Friday, July 19, 2013

‘Fluorescent’ lighting for the Elgin

[The roof fit needs a little tuning]
I’ve been fiddling with the Elgin build this week while I’ve been waiting for the new drill bits and fibre optics for the Mel’s Drive-in project to arrive in the mail. Also, it’s been gosh darn hot – well, hot for here – with daytime temperatures in the low 30s and humidex in the low 40s, some evening model building in the cool of the basement goes down rather well these days.
[Compared to the WSMoftheWBB the Elgin is pretty small]
When I started the project I didn’t plan to put lights in, just clean it up a bit, but while rummaging through my left over optical fibres trying to figure out what I’d need for Mel’s, it dawned on me that some simulated fluorescent lighting by way of side illuminating optical fibre might look alright in this little building. It looked like it was going to be relatively easy to install, and I had enough parts left over from other projects so I didn’t have to buy anything new; I decided to give it a go. 
The lights are made from 3mm diameter side illuminating optical fibre. The 'fixture' part of the light is simply a U-section styrene tube.
Surprisingly, it isn't easy to find a glue that will bond the optical fibre to the styrene fixture. Eventually, I found that this Hercules double-sided tape did the trick. 
Here's an end view of the fibre. I painted the end that dead-ends against the glass wall frame with silver coloured paint.
Here's the lights after installation. What got me started thinking about this sort of lighting were some recesses in the short glass wall. The assembled lights fit neatly into them.
I bought a couple of these LED closet lights at the dollar store down at the mall when I was trying to figure out how to light up the fibres in the WSMoftheWBB build. They didn't get used on that project, but one of them was useful on this one. Note to self, even though it's called a 'dollar' store, these things cost $2.
This is what it looks like after the cover and reflectors were pried off. The optical fibres aren't too flexible, so I cut those yellow power wires from the batteries and soldered in some longer pieces so I could get the LEDs close to the fibres without too much undue fibre bending. I also cut out the on-off switch from the circuit board to replace it with a slide switch that could be more conveniently placed in the structure.
Here's the light after the re-wiring. As you can see I also cut off the outer housing to allow the unit to fit into the building better.
A piece of sheet styrene was glued to the bottom of the light unit so I could insert it securely between the walls of the secondary structure. 
A hole had to be cut in the sheet in order to replace the batteries at some future date.
So, here's the lighting unit installed in the secondary structure. The on-off switch was taped to the floor in a convenient location.
The optical fibres were trimmed and attached to the LEDs with heat shrink tubes. A hair dryer was used to shrink the tubes.
There was an interior garage door between the main showroom and the secondary structure. I cut it out and replaced it with a photo of a room printed on standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper. The third LED, and the residual light from the optical fibres, backlights the paper and helps reinforce the illusion of a detailed room in the secondary structure.

I still need to add some signs and details, but I'm going to park this one for awhile and work on Mel's.

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