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10-16-2005 06:56 PM  13 years agoPost 1
martinic

rrKey Veteran

NB, Canada

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Following the examples of others, I made myself a set of 315 night blades using the Align 315 woods. They work great and it was a simple project requiring only basic soldering skills. Picking out the parts to order was the toughest part.

Here are the parts I used (all from Digi-Key):
Quantity Part Number Description
1 3M1181A-ND TAPE COPPER FOIL 1/4" X 18 YARDS
2 BH600-ND HOLDER COIN CELL FOR 16MM CELL
2 67-1705-1-ND LED TOP ALINGAP RED 2832 SMD Red
2 67-1706-1-ND LED TOP ALINGAP ORANGE 2832 SMD Orange
2 67-1708-1-ND LED TOP ALINGAP YELLOW 2832 SMD Yellow
4 P034-ND BATTERY LITHIUM COIN 3V 16MM CR1616

Steps:
I made a template for the battery holders, drilled the mounting holes through the blades, cut the covering slightly smaller than the holder and CAed the holders to the wood blades with thick CA. The holders are mounted so that their retaining circle is pointing outwards - the force of rotation and the heavy spring clips keep the batteries in place. I use 2 16mm 3V lithium coin batteries per blade for 6V.

I ran the circuits for the LEDs using the foil tape cut down to 1/8".

I soldered the LEDs in place. I found it easiest to place a drop of solder on the copper tape one each side of the LED mounting location - then I could simply hold the LED in place and heat the contacts to solder the LEDs in place. In this series configuration, the LEDs are mounted with their cathodes (negative) mounted facing the negative battery connection. I used 3 LEDs per blade (red, orange and yellow), each with the exact same electrical characteristics (2V, 30 mA). By wiring them in series and chosing LEDs with the same electrical characteristics, I didn't need a resitor (6V/3 = 2V per LED). I set the spacing to get 5 LED circles with the blades turning - the Red LEDs on the tips are mounted on opposite faces to provide optimal viewing angle with the blades rotating. The other LEDs are mounted on the leading edge with slight alternating angles - again to optimize the viewing angle.

The circuits are then protected with packing tape.

I use a small tab of clear plastic to break the electrical contact when I store the blades - it's a simple on/off mechanism. The tab slides between the batteries and the holder spring contact and is removed to activate the lights.

The cost is approximately $30 US plus once set of 315 woodies. A nice, fun little project.

There's a nice tutorial on using LEDs here. The tutorial has a link to a very useful online calculator.

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10-16-2005 08:39 PM  13 years agoPost 2
Ozydego

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Westerville, Ohio

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Nice setup, I like the craftsmanship!!! One last thing I would do, is put clear heatshrink over the whole blade, this will protect the wiring, and make the air flow better over the battery. Post some pics of them spun up... I wanna see!! Once again, nice job...

But Honey, I can't live with just stock.....

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10-16-2005 09:06 PM  13 years agoPost 3
Ruff

rrVeteran

Queen Creek, AZ

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I can't wait until somebody releases some commercial night blades for the T-Rex.

That might put a spark back in the night flying, as there is only about one person at every FF that bothers to NF.

Ruff

http://srcha.com

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10-16-2005 09:15 PM  13 years agoPost 4
martinic

rrKey Veteran

NB, Canada

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I agree Ruff - I don't know why there aren't commercial night blades for these extremely popular mini helis. Night flying and electric helis seem to go so well together because of the neighborhood-friendly noise levels. Flying at night typically means lower wind levels too. It just seems to be a perfect match.

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10-17-2005 01:22 AM  13 years agoPost 5
Kermitdafrog

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Charleston, SC

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Now you need to work on a centrifugal switch

Rick

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10-17-2005 02:11 AM  13 years agoPost 6
MikeInMobile

rrElite Veteran

Mobile, Alabama

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Since you have added the weight of the coin cell to each blade, may I ask why you didn't add it to the end of the blade. Placing the battery here will increase the stability of the blade and will help with autorotations !

I like what you did, but I would worry about weakening the blades too much with that large of a hole.

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10-17-2005 02:31 AM  13 years agoPost 7
playfair

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Rochester, NY

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MikeInMobile- If the blade designers wanted more weight at the tips, I'm sure they'd add it. Keeping it near the root minimizes any changes in engineered flight characteristics. Also, I think he only drilled tiny holes to pass the pins from the PC battery holder through.

Martinic- Nice Job! If I may, I have a few comments based on my own DIY night blade experience...

I'm surprised you were able to run those 3 colors off a 3v cell; do you know what your current level is? You want around 20ma in the series circuit. I bet if you dropped to just 2 they'd be much brighter.

Are you using the full 1/4" copper tape strips? That's a significant amount of weight, even though you decidedly placed it over the chord CG, you may want to tediously cut the thickness in half to add less mass.

I heat shrink the large blades due to nitro mess disolving the adhesive, but it would be nice if you didn't have to on an electric! A dot of super glue on the soldered LED's does a great job of securing them.

Lastly, you may find your design has "blind spots" due to your lead edge placement of the LED's- I try to alternate upper and lower edges and tips with each blade. If possible, a trail edge will help as well.


The sky is our canvas

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10-17-2005 03:05 AM  13 years agoPost 8
Mhw

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earth

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are these little lithiums rechargable?? If we can get a nice design, I know places that can make them for us,

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10-17-2005 03:40 AM  13 years agoPost 9
Mhw

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earth

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so what do we do? the coin lithiums are the only ones that fit right?

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10-17-2005 03:56 AM  13 years agoPost 10
Sar

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Saugeties, NY

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10-17-2005 06:57 AM  13 years agoPost 11
Sar

rrElite Veteran

Saugeties, NY

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Not as long as you might suspect, an average lithium 3V coin cell, let's say the CR1616 martinc is using, is only 50mAh.

I guess it depends on what you're into built in or glued on.

--
Jon

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10-17-2005 10:23 AM  13 years agoPost 12
martinic

rrKey Veteran

NB, Canada

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This setup uses two CR1616 lithium cells per blade (6V). The LEDs use 30mA and 2V each. The coin cells are 55mA so they won't last terribly long, probably 30-40 minutes.

The LEDs used have identical electrical characteristics: 30mA, 2V. Others have suggested using a 22 Ohm resistance in the circuit due to variances from spec (the 3 LEDs actually draw 5.5V and the fresh cells provide 6.5V). I'm going to add the resistor to each blade to save my LEDs.

I did alternate the angles of the LEDs - the tip LEDs (the Red ones) are on different sides of the blade and the other mounted along the leading edges are angled slight up and down to maximize the viewing angle. These LEDs have a wide viewing angle to start with (120 degrees). The red, orange and yellow LEDs have light output of 250, 300 and 150 mcd respectively (brighter than many SMT LEDs, but with decent current draw of 30 mA). As I said in my original post. choosing the best components for this application was the hardest part.

The holes are small, just to mount the holder to the surface and to let the pins pass through the blade. The blade is certainly weaker because of this, but it's a lot less than the holes in the original wood blades which were there to lighten them. I used 5 holes for each holder (3 for the locating pins and 2 for the leads), but I probably could have shaved off the locating pins and just relied on the CA. Maybe next time

The holders use a spring clip to retain the batteries. IThe spring is pretty strong and the way I've mounted them keeps the plastic retainer "wall" facing out to stop the batteries from sliding out due to the force of rotation.

I cut the 1/4" foil in halfdown to 1/8". I would go even thinner next time because it wasn't hard to cut using a sharp Xacto knife and a steel ruler. I ended up using less than 2' of the 1/4 tape. The blades now weigh 23g (!) each with the batteries installed (2 per blade). The copper tape has conductive adhesive so I didn't need to solder the tape connections - that saved some weight. The SMT LEDs don't require much solder either. The big weight hit are the batteries and holders. These are the newer solid wood blades (no holes) with the plastic roots (which I removed, cut away the covering and CAed directly to the wood - probably overkill, but what the heck).

I placed the cells near the root to minimize the effects on blade performance and because the blade speed is slower near the center (so the batteries will be subjected to less flinging speed). RPM is the same, but the blade near the center goes slower in terms of speed. Force exterted by a mass out the outer edge of a disc is more than that exerted by a mass near the center - this places less load on the head parts too (not sure how much - maybe someone who knows a bit about physics can calcuate and provide some examples?).

Nice find on the lithium rechargeable by the way - thanks! Too bad the 16mm version (LIR1620) is so wimpy - 20mA max. discharge rate and only 12mAH capacity; a bit thick too (for my holders). Reasonably priced and they have a charger also. Pretty cool. Their GM651216 3.7V LIPO cell is more interesting with 60 mAh capacity and 6.5x12.5x16mm dimensions, 1.4g weight for ~$3 in quantity.

I didn't CA the LEDs to the blades, but that's a good idea. I'll probably go back and do that.

I would have liked to have shrink wrapped the whole blade, but didn;t have the material. The packing tape will do for now since this is an electric and I don't have to worry about Nitro. it seems to work well, but will probably wear quicker.

I can't imagaine these blades perform as well as stock, but for what I'm doing with them it won't be a problem.

I'm just a sport pilot right now and don't expect to be doing 3D with these blades (no intentional autrotations either). I don't know if the batteries would stay in during 3D moves - the probably would, but I would have to try it (lacking the skill/experience at the moment).

Maybe by the time I'm flying 3D someone will have a set up commercial CF rechargeable night blades with nothing sticking out to affect the airflow over the blades. I'd probably pay $100 for a set.

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10-17-2005 05:31 PM  13 years agoPost 13
Ozydego

rrKey Veteran

Westerville, Ohio

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Here is how I overcame the battery issue I personally use the main batt as the one to light the blades, tail, etc....

My blades use Blue LEDs on top, and White on the bottom, The copper foil tape is very light, It looks like Martinic used 5/32" just like I did. I chose to shrink mine for durability....
I don't have any problems with Martin's setup and I think its an awesome job....

But Honey, I can't live with just stock.....

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10-17-2005 05:34 PM  13 years agoPost 14
Ozydego

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Westerville, Ohio

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really like the idea of a centrifugal switch, I never thought to do that and I think that will be next on my list. BTW, check my gallery for the full set of pics of my night blade adventures....

But Honey, I can't live with just stock.....

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10-17-2005 07:45 PM  13 years agoPost 15
martinic

rrKey Veteran

NB, Canada

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Panasonic makes a 3V rechargeable ("Secondary") 20mm dia. x 2mm high lithium coin cell (the ML2020) that provides 50mAh and weighs only 2.2g. One of these could power the 3 LEDs in parallel (using a 12 Ohm resistor) for about 30 minutes. The single cell could be partially buried in the blades (no complete hole) with the leads coming out and folding flat against the foil tape. The LEDs could also be buried in the blade (maybe even with small reflectors or lenses to optimize the lighting). The whole thing would then be clear heat shrinked for circuit protection and airflow. Small connection points could be used to recharge the cell in each blade.

Just a small variation with cleaner profile, lighter weight and low operating cost.

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10-17-2005 08:33 PM  13 years agoPost 16
lakespinner2

rrVeteran

north carolina

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Great blades martinic ! Very inspiring. And so neatly done.

I tried making a very ugly set of night blades with a rechargable single cell lipo and it did work. However, for rev 2 I was thinking how much easier ( I'm lazy ) it might be to just use a standard coin cell and throw them away when they run down. Soldering and gluing all the tiny charging and on/off pins was pretty time consuming. In addition, there would be no downtime for recharging if you had a supply of coin cells on hand.

These batteries ( CR2330) are $1.78 each and are good for 255 mAh so they should last for several flights. Here's a holder for it. They also have an SMT version of the holder.

These are wider cells (23 mm ) but local radio shacks carry the CR2325 batteries in their stores although theirs don't list the mah rating. I found some similar CR2325 cells on the web and they were around 150 to 190 mah. If it will fit it might be worth a shot. I have the holders on hand from DigiKey but I haven't gotten around to trying them out. I wasn't sure how to mount them but now that you've blazed that trail I might be able to make another attempt.

My first night blade attempt had some blind spots on the retreating blades and on the ends. The advice about pointing them in slightly different angles is well taken. some great information here, thanks for posting the pictures.

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10-17-2005 08:50 PM  13 years agoPost 17
Ozydego

rrKey Veteran

Westerville, Ohio

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Radioshack batteries are $3.19 apiece, very high for the product... I wouldn't buy disposables from Radioshack...

But Honey, I can't live with just stock.....

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10-17-2005 09:34 PM  13 years agoPost 18
martinic

rrKey Veteran

NB, Canada

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Based on your experiences, I think the primary (non-rechargeable) coin cells are the better bet as long as the holder works out. They're only ~$1 each if bought in 10 quantity from Digi-Key (Panasonic CR1616 cells), that's $4 a set. Each set should last >1 hour (30 mA draw, 50mAh source). As you say, easy to replenish at the field too. I only wish our LiPo packs were so inexpensive to operate!

Here's a picture of the baldes rotating (doesn;t really do them justice though):

As you can see, the LEDs only really show up on one half of the disc. Although I mounted the tip LEDs on opposite sides of the blades, I mounted them on the angled edge of the Align blades which effectively makes them forward facing. I'm going to move them to the outer edge to see what that does. The beauty of the foil is that it's really easy to rework the LED positions since the blades aren't modified (except for the holder, of course).

The holder addressed the on-off problem by permitting easy removal of the cells. I made small plastic tabs out of blister packaging to break the contact during storage so that I don't even need to remove the batteries when I'm not flying.

23mm dia. cells are pretty big on the blade profile and they're quite a bit heavier. I checked the specs and settled on the CR1616s as the best compromise between capacity, size and weight. Even using only one cell in a 3V parallel LED configuration they should last ~30 minutes.

Oz - that's a very innovative approach to supplying the power to the blades! Very creative!

I'd love to check these blades out in actual flights - if only the winds would let up!

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10-17-2005 10:04 PM  13 years agoPost 19
playfair

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Rochester, NY

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I think you'll find the SMT LED's don't "unsolder" too well, as the conductive edge peels off pretty easy.

Also, not that it's too important, but don't expect that long a run time from those batteries. The 1616 is spec'd at 50ma at <1ma discharge. If you suck out more, it will last less than rated (the internal resistance thing). However, you can get them for $.80 ea in 20 packs

I made a set of Shogun blades a while back, using the "hollowed" wood blades and THESE batteries. A single LED in the tip lasted a long time, but I never got around to completing and flying them...




The problem with these rechargeables is that 1C is only 15ma, a lot less than any of our chargers will do. Unless you can find the proper "wall wort" charger, you have to build a charging circuit from an LM317 or the like.


The sky is our canvas

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10-18-2005 01:13 AM  13 years agoPost 20
martinic

rrKey Veteran

NB, Canada

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Cool blades playfair! I really like the way you made use of the hollows - slick! Is that a switch and if so, what kind and where did you get it?

I adjusted my LEDs to get full rings - much better now, but only three LED rings visible per side. Looks better. I also added a 22 Ohm resistor to each blade to lower the voltage slightly to preserve the LEDs.

I've probably had them on for ~30 minutes so far throughout the testing and the cells are still going strong. Batteries still in place. The real test is yet to come...

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