Ditch Lights, A How To!

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by COMBAT, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. COMBAT

    COMBAT Member

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    I recently did a new install of a decoder and working ditch lights in a HO Kato SD 70 MAC. The way I first did it was all wrong. I used black electrical tape and large 12-14 volt bulbs that were available at Radio Shack. I didn’t want to have to deal with resistors and the like so I felt it would be easier to do it that way.

    So I set off doing my install and I saw that one bulb for this Kato powered the lights for the number boards and the top part for the headlights as well as the ditch lights. Kato used two light bars that allows the light from one source to travel through it much like fiber optics do. It works great for that type of application but if you want working ditch lights that flash that simply wont work.

    I had to modify the light bars when I did the first install. I cut it off back where they travel under the front porch of the engine and then taped the two lights bulbs together with a piece of tape in between them so when one light flashed it would not flow over into the other ditch light at the same time.
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    As you can see the way it is done is crap at best and over time would have mostly not worked correctly. I went to :thumb: http://litchfieldstation.com/lobby/u_university.htm:thumb: for some help with one of my other engines and I talked to Bruce while I was there about this install. I was told how the black electrical tape was a bad idea especially in a locomotive where there will be heat and dirt and well lets just say the tape could ruin the engine. That was enough for me to rip all of that stuff out!
    I got some LED’s, some resistors, some insulating stuff and some tape. I also got some free advice on how to do it.
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    Now this may not be the correct way to hook it up to YOUR DCC chip you have chosen so I wont go into that to much just due to the fact every manufacture out there does it different. My chip had me wire the lights directly to the available ports on the chip. You MUST be careful to not allow the solder to cross over to the other terminals as it will fry your chip if you do this and power it up. In the above picture you can see how I did mine.:D

    For the front of the engine I ripped the old lights out as well as the light bar. In this picture you can see it disassembled.
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    To remove the porch I used a small screw driver and gently pried it up. You can see the railing was taken off by pulling it up gently too. The small screw driver also aided in this removal. The next two items you see there are the lights bars. I removed them carefully by pulling them out. NONE OF THESE ITEMS WERE GLUED IN. THEY ONLY FIT SNUGLY TOGETHER.
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    After removing the light bar I then soldiered my resistors in line with my wires going to the DCC chip as well as the LED's to the resistors.. I then wrapped the insulating tube over the wires, resistors and parts of the LED's leads to make sure there wouldn’t be a short in the engine from it touching something.


    I then ran my LED’s into the channels where the old light bars had been. I reinstalled the porch and left the LED’s stick through the opening for the lights.

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    I then put the railing back on the engine and I also taped the LED wires down with some special tape (not pictured), sorry cant remember the name, to the floor of the platform:oops: . This kept the wires in place when I reinstalled the light housing over the LED’s.

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    I then tested the engine before putting the shell back on and it worked great. Here is a shot of the engine with the lights on.

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    The LED’s do not produce any heat so I don’t have to worry about them melting anything. They also are said to last 10,000 burn hours each. :D

    Lastly I know the colors of the lights from the top to the ditch lights aren’t the same and I know they may be a little to bright for the scale but I LOVE the result. Since its my railroad I think that’s all that matters.
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    If anyone asks me I will tell them that BNSF is testing the new Xenon lights you see in todays cars. Kind of like this. :D
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    I cant really go into the programming of the ditch lights in your chip simply because manufactures all seem to do it different. You will have to read the manual, and follow the instructions. I know instructions are for others but hey, that’s how I got mine to work. Good luck! :D

    Here are a few more pictures to show the end result. Have fun and enjoy them. I am sure I am going to enjoy this engine. :D

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  2. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

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    You my friend are my hero :). I was wodnering about this. I think i will probably have to do this for the atlas engine w/ ditch lights as well. What type of led's did you buy?
  3. COMBAT

    COMBAT Member

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    Don't use this application for the Atlas! It already has it set up for them. When you get the shell off you will see how easy it is to install even sound in the Atlas Loco! ATLAS IS MY HERO! LOL :)

    Glad this helped you out. This is more of a guide then anything else since every engine is a little different. :)

    The led's, uhh well uhhh I dont know he gave them to me to use. They are cheap like a buck each I think. Sorry it doesnt say on the bag. :(

    You could get them from Licthfield station. Bruce is a great help and knows what hes talking about too!
  4. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

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    Can you tell me how to get the shell off?? hahaha

  5. COMBAT

    COMBAT Member

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    Take the coupler boxes off. There are 4 little tabs that hold it on, on each side of the shell. Two towards the front, two towards the rear. Use your SMALL screw driver and pop them off by pushing them in and pulling up on the shell. If you look at your exploded view that came in the box it will show you where the tabs are.

    Good luck! :)
  6. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

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    That is so COOL and really looks AWESOME. I want to do that now when I get mine from you lol :D

    AWESOME job, I love how they flash.:thumb: :thumb: :thumb: