Posted in How to, miniatures, Room box

A Hybrid System

Years ago my daughters and I decorated a farmhouse dollhouse. We were so proud of ourselves for creating many of our own furnishings and installing a copper tape electrical system — until someone tripped over the cord for the transformer. This happened too many times; sometimes the farmhouse came sliding off the table, sometimes it pulled the wires loose.

When I got the farmhouse out for my grandchildren, I wondered if after all these years, there might be another way. Yes! Batteries. During the farmhouse refurbishment, I began to purchase individual battery-operated lights. The kids loved to turn them on and off, but to me this was not a satisfactory solution.

The Fruity Girls enjoy their battery-operated lighting.

Fast forward to the present. I’m designing and installing LED lights in my builds; a whole scene can be lit cordlessly with one 3V battery — except if I am invited to put a piece on display. The batteries just don’t last. Then my husband found a power adapter that had settings for various voltages, including 3V.

I hooked it up temporarily with my power jack from CR2S to my Hill House room box. Wow! It worked perfectly; but what about when I wanted it to be portable? Well, 3V is 3V, the room box lights don’t care whether the power comes from a battery or from a corded power supply. I built a “utility” box where all the magic would come together.

Once cut and glued together, I sprayed it with gray primer. The hardest thing about minis is waiting for the paint to dry, amiright? Well my friend Peggy, who built an amazing 1:24 scale wizard cottage, has a tip for speeding up the paint process. When she needs to paint two sides of a piece, she sprays one side and then lays it on a framing bracket and sprays the other.

This hybrid concept relies on teeny tiny connectors from Evans Design. I made up two switched power sources by attaching one female connector to the power jack and one to the switched battery holder also from Evans Design. Then I bundled up all the room box wires and soldered them to a male connector.

All the gadgetry fits into the box. You can see the power jack at the inside upper left corner, and the other components are just floating free right now.

Now you can see the port for the power jack protruding from an opening on the left side and its connector leaning on the front corner of the box. The battery holder can be pulled out of the box to change the battery and it’s connector is at the top center. The room box wiring has a male connector which can be attached to either power source.

It is all pretty tidy. Now when I want long lasting power, I plug into the adapter. And when I want to be portable, I plug into the battery operated power source. It’s a hybrid room box!


I’m a Californian living in Oregon. But home is where my miniatures are.

8 thoughts on “A Hybrid System

  1. Sherrill, this lesson is so badly needed. It answers so many of my questions on electrical: battery vs wiring. I just received my CR2 kit and will be working on wiring hopefully this week. I’ also using Cri-kit Concepts quick attach hookup for ceiling lights. We will see how that one goes. So thank you so very much for explaining this great system. Do you mind if I reference you on my Facebook group Miniature Tutorials and DYI? There are always questions about electrical and battery with some not very good answers. Have a great day.

    1. Ann, your comment is exactly why I blog. First and foremost I want to share what I learn. Of course you can reference me on your Facebook group. I especially like when a miniaturist learns something from me and then credits me when they discuss their own work. Just remember, the voltage MUST MATCH. The 3V lights can only be powered by 3V power supply – corded or battery. Likewise, 12V lights can only be powered by a 12V or less power supply. Sort of like enjoying a drink through a straw, then thinking you would enjoy the drink more if it came through a fire hose. It could be disastrous. Good luck on your project.

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