Loco headlights: Bulb -vs- LED

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IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Hi all,

I'm trying to find the optimum solution to get bright, trouble-free headlights (both directions) in my decoder-equipped locos.

I've always preferred 12volt grain o'wheat bulbs, because (1) they are the correct color of prototype lights and (2) they are easy to wire-in. OTOH, they generate heat and for that reason, they sometimes melt the plastic of the shell. They've also been known to burn-out after only an hour or two of use (contrary to the mfgr's claims).

LED's last longer and produce much less heat, but problems include (1) incorrect color [bluish-white or orange] and (2) I have to find and purchase a resistor to wire in series with it to protect it, but I don't know where to find them or even what they look like. And, IIRC, one of my decoder install manuals even said I should never use LEDs with their decoder.

Does anybody sell LEDs for model railroad applications that come with their own resistor, and emit a bright yellowish-white glow?
 

NickB

Wannabe Engineer
Ken you may look at some of your automotive stores, I use to work at an Autozone and they had leds with resistors and wires setup to hook up to automobiles. All you would have to do is trim back some of the wires.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Go with LED's. They last forever.

Resisters are 4/$1.50 at radio shack. Get 1Ks.

You can get the right color if you look. The standard whites look like quartz halogen lights. There are LEDs with the more yellow tint. I just can't recall what they are called right now.
 

NickB

Wannabe Engineer
You don't need 1k actually, Say you have 12 volt source your led requires 3.6 the voltage to drop is then is 12-3.6 = 8.4 volts to drop divide that by operating current of the led at 20 mA or .o2 so 8.4/.02 is 420 ohms resistor or whatever is closest. You can actually get leds on some websites sampled for free as well i.e. Vishay.com just have to look around.
 

NickB

Wannabe Engineer
Side note always round up say they don't have a 420 ohm resistor go to like a 470 ohm. Always better to get one that is little larger than smaller. You don't need to let the "magic smoke" out as one of my Profs. would say.
 

kjd

Go make something!
Miniatronics has them with resistors. It has been so long since I ordered any I can't remember how many or how much a package. In my opinion, the ones that look the best are the most expensive and hardest to install but that is the 2x3mm surface mount ones from n-gineering at:
http://www.ngineering.com/lightng.htm
 

rockislandfan

New Member
Hi all,

I'm trying to find the optimum solution to get bright, trouble-free headlights (both directions) in my decoder-equipped locos.

I've always preferred 12volt grain o'wheat bulbs, because (1) they are the correct color of prototype lights and (2) they are easy to wire-in. OTOH, they generate heat and for that reason, they sometimes melt the plastic of the shell. They've also been known to burn-out after only an hour or two of use (contrary to the mfgr's claims).

LED's last longer and produce much less heat, but problems include (1) incorrect color [bluish-white or orange] and (2) I have to find and purchase a resistor to wire in series with it to protect it, but I don't know where to find them or even what they look like. And, IIRC, one of my decoder install manuals even said I should never use LEDs with their decoder.

Does anybody sell LEDs for model railroad applications that come with their own resistor, and emit a bright yellowish-white glow?
These 3mm "Yeloglo White" LED's come in five or ten packs and each LED comes with two resistors, one for 4-9 volts 270 ohm resistor and 10-16 volts 470 ohm resistor. They also sell 5mm Yeloglo White but the 3mm fits most HO diesels. A teriffic light. :)

http://www.miniatronics.com/Merchan...Code=12-310-05&Category_Code=&Product_Count=0

I removed the original 12/14 volt bulb from these two Atlas GP-40 units ( first on market using the 340 decoder ) and installed the 3mm "Yeloglo White" ( prefect fit ). The Atlas RS-1 is a factory LED which is amber colored instead of clear ( when not lighted ) like the GP-40. Not the greatest pics but you'll get the general Idea. Now days bulbs for Model Railroading are getting distinct very fast.

RIVRR53.png


LEDsonAtlas2.png


RS1.png


"Tony's Train Xchange" 1-800-978-3472 is probably the best place to order from, in my opinion anyway. :)
 
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IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
... In my opinion, the ones that look the best are the most expensive and hardest to install . . .
Ain't it the truth...! :D :D

These 3mm "Yellow Glow" LED's come in five or ten packs and each LED comes with two resistors, one for 4-9 volts 270 ohm resistor and 4-16 volts 470 ohm resistor. They also sell 5mm Yellow-Glows but the 3mm fits most HO diesels. A teriffic light. :)

"Tony's Train Xchange" 1-800-978-3472 is probably the best place to order from, in my opinion anyway. :)
Yeah, I've pretty much decided to go that route (Minitronics YelloGlo thru TonysTrainExchange). Thanx for sharing the pix, nice work!

My main goal is to substitute 3mm LED's in the places where I'm currently using grain-of-wheat bulbs, especially where damage may occur - such as the cab roof of my SW's and my Alco switchers.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

rockislandfan

New Member
I apologize for spelling Yeloglo White ( edited above post ) as Yellow Glow :eek: , thats what I get for useing my memory ( About four Gigs short :) ) instead of looking at the package. It has been 4 years since I installed those in the GP-40's and they are still burning bright. Don't bother with them anymore though as the rest of my six locos all have factory LED's.
 




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