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HelicopterScale Model RC Helicopters › Which lights, Mini-Flasher, RAM, Maxxi, etc.
HeliPolski

Senior Heliman

La Quinta, CA

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I am not talking crap about your product. I just posted because someone was asking about a light kit and knew someone that had it. You don't like the JMD light, whatever, I like it, and know a lot of people that do to.

MIKI

If its not scale I ain't flying it, unless its a TREX

04-05-2008 Over year old.
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tomapowa

Heliman

Tiverton, RI (USA)

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Firstly, I certainly did not think you were talking "crap" about anything. You just mentioned that the JDM setup had more features and that statement was unjustified and untrue actually. I always say...there is a market for any product, and in the case of R/C LED controllers, there are plug&play and there are the DIY versions. I say buy and use what you feel most confortable with. Certainly, the MINI-FLASH is for tinkerers and DIY'ers and its versatility is what makes it very unique when compared to other controllers. Plus... it's $45 price (assembled/tested) is not bad either! Throw in $10 worth of LEDs and wire and you are in business.

p.s. I just got in a bunch of ultra bright 5mm LEDs (White, Red, Green, Blue, and UV) and also some 8mm Ultra-Bright LEDS (new!). I hope to get these up on my webstore later tonight.

Tom

04-05-2008 Over year old.
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tauscnc

Key Veteran

Joliet IL

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Tom,

This thing is AWESOME!!! Thanks man... I LOVE the 2 fast strobes! The white and green LED are so bright. Funny I now wish I had ordered more red since they really look best in the century 222 red lenses.

I love it! Thanks gadgetdude for sending the link to this mini-flasher. Awesome find.

taus
http://www.cuttingedgecnc.com

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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gadgetdude

Senior Heliman

Northern California

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glad you like them! Tom does a fantastic job.

I spent my free time today installing my lights in the fuselage. I will try and post pics tomorrow.

The red lights on the fuse looks nice and I thought I could put a white led in them. However the red is just to opauqe and they did not look red enough when the light shown through. I ended up mounting a red led and it looks much better. On the bottom tail boom I think I am going to replace the red stock light with a white strobe. It make a cool effect with the white stone on the tail fin.

Hey TOM,
you know something that would be real cool is if you could program the mini flash with the option of making a 'beacon' effect. Basically the LED would fade up with a fast flash strobe then fade out. Now that would be cool!

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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tomapowa

Heliman

Tiverton, RI (USA)

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Re: your " 'beacon' effect"...
That's funny you say that... some one emailed me earlier today asking me the same questions (actually, now that I remember, it was a Japanese fella who just purchased two Miniflash controllers from me... Believe it or not, 90% of my sales are out of the US!).

I've experimented with the idea (using variable pulse width modulation, or PWM) but the 8-pin PIC I use has it's limits (currently using 250 out of 255 bytes). It can in fact do PWM but the loops I use to cycle through the sequence and also check the servo control signal make it difficult to perform good "fading". I'll have to experiment a bit more. The other thing that might make it difficult is having to reprogram the Mini-Flash programming software to add this feature... Ug!

One option I just though of could be an optional slave PIC circuit that connects to any Mini-Flash channel (and Mini-Flash power). This slave circuit would then fade in/out an output channel connected to an LED (or LEDs). Not the most elegant solution but a solution nevertheless.

I'll certainly keep this good idea in mind though...

Some one also suggested designing a sort-of "plug and play" controller, that is, one that does not have to be programmed via a PC. It would have pre-programmed flash patterns that can be assignable to 1 of 4 LED channels (via simply setup using Tx). Two channels could be controlled from your transmitter (via Rx connection) and the other two would be either steady flash or steady on. Any ideas on this...? What would make the most sense for an "out-of-the-box" controller setup, especially for Helis...?

Tom

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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gadgetdude

Senior Heliman

Northern California

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Tom,
Your killing me! I have an excuse to be up this late, I LIVE ON THE WEST COAST! You live on the opposite. DO you sleep?

Regarding the beacon, my mind does not work like yours so I won't even pretend to understand what you said. I just know you will try to figure it out

Regarding the idea of having the mini pre programed, you already have a good sequence in there when you ship them. I will have to think about that one and get back to you.

Go to sleep!

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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AdeH

Veteran

Kent, UK

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Scale lighting still

Guys
I have been watching this thread since day one and I have to agree I have no idea what most of you guys are talking about!
I am firing off emails all over the place to try to get the "perfect" lighting system. And can only seem to get part of the deal from different suppliers, (all experts in their own field!)

Lighting from here, controller from there, beacon effect from over there

I have got to the point where I am totally confused.
Am I alone?

I say get all these clever people in a brain storming room and not let them out until we scale heli guys get the ultimate scale lighting system!!!!

What we think ?

Adrian

After scale everything else is a toy!

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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busyflyin

Veteran

Owosso, MI USA

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gagetdude; amen on the beacon idea. I was at a buddie's house yesterday and he was showing me his new project which he used lights from RAM. He had a red beacon that was very cool and I had the same thought about Tom doing that in the mini-flash. The other thing he had from RAM was an actual "strobe" light. It was a tiny tube that strobed ultra bright like a real strobe light.

AdeH; I'm not the guy to do it but it would be very cool if someone could to a DIY web page on the subject. I just counted and I have 31 links bookmarked under the category of "LED". It's confusing but it doesn't have to be. The concept is very simple and the options aren't that complicated either. Of the 31 links I have saved, no one does an adequate job of explaining the subject. This is a brief summary of my findings;
1. Many vendors offer blink systems that are controllable from TX.. but only a channel or two.
2. Tom is one of two people that i have found with a product like mini-flash. The other is in the UK and is a few dollars more expensive.
3. LEDs are simple but you need to remember to add the resister to lower the voltage or you will fry them.
4. Some LEDs are brighter than others and I sure would like to find a vendor that offers the really bright ones that you can see in the daylight.
5. RAM offers a bunch of cool stuff but their website is very poor and their products are too expensive. It's hard to really understand their products from their site.
6. RCswitches are available that will allow you to toggle lights on/off from the TX. They are about $15.00.
7. There are tons of vendors that offer complete systems but in general, I have a hard time understanding the info on their sites.. may be just my problem. Also, the assembly of these systems is laborous and the price is high for what you get (they need to get paid for the labor.. that's fair)
8. I'm not Tom's paid messenger, but IMOO, the mini-flash is the most flexible and cost effective solutions that I have found. I'm excited about it, but I sure would like to see the "beacon" feature built into this.. come on Tom, you can do it!!LOL (Note; I wish I could figure out how to get the software to work on my Vista notebook).
9. There are several DIY sites that offer electronic circuit diagrams for flashers. I'm not the guy that's going to build my own flasher.

Anyway, that's how I see it.

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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tomapowa

Heliman

Tiverton, RI (USA)

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Excellent Summary BusyFlyin!

I just might have to put together that "DIY" type of webpage that describes some of the topics you touched upon. In the past I have fielded numerous emails from people asking simple (to me) questions regarding the building of LEDS and such. I completely understand the frustration, especially to electronic novices. I'll work that on my end. There are many options when it comes to scale lighting. Some want a completely programmable DIY controller (i.e. Mini-Flash) and some just want something they can takeout of the box and insert into their model. My previous message mentioned possibly designing an "out-of-the-box" nav lighting system but I would like to hear more from you guys, like...

1) How many controllable output channels would be ideal? (i.e. what do people like tuning on/off from their Tx?)
2) For channels that flash/strobe... what is a good strobe rate?
3) For controlled (on/off) channels, do most use a Transmitter switch instead of a knob/stick for control?
4) How large LEDs do most use? I know there are the 1W-5w Luxeon style LEDs out there but do people use these? (How do they mount them?).

Basically, I'm prodding you guys here... tell me what you want and I'll see what I can do. Mimicing a rotating beacon is hot on my list already! To make life easier, I'd like to design a product that works for most... possibly one that does not have to be programmed via a PC.... hence... that takes me to the next subject... S/W issues.

BusyFlyin... I'm still trying to track down why my Mini-FLash programming software does not work on Vista (then again... there's much more S/W that does not work on Vista either!). A good friend is helping me diagnose this problem... as he also has a machine (XP Pro, SP2) that has the same error/issue. I won't rest till I get to the bottom of it. I might also try to port the s/w code to VB6 and recompile to see if it helps.

Tom

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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busyflyin

Veteran

Owosso, MI USA

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I am not an authority on this but I will give you my wishes for your points which I have an opinion;

1. I only want to turn on/off the landing lights and a spot light. My Agusta has retracts and I'm going to rewire my landing lights onto a snap type micro switch that toggles the landing lights on/off with the retracts. The system I currently have toggles them on/off from cycling a switch. I don't like cycling a switch as opposed to the switch being either on or off. As for the spotlight, my 500D will have a pan feature and I'm going to again use a snap type microswitch so that the floodlight goes on as I begin to pan the light. Too many switches take your focus off from flying.
2. Here is where I like the flexibility to program. I don't believe that there is a standard for strobe rates. Some double or triple strobe.
3. Depends on TX. I uses switches on my Futaba 9C. My TX gives me the option of using one of the two slider switches on the side or one of the three knobs in the center. I think it's too hard to fly and try to control a variable switch.
4. If you had these now, I would have bought at least one for the landing light on my 500. But you are asking the right question.. how to mount.

Tom; I don't recall you offering wire for sale for the LEDs. I suggest that you do. I think it's 30 ga braided?? I bought some from the local Radio Shack and I'm not liking it. How about small heat shrink tubing?

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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AdeH

Veteran

Kent, UK

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My utopia

Hi Tom, Guys
For my two penneth worth and in a utopian world I would like:

1. A plug and play system.
2. With beacons where possible and strobes where needed and statics where needed.
3. I would like it so I can turn it on with a toggle switch from the TX
4. I would like it to run off its own battery supply.
5. I would like the option to fit a retractable landing/spot light which works on the throttle curve but light is controlled from the lighting rig.
6. I would like it to be able to fit all size helis from micros to large scale (using extension leads probably).
7 and have 5mm LED.
8. and scale coloured plastic covers, not the standard "squared" off type.
And the whole lot programmable........

I don't want much really.......

After scale everything else is a toy!

04-06-2008 Over year old.
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gadgetdude

Senior Heliman

Northern California

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Tom,
Take a look at my lights how they are set up and the strobe pattern.

04-07-2008 Over year old.
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tauscnc

Key Veteran

Joliet IL

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Hey Tom,

I downloaded the program today and it works great. This has to be one of the coolest thing I have used.

The only think I found is the plug that is used from the serial cable, the one that goes into the RX is square and not a "standard" JR or hitec one that fits all of the RXs. After trying to push it into my RX I noted it did not have the bevels on the side, a quick file did the trick.

Maybe on the next batch you may wanna change this.

Very happy with the product and results! I too would love a rotating beacon.

taus
http://www.cuttingedgecnc.com

04-07-2008 Over year old.
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tomapowa

Heliman

Tiverton, RI (USA)

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Great ideas guys! Keep them coming.
No, I never did sell LED hookup wire but I have used some 30 gauge enamaled (magnet) wire twisted together with success (very light) With helis though, I'd be concerned as chafing could occur between the two wires, possibly causing a short. I use some wire (like servo wire but 2 conductor, not 3) for LED hookups. I might decide to sell some of those on my webstore soon (20" lengths, 4 to a Pack). Honestly, the labor that goes into building assembled LEDs (LED, series resistor, wire and connector) is significant, with very little (if any) profit to be made. Recently, I noticed some Chinese Co. on Ebay started selling (cheap!) 20" leads with ultrabright LEDs on the end, even with a built-in series current-limiting resistor. Unfortunately, they are design to be operated from 12 volts (car), not 5 volts as is the case with the Mini-Flash. I wonder if someone can talk them into building them to operate from 5 volts? (just a smaller resistor). In my next design, I'll try to add the capability of powering the LEDs from a seperate power source (you can do this now but would take the cutting of a PCB trace or two). Oh... Heat shrink tubing... Good idea too!

A few more questions for all who's intersted... what would you figure be the average # of LEDs you would use on a model? I'm trying to figure out the max # of output channels required. I would also need this (including types of LEDs) in order to spec out the maximum current draw. Some one mentioned controlling a spotlight and landing light... I assume these would turn on or off at the same time via your Tx switch? Some time ago, someone mentioned that they would like to use 2 spare Rx channels (controlled using 2 Tx switches) to control two different light sets on their model... is this another option to consider or is this over-kill?

Another option I toyed with is a flasher that also monitors your LiPo battery. I have a beta version completed (aka Mini-Volt) but have not had too much success in marketing it. It basically is a Mini-Flash (3 LED channels instead of 4) which also connects to your battery for monitoring. When the battery voltage falls below a user-programmed level (currently 3s,4s or 5s), it flashes all LEDs rapidly, notifying you to land soon). Does this also sound like a good idea?

Now that's cool gadgetdude!
Which LEDs are those... and are you using lens of any sort?
Also... hope you don't mind but I added that video link to my Mini-Flash webpage...

Tom

04-07-2008 Over year old.
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tomapowa

Heliman

Tiverton, RI (USA)

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Hey taus,
Great to hear you like it... I'll certainly check into that connector issue. The programming cable is basically built from a servo connector I purchase and always test using a spare Futaba receiver (ie, no bevel needed... probably why I never caught this).

Tom

04-07-2008 Over year old.
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AdeH

Veteran

Kent, UK

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Just a thought

Hi Tom
I just had a thought. (after seeing your video on the website.
Could we get the mini flasher unit to flash 4 red leds very close to each other in sync?
My thinking is:
Get 4 red LED and put them together in like a bunch. Then get the mini flasher to run the LED one after another thus creating a beacon effect!!!!

What you think?

Adrian

After scale everything else is a toy!

04-07-2008 Over year old.
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tomapowa

Heliman

Tiverton, RI (USA)

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Hi AdeH,
Good idea. Yes!, I had a customer do just that on an R/C boat but doing this takes up all 4 Mini-Flash channels to accomplish (as you mentioned). I think what others are talking about re: "rotating beacon" is the effect where one LED is used and instead of blinking full ON, then OFF... they want it to gradually (.5 seconds or less)fade up full, then gradually fade down to off... so it appears as if it was a rotating beacon (Dim up -full on - dim down). Some simulated rotating beacons I have read about also flash right after the fade-up portion, just before it fades down (dim up - flash - dim down). What would be cool though is for someone to build a real miniature rotating beacon!

Tom

04-07-2008 Over year old.
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busyflyin

Veteran

Owosso, MI USA

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Tom; We greatly appreciate your attention to our needs. It's a small community and we will work at making sure we repay the effort with some loyalty and business.

04-07-2008 Over year old.
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Elgreco

Veteran

Montreal,QC-Canada

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Hi there, I bumped into this thread as I am looking for a set of lights for my bell 222, 50 size.
Actually wingspanmodels have a great product that unfortunately has not worked for me. They offer a controller with 3 lights, red,green and white, all fully adjustable rates through this controller. The second controller they offer is with 2 red strobes, and let me tell you, they have it bang on !! You can check the videos they have to see how they flash. I know of a guy in the trex forums that built the airwolf using those and worked fine.
Unfortunately when I received my controllers, they didn't work. I couldn't get them to work, and although I don't think it was anything I did I can not say they have a bad product as I only emailed them before the weekend and expecting answer on the subject.
The problem is I want to get something so I can continue with my fuse.

Her is what I am looking for.(Also I think this would be the most commonly setup on helis if you were to produce a ready system.)

1 red navigation light
1 green navigation light
2 red strobes ( the ones with the slow build up and sudden off function)
1 white 2 rapid flashes strobe for the tail fin.

As an addition, a landing light could be incorporated.

Power supply would be great to be straight from RX.

Also, the option to control on and off the TX is the ultimate wish.
A simple on off to turn on the 5 lights, and a possibility to connect the landing light with the retract channel and have it on when retracts are down and off when they are up.

I believe a ready setup like that would satisfy most of the scale builders.

A this point I like to tell you that I am looking for a system that can do what I described. If you have what I would need, please take the time and PM me with all the parts I would need from your site and I will send you my order right away.
On one note, I don't know how I would connect the 5 lights to the mini-flash. I think it has only 4 channels ? Maybe the 2 red strobes together with a y harness?

And lastly, is there a way to turn them on and off from the Tx channel at what you currently offer ? Any other switch I might be able to purchase for that? A link would be appreciated.

PS. Also if you have something for the landing light please let me know.

I am just not sure what exactly from what I explained could be achieved at this point with a purchase of your system.

But please check the videos at
http://www.wingspanmodels.com/Produ...lectronics.html

to better understand the function of the scale lights and what most of the people I talk too would like.

Too bad mine didn't work. Maybe something wrong with the controller.Couldn't get power to the lights.And when I did, no functions available.

Anyway, this was long enough, hope it helps you more on your designs, and PM me.

Trex 550 V-BAR, Trex 700 V-BAR, N5-os55VBAR, TREX700E V-BAR /X9503

04-08-2008 Over year old.
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gadgetdude

Senior Heliman

Northern California

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Here is my DIYRC.com Mini Flash installed in my Bell 222 I am currently building. At the end of the video notice I installed a landing light on the front wheel retract. I plan on hooking this up so it comes on when the wheels go down. This video does not do these lights justice. They are extremely bright. I turned off all the lights in my kitchen and it looked like a Disco

The LED's are also from DIYRC.

04-08-2008 Over year old.
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HelicopterScale Model RC Helicopters › Which lights, Mini-Flasher, RAM, Maxxi, etc.
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