Tutorials -

Linking your Winter Village together

It's that time of year - the Winter Village series are what everyone wants to build.

If you're lucky enough to have a few of these sets you can create a beautiful festive scene.

But what if you want to light them all up?

Read on for all the details on how to do it just right.

What's the Challenge?

Our lovely Light My Bricks lighting kits for the Winter Village models are all battery powered.  This is to maximise the playability of the models.  They all come with a main AA battery pack for the bulk of the lights, and a lot of these models have vehicles too so there's a smaller battery pack for those.

This is great when playing with the models, but if you have a big fixed display it can be a little tricky - not to mention time consuming to turn the lights all on and off!

So how do we do it?

Simple.  You link them all together!

OK that sounds simple but there's some care required to make it work well.

The right solution depends on the layout.  Are the models all clustered together?  Are they in a line along the mantle or window cill?  How spaced out are they?

There's two main options here.

Option 1 : Daisy Chain

This is pretty simple - you connect a USB Power Cable to the first set, then a Connecting Cable to the next.

Good: it's simple and works great if your models are in a line.

Bad : You need TWO ports on each model.  Every model has one spare port - it's where the battery goes!  But you need a second to connect to the next model in the chain.  You might also need a third to allow you to connect the vehicle (if any) to the chain too.

Option 2 : Star Wiring

 

This version requires an expansion board - we have 6, 8 or 12 port options.

The power supply connects to one port, and then connecting cables reach out to the models.

You can also purchase a starter pack of components at a discounted price.  The Multi Light Connection Kit.  This has a USB plug, 6 port Expansion Board and four 50cm Connecting cables.  Enough to run four kits from one USB plug.

Good: You don't need so many extra ports - the connecting cables go to each model where the battery usually does.  You still may have a challenge as the models with vehicles need an extra port too.

Bad : You are more limited on placement, as the length of the cables may be a factor.  You can always extend cables using our 2 Port Expansion Boards, so multiple 50cm cables can link together, but you need to balance the cost here.

Option 3 - Daisy Chain & Star Wiring

Wait - didn't you say only two options?  Well technically this isn't new - it's just a combination of both.  And this works well for most folk.

This could look any way you want - multiple Star Wiring patterns linked with connecting cables or joined back to an expansion board.  Whatever works - you can't go wrong here.

Important Note

One thing many people miss : not all expansion boards are equal.  Sometimes the output from a Flicker Effect board or similar is not connected directly to an LED - it can go to an Expansion Board.  And thus the effect is shared between multiple lights.  These Expansion Boards cannot be used for linking sets together - we need to use the main power circuit only and not touch anything linked to effects boards.  

Let's start again... How do we do it?

OK - fair question - there's a lot to consider here!

To help plan this we've gone through the instructions for ALL the Winter Village sets, and produced a list of what options there are.

We recommend sketching out the layout you have (or want) and using this to plan what upgrades are needed.  

All of these assume one thing : you add one USB Power Cable to power them all.  What we do NOT list here, are the cables between the models.  That depends on your design, and how many / how long they need to be. 

So this is just about giving you information on how many ports are free on each model, and how to connect the extra vehicles etc, and we assume you have removed the batteries from the models.  So the total free ports includes some needed to power the models of course!  Hopefully we've made this pretty clear.

Set Name Separate Vehicle? Spare Ports after removing battery? Parts needed
10216 Winter Village Bakery No Just 1

Replace the 8 port board with a 12 port board

10222 Winter Village Post Office Yes

2 on truck (one needed to power the truck!)

1 in building roof
2 on rear of building

Connecting Cable from rear board to truck
10229 Winter Village Cottage Yes

4 ports spare on truck.

None on main build.

Replace 6 port board behind house with 8 port - one for daisy chain and one for the truck.

Connecting Cable to reach to truck.

10235 Winter Village Market Kind of - the carousel has a separate battery pack.

1 spare on Chicken Stand 8 port.

1 in carousel - needed to power it.

3 spare on ticket stand 12 port

30cm cable from ticket stand to carousel.
10245 Santa's Workshop No 2 spare None!
10249 Winter Toy Shop No None Replace the 8 port board with a 12 port board
10254 Winter Holiday Train It's a train... 1 spare after removing Power Functions cable 1 x Connecting Cable
1 x spare port on another model to connect to
10259 Winter Village Station Yes None Replace the 8 port board with a 12 port board

Connecting Cable from bus to main building.
10263 Winter Village Fire Station Yes

2 spare in the fire truck, 1 needed to power it.

Battery goes into 8 port - none spare.

1 spare in 6 port in tower.

Replace the 8 port board with a 12 port board

Connecting cable from Fire Truck to new 12 port board
10267 Gingerbread House No

1 spare on 1st floor behind roof slope on left (viewed from behind).

1 spare on 6 port board at rear.

None.

10275 Elf Club House No 3 spare None


Sometimes here I've said that you should replace an 8 port board with a 12 port board.  It may be more economical to instead ADD a 6 port board and a 5cm cable.  This may also fit better.  Try and plan ahead - If you replace an 8 port board with 2 x 6 port boards, for example, you can then use that 8 port board on another model...

There's a clear oddity in this list : the Winter Holiday Train.  This comes with either Power Functions or Powered Up cable options.  It's assumed you will power it from an on-board LEGO battery pack, because of course it moves. 

Whichever version you get, the special adaptor cable connects into the train under the engine car.  It's simple to replace this with a long connecting cable and back to the rest of the model if you don't want the train to move.  

Can you supply the extra parts?

You know we can!  In fact if you're buying multiple kits we'll provide you exactly what you need to hook them up. We just need you to help advise on the placement of the kits and the distances between them so we can try and get the cables right first time.  Don't be afraid to just order the parts you need and give it a go!  Or if you need guidance or perhaps only 2 connecting cables instead of a whole board, then drop us a line.  We're happy to help.

How can I turn the whole thing on and off?

You have a few choices here.  We provide a Remote Power & Sound kit, which gives you a remote control and can be insert in-line between the USB plug and the rest of the model.  If you don't need the dimmer (not recommended with all the effects boards anyway) or the audio capability, this is probably overkill for you.

Instead check out Amazon or your favourite local gadget shop for smart sockets.  These have a plug on one side, and a socket on the other, and are turned on and off with Hive, Alexa, Hue or whatever your favourite smart home system is.  We don't recommend any in particularly - if it's a working socket it'll work for us!

What if I don't have a power socket nearby?

We still recommend trying to run from the mains if possible.  USB extension leads are cheap and available in extremely long lengths, so for a festive display it might be worth letting a cable run around the room on the floor.  But sometimes it's simply impossible, and then options are limited.

We have battery pack options of course - all these kits come with them - but to power more than a couple of kits from a single battery you will be forever replacing the batteries.  Not fun, not cheap, and not very environmentally friendly!

Instead the best solution is a USB power bank.  The kind of brick you use to power your mobile phone on long journeys.  Modern ones come with huge capacities, and since USB is a consistant 5V standard any of them will work.  The only factors are physical size - where will you hide it?  And capacity.  Stated in milli-ampere-hours or mAh - this determines how long them run.  There's no recommended capacity as it varies hugely based on the number of lights connected and even the temperature in the room.  No really! But bigger is certainly better, and means less time spent charging.

Anything else?

Give us a call or send us a message.  Or chat to us on our website or Facebook page.  We're here to help and would love to see what fabulous festive displays you can come up with!

 


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Linking your Winter Village together