Wednesday, 27 June 2012

In the spotlight

I can't seem to catch up these days. The European Championship is over for England so at least I can concentrate on non footbally things. Yes, I am a football nerd. Yes, I do scream at the TV in the faint hope that the footballers hear me and yes, like most fans, I think I know better than the referee ha-ha!
Congratulations to the Italian team who pretty much played us off the field.

It seemed ages ago, well probably was ages ago that I promised Hannah W a clearer tutorial on how to install your own LED spotlights from scratch. So this is how I do it


There is a tutorial HERE , which shows a step-by-step guide to soldering wires onto led's. Please don't feel overwhelmed buy the technicalities of dollhouse wiring. In simple terms, power supplied through a 12 volt adapter plug (unless you have an older dollhouse that runs on a lower voltage), runs in a big circle (circuit) through every lamp you have installed. The power needs a conductive material to travel so dollhouse builders use either copper tape or insulated copper wire. With both methods, you have either two strips of copper tape or two wires...one positive, one negative. All the 12 volt adapter does is reduce the amount of power coming in from your full scale house socket into your mini house. If you pass a 12 volt supply over an LED lamp with a much lower rated voltage and without a resistor, the bulb tends to burn extremely bright for an extremely short time and then dies. Not good =0(
So, any lamps you buy to install into your dollhouse wiring...whether they are


Incandescent


                                or LED






make sure they are suitable for the power supplied to your miniature house.

The first thing you need to decide is where you want them. This is best done before you have glued any walls or floors into place but whilst your dollhouse is dry-fit (in other words, put together without glue). Once everything is glued into place it is very difficult to alter. Try to imagine what areas you would like to light. Maybe you are going to have a galley kitchen and want to run lights along either side to illuminate the work surface...or maybe a pub that requires light above the bar area. Once you have decided, you could sketch out a plan so that you can visualize where everything needs to be.

For the most part, lights are installed onto the floor of a room and the lights hang down into the room below. You can install them into the ceiling side of a room, but this is slightly harder to do because the wiring and lights need to be suspended in a way that prevent them from dropping down. I did the 'ceiling side' method recently in a shop I am building but purely because I needed to keep the floor surface as flat as possible. If you intend to put down floor boards or carpet, then you don't need to worry. The flooring will cover the wiring or copper tape used to power the lights. For this tutorial I'm going to run wires along the floor of the room above, to illuminate the room below. Make sense?

 Whilst the building is dry-fit, use a pencil to mark the area of the ceiling by drawing where the walls and the ceiling meet. Take into consideration any coving that you intend to put into the room because that will reduce the ceiling area. You can put the lights pretty much anywhere you like. In the template below, I've measured a ceiling area and split it into equal parts so there is equal amounts of light for the room.


 I guess 6-9 white led's are sufficient to illuminate a 12 x 12 inch room. You may want more or less depending on your own taste, what you're building and the size of the room.

Just a side note on LED colour ~ warm white gives off a creamy coloured light akin to regular household bulbs. Bright or Ultra bright white LED's have a blueish tinge to them which seem more appropriate to modern businesses or showrooms. Your choice =0)

If you buy LED's pre-wired, make sure they're small enough to fit into the thickness of your floor.
The picture below shows a pre-wired LED that has a resistor soldered close to the lens. This means you would need at least a 25mm thick floor to put it into.





The next picture shows a pre-wired 'Can' LED's specific for scale buildings from Novalyte. As yet, I haven't seen anything similar in the UK but I'm sure in around twenty or so years, we'll catch up.



Okay, so for this tutorial I have a piece of scrap mdf which will act as my ceiling/floor. I'm going to install three bright white 3mm led's which are rated at 3 volts each. Now the 3mm LED description is a bit misleading. The 3mm refers to the width of the lens and not the overall width. Measure whatever light you have because you need to drill a hole big enough to accept the whole LED. I've measured mine at just under 5mm so I'm going to use a 6mm drill bit to give it a little leeway. Drill a hole vertically at each point where you want your light to be.



Between each light and to an exit point you need to cut a channel into which the wiring can hide. This is so the wires don't sit above the floor and cause a big lump under the carpets or flooring. The exit point I mentioned is the place where the wires lead, (normally), to the exterior of your dollhouse and connect to a power supply. Most people run the wires through the back of the house so they are least visible.
To cut the channel for your wiring, you could use either a Dremmel/rotary tool, Stanley knife, chisel or similar. You can cut separate channels for each light or, as I have done, make the channel wide enough for three sets of wires.


If you've followed my How to wire an LED tutorial or managed to buy some miniature 'Can' lights you will have three...or however many lights you want to install, wired and ready to go. I've mentioned before that LED's can dissipate a lot of heat from the back, where the wires are soldered on. As long as you use heatshrink or some sort of insulating material to cover any bare wires, the heat will not affect the wood of your dollhouse. Heatshrink is basically an insulating, plastic tube that shrinks when heat is applied to it. I've used 1mm heatshrink to cover the connection on each individual wire and then 5mm heatshrink to cover both wires snug up to the base of the LED lens.


Put each LED into a hole and carefully place the wiring into the channels and out to the exit point. The wires can be held in place with a dot of super glue or a small piece of double sided sticky tape.


The wires leading out of the exit point need to be connected to your dollhouse power supply.

The rest is basically decoration. You can now lay a floor over the wiring without any of it showing. The ceiling side can be painted or papered. To finish off the 'spotlights' I've glued three eyelet's into place to mimic a chrome light fitting, but you can use all sorts of things.



This is what the ceiling looks like...painted and with the power on,








These are the spot lights I installed into a miniature building.





Hope this helped Hannah.

Later
Pepper =0)




44 comments:

  1. This is really great. I've only done tape wire, but I've wanted to try round wire. I wasn't sure about the differences. Very well done with great pictures. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks PeanutPepin81. Many people prefer the copper tape because it is much easier to add to than digging wires out of a house. =0)

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  2. Great effect!!! Congratulations for your work and blog! I am used to round wire, I think this is (also) very nice for modern shops or room boxes! thanks

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  3. Very informative! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I think that this post will be extremely useful in the future!! thanks for all teh info and advice ;o)

    Andy x

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  5. Shees!! Do you remember in your first blog when you said "I don't want to teach anyone to suck eggs- I hope you take (or leave) what you want from" the lessons? (What? I study :)). Well, you are a girl genius, there is nothing I want to leave behind! This tutorial is great, as they all are! Thank you Pepper (Einstein)!

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    1. Genius? Man, you're making me blush.

      thanks you for the lovely words Neen =0)

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  6. Wonderful tutorial!!!! I am now ready to do some wiring!

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    1. Go for it sweets. You've got the mad skills to do anything =0)

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  7. This is a fabulous tutorial, easy to follow and full of good info and advice. I'm bookmarking it!

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    1. Thanks Norma. I'm happy if it helps anyone =0)

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  8. Gracias por el tutorial, el resultado es fantástico.
    Un abrazo
    GRACIAS por no tener palabra de verificación

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  9. Thanks for this useful tutorial.
    Bye Faby

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  10. Thank you so much for this tutorial Pepper! I will be starting on my lighting project soon. Your lights look great! :D

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    1. Oo, new project. Look forward to seeing it =0)

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  11. Great post. I have been wanting to try a project with LED's and this is a great tutorial. Thank you -Troy

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    1. Thanks Troy. Hope you have fun with your future LED project =0)

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  12. Questo tutorial è davvero utile...mi affascina davvero tanto poter illuminare le mie opere ma non so proprio da dove iniziare....ma i led sono davvero molto belli da vedere...penso che mi verrà utile questo tuo tutorial in futuro...
    grazie
    Angelina

    PS mi spiace per l'Inghilterra (io avrei scommesso sulla sua vittoria, anche se sono italiana) ma da quella partita la nostra Nazionale è stupefacente, ed ora siamo in finale...non ci credo ancora....

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    1. Ciao Angelina, spero che tu abbia un andare con una certa illuminazione. Troverete più facile di quanto si pensi.

      Ero molto felice di vedere l'Italia in finale. Hanno giocato molto bene. Molto meglio di Inghilterra * sigh *

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  13. Fantastic post with plenty of detail, a great place to refer back to in the future.

    Fi x

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  14. Like always a very useful tutorial. Thanks so much Pepper.
    I have a present for you in my blog. Hugs

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    1. Thank you Maragverdugo. You're very kind =0)

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  15. Witaj, pięknie wykonane oświetlenie jestem pod ogromnym wrażeniem,rewelacja!!! :) Pozdrawiam MILI-POLAND

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    1. Dziękuję za miłe komentarze, Mili =0)

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  16. You make it look so easy! Someday I will attempt and see if it really is, but for now I'm still intimidated. :D

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    1. Intimidated? You? pish!

      Your scenes look pretty amazing without lighting =0)

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  17. WOW!!! This is an amazing tutorial! Thanks for doing one in lighting! I can't wait to get started now! Lucky I bought myself a router a few weeks ago (long story made short= I'm an art student) XP
    Hanxxx.

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    1. Hey Hannah, I was an art student many, many, many years ago *tries not to think about how long ago it was*

      Have fun with your router. Cool tools yay!

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  18. Thanks for your superb work in this tutorial (like all the others). All I can say is: you are a splendid architect whose medium is 12th scale. We are so lucky to have you here in the blogosphere!

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    1. Hi Studioseven. Thank you for such a lovely comment =0)

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  19. OMG I love you, I don't know anything about lights and your tutorial is great for a beginer like me thank you so much!

    Love
    Marisa

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    1. Thanks Steinworks, I hope it's helpful. Mini love right back atcha =0)

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  20. Doing a happy dance! So clearly explained. Thanks!

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  21. your work is astoundinly perfect!! just wonderful, so glad I have found your blog.
    Best wishes
    Gill xx

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    1. Thank you so much Gill. You do some pretty amazing work yourself. =0)

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  22. Thanks again for this great post! I'm working on my LED lights now. I could not have even started without your tutorial!

    Come see what I've done so far. :D
    Blessings,
    Kathi

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  23. You can get inexpensive led pre-wired 12v lights from http://www.modeltrainsoftware.com/ledlights1.html. the best I have found on the market and I get them from U.S. to Switzerland usually within a week. Nice people, too, when it comes to answering questions...

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