Tuesday, September 8, 2015

LED Marker lights for the Austrains 36 and Trainorama 32

Its taken a bit longer than anticipated to get this post ready, partially because of a couple of issues I had (which I've detailed later in this post), I hope its of some benefit to other modelers.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, whilst I've been mainly mucking around with the Southern Aurora, I've taken the opportunity to briefly do some other modelling, in this case making working White & Red marker lights for the Trainorama 32 and the Austrains 36, it been a relatively quick, mainly fun but occasionally frustrating project, the longest part of this little project has actually been waiting for some bits to turn up, and then lately finalising the Southern Aurora also got in the way.

I originally purchased some red & white markers that where nothing more than a red & white 0603 (I think) glued back to back, and the corresponding wires soldered to them, they where not that cheap & I unfortunately ended up blowing a couple of them as I was mucking around with the 32. When I went looking for replacements I thought that there had to be something better & I came across this web sites (Link to LEDs) - if the link does not work try cutting & pasting the following "http://www.led1.de/shop/lng/en/led-smd/smd-led-series-0603/duo-led-smd-0603-red/white-wemrw01-c2m.html" which has what appears to be two LED dies (not sure if that the right terminology) in a package about the size of an 0606 LED (I've also since starting this post seen similar LEDs on eBay,eg: SMD eBay LEDs), these LEDs are pre-wired, but be careful how they are wired (see Ray P's Bylong Blog for details - Bylong LED Blog). You can see the SMD LEDs in the following photo where they have been glued to the front of the Austrains existing front marker lights (which have had the front of them shaved/trimmed off) - I've also got them on the Traino 32 and a DJH 30T I'm currently working on.

By the time they are painted they look the part.

 And they don't appear as harsh as the photos show.

A minor issue is that the red light emits from top right & the white light emits from the bottom left, but this is not really a problem because I  make a lens for the marker light by placing a small dab of white glue in the centre of the Led which when it dries leaves a dimple of glue, this is quite visible in the side on photo of the Traino 32 markers treated in this way

I then paint the marker light black leaving the 'dimple' unpainted which makes it look like a lens with the light comes out of the centre of the 'marker' - its also ended up being pretty good for size

There is also a warm white/red combo which would probably have been better, but again I don't think that's a problem as I'm pretty sure a touch of clear orange on the lens (or maybe a smear of black texta will tone them down some, or maybe a higher value resistor to cut down the light emitted). Unfortunately I ended up blowing a couple of the TCS WOW decoders which TCS replaced. no questions asked, more on this later.

With both these models I've had to run some extra wiring between the tender and loco, to help with this I've used a TCS 4 pin minature plug which I bought from MRC @ Blacktown, the plugs are delicate but work well.

As a side issue I've also placed a 'Sugar Cube' speaker inside the boiler of the Traino 32 - that's had its own issues, I initially made a single PCB board from some spare circuit board I had,  I cut the copper to make individual pads, used a meter to make sure that there was no short and then soldered the LED & speaker wires to their individual pads, I'm not sure why but I had to separate the PCB that I was using to distribute the power to the LEDs & speaker into 2 separate boards, for some reason I was getting some sort of feedback which resulted in power getting to the LEDs causing them to glow dimly & eventually ended up incapacitating them, they didn't smoke or blow, they just stopped working. By separating the PCBs into one for the LEDs & a separate PCB for the Speakers all was good & yes I ran a meter between the tracks/traces & it showed no resistance yet there still seemed to be power getting thru, anyways, it all works OK now & that's all that really matters.

Speaking of Sugar Cube speaker, they are most definitely not all created equal. I was fortunate enough for Marcus Ammann to bring his sound 45 for a demo at a meeting a little while ago, Marcus has 2 'sugar cube speakers' setup in the loco selectable via a slide switch, one was a 'Streamlined Back Shop' speaker -( SBS sugarcubespeakers)  & the other was an eBay special & the difference was like chalk & cheese with the eBay special sounding very tinny & the SBS one sound very good to me. I must've got lucky with the eBay 'specials' I bought a while ago as they sound comparable to the SBS speakers which have a very good reputation, they cost about $2.00 each as a 10 pack with free postage, from memory they where marked as a NOKIA speaker/buzzer, but I'm not sure if they are still available, but there is a speaker made by Knowles which also have a good sound & are available from Digi key, unfortunately they are a bit dearer and postage from the States is not the cheapest. The 32 originally had 2 of these Nokia speakers in the tender and a third in the smokebox, after hearing Marcus's demo I decided to experiment by bypassing the speakers in the tender & realized I got a nice sound with just the one speaker in the smokebox & so promptly removed the speakers from the tender - good thing is that gives me 2 more speakers that I would otherwise not have had.

I also have to give a great big thumbs up to TCS DCC, as I mentioned I ended up blowing a couple of LEDs & also a couple of WOW sound decoders (Version 1), I emailed TCS & they said send them back & they will replace them, no questions asked, and they did, with the WOW v.3, can't complain about that,  it's been a real pleasure to deal with them, and their techo , Dave, is a great guy to work with, they certainly have my business and am looking forward to getting a few of their new Diesel decoders.


  1. Alex

    Nice idea trimming the fronts of the markers, I will have to try it one day after I rewire the red/warm white 0605 LEDs of course.

    Ray P

  2. Thanks Ray, pretty easy to do, sure it won't be a problem for you,
    BTW - I ordered some of your sheep & shapeways advise they have just been despatched.