LED Position lights for experimental aircraft

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Killacycle has an interesting LED project for airplanes – “After looking at the prices of certified position lights for my RV-7 (about $200 a pair) I looked into the possibility of building my own using high-brightness LEDs. After doing a bit of research into the FAA requirements and then into the available high-brightness LEDs, (These are NOT ordinary LEDs.) I concluded it could be done for less than the cost of “store bought” position lights. I then made a computer model of the FAA candlepower distribution requirements and the light distribution of each LED. After a bit of tinkering, the model produced the proper layout for the array of LEDs needed to meet the FAA specifications.”Link.

10 thoughts on “LED Position lights for experimental aircraft

  1. Just a comment. As a former engineer for an aircraft company, they had been moving to led lights for a few years. They were having problems with LED life though, the pressure, vibrations, and temp changes were the main causes. So while initial cost was down, they needed to be replaced more often.

  2. That’s surprising MrCaN, since LEDs tend to be far more accepting of vibrations and temp changes, and I would think pressure. Do you have any idea why they had these problems?

  3. I’m not sure, I didn’t work on them, I just sat next to someone who was working on the problem, I was suprised too. I do remember someone mentioning something about the rapid changes in temp possibly being the problem, they kept throwing the things in frezers and couldn’t get them to fail on the ground. I suspect it was a QA problem since it was a newer product.

  4. I work for an LED lighting company and have some exposure to the problem mentioned above. LED life depends on many factors. High brightness LEDs must have a proper heat sink or they will not last long at all. How hard the driving circuitry is driving the LEDs is another factor. The last critical point is moisture. The substrate that is used for some high brightness LEDs will absorb moisture. Then when the LEDs are exposed to the high temperatures of soldering(either using reflow or conventional soldering) that moisture suddenly vaporizes and can crack the LED. Long LED life is dependent upon sound design and controlled production processes.

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