Jump to content

Lighting Trains

Recommended Posts

@SuperAzusa Thanks for that, much easier to read a post than having to find the posts on the discord.


I ordered a box of 7 to test. The shop/manufacturer left a good impression on me, they contacted me to be verify of I had ordered the correct type of lights. Look forward to getting the lights, I can foresee a lot more orders.

  • Like 2
Link to comment

Here is the best image I've taken so far that shows the differences in colour temps.


From left to right, using HKTILCs product names:




  • Like 4
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment

After getting some definitely not Popondetta lights myself, I made some comparison pictures with the different light colors available and the original KATO alternative.


All the pictures are at the same power setting! I just made them using my smartphone in a slightly dark room so forgive the picture quality. It may seem bright, but in real life, it isn't as bright and you can clearly make out the interior. I chose the TGV as an example because it has a broken white interior (the standard "we don't bother with painting" interior color KATO has)





KATO 11-121 WHITE with optional filter



KATO 11-213 Warm WHITE



KATO 11-213 Warm WHITE with optional filter



Definitely not Popondetta Advance X WHITE



Definitely not Popondetta Advance X Warm White



Definitely not Popondetta Advance X Lite Yellow



Definitely not Popondetta Advance Yellow (PCB) Normal Setting



Definitely not Popondetta Advance Yellow (PCB) Supernova Setting



The vendor also sent me a rainbow PCB for free which.... is amazing! Don't know where to use that one in, however. Perhaps in my Apres Ski European train!


Overall Impressions:

  • The flicker free technology is pretty cool...
  • But it stays on for a very short (split second) amount of time. You will still need to clean the track/wheels for optimal performance, but having flicker free lights means you (or the manufacturer, looking at you KATO) can be lazy instead of cleaning the track/wheels until your fingers bleed.
  • The PCB lights can be adjusted in brightness (2 settings with capacitor, 3 settings without capacitor, the X type does not have brightness settings). If you set it at the normal brightness, the capacitor version will stay on a split second longer. I'd say that having the advance PCB at the highest setting negates having capacitor lights in the first place. But would you really want your people that ride the train go blind? I don't see the point of the supernova setting on the Advance lighting.
  • The X lights are slightly brighter than the PCB Lights. But this also depends on the length of the train, I guess.
  • The color difference between Warm White (picture 6) and Lite Yellow (picture 7) is really small, even in real life. There IS a difference, but it is so small that it might as well be irrelevant (depending on the color of the interior and the glass filter). I'd say that the Warm White from KATO (picture 3) is color wise between the Lite Yellow (Picture 7) and Yellow (Picture 8).
  • KATO Warm White with Filter remains the best color in my opinion for old or romantic (Orient Express for example) trains. It is very dim and orange-yellow.
  • If you want to just solder everything together, the normal lights will probably be sufficient for you.
  • The X type PCB is about the same thickness as the "bracket" of the KATO lights. Which is a problem, because the KATO lights also have this metal pickup. As a result the X lights are often loose in the train, though some clever pickup folding trickery ensures the lights are rock solid. This also means it is not strictly speaking compatible with all KATO lights, e.g. the HB-E300.
  • The PCB Advance lights are really cool because they also have an LED at the "rear". As you can see in the last 2 pictures, the area of the "Group" space (on the right) is always dark except if the PCB lights are utilized.


Edited by Yavianice
  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment

Hey Guys, I just got the 10-005 KATO D51 steam starter set with 3 passenger carriages. 


I'm thinking of customizing interior lights for these carriages similar to old tomix and micro-ace units, where the cables could be run from the hole on the running plate. Using a simple clip, some Yellow 9V bulbs and a cable.  


However, I see that though these carriages do have supports for lighting, I can't seem to find where to attach the cable and the lamp from? Are they attached from the sides between the clips? Or do they need to be drilled into for installation?


Many thanks



WhatsApp Image 2020-11-26 at 6.16.03 PM.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2020-11-26 at 6.15.55 PM.jpeg

Link to comment

You can solder wires to the pickup strips below the seats and get them up through where the Kato light unit would sit (top side on your 2nd photo)

Link to comment

Thanks. On a sidenote, I'd like to confirm something regarding the lighting. 


Do Japanese trains have a lighting system similar to planes? In planes it's all dark, but passengers may choose to turn on the reading light. I assume that trains carry the same function, that the cabin will be darker for overnight services/night services. 


I have yet to take a late shinkansen or a limited express service, so I was wondering if this was the case. I'm also wondering about this, because Indonesian rolling stock does not dim the cabin light for overnight services.


Thanks in advance,



Link to comment

As far as I could tell in my Japan travels, generally trains (shinkansens, local, rapid etc.) are always bright. However some modern and very recent trains do have "mood" lighting depending on the time of day.


It never gets dark in a train, except if you splurge on a gran class car seat or whatever, I guess. Dunno, never been in them. But in general the atmosphere is much more cozy from what I've seen.


This of course does not include the Sunrise trains or the JR West sleeper/joyful trains/excursion trains.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Just liked to recommend the only other person playing with Japanese trains in Singapore (i guess) with is also my friend on how to make LED light strips for Kato and Tomix trains ~


Making LED lights for Kato trains


Making LED lights for Tomix trains


Comments welcomed!


*I'll post later in the Agora, it really seems i cant paste youtube links and get auto-embedded now... might be my setting

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Yavaris Forge

That's a really nice way of lighting trains yourself! 

One question though: Is the capacitor he uses really necessary? I doubt it will have much of an effect on the flickering of the lights.

And does someone know at what voltage the 12V strips start to light up? Not that the train only lights up at full speed...

Link to comment

Were there some crazy JNS people who made their own lighting boards a year or so ago? 

I find myself in the position of considering trying to light various coaches, and now I'm wondering why I didn't sign up for those when I had the chance. Am I too late?

Link to comment
15 minutes ago, Sheffie said:

Were there some crazy JNS people who made their own lighting boards a year or so ago? 

I find myself in the position of considering trying to light various coaches, and now I'm wondering why I didn't sign up for those when I had the chance. Am I too late?

message me. 

Link to comment
On 6/29/2021 at 6:32 AM, cteno4 said:

Yes he was mad, very mad! 😜



I agree, I had the chance to produce the lightboard based on chadbag project (thanks Chad), well I asked a chinese factory to produce it for me, sourcing all the components with soldering included, but since then, I decided to buy a new house a to relocate so the boards are still in a package somewhere not opened yet, I have yet to setup my new working desk so unfortunately it will take at least 6 more months since I'll be able to find and test them

  • Like 2
Link to comment

@JR Eastthere is a link to their facebook page. They do all their communication through that.


That being said, they mentioned they have some supplier issues. Current chip shortage/energy shortage and all. Best is to be patient, or to ask if you can reserve some.

Link to comment

Received my first stock of HKTILC lights today. Shipping took quite a while, almost 2 weeks, seeing that we are both in the South East Asia region, but nevertheless, good packing and the package is also kinda nice. 








Got 5 packs of 7 to try out the effects first... 




The package - Tomix (narrow type) on the left, and Kato type on the right. 








This is the Tomix package, labelled as 'Blue-White'. springs are required to be attached but it is an esay process, simply screwing it in place. The number of LEDs are also impressive, and the light they emitted is really nice, along with some capacitor to prevent light filckering... I love how the wordings are printed n the back of the light strip, it looks really nice. There's also a switch for 'LOW' and ' HIGH' but quite frankly, i cant tell the difference. Maybe i'll try it again at night. 




As i didnt take a nice photo and it was bright daylight, it was hard to compare with my other interior light (also not from official Kato/ Tomix source). First thing that i LOVE was the fact that the light was brighter, and it didnt seep through the 'very transparent' body shell of the 819 series Dencha... 

(HKTILC on the left, another 3rd party light on the right)


In conclusion, i think i'm sold! Probably be getting more of these lights for my trains in future ~


Edited by JR 500系
  • Like 2
Link to comment
9 minutes ago, JR 500系 said:

First thing that i LOVE was the fact that the light was brighter

Brighter than...? I use Kato 11-212 lights and I think that they are too bright!

Link to comment
25 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

I'm not sure if anyone has posted this. It's a lighting kit from Digikeijs. It's for a European style car. It's got a capacitor which is nice. But what I really like is that it comes with 20 seated passenger figures.




That's a good marketing strategy, since lighting interior of trains will require seated commuters! Though the pricing seems a little on the high side since LEDs are getting much cheaper with technology, and those seated commuters look like the type one could get off Aliexpress for a pack of 100s for cheap ~  🙂

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
2 hours ago, JR 500系 said:

Though the pricing seems a little on the high side since LEDs are getting much cheaper with technology, and those seated commuters look like the type one could get off Aliexpress for a pack of 100s for cheap ~  🙂


Sammy, I think you missed the part about it being for a European car.  When you are already paying 50-80 euros or more for one wagon, an extra 20-23 euros is nothing. 🤣

  • Haha 2
Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...