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Pumpkin drop event

Applying LED lights to my plane.

#1
Earlier this morning I viewed a video on putting LEDs on a plane but it still is all to confusing. My goal is to put lights on a designed plane I am working on so that the lights will look like lights on the Night Vapor. My desire is to use all white lights to aid in the flight direction in the dark. :)
 
#2
Personally, I do not like the way the Night Vapor is lit. I have a friend who has one and I think it is too hard to see at distance. But that is a personal preference. Personally I like having more lights as it helps me see the plane as it gets further away. Here is an example of a plane I think is well lit:


Here is a link to some photos of my first attempt to light a plane (one of my E-Flite Apprentices). The problem I ran into with this lighting configuration is the tail was not lit well enough and I could not see it at a distance and I needed wing tip lights on top of the wing to help with orientation when I only saw the top of the plane. I need to get photos of my plane as it is now.

I would love to help you figure out how to light your plane and I hope these examples are helpful. It would also be helpful to know what plane you want to light up. Please provide more details and/or ask specific questions of the issue you are having or concerns you have so that we can better help.
 

French

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#3
If you’re running a 3 cell battery (11.1V to 12.6V) you can just pickup a strip of 12V LEDs and wire them to your battery voltage.

5M 10.8W DC12V LED Strip Light 3528 300 LEDs White/Warm White/Red/Blue With DC female Connector https://banggood.app.link/Num6mZIozJ
Or
LE 16.4ft LED Flexible Light Strip, 300 Units SMD 2835 LEDs, 12V DC Non-waterproof, Light Strips, LED ribbon, DIY Christmas Holiday Home Kitchen Car Bar Indoor Party Decoration (Daylight White) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSF65MC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_CMovAbF2KKSPA

You don’t need a waterproof LED strip, as it generally only adds weight. You can cut them to length (you’ll see where the lines to cut are) and solder on wires to daisy chain them.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#4
If you’re running a 3 cell battery (11.1V to 12.6V) you can just pickup a strip of 12V LEDs and wire them to your battery voltage.

5M 10.8W DC12V LED Strip Light 3528 300 LEDs White/Warm White/Red/Blue With DC female Connector https://banggood.app.link/Num6mZIozJ
Or
LE 16.4ft LED Flexible Light Strip, 300 Units SMD 2835 LEDs, 12V DC Non-waterproof, Light Strips, LED ribbon, DIY Christmas Holiday Home Kitchen Car Bar Indoor Party Decoration (Daylight White) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSF65MC/?tag=lstir-20

You don’t need a waterproof LED strip, as it generally only adds weight. You can cut them to length (you’ll see where the lines to cut are) and solder on wires to daisy chain them.
French,

I have been thinking of this in my Versa Wing, as I'd love to have it visible for night flights at Flite Fest West (whenever it will be) as well as the Nov. AMA Expo West and various campouts at the field, flying after dusk. :)

Where I get lost, however, is running power TO the lights. I've seen people say, "Just connect it to your balance connector on your battery." Ok - do I solder a female 3S balance connector to the light strip end? I know, it's probably a REALLY basic question I'm asking, but when it comes to electronics and soldering, I prefer a "Do EXACTLY this," because I've found when I don't, I let the magic blue smoke out and then the electronics don't work for me anymore. :)

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm an idiot when it comes to this sort of stuff...
 
#5
French,

I have been thinking of this in my Versa Wing, as I'd love to have it visible for night flights at Flite Fest West (whenever it will be) as well as the Nov. AMA Expo West and various campouts at the field, flying after dusk. :)

Where I get lost, however, is running power TO the lights. I've seen people say, "Just connect it to your balance connector on your battery." Ok - do I solder a female 3S balance connector to the light strip end? I know, it's probably a REALLY basic question I'm asking, but when it comes to electronics and soldering, I prefer a "Do EXACTLY this," because I've found when I don't, I let the magic blue smoke out and then the electronics don't work for me anymore. :)

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm an idiot when it comes to this sort of stuff...
Are you doing this to white foam board or the water proof foam board? If white, you can put the LEDs inside the foam board (usually attached to the wing spar) and it lights up the Versa Wing great. Unfortunately the water proof foam board blocks too much light and so you should put lights on the outside of the water proof foam board.

Yes, you solder the outside two pins of a 3S balance connector to the LED strip end. I usually remove the middle two pins as they are unused for this and leaving them increases the odds of having a short that can be very bad. As for getting the polarity correct, the outside wires should be red and black (look at a battery if you get connectors without wires): red is the (+) positive side and black is the (-) negative side of the battery. If you get the pins backwards, you will not harm anything: it just will not work.

Feel free to continue asking these questions even though they may seem dumb to you, you are probably not the only one wanting to ask the question.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#7
Are you doing this to white foam board or the water proof foam board? If white, you can put the LEDs inside the foam board (usually attached to the wing spar) and it lights up the Versa Wing great. Unfortunately the water proof foam board blocks too much light and so you should put lights on the outside of the water proof foam board.

Yes, you solder the outside two pins of a 3S balance connector to the LED strip end. I usually remove the middle two pins as they are unused for this and leaving them increases the odds of having a short that can be very bad. As for getting the polarity correct, the outside wires should be red and black (look at a battery if you get connectors without wires): red is the (+) positive side and black is the (-) negative side of the battery. If you get the pins backwards, you will not harm anything: it just will not work.

Feel free to continue asking these questions even though they may seem dumb to you, you are probably not the only one wanting to ask the question.
Bitogre,

Thanks! Looks like I'm going to be placing an order with Amazon or HK in the near future to get some LED light strips for the Versa Wing I'm rebuilding (I killed the first one in a crash that broke the wing in half but left the electronics, motor, etc. unscathed), and this is going to help tremendously!
 
#8
Thanks for that tip, bitogre. I'd been wondering how to fit navlights without hogging a channel to get the power.

At least one glider will also be getting fairy lights
 

PsyBorg

Wake up! Time to fly!
Mentor
#9
Be careful wiring lights to the balance connectors. Depending on your battery you could be draining one cell more then the others which is REALLY bad for Lipos.

LED strips are constant voltage, additive current draw for each LED added in the chain. You could potentially draw a serious amount of current from one cell and destroy batteries that way. It is best to pull power from a distribution board with a voltage regulator capable of handling the current draw for how many LEDs you plan to use. You can like in the case of my Versacopter where all four of my esc's had bec's use one or more of those to power light setups and not worry about unbalancing a battery and causing issues. I do not however recommend you do this on fixed wing since there is only one bec in most cases and too many leds will cause brownouts or worse.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#10
I saw Hobbyking's approach last night when hunting down light strips, and at $11 for a control board that allows the colors to cycle or fix it, and I can control it from one of the 4-6 channels on my receivers (I've got 1 OrangeRX and 1 Spektrum 4 channel receiver left; I'll probably use the 4 channel on my Versa Wing, which uses only 3 channels - left aileron, right aileron, and throttle, leaving the 4th for a switch for the lights), I'll probably go that route.

If I were building a Kraken? I'd probably just wire in a 2nd battery specifically for the lights...
 

Bricks

Well-known member
#11
With the header pins most LED`s are 12 volt using a 3S lipo so you only use the 2 outside pins which is 12 volts. If using 4S or higher I can see where PsyBorg is correct. I kinds forget since most of my Electric planes are 3S but most of these LED`s draw so little power I still don`t believe it would not be of much concern.
 

PsyBorg

Wake up! Time to fly!
Mentor
#12
Any LEDS I have dealt with for quads were all 4.8v and feed from a 5v circuit. If you only used a few of them specially the programmable ones you would have to put a diode in line to drop the voltage to allow them to talk properly. Usually the 12v leds were more like "Head lamps" then decorations type last I was messing with them.

I know the varying types of 2812 5v leds can draw anywhere from 33.5 ma to 45 ma each which adds up fast. I just read up a bit and saw that the 12v ones are pulling ~20 ma which comes out to 2 amps per 100 leds. So do the math and see how much your going to pull on average and decide how many and what voltage LEDS you wish to run. Use your head when designing alight system and pay close attention to how you are powering them so you dont make issues for yourself.
 

French

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#13
Psy, most led strips are 12V as they use repeating sections of 3 LEDs in series. That’s why you can only cut the strips in certain sections.

 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#14
PsyBorg's referring to the addressable LED strips such as these, that do have a 5V voltage requirement: http://a.co/3Pobte3

Those RGB strips you're referring to are not individually addressable, but rather turn the whole strip to different colors.

On multirotors, the addressable strips are used to make fancy turn signals, flight mode indicators, arm/disarm indicators, etc.
 
#15
Psy, most led strips are 12V as they use repeating sections of 3 LEDs in series. That’s why you can only cut the strips in certain sections.

In many ways, both you and Psy are right. In Psy's case, he is talking about 2812 which are addressable LEDs. These are very nifty as every LED can have a different color but they require a special controller to use (though almost all multirotor Flight Controllers have this ability but you can get a LED controller for these LEDs or create your own using Arduino or other similar micro-controllers).
For the 2812, yes, they will only work on a 5V source (+ or - about 0.5V) but they do come in strips very similar to the ones French is talking about. However, I do think that the 2812 addressable LEDs are not the most common version of LED strips and are a bit more expensive (at least twice the price).

The LEDs French is talking about either come as a single color or have the ability to change color (as the ones in French's picture show). These LEDs usually only work with 12V (+ or - about 1V) though I have a couple 24V strips (I just need a 6S plane to put them on). In many ways, the LEDs French is describing are easier to use, especially if you do not care about having the ability for the lights to change color in flight.
 
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#16
Earlier this morning I viewed a video on putting LEDs on a plane but it still is all to confusing. My goal is to put lights on a designed plane I am working on so that the lights will look like lights on the Night Vapor. My desire is to use all white lights to aid in the flight direction in the dark. :)
I wish I had a picture but I don't. Follow me on this, it will make sense at the end, I promise...
I made a greenhouse for in my garage a few years ago. It is 8 feet square and 7' tall.
I used some ideas I got from our Flight Test brothers when designing my greenhouse.
I planned it for the garage as Omro, Wisconsin (right next to Oshkosh.... SO, Flight Test brothers, If you ever come back to the EAA, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give me a call/email. I will take you to lunch or dinner someplace around here that isn't packed to the gills, introduce you to my daughter, whom, I am trying to introduce to RC Flight. I am a shitty teacher and you guys are phenomenal, we NEED to meet up) Anyway, it is windy here more than it isn't due to Lake Winnebago, Lake Buttes Des Mortes and Lake Poygan. So, the greenhouse is in the garage so there is no wind and it is easier to keep warm. Heating bill costs way more than light bill.
I don't have any place around my tiny house to store 8'x7' panels, so I cut them in half. Now they are 3.5'x8. So, I have them attached at the center by door hinges. Two on the ends on the outside and the one in the center on the inside. That way, when I break it down for the summer, I pull the one pin and the top of the panel folds over onto the lower one. The panels are also connected by door hinges on the corners. two on the bottom section and one on the top.
That way, When I take the end off of the walls, I pull the 3 pins and my wall come apart.
----H----------------------H---
- -
H H
- -
----H-----------H----------H---
H H
- -
H H
---------------------------------
All the panels look like the above. The hinges in the center separate the wall into two halves for easy storage. The hinges on the ends attach the wall to the other walls. the two hinges on top attach the roof. The only wall different is the one with the door. It is framed the same but has a door cut into the center, so there are two more hinges in that section.
OK, WTF???
Hang on, I am getting to it... I use this concept in my big-ass planes. I have the spar that fits into the section next to it, but have a tiny jewelry chest hinge that folds over onto a loop and I put a tiny cotter pin in it to keep the hinge closed and the wing sections together.. better than tape, and for big aircraft that need the separating wings, that tiny bit of brass is negligible in weight.
SO....
With my greenhouse, I have 3 shelves on each side that are 2.5' deep. for a total of 6 shelves that are 8 feet long. In order to have enough light to grow my flowers and vegetables, I would need 4... 4foot long T5 High Output florescent bulbs per half length for a total of 8 bulbs per shelf. For my six shelves, that comes out to 48 bulbs burning 18 hours a day.
That is a lot of electricity for some stupid flowers and vegetables. well, actually it is hundreds of flowers and vegies. but still...
SO, I started to dab in LED's. Now I have 500w equivalent light (10,000 lumen) per 4 foot section that cost me all of about $50. per. 25 for the fixture and 25 for the Led's, heat sinks and drivers.
I dabbled in TONS of options over the last two years until I came up with what I have. In the mean time, I now have LED strips inside my cars, on my Motorcycle and Sidecar (gift from Hogs 4 Hero's), On and in my 1991 Snowmobile ( the led's cost more than the sled) and all over my 1994 Jetski (which was free if I would get it off of the property it was on) my wife thinks I am crazy..
in the meantime. I found 2 different option for RC lighting that works depending on your desire.
At the place I get much of my greenhouse supplies from, they have those LED strips with mirco-leds. they have a battery box for 2 AA batteries for power and the 18" strip has a bunch of Blue, Red, Green or white LED's on it. You can use those, and cut the wires and solder extensions made from Cat5/6 wiring and send your micro LED's all over the place. You can get two sets and actually combine ALL of the LED's onto one battery box but instead of two days of light, you will only get about 8 hours per set of batteries.
I find this the easiest to do when I want just a few lights here and there.
The other and my main option that I use on almost everything..
The LED strips mentioned in another response in this forum section is the LED strips that run at 12v. You can get individually addressable lights, but then you also need a controller and a way to control or program the lights. If you are just starting out OR using them on a smaller and very light aircraft, then it can be a challenge to go that way.
At this junk store which most stuff is $5 or less, I found LED strips that are 18" long and controlled with a cord that has a USB end for power and the other end connects to the lights. There is a really small circuit board that controls the lights and a controller to change the lights to any of 16 colors or fading into all of the colors from one to the next, or to flash them or fade them on and off. There is also one that is Blutooth.
For the most part, the ones with a controller work just fine. Why blutooth my bird, don't want any more signals going to or from it than needed. ALL of the lights on that set will be the same color (except if...) but for the most part, you can do what you want. Lastly, with them, you can cut the sections and as long as you soldier your 4 wires to the appropriate leads, you can have small 3 light sections anywhere you want. They are also mostly waterproof. you should paint your soldered points with liquid electrical tape. Then they are waterproof.
To turn them on, off, change color or brightness and if fade on/off or strobe, you just use your controller and poof, done.
To power them, all you need to do is come up with the proper voltage that USB is. Again, I use AA batteries. I have rechargeable. I think I have a 4 pack for my LED lights with the controller. I also hooked up a total of 30" of lights by cutting other strips. For the most part, the driver will drive all of them, just chew thru the batteries faster.
My power supply is 3 AA batteries in series and one in parallel. I think I get about 30 minutes from them. I don't really know, I try not to use them unless it is starting to get dark and by the time I am playing with lights, I don't keep track of time. When I change one set of batteries, I change ALL of them at one time.
On my larger foam planes, I have 3 sets of power. One pack (or two) for the motors, depending on if I have 2 or 4, and one pack dedicated for the receiver and one pack dedicated for any extra's such as lights. That way, If I burn one pack out (use up the last electron) then it wont affect control or power. Overkill? prolly, but having been 22 years in the army with the last 7 in special missions, I believe in segregated systems so one failure doesn't kill the whole mission.

If you actually read all the way thru this long book of an answer AND are interested in HOW I did my lighting systems, I would be happy to get you the details of what parts I use and how I chopped them apart and tailored them to our RC hobby.

If you want lighting and control, that is my life. I also work arduino for my green house. I control my lighting, I control my pumps for the Aeroponics and hydroponics and I control other features of it all with arduino and LED's and such.
As for RC aircraft, I am pretty much new/old stock. I did a lot of scratch building of Balsa planes and a few foamies back in the mid 80's to 1991 when I went into the Army. Then in 2006 I became a SUAS (Small UAV) operator in the Army before special missions. Outside of that, I am only now getting back into the hobby as I am trying to use some of the STEM ideas to introduce my daughter to the sport. Not just for Aero and my love of Aircraft and the EAA, but for the automation, remote controls, remote video and telemetry as well as working with microprocessors (Arduino) and robotics/automation.
I am sure I will be full of questions about all of the new radio functions and receivers and protocols but not here...