Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Greenleaf Day 2 - Wiring prep

Tuesday, I placed an order for lights and I did prep-work for the wiring.

There are two ways to wire a dollhouse: tape wire, or round wire. I am a fan of round-wire. I have installed tape wire in one project, but that project is incomplete so I am not sure if I like using it or not yet. Tape wire is supposed to be good if you aren't exactly sure where you want to install lights and outlets. For this Greenleaf building, I know where I want the lights to be, so round-wire is a no-brainer choice for me.

Since I live with an Electrical Engineer, I wire my projects in an unconventional way. When my Nerd saw the prices of dollhouse transformers, he told me he could get me something cheaper and better. So, I let him wire my dollhouse. Boy howdy, is that house wired! Separate circuits for each room, plus dimmer switches to create a romantic ambiance! Even guys like looking at my dollhouse because the control panel. :-)

When I did my first room box with lights, the Nerd was consulted again, and he got me a transformer and a jack. A lightbulb went off in my head! I could use that one transformer for any roombox I made, if I used that same kind of jack on each project! As long as I kept my lights under 1000 milliamps, I was good to go.

This is what the jack looks like, when it is installed in a wall. Simple and cute, kinda like a silver-plated belly button. Radio Shack calls it a "Coaxial DC Power Jack".

The only problem with using this jack instead of stuff designed for dollhouse wiring (a transformer lead-in wire and a junction splice) is that it takes up volume. The jack is over 1/2 inch tall. The clearance below the floor in the Greenleaf is 3/8 inch. So, where to put the jack? Since I already know that I will be putting a cabinet in the corner of my Greenleaf, I can put the jack there and it the cabinet will be built around it. I cut a hole in the floor where the jack will be located, so that the prongs on the jack can be accessed from under the house and the connections can be made.

This jack system could be used with tape wire too, if you have a soldering iron or you can bake cookies for someone who has one. Pound some brads into the tape wire system, and solder wires between the brads and jack's prongs to make the connection.

Hard-wiring is not difficult, but it requires advance planning. I cut grooves in the walls where I plan to run the wires to the lights. There will be two wall sconces upstairs. Their wires will be run to the outside of the building and will be covered by siding. There will be one wall sconce on the outside of the house by the door, and a ceiling fixture which I intend to create. The wires for those will run inside the structure and will be hidden by the door trim. I plan to make the ceiling light look like a recessed fluorescent light. I cut a rectangular hole in the ceiling of the lower floor. The light will be recessed into the area covered by the shallow roof.

Today's favorite tool: X-acto knife with chisel blade


MiniKat said...

One of these centuries I will try round wire. I never seem to know where I want my lights though.

For the moment I am happy with the tape wire system.

Mary said...

Yay, more wiring pointers to store in my mind bank.