Menards leds actually went out at around 2.45vdc. You may be perfectly happy with the buildings as is, this just demonstrates an alternative should you want to try it. TW

Pic 1 at 4.75vdc

Pic 2 at 2.75vdc

Pic 3 at 2.75vdc

 

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Yup, am thinking they use bright white on menards. Those smaller ones are the WS buildings. They use amber on outside, warm white on the interiors. So they're definitely different.(see interior of gas station vs exterior. Plus there are 18 led on front of Menards depot alone with 23 more around the other sides. Only 3-4 lights total on WScenics each. What kind of paint/tint would I try?  TW

Woodland scenics

Menards Depot

 

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Tamiya Acrylic Orange X-26.  About $2 a bottle (one bottle is a lifetime supply) at any hobby shop.  It's been written up many times on OGR.  Here's the effect on a 3mm through-hole and a surface-mount white LED.  It adheres well to the plastic lenses on an LED.  You have to experiment with how much tint you want - multiple coats can be applied to darken.  It thins or comes clean with rubbing alcohol if you've gone too far.

tamiya acrylic orange x-26

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TedW posted:

I currently have two Menards buildings(Watkins city block on the way) on a temporary floor layout. I also have three Woodland Scenic buildings(these lights work off ac voltage and are adjustable). Wanting to use xfrmr acc power for these buildings, the Menards are hooked up to a buss powered by an adjustable ac to dc buck converter(as advised by the expert help on this forum) set by multimeter at 4.5vdc. For my taste however, the lighting is too bright on these two buildings(see pic 1), so as an experiment, I decreased the voltage until the brightness suited me. That voltage turns out to be 2.75vdc. They now match the intensity of the WS buildings, both with house lights on and off(pics 2&3). The Menards leds actually went out at around 2.45vdc. You may be perfectly happy with the buildings as is, this just demonstrates an alternative should you want to try it. TW

Pic 1 at 4.75vdc

Pic 2 at 2.75vdc

Pic 3 at 2.75vdc

 

I have looked at dimming my Menards buildings to get them balanced out with the other incandescently lighted buildings.  I took the plunge by installing boards that convert transformer AC to DC and adjusting DC voltage downward from the standard 5 VDC power by the Menards Wall Worts.

I have attached photos of the after.  The photos also show the top 6 positions currently being used.  When adjusting, 1/10th OF 1 VOLT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE.  You can also see that most are now powered in the 2.7 - 3.0 range.

The color of the lighting is still white, but much more bearable.IMG_2685IMG_2686IMG_2689

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MartyE posted:
I'd like to hear more about this setup...
 

IMG_2689

 

These components were recommended to me by some users on this board in answer for a recommendation:

AC/DC to DC Buck Converter Step Down Module LM2596 Power Supply Output DC1.5-27V

 

1 PCS LM2596 DC-DC buck adjustable step-down Power Supply Converter module _US

 The 6th one is really reading 10.5.  The 1 got lost when I took the picture.

 

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  • mceclip0
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These items go in and out of production quite often.  It’s best to buy plenty when they are available, and free shipping.
323405457109    Item number

Copy this number into ebay search for the lm2596 ac/dc-dc buck converter.

382800473521      Item number

Copy this number into ebay search for the dc/dc buck converter.

 

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Last edited by TedW

Finally implemented Stan’s suggestion and painted the leds on the Menards building with the Tamiya X26 clear orange.  Matched the WS buildings well.  May not be for everybody, just a matter of taste.  The Watkins building is for comparison, I will do those also.

865D7A03-7EED-4A8E-9B87-DC951E8A5F4E

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Last edited by TedW

Thanks, I found the site, they also have the ones with the led display for 2.40 a piece.  I think the display you have looks great and you don't have to wonder about the voltage.  Was it worth the difference in price?  Also looking for the source for the plugs for the buildings to connect.  Do you have that information?

Thanks in advance.

Manny

Manny, the power modules are set and forget, so no real need for the display you pay extra for.  Personal choice.  Set the voltage using your multimeter on the lighting buss or individual building.  These modules will power more than one building depending on the number of leds in each building.  If a single led draws 20mA, a 2.5A module will power 100+ leds.

TedW posted:

Manny, the power modules are set and forget, so no real need for the display you pay extra for.  Personal choice.  Set the voltage using your multimeter on the lighting buss or individual building.  These modules will power more than one building depending on the number of leds in each building.  If a single led draws 20mA, a 2.5A module will power 100+ leds.

When I posted I mentioned 1/10 of 1 volt makes a huge difference.  I found it easier to dial it in with a micro screwdriver without holding meter leads on terminals while screwing.

one nice thing about the built-ins is that you can move the display value up or down if your looking for round even numbers.  I calibrated mine to my fluke actual outputs.

It is kitchen table easy, looks cool to the visitors & blows them away when you tell them you built it.  You’ll be impressed with yourself also.

Thanks everyone for all the help. It is great to be able to go to the Forum and have someone who has been there before give their time and remind you where the potholes are located. I greatly appreciate it.

I think that despite the significantly higher price, I will bend the budget and get the ones with the led meters.  It definitely makes a cool display.  

Happy Independence Day.  Enjoy the Fourth.

Manny

 

Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:
TedW posted:

I currently have two Menards buildings(Watkins city block on the way) on a temporary floor layout. I also have three Woodland Scenic buildings(these lights work off ac voltage and are adjustable). Wanting to use xfrmr acc power for these buildings, the Menards are hooked up to a buss powered by an adjustable ac to dc buck converter(as advised by the expert help on this forum) set by multimeter at 4.5vdc. For my taste however, the lighting is too bright on these two buildings(see pic 1), so as an experiment, I decreased the voltage until the brightness suited me. That voltage turns out to be 2.75vdc. They now match the intensity of the WS buildings, both with house lights on and off(pics 2&3). The Menards leds actually went out at around 2.45vdc. You may be perfectly happy with the buildings as is, this just demonstrates an alternative should you want to try it. TW

Pic 1 at 4.75vdc

Pic 2 at 2.75vdc

Pic 3 at 2.75vdc

 

I have looked at dimming my Menards buildings to get them balanced out with the other incandescently lighted buildings.  I took the plunge by installing boards that convert transformer AC to DC and adjusting DC voltage downward from the standard 5 VDC power by the Menards Wall Worts.

I have attached photos of the after.  The photos also show the top 6 positions currently being used.  When adjusting, 1/10th OF 1 VOLT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE.  You can also see that most are now powered in the 2.7 - 3.0 range.

The color of the lighting is still white, but much more bearable.IMG_2685IMG_2686IMG_2689

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bryant,

RE:  " I took the plunge by installing boards that convert transformer AC to DC and adjusting DC voltage downward from the standard 5 VDC power by the Menards Wall Worts "

In your 3rd photo, it looks like you go from 1) transformer to 2) power strip terminals to 3) AC-DC Buck Converter to 4) DC-DC Buck Converter.  Puzzled on benefit of going to the DC-DC Buck Converter right after the AC-DC Buck Converter.  I thought the LM2596 AC-DC Buck converter not only converted auxiliary transformer AC power to DC but also enabled setting DC output in the range of 3.3 to 30 volts DC.   

I can understand using the DC-DC Buck Converter to adjust a Menards DC 4.5 volt wall power supply down to something less than 4.5 volts DC.  But the photo appears to show you taking the AC-DC Buck Converter output and then going directly into the DC-DC Buck Converter.  So,  what's the benefit/use of the DC-DC Buck Converter?

Thx.

Tom

EML posted:

Thanks everyone for all the help. It is great to be able to go to the Forum and have someone who has been there before give their time and remind you where the potholes are located. I greatly appreciate it.

I think that despite the significantly higher price, I will bend the budget and get the ones with the led meters.  It definitely makes a cool display.  

Happy Independence Day.  Enjoy the Fourth.

Manny

 

This is the best place on the internet to learn things about our hobby! I can't begin to list all the things I have learned here.

I like the ones with the LED meters too, as you say it's a neat display and it also adds piece of mind being able to randomly check what's going with the outputs one once in a while.

I am also a big sucker for all these electronic gadgets! I'm not a 'train collector' (just run them), but I could very well qualify as an 'electronic gadget collector'. 

 

I can understand using the DC-DC Buck Converter to adjust a Menards DC 4.5 volt wall power supply down to something less than 4.5 volts DC.  But the photo appears to show you taking the AC-DC Buck Converter output and then going directly into the DC-DC Buck Converter.  So,  what's the benefit/use of the DC-DC Buck Converter?

Thx.

Tom

I was wondering the same thing.  I just put a rectifier in front of the DC-DC converter.  Or you could use the AC-DC adjustable converters and add a digital display on the output side.  Maybe ease of wiring?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/5PCS-...7:gFIAAOSwdsFUMg1i

Brendan

Last edited by Brendan
Brendan posted:
 

I can understand using the DC-DC Buck Converter to adjust a Menards DC 4.5 volt wall power supply down to something less than 4.5 volts DC.  But the photo appears to show you taking the AC-DC Buck Converter output and then going directly into the DC-DC Buck Converter.  So,  what's the benefit/use of the DC-DC Buck Converter?

Thx.

Tom

I was wondering the same thing.  I just put a rectifier in front of the DC-DC converter.  Or you could use the AC-DC adjustable converters and add a digital display on the output side.  Maybe ease of wiring?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/5PCS-...7:gFIAAOSwdsFUMg1i

Brendan

For me it was simple.  Knowing my limited electrical knowledge, I searched this forum.  I saw this, informed it works and executed.  I would not have done it without forum knowledge.  I found a related topic over a year ago.  Printed the picture and kept it in my to do pile.  Finally got to this part.  The purpose of this very searchable topic was to encourage anyone that they could do this easily.  Worth the effort based on the result.  Much more balanced lighting.  Still working up to installing my Terry Christopher signal system.

TedW posted:

Finally implemented Stan’s suggestion and painted the leds on the Menards building with the Tamiya X26 clear orange.  Matched the WS buildings well.  May not be for everybody, just a matter of taste.  The Watkins building is for comparison, I will do those also.

865D7A03-7EED-4A8E-9B87-DC951E8A5F4E

Wow!  That's a dramatic improvement from a $2 bottle of paint!    Sure, you had to perform surgery rather than "just" lower the operating voltage...but I don't think the voltage dimming method alone can mask or equalize the underlying color-temperature differences out-of-the-box.  Thanks for sharing!

Yeah, and your thoughts on the bottle being a lifetime supply is an understatement.    After shaking the bottle there was enough in the cap to do them all and then some.    I’ve painted a bunch of heavyweight pax cars in led upgrades also.  They really look nice that way. IMO

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Last edited by TedW
S-Runner posted:

I can understand using the DC-DC Buck Converter to adjust a Menards DC 4.5 volt wall power supply down to something less than 4.5 volts DC.  But the photo appears to show you taking the AC-DC Buck Converter output and then going directly into the DC-DC Buck Converter.  So,  what's the benefit/use of the DC-DC Buck Converter?

Apparently, to get the desired dimming performance, you have to lower the voltage to 2.7V DC.  Many of the AC-to-DC modules only go down to 3.3V...including the one suggested earlier:

ac to dc converter module

I don't know if that is THE reason 2 converter modules (AC-to-DC followed by a DC-to-DC) were used when perhaps only one (AC-to-DC) is required.  

Separately, while we're only talking about a few dollar difference, note that you can buy a 2-wire DC voltmeter for around a buck.  So you can simply attach this to the output of whatever regulator module that does not have an integral meter.  Note that these operate down to 2.7V which is apparently as low as you need to go for Menards buildings.

digital meter for about a buck 

I realize there is a simplicity benefit to using the AC auxiliary/accessory output voltage that many train transformers provide.  But, in general, any power used by the AC auxiliary transformer output steals from the total available power of the transformer so the mainline track power is compromised.  The point being you can buy ridiculously inexpensive DC power sources such as 12V DC wall-warts for less than 10 cents per Watt.  These could then drive the DC-to-DC regulator modules with integral DC voltmeter readouts for those that want that feature.  And these modules also have screw-terminal inputs and outputs so you don't have to fire up the soldering iron.

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  • ac to dc converter module
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TedW posted:

Yeah, and your thoughts on the bottle being a lifetime supply is an understatement.    After shaking the bottle there was enough in the cap to do them all and then some.

LOL.  Yeah, here's my bottle of X-26 which I've had for at least 30 years!  And the main application was not for color-shifting white LEDs which I don't think were available 30 years ago....but to paint plastic airplane model kits.

IMG_5090

 

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