My first night flying illumination system for an RC model was EL panel and wire based. Compared to the brightness of today's LED strips it was pretty pitiful. And there's the overhead of the inverter you have to carry to provide the AC that makes it work. Perhaps in a large rocket it won't be an issue (as it wasn't for the plane that flew with the system I had the most - a Sig Kadet LT-25 converted to electric power). But for LPR and perhaps small MPR it's rather easier to do it with LEDs these days.r
In Frank's gliders....EL would probably too much extra weight.
He had to run a 3s battery for the lights I believe and so not sure if he used a bec for rx or a separate 1s battery for flight, whatever it was that changed his CG a bit so I think he moved the battery and rx back and cut a hatch to make it all work out without having to add tail weight, but I think it only added maybe an ounce total to his flight weight.
Yeah, my buddy flying it is a maniac on the sticks. Alex Fredrickson, he could not just fly it the way it was intended to….diving for airspeed and then trying to loop it until the cone fell off... shows my CG was good as the pitch over was uneventful When we flew it during the day the glide performance was increased by 3-4x duration.
had that been the stratodart and the cone came off…it would have been the stealth/lawndart, cause that battery is inside the cone! the Daedulus had the lipo by the servos but it amazingly held on. I think I will place a small piece of tape on there to increase the friction fit.
The parts to do your own version are:
Light strips. I cut up bare servo lead wire to make the jumpers
Laminate: this went on with a covering iron. Light as air and rice paper thin. It significantly increased the ridgidity of the wing on the stratodart comapred to bare foam I left on the daedelus. Not sure it was truly necessary though.
Should you build your own, I positioned the LED’s on the topside of the wing, with the diodes firing down to take advantage of the glow in the foam as seen from below. Of course it is ridiculously visible form the topside as well during ascent. Leaving the adhesive backing on the light strip I simply heavily ran my finger over the back of the light strip creating indentations in the foam for the diodes. Blenderm tape (supplied by you-thanks!) is the perfect width to secure it the full length if you leave it bare foam as I didi on the Daedelus OR you full length (as I did) or spot tape it maybe and then laminate over it as on the stratodart. Everyhitng went below the laminate including the power jumpers. I laid it on the angle of the wing so the seams overlapped inside the body tube.
One note…on both rockets the lighting in the vicinity of the tail, I folded over 3 diodes onto themselves to also fire to the topside of the wing. These light up the tail on each side as you can see especially nicely on the V of the Daedelus. Works on the Dart as well.
He did say that for night flying, more is not necessarily better, His first RC plane was way to bright and blew out your night vision if you looked at it on the ground, it was a 2 man job and you couldn’t look until it was airborne because of the bounced light on the ground. Anything below 30 feet and there was a light ball on the grass. It was grossly overweight with the 2 @ 2s 5,000mah packs (yep, it needed all that for Power, duration, and CG) and the Castle BEC Pro it took to fly it. Thankfully I grossly overpowered it with a Power60 after the stock electronics puked on the first flight, it would almost climb vertical. The bottoms of the wings had RGB LED’s with lighting controllers and it was an epileptics nightmare as I toggled through the various flashy color patterns. Talk about an attention grabber though. It was ridiculous. I think your gliders with simple light strips are absolutely perfect night flyers!
I did a quick check, so I'm using a total of 150 led's in my application on the strips, the current draw is 1 amp per 150 led's at 12 v in calculation and in a test I ran, so with my 180 mah 3s battery, consuming only 80% which is normal safe practice for discharge, would yield 8 minutes of light, so plenty for set up on the pad, a launch and a close recovery.
The strips are nice in that since the diodes are in parallel effectively you can solder to any set of +./- pads on the strips, they are every 2" or so. I just wired little bridge wires to tap off of each strip and connect them to a single JST connector that I routed into the center of the model where the battery will sit right on the CG.
I applied them to the model in a pattern that would light the tail and wing/fuse in a pattern that would allow me to differentiate direction and top/bottom. I used the self adhesive side and then taped over with clear packing tape to secure and protect the led strips and wires. My model was 11.6 oz rtf before, adding the lights and wire brought it to 12.1 ounces and it required a few grams to re-balance so 12.2 ounces rtf. I decided to keep the 1s battery for receiver power since it is already set up for that, and just add the small 19 gram 3s battery for night flights only. Otherwise I'd have to use the 3s and a regulator to the receiver for all flights which would mean daytime flights were slightly heavier but nighttime flights were slightly lighter, it's a tradeoff. Total rtf weight with 3s battery added is 12.9 ounces, so it added 1.3 ounces, but the Stratodart has the most wing so can handle that ok and the e-6 will boost that weight fine.
The LED's are only around $6/5 meter strip, so really inexpensive, and the 3s 180mah jst battery from ebay was $13 shipped, turnigy brand, hobby king sells them 5 for $28 if you wanted to get a bunch of them.
You can get the lights on ebay, or search for
LED Strip Light SMD 3528 Flexible Tape 300led DC12V indoor outdoor lighting rope 5 meter length
Here's a night/dusk flight I did this weekend, I found I had to still have some light available to see my landing area and to judge the size of the glider to know the altitude. unfortunately the only video we got was the one where I actually landed in a Sagebrush instead of on the roadway
Yeah, landings for night flying RC are "interesting". I had the best luck with a model that had some of the lighting directed down and forward that they illuminated the ground ahead of the model. It's still REALLY hard to judge to flare for landing, though.
Looking at your picture on the previous page, some short strips of white alongside the red and green near the wing LE, or even along the leading edge itself on the bottom would really help judging landing heights.
As for size and distance generally....practice. (no surprise there).
Lights shining down would blind me during landing, the lights are already very bright, I didn't have problem landing so much as judging height and penetration into the wind to hit a small walkway in the dirt between the sagebrush.
I think a light in the nose as Hans did would help with height, but I think it's just practice in judging. The main thing I found was it was extremely difficult to see minor roll/pitch due to wind which we had a lot of, this was in about 10mph winds, the lights just don't indicate the pitch/roll until I started to see the white on the top of the fuse indicating I had rolled about 30 degrees, I think in a nomal night park flyer, you don't go very high or very far away and it's much easier, when it boosts to 600' in a wind it's really small and hard to see pitch/roll changes and react as fast as you would during the day time when in glide.
I had a good wind as I said so I had to do s turns to let it slide back overhead without turning downwind, when the model is directly overhead it also makes it harder to judge roll/pitch changes, but I had to fly that way, the one time I tried to go downwind, I misjudged altitude and penetration and landed behind the flight line.
All the other four landings were right down the walkway to the pads or in front of me.
I found in boost it was very easy to judge direction with the lights and if the flame from the motor was a dot it was going straight up or straight away from me, if I saw flame, then it was pitched further away.
I updated my Pegasus kit to be more like a Pegasus XL with cranked down rear surfaces for a more scale appearance and was able to drop the price a bit, I also got in 100 single use E-6Plugged 24mm motors at a good price that are available now as well for folks not wanting to guy a reloadable casing or those waiting for them to become available. These are the same as the Apogee E-6 single use motors but without an ejection charge/delay and are available exclusively through me.