CUSTOM LIGHTING

Based on pictures and videos I have seen of the completed version of this Agora Models 1:24 FDNY Tower Ladder 9 partwork model, I decided early on that I wanted to add more lighting effects to my own build. The stock model has basic headlights/taillights, turn signals, and flashing lightbars, but I wanted something more spectacular including working strobes, wig-wag flashers, and better lightbar visuals. This is the story of my custom lighting adventure…

DISCLAIMER: If you choose to attempt any of these modifications, you assume all risks thereof. I just wanted to share my experiences here. Neither Agora Models, nor myself, are responsible for any damages that may occur.


In the past, I have added used tiny-scale lighting kits from Light My Bricks (LMB) to illuminate my larger LEGO sets and the results have been fantastic. Since their do-it-yourself (DIY) components are pre-wired, modular and easy to use, I wanted to see if I could adapt them to this fire truck. The Light My Bricks components I selected for this project cost nearly $400 USD, but I think the end result will be amazing.

NOTE: While I wanted to share the products and processes I used to complete this modification on my model, be warned this mod is not for everyone. It requires soldering and resin work, permanent changes to the model, and electronics knowledge.

The Plan

Before I began, I created this graphic to plan out the lighting connections and which components would be used where. If my plan changes as the build continues, I will come back here and update this diagram and note any changes. I have used different colored ‘wires’ to indicate how the different lighting effects will be routed to the various lights. You can click on this diagram for a larger image.

DIAGRAM UPDATED April 22, 2022: This diagram now includes the Lightbar rebuild I completed after starting these articles:

The Components Required


From Light My Bricks (LMB):

  • 5 x Micro Bit Light (Red) 15cm (4 pack) = 20 LEDs
    • Two (2) for Cab Front Emergency Lights
    • Four (4) for Cab Side Emergency Lights
    • Six (6) for Body Side Emergency Lights
    • Two (2) for Body Rear Emergency Lights
    • Four (4) for Rear Warning Bar
    • Two (2) spares – may need to cut off the LED to be used for the wires/plug
  • 2 x Micro Bit Lights (White) 30cm (4 pack) = 8 LEDS
    • Two (2) for Dome Lights
    • Two (2) for Inner Headlights
    • Four (4) for spares – may need to cut off the LED to be used for the wires/plug
  • 3 x Multi-Effects Boards
    • One (1) for inner Headlights, Cab Front Emergency Lights, Rear Beacons
    • One (1) for all Cab Side and Body Side Emergency Lights
    • One (1) for Roof Lightbars, Rear Warning Bar
  • 5 x Micro 4-Port Expansion Board (2 pack) = 10 Boards
    • One (1) for Dome Lights
    • Two (2) for inner Headlights, Cab Front Emergency Lights
    • Two (2) for Cab Side Emergency Lights
    • Two (2) for Body Side Emergency Lights
    • Two (2) for Rear Warning Bar
    • One (1) spare
  • 4 x 6-Port Expansion Board (2 pack) = 8 Boards (5x if you want to rebuild the Lightbars = 10 Boards)
    • Two (2) for first Multi-Effects Board outputs
    • Two (2) for second Multi-Effects Board outputs
    • Two (2) for third Multi-Effects Board outputs
    • One (1) for USB Power Distribution
    • Two (2) for Roof Lightbars rebuild (optional)
    • One (1) spare
  • 3 x Connecting Cables – 5cm (4 pack) = 12 Cables
    • Three (3) to connect USB Power Distribution board to Multi-Effects Boards
    • Six (6) to connect Multi-Effects Board outputs to 6-Port Expansion Boards
    • Two (2) to extend two Multi-Effects Board output expansion boards to Rear Warning Bar Micro 4-port boards
    • One (1) spare
  • 3 x Connecting Cables – 30 cm (4 pack) = 12 Cables
    • Two (2) to extend Multi-Effects Board output expansion boards to Cab Front Headlight/Emergency Micro 4-port boards
    • Two (2) to extend Multi-Effects Board output expansion boards to Cab Side Emergency Lights Micro 4-port boards
    • Two (2) to extend Multi-Effects Board output expansion boards to Roof Lightbars (or if upgrading, to two 6-port expansion boards)
    • Two (2) to extend Multi-Effects Board output expansion boards to Body Side Emergency Lights Micro 4-port boards
    • Two (2) to extend Multi-Effects Board output expansion boards to Rear Beacons
    • One (1) to extend USB Power Distribution board to Dome Lights Micro 4-port board
    • One (1) spare
  • 1 x Remote Control and Sound Kit
  • 1 x USB Power Cable

Light My Bricks Components User Guide (click to Download)

This guide will help you understand how to use and connect Light My Bricks component together.

CAUTION: Pay special attention to how Micro LEDs are to be connected. They should only be connected to the smaller ports on the Micro Expansion Boards (you will see the nearby resistors). If Micro LEDs are accidentally connected to the larger ‘full-power’ ports, they will quickly burn out!

If you choose to upgrade the roof Lightbars:

Installation


To make following my custom lighting modification easier, I have broken it down into sections. I recommend reading through these before you build each relevant stage so see what needed to be done. I have also included some pages regarding work I did between stages and some short videos I created along the way:

I wanted to share a quick video of what I have done so far. I connected these first custom LEDs to a couple of the Effects Boards and powered them up. I can adjust the timing of the wig-wag and strobe effects with a small knob, so they will likely get tuned later on.

  • Stock PCB
    • The PCB Sockets
    • How to turn the PCB on

With everything connected to the appropriate LMB Effects Boards and powering up both the stock PCB and the LMB parts, we end up with this. FYI, in this video, I temporarily placed the interior into the Cab, fit the Cab to the Main Chassis, and popped the Front Bumper into place. We have not reached the point in the build where these are actually attached yet, but it looks cool!

NOTE: In this video, I had not yet updated my roof Lightbars with new LEDs.

As an added bonus, by running the Lightbars via the LMB components, it separates the stock Siren sound from the lighting. This means the model will be able to be displayed running full lighting and siren as ‘Code 3’ or just the lighting as ‘Code 2’. A bit of a warning, this video can be LOUD!

NOTE: In this video, I had not yet updated my roof Lightbars with new LEDs.

TO BE CONTINUED…

As I progress through the model build, I will add to this page as more custom lighting is installed!

Next Custom Lighting Page


LIGHTING 16 – Adding our custom lighting to Stage 16