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Night Flying Discuss night time aircraft illumination, methods and equipment.

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Old 06-11-2012, 02:57 AM   #1
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Default Daytime strobe for thermal sailplane

Has anyone tried having a Thermal Scout trigger a strobe-light or something similar mounted to the underside of a sailplane? When the light stars blinking you know you're in lift, when it stops its time to keep hunting. Here's how it might look...



I suppose you'd need a seriously bright strobe for it to be visible in full sunlight. It'd also need to be powerful enough to be seen when you're way up there. Not sure what the power requirements would be either. Obviously having a strobe flashing away for like an hour would require a fair sized battery. Still food for thought, just an idea I figured I'd toss out there.

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Old 06-11-2012, 03:10 AM   #2
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Interesting idea. I wonder if there are LED strobes that might work?

After watching several videos of guys flying with Thermal Scouts I dont much like the way they operate. It looks to me like they kick the rudder over so hard that you loose too much altitude in addition to being thrown off course by up top 180 degrees.

I like the strobe idea if it could be made to work without too much power usage/weight gain.

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Old 06-11-2012, 06:35 AM   #3
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I was thinking of a strobe to keep track of my plane when several are in the air.

I like your idea, Here is the unit I was thinking of.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...ght_Unit_.html

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Old 06-11-2012, 09:44 PM   #4
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Ooh yeah that HobbyKing strobe looks perfect. I might have to give this a try.

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Old 06-15-2012, 04:02 AM   #5
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Unfortunately that HobbyKing strobe is back-ordered/unavailable but I found this similar item over at TowerHobbies...

RAM Real Strobe Light 9v


Before getting too carried away with this idea I want to first see if a strobe is even visible at altitude in full sunlight. Will post results once the strobe arrives.

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Old 06-18-2012, 04:28 AM   #6
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Most law enforcement and public service agencies are replacing their strobe based emergency lights with high power LED's. Even the strobe systems for communication tower lights I used to work on are going LED.

A cluster of 5 or 6 superbrite white LED's would be visible for quite a ways and the power consumption would be far less than a strobe system. Also a strobe system uses a "trigger pulse" which can cause some RFI. I've worked on many a cell tower in the past trying to cure RFI issues from strobe systems. Just a thought.............
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:27 PM   #7
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To revamp an old thread, I have the Hobby King single strobe. It was useless the way it arrived and the suggested voltage was too low. I threw it in the drawer for a few months and then eventually decided to experiment with it.
I bought a U shaped strobe tube from the local electronics store and replaced the piddly little thing that was on it. I then got a 2s 850 mAh battery and fitted that to it. It charges up fully to about 8.4 volts and I have been running my strobe on that for months now. It is fitted to the bottom of my Radian Glider and while it is not visible in bright sunlight, it is brilliant flying in the evenings and even on a dull day it stands out at about 150 meters. The battery doesn't need charging very often so it doesn't draw very much current at all. I always think that if my glider flies away at least I have a chance of finding it at night-time.... A friend flies quad-copters and he is so impressed he is buying a couple to fit to that. I have never experienced any RFI or glitches at all.
Nodd, that one is the same as HK/Turnigy one, just a different sticker.
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Old 07-14-2013, 08:09 PM   #8
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I've not given up on my idea of using a strobe to signal lift but its on hold for now. Lots of other projects going on.

It never occurred to me that you could replace the strobe bulb. I tossed my RAM unit when I discovered the bulb had shattered (hangar rash). Oh well. One of these days I'll put together another strobe & give this another try.

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Old 07-14-2013, 08:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Larry3215 View Post
Interesting idea. I wonder if there are LED strobes that might work?

After watching several videos of guys flying with Thermal Scouts I dont much like the way they operate. It looks to me like they kick the rudder over so hard that you loose too much altitude in addition to being thrown off course by up top 180 degrees.

I like the strobe idea if it could be made to work without too much power usage/weight gain.
Yeah
I've used several high power LED's on my models for a low voltage alarm on the receiver power supply and it's backup A123 battery.

These LED's are visible from the ground in bright sunlight. But just barely. I've got mine located on the fuse, under the wing that provides shadow from the sun. Worse, they have a highly directional beam, so unless you're looking directly at it, you won't see anything.

Just checked on one of my 3 watt single LED flashlights that runs on two "AA" alkaline cells. (FYI, don't use Alkaline cells, use Nih rechargeables. This thing pulls over 2 amps out of the battery!) The flashlight has warnings about looking directly at the LED while its on. That is a good idea!

This flashlight has one LED with a rather narrow beam, but in bright sunlight at 300 feet, this flashlight is blinding. The flashlight is made by Guidesman. I paid about $20 each for my two flashlights. The LED head and electronic drive circuitry unscrews from from the battery compartment to save weight and physical size. Don't know, this thing might be adaptable for this application. This flashlight was purchased at a Local Menards Lumber yard, could not find it anywhere else.

Believe this is the unit:
http://www.menards.com/main/electric...428-c-6314.htm

Those high powered LED's used in emergency vehicles are interesting. But suspect they might not be practical in the limited space in sailplanes, along with the weight of the LED and battery system.

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Old 12-15-2013, 01:49 AM   #10
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Thanks for the flashlight suggestion Dennis. You maybe onto something there. I'm still very interested in pursuing this idea further but for now its still shelved. Lots of fun stuff on my to-do list. Tis the season to build!

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Old 12-15-2013, 02:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Nodd View Post
Thanks for the flashlight suggestion Dennis. You maybe onto something there. I'm still very interested in pursuing this idea further but for now its still shelved. Lots of fun stuff on my to-do list. Tis the season to build!
Welcome
Just a note, we just bought a third unit of this type. This latest unit has an added feature. Push the switch on, bright lights. Push it again, off, again medium power lights, push it again, off, push it a third time, it's flashing, about once a second.

Don't really care for it, but that's what this one does. The whole LED light and circuit board are contained in the LED housing, which easily unscrews from the heavy aluminum case for the batteries, and on-off switch at the other end.

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Old 12-15-2013, 02:30 AM   #12
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Interesting it has multiple modes. That could prove either very useful or a PITA depending on how the thermal scout trigger works. Thanks again.

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Old 12-15-2013, 07:20 AM   #13
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Default Insanely bright LED

I just bought some 10 watt leds from a seller on ebay.
They only cost me $1.31 each plus $2.00 shipping / 1 or 50

They are intensely bright but they do get hot real quick.
9-12 vdc with no resistor. 900 ma draw at 12v

A low duty cycle flasher circuit could be used to limit heat, but still flash like a flash tube on a camera, without the high voltage requirement. It would be NO problem to see this light from 1000' in daylight. I am going to install one in a glider of mine.

Of course if you want to leave the light on for more than a couple of seconds, you can use heat transfer paste and screw it to a heat sink, I don't know how big it would have to be to leave it on continuously

They weigh 5 grams, and are about 0.8" square, 1/8" thick, plus connectors on 2 sides.


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Old 12-16-2013, 12:44 AM   #14
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Sounds like I may need to bump this project up a few pegs on the to-do list. You guys are getting me all excited about this idea again :-)

UPDATE: I just ordered a bunch of 10 watt LEDs. Thank you for the idea, will have to see how well they work.

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Old 12-16-2013, 01:04 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Nodd View Post
Sounds like I may need to bump this project up a few pegs on the to-do list. You guys are getting me all excited about this idea again :-)

UPDATE: I just ordered a bunch of 10 watt LEDs. Thank you for the idea, will have to see how well they work.

Where did you buy them from???

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Old 12-16-2013, 01:09 AM   #16
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I got them on ebay, just did a search for "10 watt led" then chose the "buy it now" filter. There's a few guys selling them looks like. I paid $1.39 each for mine, picked up four.

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Old 12-16-2013, 05:14 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Nodd View Post
I got them on ebay, just did a search for "10 watt led" then chose the "buy it now" filter. There's a few guys selling them looks like. I paid $1.39 each for mine, picked up four.

Thanks
Those I saw on Ebay looked like nine LED's running at 10 watts total. Those flashlites I've got uses one 3 watt LED.

So, just ordered these, and it will be interesting to see which is better, your 9 LED unit with a larger source of light, or mine with a higher powered point source of light.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/151171352759

Lighthouse LED's is in the USA, somewhere. They're supposed to show up this Thursday.

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Old 12-16-2013, 05:31 AM   #18
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When I tested mine across a 3 cell Lipo, I only touched for about 1/2 second. It startled me because it was so damn bright and scared my wife in her part of our hobby room, she thought something had just blown up !!

Denny, is there an easy way to know how big a heat sink these things will need to run continuously ?

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Old 12-16-2013, 06:28 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Wildflyer View Post
When I tested mine across a 3 cell Lipo, I only touched for about 1/2 second. It startled me because it was so damn bright and scared my wife in her part of our hobby room, she thought something had just blown up !!

Denny, is there an easy way to know how big a heat sink these things will need to run continuously ?

Don't know about your LED's but the one I ordered REQUIRES a current limiting resistor in series with the battery to limit the current to about 3/4 Amp. The unit I have on order has a built in heat sink. If your unit requires a current limiting resistor, you're lucky you didn't fry it!

As for your unit, depends on how the heat sink would be installed. Is it bolted on? Or is it soldered in place? These things are rated to run at a maximum of perhaps 140F, so a heat sink consisting of a piece of 1/8 inch aluminum plate, about 2 inches square would probably work. Less area if it's exposed to airflow.

If the heat sink is soldered on, take a look at 1/32 inch thick copper plate material at your local hardware store. This could also be bent to fit inside where it's got to go. I've got some used for assembling A123 battery packs that would work very well as a heat sink.

Bottom line, if you can hold your finger on the unit for 15 seconds without branding your self, you're probably OK.

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Old 12-16-2013, 08:01 AM   #20
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Denny
The LEDs you have, are rated to use a forward voltage of 3.2-3.6 v where the ones I have are rated 9-12v forward voltage. And I knew the 3 cell Lipo was not fully charged, in fact I should bring it up to a storage level. Even a single charged Lipo would not be good for your leds.

I have some just like yours, but mine came with a JR servo plug on them, like an idiot I plugged it into the receiver. You're right you would not have time to realize you had made a mistake before it burns out. I didn't

I am going to run a limiting resistor to keep these down to 9v, just don't need them running at 12v. I did use thermal paste and screwed one to a small heat sink and it didn't get hot nearly as quick, I think I ran it about 10 seconds when I checked it, it wasn't terrible but it was more than I would like.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230917070624...84.m1439.l2649

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Old 12-16-2013, 10:46 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Wildflyer View Post
Denny
The LEDs you have, are rated to use a forward voltage of 3.2-3.6 v where the ones I have are rated 9-12v forward voltage. And I knew the 3 cell Lipo was not fully charged, in fact I should bring it up to a storage level. Even a single charged Lipo would not be good for your leds.

I have some just like yours, but mine came with a JR servo plug on them, like an idiot I plugged it into the receiver. You're right you would not have time to realize you had made a mistake before it burns out. I didn't

I am going to run a limiting resistor to keep these down to 9v, just don't need them running at 12v. I did use thermal paste and screwed one to a small heat sink and it didn't get hot nearly as quick, I think I ran it about 10 seconds when I checked it, it wasn't terrible but it was more than I would like.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230917070624...84.m1439.l2649
Good info
You might want to measure the current input to your LED to make certain its under the 700 Milliampere current rating. These LED's are not a linear load. and are kind of a constant voltage drop while powered up. So, with the LED's I have on order, it might pull 100 Milliamperes at 3 Volts and 3 Amps at 4 volts.

They should show up Thursday, I'll let you know.

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Old 12-18-2013, 01:57 AM   #22
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Sounds like you guys know a whole lot more about these LEDs than I. Looking forward to hearing what setup you end up using. Me... I'm likely to blow my self up.

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Old 12-18-2013, 05:06 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Nodd View Post
Sounds like you guys know a whole lot more about these LEDs than I. Looking forward to hearing what setup you end up using. Me... I'm likely to blow my self up.
It all depends on if your 10 watt LED's have a built in current regulator. If not, connecting directly to a solid voltage source that is to high in voltage could zap it in a flash.

If your LED's require a series current limiting resistor, you need to determine the voltage drop across those LED's at perhaps a half ampere input. Unfortunately determining this takes a pile of power resistors to measure it up.

You could start with connecting your LED's in series with a 10 Ohm, 10 Watt resistor out of Radio Shack. Connect the LED/Resistor string to a three or 4 Cell LiPo battery. Or a standard 12 Volt Auto battery. Do not get the polarity backwards on these LED's. Some of them will blow instantly with reverse polarity.
http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2062291

Then grab a multimeter, and measure the voltage directly across the LED's. And, measure the current into the LED's. From these measurements, you can determine the proper series resistor for connecting to a three or four Cell LiPo.

Formula is:
Resistor value = (Lipo Voltage minus LED Voltage) divided by current. In this case, the current would be about 3/4 Amp.

So, if your 4 Cell LiPo measures 14 volts, and your LED's measure 8 Volts, that would be (14-8)/0.75 or 8 ohms. And at 0.75 Amps, your resistor needs to be P-I^2 times R, or 0.75 X 0.75 X 8 or 4,5 Watts,

This is a bit strange, from the LED website. Doesn't make sense:
Our 100w leds need cooling board to avoid the extra heat. Please use the 10w led as the product specification to ingore the improper operation caused led burning out.

Package included:

1x 10W White LED

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Old 12-19-2013, 12:22 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Nodd View Post
Sounds like you guys know a whole lot more about these LEDs than I. Looking forward to hearing what setup you end up using. Me... I'm likely to blow my self up.
Just got these 3 Watt LED's in the mail today. One of them was connected to my variable DC power supply, with the current limit adjusted to 0.7 Amps. It is not wise to look at this LED when its lit up!!!! You'll be seeing spots in your eyes for a while.

As for the voltage drop across them, here's the results.

Amps........Volts Across LED
0.1...........2.77
0.2...........2.91
0.3...........3.05
0.4...........3.16
0.5...........3.27
0.6...........3.37
0.7...........3.46

So, for a 12 Volt battery, the series resistor would be (12-3.46)/0.7 or 12.2 Ohms. The watts would be I^2 times R or 5.88 Watts.

Next day or two, I'll be trying this outside in bright sunlight (If we ever get any around SE Wisconsin in December!) and check visibility.

For those interested in that variable DC supply, I got mine from www.mpja.com. Nice unit, with variable voltage output from zero to 18 Volts DC, with variable current limiting from zero to 3.0 Amps.
http://www.mpja.com/0-18VDC-0-3-A-Va...nfo/9600%20PS/

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Old 12-22-2013, 02:08 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Nodd View Post
Sounds like you guys know a whole lot more about these LEDs than I. Looking forward to hearing what setup you end up using. Me... I'm likely to blow my self up.
Got a chance to try my 3 watt LED's out in severe overcast skies. Around here, sunlight is rather scarce. Right now, we're looking at a snow warning, perhaps a half foot of it. All depends on how the snow storm is affected by the warmer Lake Michigan a mile and a half from our home.

At 600 feet down the street from my garage, the LED was easily visible. But, that would be different in bright sunlight. Methinks they would be even more visible if they were flashing.

As far as the 9 LED, 10 Watt units, IMHO, they'd be even more visible, since the 3 watt LED's are more of a "Point Source" of light, versus the larger area of the 9 LED package.

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  WattFlyer RC Electric Flight Forums - Discuss radio control eflight > Electric R/C Airplanes > Night Flying

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