Monday, December 28, 2020

Philips HUE illumination system with Rocrail (1/2)

Some time ago I published the following article explaining how to make an illumination system for the layout, compatible with the weather functionality of Rocrail:

http://www.clubncaldes.com/2016/01/layout-illumination-and-weather.html

But for those who don't want to use Arduino and make their own electronics, I'll show you how to use the Philips HUE system, much easier and professional, but a little bit more expensive. Anyway I'll show you also cheaper lamps to use than the original ones from Philips.

The first thing you will need is a Philips HUE bridge, this is what you will connect to your network (and to Rocrail) and manages all the lights you want to install:


HUE Bridge


You will need also some compatible RGB colour lights. There are kits including the bridge and some light bulbs, or a remote switch. Depending on the layout size, disposition, environment light or on the number of lights you want to install there are different options. Basically you have the following options:


GU10

GU10 lights: these are spot lights, so I do not recommend them or you will need to install a lot of them to cover all the layout with a light in an uniform way.


E27

E27 lights: these bulbs make a more diffuse light, but they should be installed not close to the layout. This is a very good option, but on a long layout you will need many of them and they are not cheap.


Led Strip

Led Strips: this is a cheaper option as you can illuminate a long section in an uniform way. In my case, my layout is composed of modules, so it's narrow but long. I would need many bulbs to illuminate it in a homogeneous way, on the other hand the led strips must be placed quite close to the layout. But I have a shelf at 50cm from the top of the modules all along the layout, so I just had to stick three 5 meters long led strips under the shelf instead of installing a dozen of light bulbs.


ZIGBEE compatible led strip

Any other ZIGBEE compatible lights
: Philips HUE lights are awesome by the intensity of the light and the colours, but they are also expensive. So you can use any ZIGBEE compatible light. Just make sure it is specified they are compatible with Philips HUE (check the icon under the image) and support the ZIGBEE protocol. I bought these led strips for my layout in Aliexpress, search for the following description: "Zigbee-minicontrolador RGBCW, 1-5M DC12V 5050 RGB + CCT 90leds/m, Kit de luces de tira LED para ZIGBEE 3,0 HUB hu-e Echo Plus APP"


So you will have to test and find the best (and cheapest) combination of lights for your layout, in my case I used 3 led strips (5 meters long each one) and one E27 light for a corner that missed more light.


Before starting the Rocrail configuration and the weather functionality setup, make sure your light are working with the mobile Philips HUE application in your smartphone. Follow the Philips instructions to pair the lights with the HUE bridge, it's really simple as you only have to press the button on the led strip and the bridge, or introduce the serial number of the bulb in the application.

Another important thing is to assign a fixed IP address to the bridge. This can be done using the smartphone HUE application as explained here: https://huetips.com/help/how-to-find-my-bridge-ip-address/



Once you have the lights working you have to setup Rocrail, but this will be explained in the following post.




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