One of the great things about the last few months has been sunny weather, and the chance to build outside during the day, rather than just inside at night (Quick reminder for northern hemisphere readers, it is summer here, and holidays finished only a couple of weeks ago). What became apparent is that when building under sunlight, the trans fluoro reddish orange elements (also called Trans Neon Orange on bricklink) tend to become brighter in the sunlight, with an eerie glow. This was not obvious when working under an incandescent lamp at midnight. It turns out that these transparent fluorescent colours are, intact, fluorescing.
Last week I wrote about revisiting an imaginary childhood with a classic space set that I never owned, the One Man Spaceship 918. While it has brought me great joy, I have had the feeling that it is missing something. Lighting.
While I have written about simple lighting solutions previously, this is likely to need something more complicated. My vision is to provide lighting in the cabin, put running lights under the transparent plates on the thrusters and have lights on the wing tips flashing intermittently.
Over recent years, there have been a number of lighting solutions come onto the market. These feature a microprocessor controller chip, with connections for multiple LEDs. LEDs may be powered by an onboard coin cell or external penlight style AA or AAA batteries. The board itself might be enclosed within a brick sized housing, or the board might be uncovered, but dimensioned such that it can be easily built into your MOC.
A quick word on the ‘purity’ of 3rd party lighting.
There is no doubt that adding lighting to a LEGO model will enhance it’s appearance – it adds a degree of life to it, enhancing lines, lightening shadows and highlighting features which may otherwise be a little obscure. LEGO have offered lighting for at least 50 years, originally in the form of a light brick, with the options of a filter, and more recently with power functions, providing a pair of LED lights. We now also see self-contained light bricks in recent sets.
While earlier LEGO® sets used standard filament bulbs, more recently builders have been able to look to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to provide versatile lighting solutions. Recently, LEGO builders have been incorporating lighting into their builds more often than ever before.
The systems used vary from simple ‘bulb and battery’ solutions, through to custom solutions for individual LEGO Sets. There are also sophisticated, microprocessor controlled solutions available, providing preprogrammed sequential lighting patterns. Miniaturisation of LEDs means that they are now able to be incorporated in LEGO builds, with minimal rebuilding required for wiring.
Today, I would like to present a couple of simple options for cheap and easy lighting solutions, that can enhance your models. In the future, I will present some examples of other, more sophisticated lighting solutions. Continue reading