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Mar 05, 2011, 05:02 PM
Webmaster, MMCNE
RCBoater's Avatar
Thread OP

Looking for Lightship Lighting advice

I'm about to start a conversion of the Lindberg Lightship Nantucket plastic model to RC. It is a decent size, in 1/95 scale, 19 inches overall. The hull is full bodied (nice way of saying "tubby"), so it has plenty of room for RC gear.

Now, a Lightship needs to have working lights, so I'm thinking about how I'll do it. I've done running lights before, but never a floating lighthouse.

I purchased a little electronic flasher kit-- one of those circuit board kits that allows you to take a light on 6 to 18 volts and set a flashing interval-- for example I can set it to have light to come on for 1 second every 5 seconds.

But here's the part I haven't figured out yet- what to use for the light? It has to go on the masthead, so I'd like to stay as close to scale as I can, but I'm willing to go oversize to get a light that I can actually see.

I expect that the model will be lit mostly at dusk or shortly thereafter-- which is when we typically have our club "night runs". I'm not going to have it out on the pond on a pitch black night. I figure I'll have two lighting circuits-- one for when the model is underway (running lights, etc.) and one for when the model is at anchor, which is when the big light goes on.

What would you use for the Masthead beacon?

I thought about a super bright LED, but I wonder if that will throw enough light to be seen when the model is anchored out on the pond. I also thought about maybe using a small halogen flashlight bulb, but that means using a socket so I can easily change the bulb-- that may be too bulky on top of the pole mast.

Speaking of the mast, it is a 1/4 inch diameter pole in this scale. I was thinking I could replace the kit part with a brass tube, so I can run wiring inside, or even use the mast itself as part of the circuit.

I'd appreciate any thoughts/ideas/recommendations/experiences.......
Last edited by RCBoater; Mar 05, 2011 at 05:05 PM. Reason: fixed typos
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Mar 05, 2011, 05:18 PM
Sea Dragon-Lover
Umi_Ryuzuki's Avatar
Check out the Night float pictures in the Crawfish Festival thread.
I would say 90% of the lights are 3mm LED. The buoy and platfrom both use
3mm LED.

I would say this is typical without camera flash...

This picture is of the boats from about a block, 200 feet, away.

LED should work fine. Be sure to paint the surfaces around the LED, silver or white to
help illuminate the ships "lamps" on the mast. Grounding the mast is common way to
run half the power to any lamps.

Mar 05, 2011, 05:40 PM
CG Bob's Avatar
I'd use one of the RAm Products Mars Rotating beacons for the main light. That's what I've used on a couple of lightship models. Besides the main flacshing/rotating light, you'll need to add the anchor lights at the jack staff (bow) and flag staff (stern).

If the lightship is underway, you'll need her signal flag call sign (starting with November flag) flying from the port yardarm; on the starboard yardarm the signal flags Lima Oscar (Lightship Off station) will fly.

You'll find some more info at the USCG Lightship Sailors Assoc.

From a former lightship sailor.
Mar 05, 2011, 07:50 PM
Webmaster, MMCNE
RCBoater's Avatar
Thread OP
The Lindberg kit is LV-112, it represents the ship from before her overhaul at Curtis Bay in the 1960s-- it has the older style, tall stack used by the steam plant.

I found the info on the web--- Nantucket's callsign is NMGZ. Adding the flags is somrhtign I probably won't worry about-- as they weren't always flown. (I found some pictures of Nantucket underway without them.)

That matches with my experience (Reliance, Harriet Lane) -- we only flew them when in piloting waters-- once we were at sea, the flags came down.
Mar 05, 2011, 09:41 PM
Registered User
RCBoater, When I built a lighthouse for my friends RR, I used the unit from They have a module that increases and decreases the output of the led like a rotating light. Go to their site and look for the module. It worked great for my application and should work for yours also. Jerryj98501
Mar 05, 2011, 10:51 PM
Boats on the brain!!
green-boat's Avatar
If you want to stay as close to scale as possible then an incandesant bulb should be used. An LED emits light from it's end where a regular bulb emits it's light all around and it's light has that yellow glow to it. As for the socket issue, why not solder wires directly to the bulb.
Mar 05, 2011, 11:32 PM
Where's Pamela?
patmat2350's Avatar
GB- 'cause he wants to be able to replace a burned bulb.

LED- if you use one of the side emitting LEDs, you'll get all around light. Hey, and GB, you told us about them!

I'm using one here (white LED inside a blue housing):
Mar 05, 2011, 11:47 PM
Boats on the brain!!
green-boat's Avatar
You've got a good memory Pat, I forgot about that post.

What would be ideal would be one of those side emitting LED's in a warm white color. Wait....... I remember seeing some of those this past year in with the christmas lights at ChinaMart.
Mar 06, 2011, 12:18 AM
GSMB Member
ken_nj's Avatar
You can also pick up 360 degree LED's from, just need a resistor.
Mar 06, 2011, 07:55 AM
Where's Pamela?
patmat2350's Avatar
Now THOSE look interesting... not the inverted cone tip side emitters, but true all around emission.
The smallest is the T 1-3/4 size, 5mm OD (~3/16" dia).
Mar 06, 2011, 08:11 AM
Registered User
Take a ride over to You do it electronics in Needham ,
They have every thing you need there.
Mar 06, 2011, 01:38 PM
Registered User
I just went to the site and was able to see the effect of the lighthouse module via video. This will give you an idea of what it would look like. Jerryj98501
Mar 06, 2011, 02:48 PM
Boats on the brain!!
green-boat's Avatar
Years ago I stopped in over at Superbrightleds (they are in town here) to see what they had and pick up some LED's. In a nutshell they got very snotty with me and told me to get off thier property and never come back and if I wanted anything to order it off of their sight. This is not how you are supposed to treat potential customers. How was I supposed to know that they do all of thier business thru the web/mail. If they don't want people to stop in to thier facility then don't put thier name across the side of the building. Yes they a lot of nice stuff but since then I refuse to buy from them and will find other alternatives.
Mar 06, 2011, 02:53 PM
GSMB Member
ken_nj's Avatar
Oh geeze! I just placed my order with them, it came as I expected it. Everything was great, would order from them again. Never had to call them so I don't know how personable they are these days.

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