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Kato lighting kits... old vs. new!


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#1 tantousha

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 11:12 PM

As I am now broke I've decided to turn my attention to less expensive endeavours like scenery and lighting. In my research I've come across 3 different lighting kits from Kato and can't decide. The first and oldest is the light bulb set 11-204 that is as old as the hills (and probably as flickery as ever) and goes for about $4 a car. The next is the LED set 11-209 and I've seen some good reviews about it but it goes for twice the price at $8/car. The last I've just spotted is a sort of LED ver. 2 that's supposed to be brighter and better but it goes for $9/car (11-211).

So my question is does anyone have experience with more than one type of lighting and provide a recommendation... I mean. Obviously the LED is worth the extra cash but is it a deal breaker if one is trying to watch their budget? Should I stick with scenery and pursue lighting when I can afford the LED kits? Has anyone tried the newest type and is it worth the extra?

Thanks for your time guys!

Alex.
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#2 The_Ghan

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 04:10 AM

Alex,

If you are going DCC then the simplest solution is to go for one of the LED kits.  On a DCC layout the bulbs will melt the cars.  As to which of the LED kits you use you need to check what consist you're using.  The new LED will fit in older cars but some sets, such as the Ginza Series 01 released late last year are only compatible with the new sets.  I don't have any new sets of LED yet.  I've seen video of keitaro's trains running the new sets.  I think they're VERY bright and not to my taste personally.

If you aren't going DCC and will only be using a standard DC layout then there is no problem with the old style bulbs.

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#3 Densha

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:51 AM

The_Ghan,

If they are too bright, isn't it possible too use a resistor? Don't mind me if that won't fit or if usually a use some kind of plug-in solution and so ruin that, I don't have any experience with the lightning kits.

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#4 The_Ghan

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:10 PM

Densha,

Sure, you can add a resistor.  These kits come with a basic circuit with a rectifier and resistor anyway.  It is certainly possible to add another.  For me though, that equals more work and more time.  I'm time poor!

Cheers

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#5 keitaro

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:28 PM

Densha,

Sure, you can add a resistor.  These kits come with a basic circuit with a rectifier and resistor anyway.  It is certainly possible to add another.  For me though, that equals more work and more time.  I'm time poor!

Cheers

The_Ghan

not only that but you have to loose space and since they sit right up against the end of the carriage and the way they work it is really alot of effort. it will likely cause flickering if you mess with the prongs.

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#6 CaptOblivious

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:36 PM

I've got some older Kato kit that used bulbs for interior lighting (not the after-market add-on, but factory-installed stuff); it looked terrible. The lighting was (believe it or not) too warm, and very uneven. I've been retrofitting these sets with my own home-spun LED lighting. For my other Kato sets, I've rather liked the LED V1, although it is a bit bright. The V2, from what I've read, is a big improvement, but the V1 is I think still good enough (and it includes an orange lens to tint it a moderately warm color if you prefer).

So, were you me, I'd get the LED V1. Just make sure you get enough to complete your projects, as I have a feeling it will be discontinued.

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#7 keitaro

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:45 PM

btw these came up on hs a little bit ago though not Kato specific it does look worth trying. Also looks like they will be bringing out Kato ones at a later date.

might be worth looking at

http://www.1999.co.j...es&ItKey=illumi

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#8 KenS

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:46 PM

First, the Kato lighting kits are only for Kato cars.  You could adapt one to work in something else, but you'd need to find a way to align the LED with the diffuser, as that's very important to proper operation.  In a Kato car, there is a plastic structure the lightboard slips into, and supports for the diffuser.

I don't have experience with the Kato bulb set, but it and the two later LED ones are all basically identical (except as Don noted the bulbs use more power and produce more heat, which makes them inappropriate for some models). However, Kato's newest cars only support the V2 LEDs (although you could modify them fairly easily to use the older ones).  Some of Kato's cars aren't compatible with any of these.  It will say in the instruction sheet (in Japanese, but you can read the numbers) which ones are compatible, if any.  Hobby Search is pretty good about putting that info in their descriptions also.

The advantage of the V2 is mainly in a redesigned diffuser panel that spreads the light more evenly through the car without the need for reflective tape applied to the roof of the car.  There do seem to be some improvements in the LED fixture itself, as it seems to be less prone to the flickering that plagued the older sets. Whether those advantages are worth the higher cost is something only you can answer.  For me they are.

I wrote up a short description of the new lighting sets on my site.

While you could add a resistor, the light board is tiny and on the newest one concealed under a protective coating.  The existing resistor is a surface-mount component, so you'd need to be comfortable de-soldering and replacing that to do it.  It might be easier to hack up the brass strip feeding power to it, and add another resistor there.  Or put a dab of paint on the LED.  What I found is that painting the beige interior floor a dark gray, and the "seats" a dark color (I used blue) dims the lighting considerably, and makes it look better.

BTW, it comes with an orange bit of plastic just like the V1 set, so you can use it in older prototypes where incandescent lighting would have been used. And, like Don, I think it's going to be discontinued quickly.  I've already seen the V2 sets showing up in U.S. hobby stores, and I can't see anyone stocking both once they sell off the older ones.
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#9 tantousha

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 03:02 PM

Wow! Some great and helpful answers...

Right now I'm not entirely sure where I'm going as far as realism or authenticity. I'm just a starving student who is trying to recreate the life he had in Japan a couple years ago... That said, I'm sure LEDs are only going to come down in price so perhaps I should wait a few years and focus on collecting some scenery and buildings first... Thanks for the tips guys!

Alex.

#10 The_Ghan

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 02:56 AM

Alex,

They've never come down in price in the two years that I've been doing Japanese N scale.

Cheers

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#11 Rintintin

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 10:02 AM

Hello all,

Have anyone tested and compared both lighting kits (V1 vs V2)? Some comparison photos should be useful  :grin

I have several KATO coaches with V1 lighting kits version and now I'm interested in V2, but I'm really dissapointed if they're such a bright ones!  ???

Thanks for your help & Cheers  :cool:
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#12 KenS

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:13 AM

My page I linked a couple of posts above this is such a comparision, complete with photos, is there something specific you are looking for?

Kato's LED lighting is pretty bright, but in part that's due to the light color of the interior (at least on the trains I have).  You can fix that to an extent by painting the interior (seats and floor) in darker colors.

I think the new sets do a better job of evenly distributing the light, so there is less of a bright-end/dark-end effect, but they're still pretty bright.
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#13 Rintintin

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 05:56 AM

My page I linked a couple of posts above this is such a comparision, complete with photos, is there something specific you are looking for?

Kato's LED lighting is pretty bright, but in part that's due to the light color of the interior (at least on the trains I have).  You can fix that to an extent by painting the interior (seats and floor) in darker colors.

I think the new sets do a better job of evenly distributing the light, so there is less of a bright-end/dark-end effect, but they're still pretty bright.


Thanks KenS!  :lipssealed:

Yes, I saw your report in your web (which is excellent, congratulations! I have already added it to my favourites  :grin).

But I wanted a couple of photos to compare the brightness of V1 and V2, after installing it in the coaches.

Thanks again for your response & cheers  :lipssealed:
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#14 KenS

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 06:38 AM

Photos comparing light intensity can be misleading, as cameras don't react to light the same way as an eye does. I haven't actually done a side-by-side comparison, but that's an interesting idea. I'll see if I can come up with something that effectively shows the difference.
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#15 Glennac

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:49 AM

As Ken states, photos don't always tell the whole story. Nevertheless, out of curiosity, and because I have cars lit with both the original bulb-type lights AND the first version of the LED lights, I'd thought I supply some comparisons.

Both cars are on the same track, being supplied power from the same power pack, and the throttle is set at about 2/3rds of maximum. The car on the left contains Kato's original bulb-type light whereas the car on the right has the first version of Kato's LED light. Do note that the LED installed light on the right does have the tiny amber lens installed with it, yet the light emitted still remains on the whitish side. Personally, I prefer the warmer light given off by the bulb-type lamp on the left.

Posted Image


However, as noted previously, and apart from any discussion of flickering, the light from the bulb-type lamp is not as forgiving in slow running, low power conditions. Notice in the following image that power has been cut to about 1/3rd of maximum. The bulb-lamp has dimmed significantly whereas the LED has still remained relatively bright.

Posted Image


Here are the same conditions in a darker environment.

Posted Image

Posted Image

As I say, I really do like the warmer light given off by the bulb-type. However, as I have read elsewhere, fluorescent lighting was being used in passenger cars as early as the 30's or 40's. So in many cases, the whiter light of the LEDs may be a more accurate representation.
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#16 Martijn Meerts

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:54 AM

You can always use some clear orange paint on the LED to get some extra warmness. Just make sure the paint is somewhat heat resistant. (Humbrol has several colors of clear paints, solvent based. They seem to work well)
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#17 The_Ghan

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:03 AM

My Kato LED kits 11-210 came with an orange plastic clip to help provide a warmer tint where needed.

Cheers

The_Ghan
Current Life: Christian, Architect, Heritage Architect, JP
Former Life:  MSE (Win NT), DRCAuto Production Manager and programmer for AutoCAD compatible products.
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Products used: Kato, Tomix, MicroAce, Peco, Hornby, Digitrax, CML, NGDCC

#18 Rintintin

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:21 AM

Hi,

Thanks for these photos comparison!  :grin

I just wanted a comparison between both LED lighting kits (11-210, the old one & 11-212, the new one). But I have purchased 2 kits of the new one (I will put photos here when I receive it  :cheesy).

I prefer the LED ones instead the bulb ones because I will use them in DCC mode, and the bulbs kit is very dangerous for the coaches...

Cheers,
Rintintin.
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#19 The_Ghan

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 04:25 AM

Correct Rintintin,

You shouldn't use the bulbs for DCC because they will melt the car roof.

Cheers

The_Ghan
Current Life: Christian, Architect, Heritage Architect, JP
Former Life:  MSE (Win NT), DRCAuto Production Manager and programmer for AutoCAD compatible products.
Model Railway Interests (development / financial): nil
Products used: Kato, Tomix, MicroAce, Peco, Hornby, Digitrax, CML, NGDCC

#20 KenS

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 07:00 AM

My Kato LED kits 11-210 came with an orange plastic clip to help provide a warmer tint where needed.


He noted that the white-looking LED was equipped with the orange clip and still looked white.

I've never tried those myself, since most of my trains are modern ones that would be lit with fluorescents, but I'd guess that the LED has such a "blue" color temperature that warming it slightly with the clip-on filter still leaves it looking blue.  However, this could also be an artifact of the camera sensor.
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