Lighting Scale Models with LED Lights - Bulbs

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Let's start with the basics. To light up an LED you need to run power to the bulb from a battery.

Using a red wire (power) and a black wire (ground), I've run power to a single blue LED. (The wire colors don't matter in the sense that red and black are commonly used, and make it very easy to keep track of the power (positive) and black (negative) wiring).

wiring a model kit with leds


If you have muliple LED bulbs, you can hook them up the same way, always making sure the black wires stay with the black and the red to the red.

I'm using a 9-volt battery here. I've powered as many as 10 LED bulbs with no issues whatsoever.


led lights for model kits


Here's a basic diagram below. Note how each color of wire connects to it's own color. What this does is continue the power circuit. The power comes out of the battery on the red wire, and runs back to battery via the black wire.

Note I've shown a switch to turn the power off and on. For me the best place to put it is on the hot wire, the red wire, just before all the other wiring.


using led bulbs on a model kit


If you have tight spaces, and not much room for wiring, then Copper tape can be used to carry the current the same way. (As shown below:)

Always think of the power as making a loop. From the battery, to your LED bulbs, and then back to the battery.


how to led light a model kit


When adding LED bulbs to a model kit, you need to plan ahead.

Is the power source (a battery) going to be inside the model, or will the battery be external, such as hidden in a base or another part of the model?

What about the switch?

For instance, on a Cylon Raider I built, the power is inside the model. Note all the wires. The masking tape holds them in place, primarily for testing.


moebus cylon raider lights


Below you can see how I made the top portion removable, and I've hidden the battery inside it. (This model uses 7 of the 10mm LEDs)



I used a push button switch to turn the lights on and off.

Can you see it below? It cleverly blends in with the model.

It's there in the center, the round button.

More about lighting the Cylon Raider model is in
Scale Model Life Magazine - Volume 2



cylon led lights for model


If a model is small, or there simply isn't room inside for a battery, then your best bet is to hide the power source outside of the model itself. This usually means using a base to hide the battery, switch, and some of the wiring.

On the Seaview model I built, which has lighting inside and out, I hid the wires on the base, through the two stands for the model, and underneath the "foam" rocks.


moebius seaview from the front on base with flying sub


moebius seaview with full lighting turned on


So there's more than one way to light a model. These are just a few ideas.

I recommend you make a drawing of how the wires will be routed in the model. Inspect all the model parts and see what the clearances are.

This will give you an idea of what bulbs and supplies you need.And also what is feasable and what's not.

LED Bulbs & Supplies shown on this page are available

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camaro led bulbs installed


LED lights work just as well on car models, or any other model project!



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