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Hi,

 

Has anyone built their own wingtip lights?

 

I recently had first inspection on the 701, the inspector advised me to put some lights on for added visibility at the local uncontrolled strip.

 

However I almost fell over when I saw the price of commercial light kits - $1000 + USD!! (For what, $25 worth of electronics and a couple of polycarb bubbles??)

 

So wondering if anyone's made their own nav lights and can share any plans with me?

 

Thanks!

 

Cheers, Marty

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Couple of things...

When I changed my halogen landing light to a LED unit, I added "fixed ON" or "FLASH" with an LED flasher unit from Jaycar and 3 way toggle switch (Very easy to wire. Only one + wire from switch to light).

 

I'm waiting on some green/red LED navigation bulbs and lenses to come from the US to replace my existing units. ( fixed on) They are said to consume a lot less power than normal bulbs.

They have a variety of bulbs and stuff....not bad prices ( for aviation).

https://www.aero-lites.com/

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Couple of things...

When I changed my halogen landing light to a LED unit, I added "fixed ON" or "FLASH" with an LED flasher unit from Jaycar and 3 way toggle switch (Very easy to wire. Only one + wire from switch to light).

 

I'm waiting on some green/red LED navigation bulbs and lenses to come from the US to replace my existing units. ( fixed on) They are said to consume a lot less power than normal bulbs.

They have a variety of bulbs and stuff....not bad prices ( for aviation).

https://www.aero-lites.com/

 

Are your flashing lights going to be a parallel flashing pair or a pair of wig wag lights?

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RA aircraft cannot fly at night so Nav lights are a waste of money. Strobes are usually not visible from very far away & are more visible when an aircraft is on the ground. I bought a pair of LED strobes ($260.00) for my wingtips when building my aircraft. The flashing controller is in the wingtip & they draw very little current & here is no radio interference like the old halogen etc ones. A pair of Wing mounted LED landing lights with a wig-wag function are the best from a visibility aspect from head on. They stand out like dogs balls.

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I fitted LED strobes to the fin tip and under belly plus a bright 8 LED landing light.

If you can get the landing light flashing, it's far easier to pickup and see than just "on".

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I also agree with Kevin #6. I've spent mobs of time installing Kuntzelman strobes on my wing tips, but their primary value seems to be in upsetting people nearby on the ground. They are quite visible from a fair distance in low light conditions, but they'd only give a couple of seconds warning of your presence.

 

Wig-wags are mobs more noticeable in the air; the key is the apparent movement, so the further apart the better. Tamworth tower noticed an incoming Sling from at least ten miles, while they didn't spot another bloke's Bristell, with non-flashing landing lights of similar brightness.

 

My wig wags are mounted on my metal u/c legs, which are only a couple of metres apart (I wimped out of installing them in the outer wing because of what an LED fire would do to all the wood and fabric).

They are very bright, but inexpensive reverse lights controlled by this neat little unit:

https://www.sparxfly.co.nz/2014/sparxfly_acc.shtml#wigwag

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Are your flashing lights going to be a parallel flashing pair or a pair of wig wag lights?

It's all done and has been functioning perfectly.

Both landing lights are connected to the same LED "flasher" unit so go on/off together.

They are quite close together so perhaps from a distance they look like one bright light.

As OK said wig wags need good separation to work effectively.

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I purchased h3 100 watt halogen landing light replacement system from an australian company FlyLED.com. I do not fly at night but want to be visible inbound and in the circuit plus maybe more visible on the ground.

FlyLED are about half price of similar systems from the USA. Also save the high freight cost.

I have twin LED lights for each wing total 4800 lumens drawing only 5 watts. I bought a 3 way switch which gives me lights full on or wig wag function.

They make retrofit systems for Vans aircraft and kuts you can make yourself to suit your build.

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Perhaps I have been misinformed.

  • Nav/landing lights are not required on RAA aircraft - their installation/use is completely at the discretion of the PIC.
  • Nav/landing lights have minimal impact on an aircraft visibility air to air in VFR flying conditions.
  • Yes they improve an air crafts visibility when viewed from the ground.
  • There may be a smidgen of enhanced safety, if they are used prior to engine start and when taxiing
  • Their installation on RAA aircraft is essentially a fun (not functional) thing to do, much like a fancy paint scheme. Which I support.

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Perhaps I have been misinformed.

  • Nav/landing lights are not required on RAA aircraft - their installation/use is completely at the discretion of the PIC.
  • Nav/landing lights have minimal impact on an aircraft visibility air to air in VFR flying conditions.
  • Yes they improve an air crafts visibility when viewed from the ground.
  • There may be a smidgen of enhanced safety, if they are used prior to engine start and when taxiing
  • Their installation on RAA aircraft is essentially a fun (not functional) thing to do, much like a fancy paint scheme. Which I support.

Precisely which is why I positioned the "landing" lights to aim more straight out rather than just down.

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Perhaps I have been misinformed.

  • Nav/landing lights are not required on RAA aircraft - their installation/use is completely at the discretion of the PIC.
  • Nav/landing lights have minimal impact on an aircraft visibility air to air in VFR flying conditions.
  • Yes they improve an air crafts visibility when viewed from the ground.
  • There may be a smidgen of enhanced safety, if they are used prior to engine start and when taxiing
  • Their installation on RAA aircraft is essentially a fun (not functional) thing to do, much like a fancy paint scheme. Which I support.

A friend has strobes on his wingtips, another has a single strobe on his vertical stab. I find that they increase their visibility significantly. Been a few times that I would have seen them if not for the strobe, not in a collision situation, but flying together it makes it easier to spot the other aircraft further out, especially on late afternoon and early morning flights.

But no, they aren't a requirement.

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Flashing lights during the day (or night) have another good purpose. They frighten wild life away. Flashing apparently represents a pulse and this is not something that they want to mix it with. Good for outback landing. The Qantas flights into Kalgoorlie used to flash landing lights to scare the kangaroo population of the strip.

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visible inbound and in the circuit plus maybe more visible on the ground.

That is a key point!

Aircraft are slower but in closer proximity and more at risk.

If someone calls "turning base", you know roughly where to look and lights make picking it up easier.

At cruising speed, miles from anywhere they might not be very useful.

A front on profile of an aircraft is hard to see so flashing landing lights are good. If someone mistakes a RH circuits/runaways or joining opposite mid field crosswind or calls the wrong runway on takeoff while you are head on, on final, you REALLY would like to be seen or them to see you!

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A friend has strobes on his wingtips, another has a single strobe on his vertical stab. I find that they increase their visibility significantly. Been a few times that I would have seen them if not for the strobe, not in a collision situation, but flying together it makes it easier to spot the other aircraft further out, especially on late afternoon and early morning flights.

But no, they aren't a requirement.

 

I understand the evidence not to be in your favour. But to explain my understanding of your observation - if you already know in what general direction to look (flying in loose formation) a pulsing light may allow for a quicker "spot" in that vast sky. The key point - you know there is another aircraft out there, on a similar heading/altitude.

The same observation can be made for circuit opps - if you know where the aircraft should be (radio comms) there may be a fractionally faster "spot" if lights are used - once again you already have an expectation of an aircraft and where it might be.

This is why the carriage & appropriate use of a transcever is considered to be a far greater safety asset than (admittedly) sexy lights

The evidence would suggest that (in VFR) if you are unaware of another aircraft, lights do not enhance visibility - possible exception might be a dark backdrop eg dark cloud, failing light (VFR?).

Note - I am careful to mention air to air visibility. Lights have a fare higher impact/visibility in ground opps and ground to air visibility.

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- once again you already have an expectation of an aircraft and where it might be.

And you're looking but can't see it?

It's not a case of everything being right, but when things are wrong.....

Are they really where they say they are?

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Last December we did a flyover with 9 aircraft when the new Grafton Bridge was opened. All but the Tiger Moth had strobes. We followed line astern & chatted on 123.45 to keep each aware of the others position. I was in the middle of the pack & looked back when doing a 180 turn over the river. The day was smoky so visibility was not good. I saw some of the aircraft at times but did not see the strobes on any of them at any time except on the ground.

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You can never have enough lights - just ask the average Interstate truckie! :cheezy grin:

 

I can recall flying Jetstar redeye Perth-Cairns a few years back. About 0230 Hrs, in the middle of nowhere over the Outback, my half-asleep eyes caught a flash out of the corner of them, through the window (I had a window seat on the LHS of the aircraft). The strobe was approaching at approximately 70 deg to my left.

I opened my eyes and watched the strobe flash get closer and closer over two to three minutes. It got very close, very quickly, and then I was startled to see another jet whizz straight over the top of us - obviously at a higher flight level.

But that flashing strobe could be seen in clear air for a very long way. If strobes have little value, why are they fitted to all ground equipment that works around people and other machines?

It's common sense that you can't see a strobe in bright daylight and hundreds of miles of visibility - but they come into their own, in reduced visual conditions.

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You can never have enough lights - just ask the average Interstate truckie! :cheezy grin:

 

I can recall flying Jetstar redeye Perth-Cairns a few years back. About 0230 Hrs, in the middle of nowhere over the Outback, my half-asleep eyes caught a flash out of the corner of them, through the window (I had a window seat on the LHS of the aircraft). The strobe was approaching at approximately 70 deg to my left.

I opened my eyes and watched the strobe flash get closer and closer over two to three minutes. It got very close, very quickly, and then I was startled to see another jet whizz straight over the top of us - obviously at a higher flight level.

But that flashing strobe could be seen in clear air for a very long way. If strobes have little value, why are they fitted to all ground equipment that works around people and other machines?

It's common sense that you can't see a strobe in bright daylight and hundreds of miles of visibility - but they come into their own, in reduced visual conditions.

 

I am far from knowlegiable on these matters but would speculate that our physiology/psychology has developed in the expectation of seeing thins on the ground, at & below the visual horizon. So flashing lights/movement within this visual field is readily identified by our brain/eye sight. Strange as it may seem we do not see well in the air although we dont do to badly when we look down.

An extension of this theory might be - in my childhood we played "war" games, ambushing other kids. An effective strategy was to hid in a tree - the "enemy" almost always walked into the trap unaware. In nature ambush predators often use this tactic.

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Perhaps I have been misinformed.

  • Nav/landing lights are not required on RAA aircraft - their installation/use is completely at the discretion of the PIC.
  • Their installation on RAA aircraft is essentially a fun (not functional) thing to do, much like a fancy paint scheme. Which I support.

 

I like FUNctional items on Recreational Aircraft as long as they only add minimal or neglible weight.

Edited by eightyknots
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