WHITE LEDs

RICHMOND CONTROLS CO. has several color variations of "white" LEDs, available in several different packages.

At this time, you can buy "white" LEDs from various suppliers in what might be described as either "Cool White" or "Warm White" shades of "white", similar to the way fluorescent lamps are described.  The difference is that "Cool White" implies a mild blue tint in the white, and also what has been called "Bright White" (a very stark white).  On the other hand, "Warm White" means there is no blue tint, but there is some degree of golden tint, in an effort to approximate the color mix of light coming from an incandescent lamp.  Within the "Warm White" category, we further distinguish between "Sunny White" and "Golden White".  The "Sunny White" LEDs have a VERY MILD gold tint, while the "Golden White" LEDs have a more pronounced gold tint. Neither has any blue tint. Users tend to prefer the Sunny White variety for modern diesels, and the Golden White variety for older locomotives.

In addition to color, there is also the variable of package size and shape.  We offer both the Sunny White and Golden White color in any of three packages: the round 5 mm T 1-3/4 package, the round 3 mm T 1 package, and the 603 (0.060 x 0.030") rectangular surface mount package.  This means that there are a total of SIX different LEDs, when you count three packages in two colors, not including any of the Cool White variety.  Please note that surface mount components are like tiny solid blocks, and have no wire leads.  The 3 mm and 5 mm LEDs, on the other hand, both have two wire leads coming out of the bottom of the package.

The unmodified LEDs available are as follows:
 
 

Sunny White 5 mm (SW5) Golden White 5 mm (GW5)
Sunny White 3 mm (SW3) Golden White 3 mm (GW3)
Sunny White surface mount (SW0603)
(in "603" package, 0.060" x 0.030")
Golden White surface mount (GW0603)
(in "603" package, 0.060" x 0.030")

The Sunny White LEDs have a clear package, and the Golden White LEDs have a package with a mild orange tint.

The 3 mm LEDs are the same package as the 1/8” diameter LED found already in so many model railroad locomotives. Unlike other “white” LEDs that emit a stark white or bluish-white color, these LEDs emit white light with no blue tint but with a mild golden tint. The color was tailored specifically for model railroads, to simulate the light coming from an incandescent lamp. The Golden White variety has more golden tint than the Sunny White variety.  Applications include those where the color of an incandescent lamp is desired, combined with the brightness, uniformity, durability and longevity of an LED.
 

The most recent addition to our selection of "white" LEDs is a white axial-lead LED with a 2 mm rounded lens.  Its color might be described as slightly cool white, meaning that it has no gold tint, and some may have a very slight bluish tint.  That blue tint can be removed by dipping the LED into Tamaya orange stained glass paint.  The manufacturer is attempting to modify the color to match the Sunny White LED color.
 

Model railroad locomotive headlights are the primary intended application. For color photos showing how they look compared to bluish-white and yellow LEDs, please see Peter Vanvliet’s web site, www.pcrailroad.org. The previous link takes you right to the photo, where the Golden White LED is installed in the middle locomotive: Click Here

Specifications:   The Golden White and Sunny White LEDs are very bright, rated at 2900 mcd at 30 mA for the 3 mm and 5 mm package with a 30 degree viewing angle. The typical forward voltage is roughly 3.0 volts.  The surface mount LEDs have the same voltage rating, but they emit bright light from all sides except the bottom.  They are rated at 20 mA maximum current, and their brightness at that current is typically 500 mcd.  The 2 mm axial lead LED is also rated at 20 mA and most of the light is emitted through its rounded lens.

Prices:  All unmodified LEDs listed in the table above are $1.50 each, and there is no minimum order quantity.

Attached Wires:   NOTE THAT THE SURFACE MOUNT LED HAS NO WIRE LEADS.  A 603 size surface mount LED is so small that it can easily disappear under a fingernail.  Richmond Controls can supply it with very fine wires attached.  The default size and length is #36 enameled magnet wire that is 6" long, but other sizes and lengths can be requested as an extra cost option.  The enamel on this wire can be stripped off by simply dragging the wire through a blob of hot solder on the tip of a soldering iron.

Richmond Controls offers "603" size surface mount LEDs with two #36 wire leads attached, in any available color (Golden White, Sunny White, red, amber, aqua green, and blue).  All are $3.00 with wire leads.

Reduced Tip Diameters:  Richmond Controls also offers the 3 mm and 5 mm LEDs with tips turned down to fit exactly into existing headlight holes.  Only about the last 4 mm can be turned down, and the remainder (the base) remains at the full original diameter.  For example, the upper headlight hole on a Kato N Scale PA1 is 0.108" in diameter, and the headlight holes in an Athearn HO Scale U33C are 1.5 mm.  LEDs with tips reduced to these or other sizes are $3.00 each.  These LEDs eliminate any need to use fiber optics, and greatly simplify installations -- you just push them into the headlight holes in most cases.  Modified LEDs are special order items and reseller discounts are not available on them.

Protective Components:  Anyone not familiar with the use of white LEDs is encouraged to print and read the document RECOMMENDATIONS FOR USING WHITE LEDs that can be accessed here as a WORD file. This document can be copied or printed for personal use. Richmond Controls will maintain a supply of the electronic components listed in document so that customers will have the option of purchasing everything needed from one source.  Please see the this document if you want to understand the issues that come into play when replacing non-white LEDs with any flavor of "white" LED in a model railroad locomotive.

The 3 mm and 5 mm LEDs are available with protective diodes and capacitors already attached ($4.00 each), as would be need, for example, when changing the yellow LED in a Kato RSC-2 to a Golden White LED.  Modified LEDs are special order items and reseller discounts are not available on them.

Resistor Selection:  This topic was discussed in detail in our 1Q 2006 Newsletter.  Please click on the link to read that document, which is a WORD file.

Installation Services:  For customers not wanting to perform the operations necessary for changing locomotive headlight LEDs, or not wanting to acquire the other electronic components that may be needed, Richmond Controls will be pleased to perform the necessary work. Please contact us with a list of what specific changes are desired, and we will promptly furnish a quotation for completing the changes.

ORDERING INFORMATION:  In small quantities, the suggested retail price of the unmodified LED is $1.50, and there is no minimum order quantity.  Prices for various modifications are listed above.  The LEDs are available from Richmond Controls to North American manufacturers and hobby shops, and to individuals located in any country. They are also available from a number of hobby dealers and DCC specialists.  Modified LEDs are special order items and reseller discounts are not available on them.