Illuminating Flag Poles & Creating Spotlights with Fiber Optics

by Michael Groves

Fiber optic lighting - flagpoles

When you want to add a lit-up flagpole to your layout

I had a playground and it was begging for a flag pole.  So I ordered one of the Just-Plug® Flag poles.  It came very nicely packaged together with an LED floodlight and wiring connectors.

LED floodlight and connectors

I set aside the LED Floodlight and Connectors, inserting the Flag pole into the playground (used a #60 drill for the hole).  Next I used a 1/16” drill to create a diagonal hole about 4” away from the flag pole.  Into that a 1mm fiber was inserted until it was flush with the surface of the playground and the other end was inserted into a Lamplighter unit beneath the layout.  See the effect - so Simple.  No extra cost of an extra flood light LED and fixture!

Fiber Optic Spotlight

Little did I know but customers have already figured this little trick out.

Below are two images from Roland Latajka from Calgary, Canada.  Even his moose is lit up, standing up there on a rock!  Thanks Roland

Fiber Optic Spotlights on a house

Fiber optic floodlight on a moose

How to create floodlighting with fiber optics

It turns out that floodlighting is a very easy thing to do with fiber optics.  In the houses below, 2 1/16” holes were drilled at about 45 degrees to the surface of the layout and a bit away from the house.  1.5mm fibers were used and dimmed by 50% so as to create a balanced effect.

Floodlights using fiber optics on an old house

Note, to dim the light from the fiber, just pull it out of the Lamplighter unit by about 1” or so.  This is what I did to make sure the glow was just right.

Adjusting the Size of the Spotlight

Changing the shape of the floodlight is very straightforward as well.  The building below shows 2 sizes of spotlight.  The only difference is the fiber for the right hand light was flamed briefly using a BBQ lighter to create a lens effect.    The difference between the two lights is quite noticeable.

Adjusting a fiber optic spotlight

One note:  The flood lighting effect is very dependent on how far the lights are placed from the object being illuminated, and also the angle at which they are inserted.  Fortunately, if a 1 or 1.5mm is used the hole size is limited to 1/16” or 3/64”.  This is a huge advantage.

Some commercially available LED floodlights, such as Woodland Scenic’s Just-Plug spotlights require a hole of 1/4”, making any mistakes in positioning obvious and problematic.

Here is a church on my layout, with a spotlight located on a roundabout.  Is really makes it pop out.

Church with a fiber optic spotlight

Have fun with Fiber Spotlights - no special products needed, just a piece of fiber.


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