FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Since some questions seem to get asked over and over again, we’ve decided to compile a list of some of the most common questions we get.
Q: Is Dan available for custom work or DCC installs?
A: No. We are not an install shop. Our video production schedule simply doesn’t allow the time for that.
Q: What kind of glue does Dan use?
It depends on the materials. For plastic-to-plastic bonds Dan prefers liquid styrene cement. For plastic and other materials, CA (cyanoacrylate) glue works well. Dan likes silicone glue for installing motors into locomotive frames. Canopy glue, which is similar to white glue, works well for clear parts. RTV silicone is a good sealant for small speakers.
Q: What does Dan mean by “liquid styrene cement”?
A: A glue that creates a plastic-to-plastic bond by dissolving the edges of the plastic to create a “weld”. Same Stuff by Micro Mark is one brand. Ambroid and Tenax are others, but they seem to have gone out of production.
Q: What brand of LEDs do you use?
A: There is no specific brand. Dan buys LEDs in bulk on eBay. Sellers come and go. US sellers generally ship faster if ordering from within the United States.
Q: What size LEDs do you use?
A: For HO scale trains, 3mm LEDs are useful when combined with fiber optics. Surface mount LEDs come in several sizes. The 0603 and 0402 sizes are most useful for small scale trains. 0603s will fit in most HO scale headlight and ditch light housings. 0402s are very useful in N scale. Dan likes to solder his own leads to surface mount LEDs using 36 gauge solderable magnet wire. You can also get them with pre-soldered leads but they tend to cost more.
Q: What color LEDs do you use?
A: Warm white is the best for headlights. Regular white may have a bluish tint. Colored LEDs can be useful for specific things, like red for an emergency light.
Q: What brand and type of fiber optics do you use?
A: Dan buys fiber optics in bulk on eBay. There is no specific brand. The most useful size for HO scale headlights is .030 diameter (0.75 mm). For class lights or N scale then .020 works well. The ends can be flared with heat to make lenses.
Q: What type of resistor do you use for LEDs?
A: For headlights 750 Ω or 1K Ω work well. This is not based on a formula, it’s just what we’ve found to work. For other lights like class lights or number boards that don’t need to be as bright, larger values like 2K or 3K Ω will work. Always use one resistor per LED. Otherwise sometimes the lights may behave in odd ways. Dan usually puts resistors on the negative lead from the LED, but it really doesn’t matter.