Lighting and Wiring
Fiber Optics: Go to http://fiberopticproducts.com I learned some new things here already. I will certainly be experimenting with white light LEDs to see if any give sufficient light and good color for our uses. It would be fantastic to have low voltage, non-heating, long lasting lamps with some of the other advantages that LEDs enjoy. Take a look see. I will keep all posted on the primer.
Mel K. in Las Vegas
FIBER OPTICS: I was the one who posted about making fireflies from fiber optics. Guess what?? By George, I think I've got it!! I have been planning this project for three years and have been collecting stuff for it ever since. I found the reel of fiber optics from the Dees catalog a few years back. They should still have it available. I bought a small night light with the regular 110 plug on it. I made a plastic disk and mounted it on top of a clock mechanism that I found inside an old alarm clock. I painted the disk with yellow glass stain(several coats) and black acrylic paint in a pie pattern. The fiber optics strands absorb the light from the bulb and the disk as it spins makes them light up intermittently since I have some spaces yellow and the others are blacked out! The fibers are hidden by the trees and other foliage. The mechanism is hidden behind my mountain. Looks good so far.
Lighting: Adrian and others using or planning to use night lights, or Christmas Village lights for your displays. CAUTION!!! Be sure the bulb doesn't touch anything they DO GET HOT!!!! I figure if it burns my fingers it might burn my display. I purchased 4 very large enclosed bookcases from a mini store that closed and discovered very badly burned spots on each shelf from *Christmas type* bulbs. Of course the owners had the displays with the lights on for hours but still----would hate to think what might have happened if that wood had actually smoldered for a night. SAFETY FIRST PLEASE! I have used the fluorescent bar lights in roomboxes they come in a variety of sizes from 6", 9" and 12", I think. and they are made for bookcases. Come in white, black, silver and gold finish. They even have one that swivels.
Diane in SFBA
Lamp Shades and Hardware: This is for those looking for nice lamp kits. These kits contain pvc "poly-vinyl" shades that can be painted, or covered with fabric/wallpaper to match interiors, plus hardware: bulb holder, shade holder, and finial. I have been using these kits since my first purchase at MIAA, I suggest using Miniature Houses' Replaceable Round Bulbs and Candle Bulbs w/wiring. This way you won't have to take apart your lamp to replace bulbs--also when applying paper/fabric use double-sided tape, not glues/sprays!!
They also have a paper-catalog, sell to both Retail or Wholesale, and have 27 years experience creating custom lamps--for that hard-to-find design.
Kristyn, Bayonet Point, FL
Installing Floor over wire: How do I do the floors when the tape wire has been put down? Do I put in a fake floor that can be pulled out or can I just lay my hard wood floor on top of the tape wire? The type of hard wood floor I have is from Houseworks.
These are the same floors I used and I put them down with double sided tape. Not a lot of tape, just enough to keep it flat. I have at times, taken up the floor to work on the tapewire and it was very easy.
Carol, S P Miniatures
Switching Battery lights to 12v: This is actually pretty easy to correct and it doesn't mean changing the lights either. All you need to do is go to your local Radio Shack or another similar store, such as an electronics surplus shop, and pick up an adapter (transformer) of the right voltage for your lights. This could be either a single voltage unit or what they call a universal adapter that has a switch to change the output voltage. They may also have a female connector to plug the adapter into, and this can be mounted on one side of the battery compartment and wired into the circuit. If the female connector is not available, you can cut the end off the wire and connect it directly. One advantage to using the female connector is that it can be wired in parallel with the battery connections and leave the option of using either power source.
David in Santiago
Front Door Light: Assuming that you're using tape wire, and the door opens outward using brass hinges, run tape through the hinges, which will give a good contact. I've done it this way, and it worked just fine.
Front Door Light: The placement of the front door light should be such that anyone who rings the door bell can be seen when he/she is viewed prior to opening he door. The light may be placed above the door; in that case the wire ribbon might come from the floor above and come down to the door from the wall at the front of the house. If the light is at the side of the doorway then the feed for the light can come also from the floor above or from below the 1st floor and up to its location.
DrBob...Delray Beach, FL.
Light on outside: If you are using non tape wiring .....I drilled a little hole where I wanted the light, I then fed the wire from the outside to the inside. I channeled a little grove down the inside of the wall, the wire sits snugly in it. Then the wire runs along the bottom and out at the side. I wallpapered over it an you wouldn't even know the wire was there.
Linnola, Northern Ireland
Light on outside: I've just come back from the BMW where I did a workshop on lighting. I was told to run the copper tape to where the hinge was, run copper tape from the other side of the hinge to the front door, attach the light, and then solder a small piece of round wire between the two connections, over the hinge. The wire forms the flexible link between the two runs of tape.
Batteries for Lights: Batteries are very unsatisfactory for dollhouse lighting that is to be left on very long. I have a scene in a small can that is lit with one grain of wheat 1.5 volt bulb. An AA battery (largest I could hide) lights that bulb for about four hours at a show before I must replace it.
Years ago, a local club taught a day long activity that was an ice cream parlor in a Baskin Robbins container. A C-size battery was hidden behind the counter, but again, short life. We researched this a long time before doing the ice cream parlor and found no good solutions.
The GOOD news is that there are now white LEDs available, and they can last weeks on batteries. One of my committee members made up a demo box with 4 of them, plenty of life. Batteries were very successful. There are white LEDs with a blue tinge that are quite reasonable, and there are more natural colored white LEDs that are still expensive.
To Light or Not to Light... Just a few basic lights can add 300% to the thrill and warmth of a room. . . easy and fun. Try it! Many, many mini fans have shied from lights for years. When they at last do try it, they're thrilled!!! Do a small sample strip on a plain board or cardboard on the kitchen table. Transformer on one end of the strip, light bulb on the other end, 6 to 10 inches of tape between. . Try it!
Then follow the directions and add another light bulb on a 90 degree angle of tape. Try it!
Then make a splice and following directions in booklet or kit instructions, attach another at the end of the splice. Try it!
See?? It's fun and easy. Very straight forward and simple. Imagine the strips as water flowing... one side black water, the other white. The water flows from the transformer, down the white side (a pipe kinda) into a bulb and out the other side of the bulb and onto the black wire. One in, one out. Your bulbs are the bridge or connecting crossover of the water so it can flow. Just like house plumbing - from the street into your house and back out to another line in the street. ... everything here but the fragrance. . (hahaha)
Tape wire today is color coded. One side is different colored than the other. Negative/Positive... one in, one out. The In comes from the power source (transformer/batteries) the Out goes back into the transformer/batteries and completes the circuit. Plunk a bulb between those two and you get LIGHT! Try it!
Tapewire: Someone asked if it's necessary to prime over the Cir-Kit tapewire before painting a room. You should cover the tape wire with Scotch Brand Magic Tape after making sure your connections are all working. I always soldered my connections with a "low heat" soldering iron and solder, available at Radio Shack and also from CirKit Concepts. You'll get an instruction book with the wiring kit, and if you run into a big problem, the folks there have always been willing to talk you thru it. And to answer your original question, yes, do please prime over the tape - it may take several coats if you're using pastel paint or paper.
And yes, you can wire an MDF house. You have to pre-punch the holes for your brads (I wouldn't use grommets). Cir-Kit has all the tools you'll need. And no, I'm not a representative for Cir-Kit, but I did use their wiring kits exclusively when I had my shop.
Soldering to tape wire:: It's really very simple. Although I have seen soldering guns on sale at the dollar store (recently bought one as a back up and didn't really like it. Too hot, and smokey) I used a Craftsman's brand soldering iron with the trigger. Don't know if that made a difference or not, but it did allow me to control the flow of heat. Otherwise the solder just kept remelting and wouldn't adhere to the tape and wires. I removed a very small piece of the protective tape on each side of the the tape wire. I then exposed the wires onmy electrical item and taped them in place with regular scotch tape so I could have both hands free. I then placed my solder on top of the wires (which is on the tape) and melted it. I released the trigger and held in place a second until it cooled and Voila!!!! I had a perfect connection. I also covered the small area with electrical tape since I had removed some of the protective tape.
And you need not think of it as permanent. I decided to change a ceiling fan in one room that I had soldered to the floor above. To removed it, I simply used the soldering iron to melt the solder and removed the wires from the tape wire.
I saw no visible damage to the tape wire. My lights are bright and perfect for the first time. I never worry about dim lights, blinking lights, or lost connections anymore. It is such a thrill! I don't know if this shortens the life of the wire. I don't think so. Perhaps an expert might have some input on that. In any case, I will never tape wire without using my soldering gun again!
Electrifying MDF house: I will be electrifying a dollhouse made of MDF this weekend. I use the tapewire system, I find it easier. The only "hard" thing is that MDF is a bit harder than plywood, so it's harder to get grommets/brads etc to sink. However, I always pre-pierce (even on plywood), with either the tool supplied with the Cir-Kit wiring kit, or with a very small drill bit. That way, the battle isn't quite so fierce.
Louise in Toronto
Wall Sconces: I cut the plugs off 99% of my lights - especially wall sconces. I strip the wire cover, twist the wires (separately, otherwise you get pretty sparks and light shows), and feed them into grommets that I've sank through to the tapewire.
I have never primed over the tape, I just paper or paint over it. If I paint, it takes quite a few coats to make it blend - it's not the paint, it's the added layer (the tape) that shows.
Hard Wiring Gator Board: My favorite 'secret': straighten a coat hanger, heat it over a flame and push it through the foam wherever you need wiring. This allows you to 'hard wire' all your lights and accessories without using tape and with no visible traces. Scrape out foam along the tops of the wall to run the wires to your power source.
Older Single Run Copper tape: When I bought the shell of my first house, I also bought quite a bit of supplies with it. In the supplies were single rolls of very thin copper tape...must have been long before the newer tape wire. Anyway, not knowing any better, I used this older style copper tape wiring throughout my house. I followed the directions on tape wiring exactly, except I had to make 2 runs instead of one (a parallel run for each side of the tape). I also papered my house using the smaller prints from a real life sample book (thicker than the mini wallpaper I've seen) and you can't even see where my tape wire runs are. I drew a plan on paper for future reference, just as the book said to do. The only thing I had to be extra careful about was crossing the two tapes and causing a short. I used that magic scotch tape as my insulation, also as directed in the book. It's about 1/4" wide and you just place a double row of it spaced a little apart. So far it's still lighting my house.
Single Run Copper tape: You do need to exercise some caution in using the copper tape product designed for stained glass. It comes in different thicknesses/widths, which gives it different current carrying capabilities. If you try to use a larger transformer and more lights than it can handle, it will overheat and possibly cause afire. This is the reason that Cir-Kit doesn't offer a transformer larger than 40 watts - or at least that's what Vern Skarr (CEO of Cir-Kit) told me.
Single run copper tape: To all of you who wondered, don't think that using the old-style single run tape is going to solve your wiring problems. I had to repair the electrical system in a house a few years ago that had that type of wiring. It was awful! The single strand of copper was amazingly brittle--I had to go back over and replace long lengths of it because it had broken apart enough that it would no longer conduct the electricity! I think I must have used over a tablespoon of solder fixing all the breaks. You can complain, if you wish, about the modern tape wire and the fact that it can show under the wallpaper. Who cares? You can find it to fix a problem. If you are careful and put most of it under carpets or other flooring, you won't even notice that it's there. You can also hide it behind table legs, under a sofa, etc. I've even drilled a hole in the top of a credenza so the table lamp wire goes through the piece of furniture rather than having a mess of wire.
Dottie in Tucson
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