Lighting a waggon with LED’s in 30 mn for less than 1 £

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We suggest you to realize lighting of passenger cars for a cost of 1 € per car. For this price, you will manufacture a LEDs lighting with capacity that avoids the blinks in case of bad contact on the wheels. Manufacturing is very simple and fast. Depending on the type of car and experience gained, it takes only 30 minutes to modify a wagon. The method of manufacture is identical for a HO scale or N-scale lightning. Only slightly larger components can be used with the HO scale.

The tooling is basic:

Small soldering iron / Cutting pliers / Tweezers

Necessary electronic components:

  1. “Warm white” LED strip (60 LED’s per meter). A 5m strip costs 8 € on Bay and allows to create 20 lightings for HO cars. (keyword (for example) for search E. Bay: 5M 16Ft 12V LED Flexible Strip Light 300pcs 5630SMD Warm White)
  2. A small bridge rectifier (MB6S 0.5A 600V Miniature Mini SMD Bridge Rectifier) 0.20 £ / 100 ea on E. Bay.
  3. A capacitor (470UF 25V Electrolytic Capacitor 25V470UF 8x12mm). 4 € / 100 ea on E. Bay). It is best to mount a capacitor with the greatest possible capacity. (The larger the capacitance, the larger the volume of the condenser, so choose the bigger one that fits into the volume available in the wagon.)
  4. One SMD 1206 or 1210 resistor (to be selected between 1K and 10K depending on the luminous intensity wished) 0.80 £ / 100 ea on E.Bay.
  5. 2 wheel contacts (approx. 0.5 £ both)

Manufacturing the lighting

It is possible not to solder the capacitor directly to the + – output of the rectifier bridge. If you wish to position it elsewhere, you have to solder wires between the capacitor and the rectifier bridge. The polarities must be respected or the capacitor may explode.

To connect the AC current inputs of the rectifier bridge to the wheel contacts, the wires must be routed through the interior. We use enamelled wire of 2/10 or 3/10 mm. Its flexibility allows the wire to be positioned anywhere without difficulty. The condenser can be placed in the lavatory compartment to remain invisible. Any other possibility is possible depending on the available space and the result sought. We have tested the use of double-layer “Gold” capacitors, which are supposed to have a large capacity for a small volume. They are much more expensive and have not convinced us.


Depending on the capacitance of the capacitor, type and number of LED’s, the illumination in the event of bad contact or after power failure remains lit from a few seconds to a few minutes. This lighting works with the DC current traction or with LF dedicated to lighting. We have not tested the operation with a digital power supply. On the pictures below, the “Mistral” from LS-Models (HO scale). Four hours weres necessary to modify 12 cars.

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