Thread Tools
Oct 09, 2012, 11:29 AM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
Discussion

Night Blades for Micro Helicopters Tips 'n Tricks


I know many of us have been mulling the idea of night blades for our micro heli. At this scale, modding anything in the head and blades needs to be refined because any weight will affect performance. Especially in the fixed pitch micro helis.

I know others have done it before. But information on how to achieve their success is often lacking detail for those of us trying to recreate it.

Let's discuss the best tricks and technique we've found in getting lights onto the blades of our micro models.
Last edited by Daryoon; Oct 09, 2012 at 01:35 PM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Oct 09, 2012, 11:35 AM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
reserved.
Oct 09, 2012, 11:36 AM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
I recently completed my first pair for the v911 FP helicopter.



Some more info can be found on this blog post:
http://www.hacksmods.com/2012/10/v91...i-night-blade/

Some thoughts after completing this first pair...
  • The copper foil works great. Relatively low resistance. Very thin and adhere well. I use the edge of a card to burnish the trace down as I lay it out. I drew reference lines using a lead pencil first, so I simply follow that. It went down very fast and accurately. Doing so with confidence and in one smooth motion allows for straight traces. However, as long as the traces are not touching, you should be good to go. These trace practically have no edge as the foil is very thin.
  • I used carpet tape, which is double-sided to keep the blade taped down against the bench. Not too much, because the tape is very tacky and can make it difficult to remove the blade from the bench. You can simply use any other tape to immobilize the blade. This keeps it steady as you lay down the copper trace. I simply keep the trace taunt, and the plastic credit card will tack it down along my reference line.
  • I ran the trace over the edge of the blades, onto the top. I chose the rear, trailing edge of the blade because it's less likely to get damage that way.

  • If you're putting lights on both blades, make sure to mark exactly where the LED should go. So to keep your light circle concentric and clean. Also better for keeping things in balance.
  • On fixed pitch blades, there blade has a slight curve (pitch) to them. So if you mount the LED towards the rear, the light circle will look brighter from the rear of the heli as you're flying. The opposite is true if you mount towards the front of the blade curvature.
  • I used 0603 SMD LED. ~120-130 degree view. Very lightweight and low profile. The status LED on the RX board is usually a 0603 if you need a size reference. The entire trace with two LED adds only 0.05g to the blade. The trace themselves are 1mm wide. You can go thinner or wider and still have it within acceptable performance and weight increase IMHO. I think one can probably use the slightly larger 0805 LED. Easier to handle and possibly brighter?
  • Soldering these SMD LED onto clean traces was an easy task for me. Obviously care must be taken else you'll burn a hole through the plastic blades. If you put masking tape, you contain where the solder runs alone the copper trace, making for a very clean tinned pads for the LED. It also buffers the heat from the soldering iron from melting things it isn't suppose to.
  • I used a hole punch to make pads for where the power wires will be soldered onto the blades. The addition surface isn't for easier soldering. It is to expose more adheasive underneath to keep that joint in place. I also cut a piece of tape to tack everything down once I solder on the power wires.

  • Since I used the conductive nature of the carbon main shaft as one of the way to get power to the blades, it had enough resistance to drop the main battery voltage down to ~3.1v for the LED. I did not use resistors because of this. If you play on using red LED or the ones where it can only handle a forward voltage of 2.1v, you'll have to ensure you put in the appropriate resistor so you don't burn out the red LED.
  • As alluded to above, I powered the blade's LED via the main battery. I used the main shaft as the negative pole and a 32g magnet/enamel wire running inside for positive. I will need to take more photos on how I tackle this issue.
Last edited by Daryoon; Oct 09, 2012 at 12:42 PM.
Oct 09, 2012, 12:45 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daryoon
I know many of us have been mulling the idea of night blades for our micro heli. At this scale, modding anything in the head and blades needs to be refined because any weight will affect performance. Especially in the fixed pitch micro helis.

I know others have done it before. But information on how to achieve their success is often lacking detail for those of us trying to recreate their success.

Let's discuss the best tricks and technique we've found in getting lights onto the blades of our micro models.
they're pricey but they've already been produced http://helircstore.com/mcpx-geniuscp...e=night blades
Oct 09, 2012, 01:13 PM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
Cool. Thanks for the source pmerrit. But those, has the big 3v lithium coin batteries embedded into the blades. One can get away with it on CP blades, where the blades themselves are thicker and the heli has more power.

The DIY version I have above takes power from the main flight battery. And will work with the micro FP helis as well as newer, RTF micro quads like the v929 and mQX.

That's the major and distinct difference between the two approach.
Oct 09, 2012, 01:41 PM
umop apisdn - downside up
nagromnewo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daryoon
Cool. Thanks for the source pmerrit. But those, has the big 3v lithium coin batteries embedded into the blades. One can get away with it on CP blades, where the blades themselves are thicker and the heli has more power.

The DIY version I have above takes power from the main flight battery. And will work with the micro FP helis as well as newer, RTF micro quads like the v929 and mQX.

That's the major and distinct difference between the two approach.
How about batteries (and lights) in the flybar? Since the flybar rotates with the blades, there is no wiring problem between static and rotating parts, and the weigth of the batteries could be offset by removing ballast from the flybar. Maybe a paddled flybar with watch batteries in the paddles?

Another approach would be fluorescent paint on the blades and a light source in the heli.

Owen
Oct 09, 2012, 01:48 PM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
It's hard to source 3v lithium battery small and cheap enough. And then one gotta find a mounting point on the flybar for each of the micro helis. Plus, mounting in the flybar won't work with the micro FBL heli and quads that I fly. Not saying it not worthy of someone experimenting that way. I'd love to see it done the way you mention and then the results of that experiment added to the collective knowledge here. Definitely many ways to skin the cat so to speak. Good thoughts on the subject.

Anyways, those are some of the issues I had to over come. Cuz I wanna light up my nCPX and v929 as well. On the sub 30g micro heli, keeping the weigh down was important for me. Especially in the rotating head.

Regarding the fluorescent paint...I went through that experiment and it didn't pan out too well. Just not as bright as regular ole LED.
Night Flying Colors



In fact, in the link above...I initially had some UV LED mounted under the blade. I was hoping the purplish LED will work double duty to also light up the rotor. It's just too dim and under power to be useful unfortunately.
Oct 09, 2012, 05:57 PM
Registered User
i812's Avatar

Glow in the Dark stuff


The best "passive" Glow in the Dark stuff I've seen yet has been Glow Glitter Glue available at Wal-Mart.



After Glow Glitter Glue is exposed to sunlight or indoor lighting for 10 minutes or more, it will glow in the dark for up to hours at a time. The only thing bad about it is that it is a paste, therefore it doesn't apply as thinly as paint does. The glitter flakes within the glue are the brightest parts of the glue/paste, and the glitter flakes look about as bright as the UV stuff in the photo in the above post.

Wal-Mart also had a Glow in the Dark (not UV) paint product, but it wasn't as bright as the Glue. Micheals (Arts and Craft store) had about 7 different Glow in the Dark (not UV type) products, but they seemed to be about as equivalent in brightness and texture as the Wal-Mart stuff.

Another product called Krylon Glowz spray paint (also available at Wal-Mart) goes on thin, but is only about half as bright as the Glow Glitter Glue.


With age, the Krylon Glowz spray paint darkens (about as dark as the wall is on the can's label); nevertheless, it still seems to glow in the dark as bright as it did when it was freshly applied
Last edited by i812; Oct 09, 2012 at 07:30 PM. Reason: Added Glow in the Dark product info
Oct 11, 2012, 01:28 AM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
I've never had good luck with glow in the dark stuff. The Nine Eagles Solo Pro yellow comes already with glow in the dark. Doesn't glow very well or for very long. UV light charges it up like a dream. But it just doesn't last very long.

The mSR glow in the dark is just as bad too.

All of them aren't very bright at all IMHO.

Here's a video of the v911 with only one blade lite. I think I will make different colors for the top and bottom. And put lights on both blades.

v911 Fixed Pitch Night Blades (1 min 0 sec)
Last edited by Daryoon; Oct 11, 2012 at 01:33 AM.
Oct 11, 2012, 02:16 PM
Registered User
Does a single led look like a "full circle" to your eyes?
Oct 11, 2012, 02:49 PM
Registered User
I'd love to see a picture of how you are passing power past the swashplate to the blades. Are you using a slip ring design?
Oct 11, 2012, 03:10 PM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
Yes. It's a full circle.

I think with LED at the same position on each blades, the circle will be even more solid and brighter.

It's very acceptable as it is. I am finding that it's easier to fly in pitch darkness with the night blade light rings than it is in the day. Knowing the disc plane of the blade gives wonderful feedback. Pretty amazed at how that ability to discern orientation when things get hairy allow one to pilot out of a potential crash.
Oct 11, 2012, 03:23 PM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
Pictures will come. I am modding another swashplate tonight. Will take more photos.

You know how when you are modding and unsure if it's gonna work, you just want to get the mod done first before spending the time and effort in documenting.

But documenting and sharing is the purpose of this thread. There's already been three revision since it's inception. I will explore a 4th refinement tonight.

There is no slip ring.
  • Rev 1 used a bearing below the gear.
  • Rev 2 had wires soldered to the swashplate bearing...removing the need for the extra bearing beneath the gear. It also tied in both main frame bearings, so we can get a solid negative path.

    Photo of Rev 2:
  • Rev 2a requires some conductive grease to see if we can keep a solid, low resistance path via the swashplate bearing. The larger bearing makes less contact with itself as the head spins faster...resulting in more resistance of 200++kohm. (Unfinished as I await on conductive grease)
  • Rev 3 used a brush in between the swashplate halves. This made the positive path much more solid. Still very easy to install consistently.
  • Rev 3a I will affix that brush with a simple screw. The end that pokes out will be a good place to solder the magnet wire that will feed power to the blades on top.
  • Rev 4 will concentrate on routing of the wires in the blade. I thing using very thin washer like those used on the mSR head will allow easy removal and maintenance. But it's mainly cosmetic at this stage.

I do have a picture or two ready to share as soon as I get back to my desk.

Keep on posting your question if you have any. Otherwise my time will be spend modding instead of documenting. LOL

Can't wait to see the other refinements you guys come up with. The backend dialogue with RicksterRC help further this mod to where it is now.
Last edited by Daryoon; Oct 11, 2012 at 03:49 PM.
Oct 12, 2012, 12:38 AM
Registered User
Daryoon

Looks awesome! I'm going to have to order some 0603 LEDs and try this out.

If the idea of the conductive grease is to reduce the flicker, you could probably get away with just placing a small capacitor on the LED side of the intermittent connection to smooth out the broken power and resulting noise/flicker.
Oct 12, 2012, 01:03 AM
Team Drone Art
Daryoon's Avatar
Ah, there's an idea. Thanks.

I am liking the 0805 LED for the brightness. Brighter and only slightly larger. Though the picture from this link makes it look huge. LOL http://led.linear1.org/surface-mount-leds/

Another thought. If you make the gap between the two traces bigger. You have room to solder resistors for RED, YELLOW, etc LEDs that can only handle 2.1v or so. Multimeter measurement of the trace is 3.1v.


Quick Reply
Message:

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion Tips and trick for 450-sized helicopter, fpv landing and fpv gear emerge FPV Talk 0 May 29, 2012 09:52 AM
Discussion Blade CX2- Rants, Raves, tips -n- Tricks! DX-GAME Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 3 May 08, 2008 01:32 AM
New Product Carbon Fiber Tri-Light Night Blades for Electric Micro Helicopters Dave Lauck Product Announcements 0 Feb 01, 2006 02:16 PM
Idea Zoom/Dolphin/Shogun 400 Tips 'n Tricks Hoverup Mini Helis 130 Jun 24, 2005 09:31 AM
Any Tip's N' Tricks in building a DAW Extra 300s genovia Electric Plane Talk 32 Jan 30, 2003 07:54 PM