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3D Flying Discuss everything related to "3D" flying including construction, power setups and flying techniques

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Old 02-18-2012, 05:57 PM   #1
Dean in Milwaukee
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Default Led lights for Mcfoamy

The golf dome we fly R/C in is very large, but not lit very well. The lights are all bright enough right at the line where the golfers stand, but as planes get further away to the back of the dome, they can get hard to see. I couldnít help but notice some of the other flyers using strip led lights that they got from HobbyKing as they were very bright. I found what appear to be the exact same lights at my local hobby shop, Greenfield News and Hobby, marketed by BP Hobbies. The install is fairly simple, just use small gauge servo wire with the unneeded 3rd wire peeled off and solder to each strip after cutting them to the length you need. They are self adhesive and can be cut into strips as short as 3 lights. Iím using 18 leds total, two yellow 6 light strips for each wing, wrapping them around the wing tips with 3 lights on top and 3 on the bottom, and for the tail 12 violet leds stuck on the trailing edge of the rudder.
Powering them was a bit more complicated. They are rated to run off 6 to 12v, an in fact an attempt to run off 5v resulted in them not lighting up at all, killing my first idea to just power them directly from the reciever. The other plane I saw at the domefly solved this by using a seperate bec to run his lights, but I wanted to do it more simply, and since I was running two cells lipo, there was a easy way.
I ran a connector right to my lipos balance tap. I used a connector from a servo extension, the one that goes to the servo itself, and pulled off the plastic Ē female Ē housing. This leaves the innner plastic housting which looks just like the other end of the servo extension except that it has the 3 metal pins sticking out. These plug directly into the balance connector, and I used the two outermost pins. This gave the full 8.4 volts from my two cell batteries.
The full 60 led strip is rated at 400 mah at 12v, so using 18 at 12v would be 119mah. However, since Iím running at only 8.4v, this drops current even more to 2/3rds or about 80mah. In the normal 6 minute flight, this means that the lights are consuming about 1/10th of this or 8mah from the 450 batteries. Not enough to make any difference in flight time.
I belive this very low draw should make it possible to use this same connector idea on 3s batteries even though its pin spacing wonít allow using all three cells. While this would seem to be creating a problem with cell balance, I think that the very low draw wonít have much chance to get the battery very far out of balance, and then the balance charger will make them exactly even again after every flight. Caveat: I have not tried this myself yet so proceeed with caution.
These lights, while running dimmer than if I was at 12v, are bright enough to allow true night flying, ( next summer), and will make the domeflying more fun as well.
Dean
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Old 02-18-2012, 08:34 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Dean in Milwaukee View Post
The golf dome we fly R/C in is very large, but not lit very well. The lights are all bright enough right at the line where the golfers stand, but as planes get further away to the back of the dome, they can get hard to see. I couldnít help but notice some of the other flyers using strip led lights that they got from HobbyKing as they were very bright. I found what appear to be the exact same lights at my local hobby shop, Greenfield News and Hobby, marketed by BP Hobbies. The install is fairly simple, just use small gauge servo wire with the unneeded 3rd wire peeled off and solder to each strip after cutting them to the length you need. They are self adhesive and can be cut into strips as short as 3 lights. Iím using 18 leds total, two yellow 6 light strips for each wing, wrapping them around the wing tips with 3 lights on top and 3 on the bottom, and for the tail 12 violet leds stuck on the trailing edge of the rudder.
Powering them was a bit more complicated. They are rated to run off 6 to 12v, an in fact an attempt to run off 5v resulted in them not lighting up at all, killing my first idea to just power them directly from the reciever. The other plane I saw at the domefly solved this by using a seperate bec to run his lights, but I wanted to do it more simply, and since I was running two cells lipo, there was a easy way.
I ran a connector right to my lipos balance tap. I used a connector from a servo extension, the one that goes to the servo itself, and pulled off the plastic Ē female Ē housing. This leaves the innner plastic housting which looks just like the other end of the servo extension except that it has the 3 metal pins sticking out. These plug directly into the balance connector, and I used the two outermost pins. This gave the full 8.4 volts from my two cell batteries.
The full 60 led strip is rated at 400 mah at 12v, so using 18 at 12v would be 119mah. However, since Iím running at only 8.4v, this drops current even more to 2/3rds or about 80mah. In the normal 6 minute flight, this means that the lights are consuming about 1/10th of this or 8mah from the 450 batteries. Not enough to make any difference in flight time.
I belive this very low draw should make it possible to use this same connector idea on 3s batteries even though its pin spacing wonít allow using all three cells. While this would seem to be creating a problem with cell balance, I think that the very low draw wonít have much chance to get the battery very far out of balance, and then the balance charger will make them exactly even again after every flight. Caveat: I have not tried this myself yet so proceeed with caution.
These lights, while running dimmer than if I was at 12v, are bright enough to allow true night flying, ( next summer), and will make the domeflying more fun as well.
Dean
If you reverse the lights so they face inward they make the foam behind them glow for about an inch. Here's the EPP Yak55 I made for next year's NEAT Fair night flying. it has 6 meters of lights embedded, The down side is it added about 100g to the airframe. Not going to lose sight of it any time soon. Oh, and PC Board headers are 0.1" separation and plug very nicely into balance ports. The other hint that I got after I set mine up is to use a brushed ESC for them and you can dim them in flight to whatever works for the lighting. I wasn't too impressed with the Turnigy switch they cell. Mine goes into "blink" mode randomly


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Old 02-18-2012, 09:46 PM   #3
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Wow that is bright! I like the idea of being able to dim using a brushed esc. That could be used for instance to make some parts of the array get brighter with additional throttle for instance. I have some old castle pixie 7p's that might get some new use. They are very lightweight.

BTW, love your array. You could probally see that thing for a mile away. 6 strips though is a fair bit of current draw. Your using about 240mah per 6 minute flight. I would be tempted to use a seperate small battery just for the lights.

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Old 02-18-2012, 10:39 PM   #4
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yeah, it needs the dimmer. I was flying it with 1000mah and 1300mah batteries. i did have some issues with connection breaks with the EPP flexing in flight over time. but you are right, mixing 50% of the throttle into the channel so it would follow the throttle and yet still have a knob for minimum settings would work. And you can always plop a 350-500mah battery on for the lights. using the flight battery does guarantee you won't out fly the lights as you will be coming in on LVC and they will still glow
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:45 AM   #5
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I was looking forward to flying the Mcfoamy at last weeks domefly with my newly installed lights. As I mentioned previously, I used a converted servo connector to allow me to run 8.4v right off my 2 cell batteries balancing tap. This was an easy and lightweight way to run the lights, and while not as bright as running off of 12v, it was good enough. The problem showed itself right after takeoff. While the yellow wingtip lights were working fine, the violet taillights werenít on. I figured that something had come disconnected, so I landed for an inspection. I then found that the lights were back on. My buddy Jason was having the same problem with his identical setup, and noticed that they went dim and then out as throttle was added. Apparently, the batteries voltage drops far enough under load from the motor that the violet LEDís go out, and then come back on as soon as the motors shut off.

Iím guessing that the LEDís specís of 6 to 12v are nominal, and that the violet ones actually need more than 6v to light up, while the yellow ones still work fine. I have taken a look at the wiring on the LEDís, and found that they are wired three at a time in series with a small chip inline that I belive is a diode. Knowing that LEDís have no electrical resistance of their own and the diode is normally added to keep the circuit from acting like a dead short, I thought at first that I might be able to bypass the diodes and add an appropriate resistor to feed the whole circuit. Some probing with my multimeter however showed a voltage drop across each LED, indicating that there must somehow be a resistor in each LED junction. This makes any Ē quick and easy Ē solutions impossible.

I will be instead be taking the easy way out and just swap out my violet LEDís for more yellow ones.

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Old 02-29-2012, 11:20 AM   #6
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There is definitely a difference in brightness between different colors. I've never seen them go out like that, though. That's interesting.

I've used colored packing tape over white LEDs in the past, as a way to get different colors on a plane. It works really well.

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