Putting 300 watts of LEDs on an RC plane

Being a member of the FPVlab forums, [HugeOne] is really in to strapping a video camera to RC airplanes and flying around by the seat of his pants. He’s also in to flying his plane at night. Combine these two interests, and you’ve got 300 watts of LEDs flying around at night, most likely causing a spike in UFO reports in [HugeOne]‘s native Quebec.

The main issue with putting 16 CREE XM-L LEDs in such a confined space is the issue of heat; even though these LEDs are amazingly efficient, they still produce a good amount of heat. [HugeOne] solved this problem by soldering these LEDs to a piece of copper pipe and connecting two radiators to his plane for liquid cooling.

The result is a small, lightweight LED array capable of producing more than 20,000 lumens flying around the wilds of Quebec. This greatly improves [HugeOne]‘s night flying ability (video after the break), and has surely annoyed the local police department with an increase in UFO reports.

Does anyone know how bright the nav and landing lights on single-engine passenger airplanes are?



Comments

  1. RonB says:

    I used to use GE’s Q4509 100W landing lights as driving lights on my motorcycle. They are not rated in lumens, but candlepower, which does not directly compare. For comparison purposes, they are a pencil beam (~10 degree spread) and projected about a mile down the road. The scatter off to the side was brighter than the stock headlights! There is now a HID replacement for these that produces more light at only 35W. http://duckworksav.com/ZENITH-Kits.html

  2. dattaway2 says:

    We are replacing 400 watt HID fixtures with 75 watt Dialight fixtures. 300 watts of LED would be intense.

  3. Infidellic says:

    So this is to be used with an FPV system? Looking at the result through the onboard camera it strikes me:- why not just use infrared LED’s. There’ll be a minor red glow but less people will notice. Easy to locate using a mobile/cell phone camera to see the insanely bright infrared light (as well as the mild red glow to the naked eyes)….

  4. Destate9 says:

    Sweet Jesus!

  5. hp says:

    could ir leds put out this kind of light for more stealthiness?

  6. fotoflojoe says:

    Really cool… But Jeez Louise, how much does that all weigh? What size motor is required to pull this thing through the air?

    • BadHaddy says:

      Looking at the videos, two very high RPMs are displayed. I am guessing it uses twin brushless motors. I would guess its a twinstar (a very poplar model for FPV). With some decent props, hes probably running 60-75 ounces of thrust. The plane pulls 20 amps on climbout, so its not a hotrod.

  7. Eric says:

    I’m slightly entertained by the use of a micro servo for it’s pot.

  8. Jman says:

    I’d much rather have IR vision than flying around a blinding white light. I can’t wait to be on final approach to Quebec and get blinded by this guy.

    • BadHaddy says:

      Not much different than the hunting morons around here hitting me with their spotlights when I am on final. I fly a G-111 Albatross and when landing I almost always get lit up by morons who think I’ve crashed.

  9. ferdie says:

    how fast will this drain the accu or have the plane and light the same accu

  10. MrX says:

    what is that beeping sound in the background?

  11. M4CGYV3R says:

    The brightest LED offering for landing lights, from AeroLED, is 1600 lumens. That makes this RC plane pretty damned bright.

    http://www.aircraftspruce.com/menus/el/landinglights_aeroled.html

  12. Chris C. says:

    A few people suggested making this IR so it would be less noticeable.

    I’ve always wondered about this. Suppose one were to look at an IR LED array of equal size and intensity, at arm’s length, for a few seconds to view what appears as a dull red glow. Without pupil response to protect you, is eye damage possible?

  13. Justin says:

    In order to be putting out 300 watts through 16 XML LED’s, you would have to do major over-driving. They don’t gain all that much light past 3-3.5A output with a Vf of 3.5v or so. Being extremely generous, let’s say each one is receiving 16 watts. You’re still nearly 50W short of the 300W claim. Cool build though.

  14. naturetm says:

    In forum where this project is listed, there’s a video of a test flight at dusk where the plane flies in one direction for quite a distance. It made me wonder, what kind of radio is used for the video and control, and what kind of range does it get?

  15. aztraph says:

    Glad he put a dimmer control in, it would make a great target, stealthy it ain’t.

  16. HugeOne says:

    For those who talk about IR and low lix camera, this is not a plane with light on it. This is a light with a plane around it, the plane is the accessory :)

    The XM-X T6 have been tested at 1250 lument @6A. In order to achieve this you can’t use a MPCB star, you need direct soldering of the heatpad to a copper block or in this case a pipe with liquid flowing. I tested to blow-up point at 8A using the above cooling technique. The LED array been tested at 6A per LED for a total of over 320W. However, it is true that little is gain over 4A so I capped the max at 4A per LED or 16 A for the whole light.

    The complete light including coolant weight a mere 170g which my twinstar airplane don’t even feel.

    Range is achieved by a UHF radio for control and high gain antenna for video. Maximum possible range is limited battery at 10Km, but video and control link are capable of over 40Km.

    Hugo

    • Justin says:

      Ahh gotcha. I figured the 300W was an absolute max handling; those LED’s are subject to diminishing returns past a certain current level, even with active cooling. I’m still totally impressed with the build though. That is some serious output at 4A x 16.

  17. spagamoto says:

    I have nothing useful to say, but that photo looks just like a scourge from Starcraft. Run!

  18. bluesteelbass says:

    Have you had any problems with bugs flying towards ‘the light’? With the larger ones out there, I could see one going for a kamikaze run.

    Nice build!

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