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Sep 21, 2003, 09:31 AM
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Lights for night flying?

I'm looking to add the next step to my flying and go for flying at night. I know there's lights out there for RC planes, where are the best places to get these lights? I am trying to go for a scale look, I'm most interested in adding a couple of flashing white or read strobe navigational beacons or one of those red beacons you see on the tail of small airplanes that seem to dimmer in and out of brightness and dimness unless their actually rotating. I want super bright LED's, a head landing light for sure, maybe even landing lights on the wings. I want that green light LED on right wing tip, and red on the left tip. I want to be able to see them in daylight as well. Where can I find ALL of these kinds of lights?

How do you install and control the function of the lights? What power source do they operate on? I have a spare digital switch channel to use on my radio that could be used for the lights. I am just trying to figure out how I would install the lights and wiring system. The ones on the wing tips and tail beacon would be especially difficult because I would have to cut into the wing and tail and somehow feed wires through the frame of the wing and tail to the power source which would probably be somewhere in the fuselage of the plane. I made an extra compartment to my plane that could house the lighting system power source and switches. I would probably operate just the landing lights on a switch servo and the navigational lights, beacons and strobes on a switch that I turn on that is just on my plane. Does anybody know how about I do all this?

P.S., weight is not a factor here. I can probably put up to a pound of a lighting system.
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Sep 21, 2003, 11:10 AM
Official Old Git!

If you are into making small electronic projects yourself, then 1) look into the Modelling Science threads 2) do a search on landing lights (generally in the Modelling Science thread) 3) Look at in the Special projects section ( )

Sep 21, 2003, 11:42 AM
Hi Adam:
Check out Curtek navigation systems at It is a Canadian who has made a great lighting system with a lot of versatility. the system was reviewed for Ezone and the review is in archieves review is currently on page 5.
Sep 21, 2003, 12:23 PM
Registered User I definately the Cadillac system. Very well done.
Sep 21, 2003, 01:16 PM
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BEC's Avatar
The Curtek system will do what you describe and run right off your receiver power source.

I will say one thing, though - flying an airplane on just the LEDs like that at night is NOT easy (at least I don't find it so). I've had much better luck actually seeing the plane and being able to maneuver it and so forth with systems that light up more of it. These are not scale like, however. Three choices that have worked for me are the Skylights from RAM, the NightOps system from Tim Cone (may no longer be available) and a system made by Glowire.
Sep 21, 2003, 02:08 PM
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Merlin_FAC's Avatar
I've found that the way to do it is to take a super-bright white LED (available at Rat Shack for about $5, or far less if you look on eBay, etc.) and use a Sharpie marker to color it red or green. Then make it shine on the top or bottom of the wing. It's almost impossible to fly using only a scale lighting scheme, the little lights don't provide good orientation. Also, only the super-bright LEDs seem to have sufficient brightness to illuminate the wings (and fuselage, if possible) and the Sharpies used to color the white lights produce the same shade as nav lights, while "green" LED's are never quite the right shade (and are dim to boot). The bright red LED's are better.

If you use landing lights (highly recommended) then put one super-bright LED onto each wing at least halfway out, this is very useful for determining the bank whenever you're flying towards yourself. You can use 30-gauge magnet wire, there's very little current... most LEDs only pull 20 or 30 mA if you are using the appropriate resistor.

Check out this thread for nearly all you need to know about DIY lighting:

I posted some info on my Tigermoth system that worked great... now however I use 30-gauge magnet wire for weight savings, but all else is the same. The biggest thing is not to try it without resistors in the circuit. My typical setup is a bright white landing light on each wing, a blinking red on the left wingtop, a blinking green on the right tip, red and green colored white LED's shining on the wings (and Fuselage if possible), some random color one on the top of the rudder, and I've tried bright blue facing aft but it got annoying. A super-bright yellow shining backwards inside the fuselage works great in a Tigermoth.

Hope this helps,
Sep 22, 2003, 04:31 AM
J. Hartikka's Avatar

What is this light emitting phenomenon?

Yes, it is Pico Stick in dark.

2 + 2 Leds are operated with a homemade 3-transistor switch weighing about 1 - 2 grams from receiver ch 6. The switch operates similarly than those I have built for motor speed control.

No, I have not yet made first flights in complete darkness...

- Juha -
Sep 22, 2003, 06:52 AM
Registered User
Merlin, where on the reciever do you hook the lights up? Do you attach it to a spare channel? Do you have to activate that channel from your Tx or does the +/- leads always have 5V?

Sep 22, 2003, 10:30 AM
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Michele's Avatar
I have yust introduced a very innovative flashing light system that is user programmable so you can design your own flash or solid light sequence!

Have a look at:


Sep 23, 2003, 02:04 AM
A more rustic - and cheaper - method is to go to your local fishing-tackle shop and buy some float lights and tape them in place. They are very small, throwaway chemical lights, the young lads in the club use them to play silly devils after club suppers with park flyers. OK, so it's not cutting edge, but they work well and are quite visible.


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