Electrifying Your Dollhouse

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There are two common methods to electrifying a dollhouse; Round Wire and Tape Wire. Round wire is similar to wiring your real house. It uses 2 separate strands of coated round hard wire. Tape wire is more efficient with basic dollhouses, in that, the hard wires are flattened and attached together on a self adhesive plastic strip. This system enables you to efficiently run your wiring under flooring and wallpaper without effecting your decorating. In a Tape Wire approach, electricity in your dollhouse is installed using a self adhesive dual strip of copper called tape wire. Tape wire is the method discussed here.

    You will begin by drawing a horizontal line on all the walls with a pencil. Heigth up on the wall should be anywhere between 1" to 1 1/2" Be consistent with the measurement throughout the house. A straight edge of a standard ruler works well for this task. Hold the ruler flat against the bottom of the wall and score your line. .(The given dimensions are for 1" = 1' or 1/12th or 1 inch scale houses). For 1/2" = 1', use half of these dimensions). (See Figure 1)

Figure 1

Figure 2
    Apply the tape under this line starting at one side and continuing to the outside of the house. Making sure you have enough tape on the outside to double or triple fold it apon its self. Run the tape through the interior doorways. Continue the tape around the outside of the house for about 3”. (See Figure 2)

    Locate your lead-in wire and your transformer, transformers are available in different sizes to accommodate the number of lights that you want in your dollhouse. The two horseshoe shaped feet at the end of your lead-in wire (the techie term is bifurcated lugs) are inserted under the two screws on the transformer and screwed in. It does not matter which foot goes under which screw. On the other end of your lead-in wire, the two prongs go into the two holes in the junction splice. Then you can plug your transformer into your wall outlet. (See figure 3)

Figure 3
Lead-in Wire connects to Transformer and Junction Splice

    Now you should have power in the tape wire. To see this, locate your test probe and take off the cover. When the two pins are pushed into the copper wire, the other end lights up, if there is power. (see Figure 4)

Figure 4

Figure 5
Connections for vertical tape wire, or if you need to go around a door or window is your next step. To keep the power connected through an intersection, you will need to add two brads to each overlapping wire (pink to pink, and blue to blue). Some people advocate using small eyelets rather than brads. However, we do not discuss the use of eyelets here. Eyelets tend to require special tools, and prevent wallpaper from laying flat to the wall. Make sure the brads go into the tape where pink crosses pink and blue crosses blue, (one at a time) to prevent a short. IMPORTANT: BE SURE TO TURN OFF POWER WHILE MAKING CONNECTIONS AND OUTLETS to extend the bulb life. (See Figure 5 $ 6)

Figure 6

When you want ceiling lights, with another piece of tape wire, starting by the floor crossing the installed tape wire and run it up the wall going to the middle of the ceiling. The second piece of tape wire goes on the ceiling from front to back, crossing the first piece. Place this centered in the room.

Wall Sconces are installed in a similar fashion. Usually, the vertical strip of tapewire is placed 1/3 the distance on the wall, from back to front, and.or front to back. (See figure 7)

Figure 7

Figure 8
Now that your first connection is made, again using your test probe, poke it into the tape wire after the connection and if your house is plugged in, the test probe should light up. Continue to run tape, make connections and test. (See figure 8)

To continue to electrify the house, you need to take more tape wire and start at one side of the second floor and go through all the second floor room (going through doorways) and ending up outside the house, above the junction splice. Run a strip of tape wire from next to your junction splice up the wall crossing over the second floor tape.

Make connections at both ends of this strip of tape. Now test the vertical strip and the far end of the second floor tape.If the outside of your house is already finished, stop the tape wire at the back edge of the room, and run the tape from the first to the second floor by going through the stairway hole. (See Figure 9)

Figure 9

Once the house is completed and working interior decorating is next. After wallpapering is complete, but before baseboards, outlets can be installed. You may use either standard outlets, such as MH776 Generic Wall Plugs, or a smaller, more to scale, outlet: CK1003 - Cir-Kit Wall Outlet (use of this outlet requires the adaptation of any standard lighing plug to plug desiogned to fit the smaller outlet. Or you may install large eyelets with a plug-it tool Correct positioning of the outlets is accomplised simply by using your test probe to locate tape wire through the wallpaper and pushing outlets or eyelets into the tape wire. Then test.


Figure 10
Drill 1/16“ hole through wall ( about 5 1/2“ above floor). Cut plug off lamp. Feed wires through hole and glue lamp to outside of house. Cut wire to 1“ longer than needed to reach tapewire. Strip about 3/4“ of insulation from end of wire (use fingernail and thumb). If comfortable, dut the insulation back to the hole for wallpaer to lay flat to the wall. However, be sure to carefully twist the wires tight, and assure none of the fine wires from each wire touch the other wire. Position one twisted wire up to Pink (or Blue) and the other down to the Blue (or Pink) wire. Wrap the wires around a brad and pound into the appropriate colored tape wires. (See Figure 10)

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