View Full Version : DIY Night blades

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08-31-2008, 04:36 PM
Now how about turning them on and off during flight?

09-03-2008, 01:43 PM
Turning on and off the tip lights require a slip ring for a spinning contact. too complicated if you ask me.

09-04-2008, 09:59 AM
Turning on and off the tip lights require a slip ring for a spinning contact. too complicated if you ask me.

That is one way, but that requires a bit of mechanical work.
i built a wireless connection to my blades, its short range from the swash plate it reaches about 3 inches, works like a dream, and there is plenty of power in the LiPo on my blades to run the little micro controller!!!!

09-05-2008, 11:52 AM
That sounds like the way to go. I am trying this with some 550MM Mains for my Hawk Sport and have the 5MM bright clear LEDS. I'm only using them because I have a bag of them and I am using some old phone chord wire which I guess is like 32 gauge maybe. I stripped the covering off to inspect the blades because they came with the helo and looked used. The blades look solid and they will need the epoxy under the blade root caps anyway. I drilled some tiny LED lead holes in the end of the blades. The round shape of the LED should not have too much effect of the aerodynamics of the blade. I plan to mount a 60MAH LiPo to power each Led and will color the top red and leave the bottom clear for orientation. I agree with using few LEDS as required. I have been flying at twightlight allot lately and I have nav lights on my canopy and red belly and tail flashers and a three LED spotlight under the chin. I can almost fly it this way until full darkness but without seeing the blades I sometimes feel like I am slipping into vertigo. I also made a rotating beacon with a slip ring(lead) style design with an LED Ca'd to the top of an ole Coax servo motor with the planetary gearbox on top. It has good scale spin speed and can be seen way out there. It is switchable with a pico switch from ch 7 and powered by the coax's ols 2S battery. came out pretty good but it really needs blade tip lights and any more light would be clutter. I may even take off the flashers but it looks so cool when I come in and hover taxi with the lights on and spot lights up the smoke.. Wish me luck

09-27-2008, 03:32 PM
After much consideration and going through several different brands of blades that did not perform I decided to make my own.

I couldn't find 1/16" copper tape so I had to cut strips from a wider reel. I couldn't find the SMD resistors locally either, so I settled for what I had. I used four pins on the connector instead of three so I could polarize the wires. I also made some cool switches from pcb dip-switches.

Here are some pictures... The only issue I have is that current draw is too high for the sum of the currents of the LEDs. Maybe the carbon v-blades are conducting and adding to the load? With 340mAH batteries I get about 15 minutes of time. I measured draw and it is at around 400mA, which doesn't make any sense. Maybe v-blades are not suitable for this project? Not sure what to do since the option would be to start all over... Guess I'll have to recharge between flights...

09-28-2008, 01:11 AM
Well, flew them today. THESE BLADES ROCK!

Super visible and awesome tracking, etc. etc.

No problem with the battery either. Got a lot of flights on one charge, no problem.

Using white LEDs on the bottom was a great idea. Helps a lot in seeing the ground.

YEAH:banana:clappp:Bang:lol: :YeaBaby: :smokin::rolling:happyd :noteworthy :):woohoo

One tip, though: line up your header connector with the edge of the blade. Don't let it sticking out. Figure how I found out?

09-29-2008, 08:33 AM
Nice job, looks good.

Yes some carbon blades are conductive on the surface of the blade.
Some copper tape has a conductive adhesive and some has a non conductive adhesive.

I was going to use all 1/8 wide tape since that is all I can find.
I don't know if I have the patients to strip it down to 1/16.

I am about to start building a set and the surface of my blades are conductive, so I will clear coat them before I start.
I am debating doing another clear coat after just to protect things.
With the high humidity that we have hear the blades will be getting wet every night out.

09-29-2008, 10:51 AM
Watch out not to get the blades too heavy with all that coating. What brand are you using? I will be nice to compile a list of blades that are conductive on the surface.

I was thinking of replacing the copper tape with 30AWG wire that could be gooped to the blades and then coated. The insulation melts fairly easily with the application of the solder iron tip so soldering the LEDs should be a breeze. Using some insulation tape under the LEDs should isolate everything pretty nicely...

09-29-2008, 12:34 PM
The clear coat should not add more than a couple of grams.
I just need enough to seal the surface.
I am using an old set of TT carbons.
When I put the probes from my ohm meter on the surface in the carbon area it shows very low resistance, Over the white area is showing open, so I only need to clear the carbon areas.

As for the water proofing at the end, I plan to use an airbrush and just use enough clear to do the job.
So neither clear coat will cover the whole blade.

I suppose that I could just put the first clear coat down with the air brush, just where needed, to save a little more weight. But I think the copper will weigh more than the clear either way.

09-29-2008, 02:14 PM
Show us your work once it is done:lol:

09-30-2008, 05:29 AM
This looks like fun, I need a set of 500 night blades and since no one makes them yet I can have ago at making my own.
I am trying to source parts from the UK but I am having difficulty finding the copper tape


They also seem to be a good source for the 0805 leds mentioined in an earlier post.


I used the resistior calculater to find that I need a 65 ohm resister, I take it that i put this inline on the positive to the red led only. Im no expert just picking up tips from the post and making assumptions so feel free to correct me if im going about this wrong way.

09-30-2008, 10:39 AM
You only need resistors on the red LEDs. One resistor per LED. 65 Ohms seems about right. Just put it in series with the LED, no matter which terminal. Check the first two pictures of my post above. On one side of the blade you have the LED and on the other the resistor. You can make your setup anyway you want, as long as one resistor is in series with one LED.

Also, resistors don't have polarities so they can go either way.

Before starting I would recommend that you check your blades for conductivity. I am having tons of issues with my v-blades.

10-03-2008, 08:33 PM
Where is the best source to get the copper tape in the USA?

And the LEDS?


10-03-2008, 09:18 PM
Where is the best source to get the copper tape in the USA?

And the LEDS?


1) Any Stained Glass supply store and some Hobby Shops (Hobby Lobby, etc.)
2) Radioshack

10-05-2008, 08:52 AM
Most places do not have the 1/16 wide tape.
The 1/4 wide is more the standard. you can cuy the 1/4 wide down to 1/16, but that is a major PITA.

The tape is made by GC electronics P/N 22-507 for the 1/16 wide and P/N 22-509 for the 1/8 wide. I got mine from www.ActionElectronics.com, but I bought all of their stock (sorry :P).
They said it should be back in stock in about 2 weeks.
I found it by Googling the GC P/Ns.

Good luck.

10-07-2008, 01:35 PM
you can cut the 1/4 wide down to 1/16, but that is a major PITA.
not true. I cut several strips from a 3/4" and it turned out ok. Just make sure you have a sharp edge and metal ruler.

10-07-2008, 06:15 PM
But it is so much easier to get the right stuff in the first place.
When you are cutting to size, a few thousandths difference will require that much more balancing tape.

10-08-2008, 10:05 AM
a few thousandths difference will require that much more balancing tape.
Not true. The widths of my stripes were all over the place (see pics) but the blades balanced perfectly. The weight of the tape does not make much difference overall, compared to the weight of the components, solder, batteries, etc.

Of course, having the tape already done for you helps a lot.

10-08-2008, 12:18 PM
Copper is a very heavy material, A 1/2 inch long by 1/2 inch wide piece of Scotch tap makes a big difference on my blade balancer.

Solder is also very heavy, you may have gotten lucky with the balance coming out perfect.

My parts are showing up today to start making my first DIY set of night blades so I'll see how the balance works out.

10-08-2008, 04:57 PM
Can anyone give me a link to where I can get suffiencently bright 0805 leds? All the numbers are confusing me and LDiodes linked earlier in the thread is now closed.

I called Knight Bright and they didn't help any and were very hard to talk to.

I'm just doing blades for a blade 400 so I need 6 LED's , 12 max.. (incase I mess up)


10-10-2008, 06:29 PM
I ordered some LED's, purchased some tape and small lipos. Now I'm wondering do you need to put lights on the bottom of the blades? Can you see the lights when your flying around out in the field with them just on the top..?

10-13-2008, 07:10 AM
The number that tells you how bright the LED is the "mcd" rating. The bigger the number the brighter the led. but you have to watch out for the viewing angle, some of the brighter leds have a very small viewing angle, as small as only 10 or 15 degrees. that means that you will only see it if you are looking straight at it.
I would recomend that you use LEDs with at least a 120 degree viewing angle and at least 400 mcd. Of course more is better.

There is a good selection of LEDs at www.digi-key.com.
There are many other places that have them as well

[QUOTE]Now I'm wondering do you need to put lights on the bottom of the blades?/QUOTE]
Think about that one, as soon as the heli is above eye level you are seeing the bottom of the blades. Absolutely put lights on both sides of the blades.

10-21-2008, 04:48 PM
Whats the forward voltage on the leds you guys are using? I just fried an led and the forward voltage is 3.2v.

10-22-2008, 09:41 AM
the LED's i use are Forward Voltage of 3.6V for my White and Blue. and 2.0V for my Red, Orange, Yellow, and Green.

i have always had a 180 Ohm Surface mount Resistor on the 2.0V LED's
I have added a 22 Ohm Resistor to my White, and Blue LED's (This is strictly due to i am controlling them with PWM at a higher voltage) i used to fly them without the 22 Ohm resistor just wired strait to the LiPo Cell with no problems for a whole summer, and winter :YeaBaby:

Hope this helps

P.S. if you are going to use a 3.2V @ 20ma LED with a 3.7 LiPo the correct resistor would be 27 Ohm.

10-23-2008, 08:18 AM
Now you got me going.
What kind of PWM frequency and duty cycle are you using on your main blades LEDs to keep them from being a series of dots?

But then a series of dots might just be cool tooo.

I always get in the first flight of the year on January 1, 12:00:01 liftoff, regardless of weather.
I love winter flying in the snow, summer sucks. :)