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January 28, 2020

Oh, look.  It's been four years.

What can I say?  Life has been busy, and I started sharing my projects on Facebook because, well, I get responses there.

BUT, I started posting about my 1:144 scale Willowcrest here, and I'm going to finish it here, so let's keep going!  Here's where we left off:

Bathroom and bedroom furnishings and walls completed.  The next thing to work on is lighting and  . . . oh, yeah, now I see why it's been four years.

Yes, I was determined to make this tiny house light up.  That required a bit of planning.

Things you need to think about before lighting a house are:

What kind of fixtures do you want?
What materials can you use to make them look that way?
Where do you want the lights to be?
Where do you put the power source for the lights?
How do you run the wires to those locations from the light source?

I'm going to address the second part of these questions first.

I opted to keep it simple, and just put one ceiling light in each room.  I turned to Evan Designs for my supplies, based on suggestions from True2Scale.

I ordered 1 switched coin cell battery holder, 4 3v warm white pico LED lights, and some heat shrink tubing.  (please hover over the text for the links, the lines don't show up?) These bulbs are TINY.  I can't really take a photo of them, they're just little yellow blobs, but they give off an amazing amount of light.

I used poster board for the ceiling on the upper floors, and ran the wires up through a tiny hole, then down the outside sides of the house.  (Had I planned ahead further, I could have run them down the inside of the house.)

For the lower floors, the wires are glued to the ceiling and run to the interior corners, then down the wall and out under it.  A little paint will make them vanish.

You'll notice that each bulb has two wires. One is colored red at the far end, just before you get to bare wire, and the other colored green.  Once you've got your wires where you want them to end up, you need to carefully gather up and twist all the exposed ends of the red wires together, and then the ends of all the green wires together.  (it's possible the green wires were black, just make sure your colors match!)

Cut two short lengths (about one inch, perhaps?) of the narrower heat shrink tubing, and slide one onto each of your twists of wires, pushing it further back so you can work with the exposed ends.  Then you need to match your twists to the proper color on the battery coin holder, and twist red to red, green to black, ensuring the exposed metal touches.  (it's only important that the reds go together, the other color clearly doesn't matter!)
Now, get a battery and test to make sure it all works before you do anything more permanent.  Make sure the exposed ends of the red and green wires don't touch!

Oh, and relax.  It's only 3 volts.  Your skin has a resistance to such tiny amounts of electricity and you won't feel anything.  I can hold the wires directly against a battery to test the lights and it's just fine. But it could mess up your project if it's improperly wired, so make sure your exposed wires are completely covered!

I ran into the slight problem of having a coin cell battery that was labeled 3v, but only half the width required to fit in the device. I must have scavenged it from a Dollar Tree magnet flashlight. I eventually found the right size. 

Once you've determined everything works, slide the tubing to completely cover all the wires, and use a heat gun or similar to shrink the tubing.  I tried to use a hairdryer, but it apparently didn't get hot enough.  Tug gently to ensure there's a tight grip.  I will say that I had some problems with this,  (the wires are too thin for even the thinnest tubing!) and I'm not sure how to fix it, except with another, longer layer of heat shrink tubing.  Just make sure you put both layers on the wires first, and keep the second layer away from the heat source!

And it works. Check it out!

So where did I put that battery and switch?  It's pretty obnoxious to have all that wiring and that heavy battery and casing dragging about with this tiny house.

Fortunately, this particular dollhouse came with a simple wooden base, and I was able to use it to hide the wiring, battery, and switch.  To keep it accessible, I cut out a frame to fit inside, and then used a piece of cardstock to act as a sliding lid.  I'm using museum wax (and/or orthodontic wax, they're essentially the same thing) to prevent the battery from sliding.  I used E6000 glue to hold the switch in place.

I didn't measure properly, or I would have realized the button was the same width as the side pieces, and I would have cut the frame to glue to the bottom of the piece, rather than level with the interior.  It's a minor problem, fortunately, and easy to work around.

And the lighting is done!  Not too painful, right?