8a.1 Christmas Lights

One reason I'd love to build a layout set in the winter is Christmas lights (I think I'd have had a field day with the Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad). But since nearly all of my layouts are set in late spring/summer/early fall, I'm kinda out of luck. But sometimes, if one keeps one's eyes peeled, an opportunity for "off-season" Christmas lights might present itself. And Ed's Dirty Dog provided just such an opportunity. Now, although technically this doesn't rank as an "Animation and Special Effects" effect, I wanted to highlight it as something a bit unusual.

Ed's Dirty Dog is a roadside dogs-and-burgers stand, and as I was building it, I thought about how some establishments such as this attract attention. Big neon signs are out-of-budget, but wait... a string of old C9 Christmas lights around the canopy over the ordering window seemed perfect. I happened to have a surfeit of pre-wired 0201 SMD LEDs that were just sitting in a drawer. How about putting some of them to use?

When I cut out the canopy, I determined that there was just enough room for twenty LEDs around the edges, four each of blue, orange, green, red and white. I simply bonded the LEDs to the bottom of the canopy edges (below), allowing myself to be a little haphazard with their placement to reinforce the fact that this is a just string of lights hung with no real precision by some person.

Twenty LEDs meant forty wires, so I arranged them in a flat bundle and ran them through a slot sliced in the wall over the ordering window with a Dremel cutoff disc. Then the wires were reorganized into a round bundle inside the kitchen to pass through a hole drilled in the floor (below).

Beneath the structure is a PC board where each individual LED is connected to a resistor. Then, because LEDs of different colors have different electrical requirements, all of the resistors belonging to a common LED color received an additional resistor selected to equalize the brightness of all colors.

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