Seeing an illuminated model passenger train at night is a magical experience. Installing lights makes the trains seem more alive and presents a project within the building and operating of a layout.
There are many, many ways to illuminate passenger coaches. Some methods are more expensive than others, some are easier to install than others and one can find advantages and disadvantages of every approach.
Each approach is a combination of a number of factors:
- Lighting technology: Incandescent/LED
- Battery or track power
- One, or multiple, power pickup shoes for the train
- Full rectification of half wave rectification
- Approach used for anti-flicker
- Permanently coupled rakes or current conducting couplers
- Off-the-shelf solution or DIY
- Unless one is aiming for a classic toy era style, LED lighting is clearly a no-brainer.
- The high costs of current conducting couplers rules them out for me
- Multiple pickup shoes create too much drag on long trains (and they are not cheap either)
- LED utilizing cheap 12V LED strips.
- Track power to be used
- Single power pickup shoe per train
- Permanently wired conductors run the length of the train
- Full rectification of digital track power
- Capacitor for anti-flicker
- Inrush current limiting
- DC-DC converter used to set brightness
- Twin wires run along the length of the train to each coach