27 September 2013

Tutorial: Installing LED Spotlights in a room box

I have had a few inquiries about ceiling spotlights recently and one of my customers has successfully installed them in a modern art gallery shop box to display her miniature paintings so I thought it was the ideal opportunity to do a quick tutorial to show how easy and effective they are!

Firstly, this is the interior of Hazel's finished room box.  She wanted to create a modern art gallery that was well lit with even lighting which would show her paintings to best effect.

I suggested using 3mm high brightness LEDs with clear lens clips which hold the LED in place and also act as a diffuser, spreading the light and making it very even  (Standard round top LEDs normally produce a spotlight effect).

Finished art gallery with LED spotlights
Finished art gallery with LED spotlights
Close up of LED spotlights
Close up of LED spotlights
 Based on her requirements I did a couple of tests with a cardboard box of similar size to her room box and that gave a light spread of about 3 inches per LED meaning they can be spaced at 6 inch centers (150mm) to provide even lighting.
I drew up the plan below in CAD.  It shows the LEDs at 6 inch centers (150mm) and Hazel also wanted three additional LEDs for the shop windows and the front door.

CAD plan for layout of LED spotlights
CAD plan for layout of LED spotlights
For the clear lens clips the best way to install them is to mark out your layout on the exterior of your room or room box and then drill 4.5mm holes at each location.
Depending on your room or box you can either make grooves for the wires using a dremel, or by hand.  You can then secure the LED and wires in place with masking tape over the top or, if you don't want to make grooves you can just stick the wires down with masking tape and cover with your flooring or roof material the same as you would usually do with lighting wires.

The clips are designed for 3mm thick material but this can be worked around by drilling a slightly larger hole (ie 4.5mm) and if necessary, the clips can be glued in position with tacky wax or superglue or similar.  Just a tiny drop in the hole to secure.  I find the clear clips tend to hole pretty firmly though without glue.

Clear lens clips  - installed in a ceiling (demo)
Clear lens clips  - installed in a ceiling (demo)

Once the clear clips are in position you simply push the LED into the clip until you hear a 'click'.  It's best to have one finger on the 'spotlight' so the clip doesn't get pushed out of the hole.

Once you have positioned all the wires you should then have something like this:
External view of room box roof showing LED wiring in grooves
External view of room box roof showing LED wiring in grooves
Once the LEDs and wiring are installed you can connect them up to your power supply.  In this case all the LEDs are powered off a 3 volt, 2 x AAA battery kit.  The 3 LEDs in the shop frontage were powered off a separate 2 x AAA battery kit so the front can be easily removed.  A small connector block was used to connect the LED wires to the battery wires.  It ensures a good connection and makes wiring very simple.  No soldering required.  This makes it a very effective but simple solution and ideal for portability.

This was a very large room box - the Victorian Shop Box kit from the Dolls House Builder which is 23" L x 16" W x 12" H (590 x 400 x 298mm) which is a huge shop!  The entire spotlight kit including 11 pre-wired LEDs, 11 clear lens clips and 2 AAA battery kits only cost £30 so it's a fairly cost effective solution.

The LEDs were wired with the white wire found in all dolls house lighting which has the advantage of being flat and so very neat to hide but it is slightly more expensive than the standard red & black wire I can also supply.

Other clip options include black ring clips or brass or nickel metal 3mm eyelets.  Top row shows each clip with a 3mm LED installed.  Lower row is the clips on their own.
Spotlight clip options
Spotlight clip options

If you'd like to read more about the creation of Hazel's Art Gallery with lots of finished photos including the shop frontage, click on the link: Hazel Rayfields Art in Wax Blog.

I'd like to thank Hazel for allowing me to use the photos of her finished art gallery.

I hope it's a useful tutorial and perhaps inspires you to try something similar.



If you would like to try your own spotlight ceiling you can purchase a ceiling kit here:
Ceiling Spotlight Kits

There are three options to suit different sizes of project or room.

This tutorial is for personal use only and must not be made for sale or commercial purposes.  All text and photos copyright of JS Miniatures.

20 September 2013

The dreaded 'T' word...

Yep, Tiding, also associated strongly with 'cleaning' and something not many of us are too keen on.

It's one of those rare things where it always seems to get much worse before it gets better.

Having gained the office as my workspace as mentioned in my post last week "A space of my own"  I have been gradually moving all my supplies and materials into the office in a bid to avoid the current situation where there's stuff everywhere!

I still have a long way to go but I made a start yesterday on my LED supplies.  I was looking for storage options and came across "Really Useful Boxes" and it turns out, they are really useful!

I bought a 5L XL organiser pack which came with a 5L XL box with lid and inside was 6 x 0.2L boxes and 3 x 0.3L boxes in their own compartment tray which can be used on it's own or stored inside the 5L XL box.  Nifty!

I chose the 5L XL box as it was perfect in size for my various packs of LEDs and resistors so I made some colour coded dividers and put them all in the one box.  Much easier than sorting through various bags and keeps them all together.

5L XL box for LED storage
LED storage
I used the other smaller boxes for other bits and bobs such as batteries, wire and switches.

I have another larger compartment tray with 16 x 0.3L boxes and plan to use those for some of my other dolls house miniature supplies such as clay, beads, etc etc.

I'm saving that for another day.....

13 September 2013

Resistance is Futile!

Do you ever see a new miniature on a website or Facebook and think "I've got to buy that!"?  You then wrestle with your head v's heart asking questions such as...
1) What will I use it for?
2) What will (insert name of significant other) say when they find out?
3) What about all my other unfinished projects?
4) But it's only (insert cost)...

Your finger hovers over the "buy" button, perhaps even adding it to the cart and then changing your mind as you continue your silent dilemma.  You leave it for a while and find yourself going back for another look, maybe you even see another post about it on Facebook or Twitter teasing you while you try to make up your mind.

But we all know what happens in the end... don't we?!

You decide (insert name of significant other) won't mind once they see how amazing it is, how wonderful all the little tiny details are.  The question of "HOW MUCH??!" won't even be uttered.  You see the finished piece in your dolls house or miniature scene and you just have to have it.  There's probably even a few other things you add to the cart as it saves on postage right?  It's not that much money really....

.....So, what did I buy?

Well, it was only a small purchase..... it all started when I saw a post on Facebook by Miniatura Show showing the new kit available from Jane Harrop for Miniatura in a couple of weeks time.  I didn't think it would be available for sale yet but I went to her site and there it was, on the home page, calling to me....

Jane Harrop 1/48th Beach Hut Kit
1/48th Scale Beach Hut Kit by Jane Harrop

I almost bought it instantly... but then the questions started and I hesitated. The next day, there it was again and by that time it had evolved into a seaside scene in my mind and I couldn't resist.
I have a new found love of the smaller scales.  They are a bit fiddly but you can finish your purchase in a few hours or at most a weekend or two, so the satisfaction of completion is a great reward and they're relatively cheap by 1/12th scale standards.

Now all I have to do is find time to make it....

Like I said....

.....Resistance is Futile!

1/48th scale Beach Hut by Jane Harrop

10 September 2013

A space of my own...

A couple of years ago we turned our box room into an office come storeroom and up until now it's been used by my fiancĂ© as his office while he's been working from home.  That has meant that I've been using various parts of the rest of the house for my JS Miniatures tools and materials, but mostly the dining room table has been my workspace.  Obviously this isn't ideal as I have stuff everywhere in various cupboards or lying about.  I'm sure there are a few of you who know exactly what I'm talking about!

With plans to redecorate the living/dining room this year we have swapped rooms so I have the office as my workroom. Finally I have a space I can call my own and it's pretty ideal.  A nice big window, plenty of natural light and ventilation and storage space for all my supplies.
I'm sure it'll help me be more organised too.

So hear it is:
My workspace
My workspace
Pretty tidy at the moment - the tricky part is keeping it that way!

*cough* ok, so the photo was taken before I started working in it and I confess, it's already not as tidy... but I'm trying... honest! :)