Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Beginning Track

Might sound trivial, but to me it was a milestone.  I began laying track Monday Night.  Only fitted 2 180 degree turns on the middle peninsula, and one 90 degree from Golden to the entrance to the middle peninsula.

Took over 90 minutes but was using a sweepstik from Fast Tracks to ensure perfectly even curves.  Soldered the 2 pieces of flex track in the middle before shaping to ensure smooth, even curve.  Next step is to pin these down and begin connecting with flex-track and switches.  Then a test run and a final determination on roadbed.  Either mounting directly to blackboad, Luan, or Homabed (precut Homasote).

Had so many track issues on previous layout I'm focusing 100% on reliable track first.

Also began on lighting.  Here are the options I'm had recommended to me and am testing, all based on lighting deck 1 & 2 with a total run of 200', deck 3 lighting will be a different solution):
  • T-5 3' double bulbs, plenty of light, but a over $20 each and rapid light fall off on ends it seems to be too costly.  Also middle peninsula is too short between decks.  At $6 per foot lighting it would be over $1200.
  • Individual lights every 2 feet - option 1 making using 14 awg wire and plastic ceiling sockets (1.35 at Lowes).  depending on bulbs the cost would be $50 for wire, $135 for ceiling sockets, and bulbs 100 - 200 depending on type up to 500 for dim-able.  Total cost $285 - 685 or about 1.50 to 3.50 per foot.  This has major advantage of being dim-able if the more costly option chosen.  Option is shallow enough to fit most if not all spaces.  Looked at candle base but could not find inexpensive sockets and bulbs cost more.
  • Individual lights every 2 feet - option2 using pre-wired commercial strings from PartyLight.com.  Cost is $179 for wiring and would require 2 sets.  Bulbs as above in option 1.  Cost $460 - 860 with per foot cost $2.30 - 4.30.  As above this option is dim-able with the proper bulbs.
  • Above options using incandescent bulbs.  Cost similar to low end of 1.50 per ft and are dim-able.  Issue is power usage, lifespan, and heat.  Using a mix with over time replacement of incandescent bulbs mght be the way to go to start at a lower cost and over time over to dim-able cfl's.
  • Rope lights - my friend Keevan has a neat implementation of these with white, amber, blue (for night) and red (for sunset).  Lumens is my main concern there, will be investigation this one more with actual testing.  Rope lights are inexpensive at around $2.00 per foot, so total cost per strand for led.  I believe these should dim by using a variable transformer.
  • LED Strip lights - these are available in many colors and are similar to the LED rope lights.  Supplier on e-bay has for roughly $10 per 15' (5 meters).  Should be dim-able using variable transformer.  Total cost $140.00 per strand, or $.60 per foot.  Cost of transformer also needs to be factored in.  As with rope lights, will have to experiment as light output (lumen) could be too dim requiring multiple strands.
So as you can see, a lot of trial and error as I go.  Right now hoping LED's work out, if not I will likely go to either making my own with ceiling mounts and using CFL or mixed CFL and incandescent bulbs.

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