I'm posting this on behalf of Pedro as I have the copy. This is a review and installation of the DCC Concepts Flicker Free lighting system.
so, over to Pedro:
I recently received some DCC concepts Flicker Free units to review.
They differ from previous units in that these have a new circuit board to help with the locating of the LED's.
They are available either individually, in 3 packs or 6 packs.
In the pack you get the flicker free units themselves, the LED's, a set of resistors, the circuit boards and a set of very good idiot-proof instructions. They are available either with the 1.8mm microdot LED's or 3mm LED's. you just need to specify which when you order them.
The flicker free units are really tiny. I really cant see a problem with including them in any 4mm item of rolling stock and you could even squeeze them into N gauge stock if you were feeling adventurous. Of course they could also be used for O gauge and gauge 1.
The circuit boards themselves are very well designed and have a space for the resistor and at the other end the spacing of the holes is slightly closer so that it can be cut and daisy chained with a second board.
The first thing I did was to solder the resistor in place. The circuit boards are very high quality. Something I did notice was that the tinning around the hole actually ran right through the hole, I had never seen this before and I was very impressed by that. It meant that there was no chance of the LED only being connected to one side of the board and causing problems if the power supply happened to be connected to the other side. I remember on a previous layout I worked on we had great problems with double sided PCB being used and screws running through them causing shorts. But having both sides permanently connected in this case ensures conductivity. it also means that you can test it before soldering to make sure you have the LED's the right way round.
The first thing I did was to solder in the resistor. If this is your first time soldering a PCB I would recommend you get some thin solder. I couldn't find mine at first and tried it with some thicker stuff, it really didn't want to work!! I eventually found a couple of inches of thinner stuff lying on my bench. Those 2 inches were enough to do 2 coaches worth of flicker free units.
Soldering the LED's in place is a doddle with the new boards. It took less than 5 minutes to have them all soldered in place.
Despite the fact that it would have been very easy to daisy chain 2 together, I managed to do the whole coach with the one board. You can extend the board by about an inch either end simply by soldering to the very ends of the LED leads and cranking them to give that little bet of extra distance that might make the difference between having to use one unit and using 2.
I decided to light a Hornby Pullman that I had lying around for ages. It already had the pickups for the table lamps in this case many of the fibre optic strands had been broken by its previous owner.
Disconnecting the pickups was an easy job once the body was off. And I simply cut the feeds to the built in LED's and connected up the flicker free units.
They can be run either on DC or on DCC so it doesn't matter which way round you put the pickup wires but the LED's are polarity sensitive so make sure you connect the positive lead (red) to the positive terminal (the longer one) on the LED.
DON'T FORGET TO RUN THE CABLES THROUGH THE INTERIOR FIRST.
We have all done this a dozen times and last night I did it for the 7293rd time. I connected it all up then realised that I couldn't pass the cables through the hole I had made in the interior.
This is the entire system all connected up.
On the left is the PCB, connected with the wires running through the hole I made in the interior. Next is the flicker free itself. This fits very easily in the toilet compartment of the coach. Then of course is the chassis.
This is a good time to check its all working. A good idea is to charge up the flicker free unit at this stage so if there are any problems you will notice it instantly by seeing the LED's go out.
One last test fit to make sure all the lights are in the right place.
They come with an incredibly simple item that makes the whole unit soooooooo much easier to install, -a simple double sided sticky pad for sticking the circuit boards to the roof of the coach..
This is how it looked just before I stuck the board in the roof of the coach. All ready to go.
The unit was still charged up and putting out plenty of light even 5 minutes after I had charged it to test.
They do take 4 or 5 minutes to charge but that doesn't have to be continuous. I fitted both my Pullmans last night. The first took about 90 minutes because I was figuring out how I was going to fit that particular coach but the second was done in about 20 minutes. They don't light the coach up like a Christmas tree but that's prototypical anyway. Its more of a pleasing glow.
Something I did notice was that the light from the LED's is quite directional. This emulates the 24 volt bulbs that the prototypes had quite well but I have to admit its not really to my taste. Next time I take the lid off these coaches I might just run the scratch brush over the top of the LED's to try and diffuse the light a little. At the moment it's a bit like a set of spotlights lighting up the tables. But that should be and easy fix.
Flicker Free is available as follows:
1 pack: 1x Flicker Free, 5x G/White LED, 1x Red
6 1,000 ohm / 1k resistors & instructions
3 pack: 3x Flicker Free, 15x G/white LED, 2x Red
17x 1,000 ohm / 1k resistors & instructions
6 pack: 6x Flicker Free, 30x G/white LED, 3x Red FF-6
33x 1,000 ohm / 1k resistors & instructions
Input: AC, DC or DCC, 9~20 volts.
Connection: Pre-wired (150mm fine wires pre-fitted) and ready to connect.
Storage: Super Capacitor, 200,000 microfarads.
Output: 4.7 volts, current limited & protected
(already current limited and so safe for direct LED connection)
Flicker Free has a I year "Goof Proof" warranty.
Flicker Free is made by:
DCCconcepts Pty Ltd
Unit 3, 13 Lionel Street, Naval Base
WA 6155 Australia