Night flying? Make sure you double check your lights! - RC Groups
Thread Tools
May 02, 2003, 11:35 PM
Look! Up in the sky!
eBird's Avatar

Make sure you check your lights before flying!

Up about 100 feet, noticed my landing lights weren't working when I hit right rudder. Wasn't too worried, figured the connector came loose, but thought I'd better bring her in.
Two turns and a short glide later, it's LIGHTS OUT!

Still 75 feet up, and almost completely dark out, I lost visual immediately. Heart rate now up to 140, I'm keeping focused and trying to predict where the Slow Stick is, based on the glide path.
7 or 8 seconds later (seemed like hours) I caught a glimpse of a reflection off the wing, as a small gust of wind had me in a tight left turn. Good thing the top of the wing is so shiny!

Straightened her out, then just sort of brought her towards me half on faith and half on sight, until it was low enough to see well. Landed 10 feet away, 3 foot roll out and breathed a HEAVY sigh of relief.

Turns out the wires had pulled off of the circuit board. When the first wire came loose I lost landing lights, then the other two came off.

I've used these lights well over 50-60 times, and it appears the bending back and forth of the solder joints just took it's toll.
There was NO bare wire left, they broke right at the insulation line.

Stripped them, re-soldered, glued the wires firmly in place on the wing, and flew for another 40 minutes!

I urge everyone with these lights to examine those wires as part of your "preflight" check !
Last edited by Steve Nolan (eBird); May 03, 2003 at 06:07 PM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
May 02, 2003, 11:51 PM
Senior Member
Paul Penney's Avatar
Shniza! That must have taken a heck of a lot of bending!

May 03, 2003, 03:21 AM
Got Lights?
mcu-electric's Avatar
Scary thread title. I would have appreciated to be informed personally of the problem but am glad I monitor the threads. I have been made aware of a couple users who regularly swap the boards between different planes and informed those to try a "Household Goop" or even hot glue near the wire entrance points. I have since (3 weeks ago) began enclosing the entire board in a clear heatshrink material and leave a large tail to cover the wires and strain relieve this critical connection. I can not see many other options other than including a hard plastic case and we know that won't sit 'lightly' with the weight-conscious fans. I am attempting to extend the printed circuit board slightly and create a slight platform to hold the wires but must come to a solution for the existing boards.

I would like to hear any suggestions that any have regarding the strain relieving of the wires leading into the board. As explained it does not 'plague' each board but will definately make any improvements necessary to rectify the problem.

On a different note, I actually managed to permanently park my own Slowstick high up in a tree while showing off to a small group this evening so I am not in a great mood =)

May 03, 2003, 03:56 AM
Senior Moment Member
You could put a small hole near the edge of the board for each wire to pass through.

It would come up from the bottom side, thru the hole, then fold over for the solder pad.

You'd have to pull the wire in two to break the connection then, it wouldn't pull loose from the solder point.

Just a thought.....

May 03, 2003, 04:20 AM
Got Lights?
mcu-electric's Avatar
Thanks Jimmy I have actually used that method before on a Syntax prototype board and almost forget about it. Unfortunately we have just received another run of PCBs already so will have to arrive at another solution like glue until I can have the PCB changes to reflect extra board area.

May 03, 2003, 08:36 AM
Go Forward, but Remember
reills's Avatar

Curtek Lights got me outta the woods!

Please to have a look at this thread:

After unintentionally ditching my TM into the drink, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, the Curtek lights were the ONLY thing still working on the plane. As it was getting dark when she finally came to shore, we used the TM as a flashlight.
May 03, 2003, 08:48 AM
SpeedWing Test Cruncher
marjamar's Avatar
I was going to suggest the wire holes, then seen Jimmy beat me to the punch

I wouldn't worry too much about your next run of boards, just include a little note informing people to make sure not to put excessive strain on the solder joints as the wire can break away.

Strain relief using the pass-thru holes on future boards should solve this problem.

BTW I have a couple sets of your lights and will no doubt be buying more.

May 03, 2003, 01:31 PM
Look! Up in the sky!
eBird's Avatar

Whoa, Bessy!

Don't get me wrong here, I LOVE my Curtek lights! It's by far the best accessory I've ever bought, especially since I bought them in the winter when it was getting dark by 4:45!

They have worked absolutely flawlessly. As I've stated in previous threads, I am very impressed with the professionalism of the set, right down to the color coded connectors.

Since the wires pulled loose during flight, which could have been catastrophic, I simply thought I should give others a "head's up" on their preflight check.

I have since used some epoxy in strategic places to help with strain relief, and don't expect the problem ever again.
May 03, 2003, 02:37 PM
Got Lights?
mcu-electric's Avatar
Reills: Hilarious, we did some float flying with a lit up beaver last year in the middle of a pitch black lake and everytime it went wild and ended up floating underwater the lights were very bright and diffused and never failed once. Gotta love low voltage DC! Aside from water interfering with the low-current control I/O on the processor that is the only problem I can see water making and even then it simply means that the lights that are not supposed to be on will light up dimly if the board should be fully emerged in water; cant really complain about that =)

Marjamar: Thank you. I will most likely take the approach as even small runs of PCBs are quite costly.

eBird: No probs, I saw the thread title and it was a couple seconds of panic while I made up scenarios in my head. I crashed my slowstick into the top of a tree at full speed last night and the lights sat there strobing away and I then had a super fancy remote controlled set of christmas lights for a couple hours until the battery died. The tree finally tossed it out this morning in high winds so I am a happy camper.

May 03, 2003, 03:59 PM
roguewolf's Avatar
I had the same problem with my Curtek's; however, it was because I was switching them from plane to plane, causing a lot of flexing...solved it by resoldering and using black silicone to provide some strain relief.....haven't had a problem since

I now have two Curtek's and wouldn't go anywhere else for nightflying gear...

Local modeler field is having a fun-fly at the end of the month...including a night flying contest
May 03, 2003, 05:41 PM
Go Leafs Go!
Fantam's Avatar
Maybe someome should change the title of this thread so it doesn't sound like the Curtek system is defective. Any wire bent back and forth enough times will break. I don't have the Curtek system but it doesn't seem fair to them.
May 03, 2003, 06:04 PM
Look! Up in the sky!
eBird's Avatar
Fantom said:
Maybe someome should change the title of this thread so it doesn't sound like the Curtek system is defective. Any wire bent back and forth enough times will break. I don't have the Curtek system but it doesn't seem fair to them.

Fantam - tried to change the title and even delete the post but it won't let me...

I'm pretty sure I just had poor solder joints on my particular system, because honestly not that much wire bending went on since it's dedicated to one wing and the wires are taped. I was just trying to come up with a plausable explanation.

The whole point of this thread was to alert others this can happen, so a preflight check is warranted. That is the value of the ezone, to share with others your misfortune so that they may benefit.
Some feel this was a "Curtek bashing" thread which of course was not the intent.

Moderator, please just delete the thread.
Last edited by Steve Nolan (eBird); May 03, 2003 at 06:10 PM.
May 03, 2003, 09:38 PM
Live to ride... and fly!
Tres Wright's Avatar
We have a policy of not deleting threads except in the most extreme circumstances, but if you want me to change the thread title I can do that with no problem. Let me know what you want it changed to. I agree that the title is misleading, it makes it sound as if the product was defective. After reading the content of the thread I don't think that's the case though.
May 03, 2003, 09:57 PM
Look! Up in the sky!
eBird's Avatar
how 'bout "Night flying? Make sure you double check your lights!"
May 03, 2003, 10:00 PM
Live to ride... and fly!
Tres Wright's Avatar

Thread Tools