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Saturday, June 25, 2011

LED Nav Lighting DIY Tutorial

I've written about this subject before, but this diagram should help clarify how easy it is to add your own LED lighting for just a few dollars.
You can mix the type and number of LEDs as long as the total of the series is higher than 12.6V (assuming a 3S battery).
(CLICK DIAGRAM TO ENLARGE)
I use the thin wiring pulled from inside a phone cord. The wiring will only carry the tiny current drawn by the LEDs, so it can be very thin gauge.

You can duplicate the diagram as many times as you want to add more lights, e.g. one set of LEDs per wing. In that case, tap each circuit (of 4 LEDS) into the ESC battery connector, so they run in parallel.

I use Radio Shack's 10mm Ultra-High Brightness white LEDs, which is also a 4V diode, whenever I want to make one or more of the lights a landing light.  These big 10mm spot lights have a powerful lens that projects a perfect circle about 2 feet in diameter when measured around 20 feet in front of the airplane.  These lights are extremely bright for the negligible power consumption, and can be seen as an brilliant pin point whenever the aircraft is pointed at you in the air.  I try to angle my landing lights down about 3 degrees from level, so I have an intensity indicator when the airplane is established on the right glide path on final.
Landing light at the wing root, protected by the canopy
Finally, for enclosed Nav Lights that look realistic and provide excellent LED wing scrape protection, the plastic feet sliced off the bottom of an Aquapod work great.
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