Adding lights to the Typhoon
by, 01-25-2013 at 11:44 AM (3533 Views)
Adding lights to your quad can serve a variety of functions, but primarily they will be used to aid the RC pilot in orientation of the craft in a flight environment that does not utilize First Person View (FPV). As a result we want to select our color scheme and layout with that end in mind. I personally selected a warm white set of lights for the forward arms, (arms one and four) and purple light strips for the two aft arms (two and three). With this layout, I can readily tell orientation by what lights I can see in what location. Different users will of course select different schemes, but they should keep these concepts in mind when planning their layout. Some colors are definitely more visible than others. In my case, the warm white lights are easily visible in broad daylight, but the purple LED's are not. They are both quite visible in lower light conditions however, and the white LED's are adequate for orientation in daylight.
I obtained my LED strips from Common Sense RC, a manufacturer and vendor that I have done business with for years. They have a great website, and are real good folks to do business with. They are not priced like a Hong Kong outlet, but they are reasonable with a large variety of merchandise and excellent service and shipping times. These LED strips are designed to run on a 12V DC source, a 3 S Lipo is pretty much ideal. They offer their LED strips in a wide variety of colors, and several different lengths. The lengths are always multiples of two inches and three LED's however as that is the minimum length strip that constitutes a complete circuit. All of the strips are simply repeating sets of the two inch circuit paralleled together with the copper lands in the strip. The longer strips may be cut to the desired length with scissors as long as the minimum circuit is not damaged. Cut lines are provided on the strip to facilitate this operation.
When used unaltered, the design of the strip supplies 12VDC to each of the 3LED circuits (parallel wiring). When we shorten the strips we will need to wire each circuit to supply 12 VDC again. Basically we’re using wire to replace the circuit lands we cut when shortening the strip. The lights are attached to the aircraft by a wet adhesive strip on the back of the LED strip. The adhesive is exposed by a peel off backing. Do not remove this until you are actually ready to attach the light strip or undesirable debris will no doubt get trapped in the adhesive, reducing it's effectiveness.
Once we have decided on the layout for our lights, it’s time to start prepping the strips for wiring and attachment. I decided to use four 2 inch strips on each arm, with the forward arms in warm white and the rear arms in purple. You can see the layout in the pictures.
Each two inch circuit strip has two sets of positive and negative attachment points where the copper land is exposed for soldering with no plastic sheathing over it. There are a pair of these solder points located on each side of the cut line We need to tin those with solder prior to attaching wires.
Of course we need to tin the wire ends prior to soldering them to the strip as well. Tinned wire is always much easier to solder. I used 20 gauge (AWG) silicon insulated wire for this project. Four feet of red and black was adequate for completion. This wire along with many other gauges can be purchased from CSRC when you buy your LED strips. Notice that I only stripped 1/16” to 1/8” of insulation from each end. That allows us to have little to no exposed wire that can ground to the chassis and potentially short out the circuit or worse. Be very careful about any potential shorts as short circuits are always potentially catastrophic.
Wire routing is always important when wiring will be exposed. I endeavor to keep my wires as short as possible so there is no slack to tangle in motors or props. I like to keep the leads pretty much parallel to each other, especially when wiring a parallel circuit. Form follows function. Our parallel circuit will deliver the same voltage to each LED strip, and the current draws will add. When I started wiring this project, I found it easier to estimate the wire lengths and attach the leads to the strips, prior to attaching the strips to the chassis. Once I had done a few however, I began wiring with the strips already on the aircraft. With either method, I found a 15 to 25 watt soldering iron to be about ideal for the task. After the first arm was completed, I elected to test the circuit by powering up before progressing. As always, make sure the props are removed prior to applying power. I have a simple rule with my Typhoon, the props must be removed before the Quad comes indoors.
Once all four arms have the strips installed and wired, we need to get power to the entire circuit. There are a variety of ways this could be done including taking the power from one arm’s circuit and simply paralleling in the next until all four arms are supplied. I used a simplified method of doing this. I tied the forward left arm (4) to the rear left arm (3). And then did likewise with the two right hand (starboard) arms (1 and 2). I made these connections with four pieces of wire instead of just two so that there would be a splice located between the two arms. I then ran a wire across the two sides to join the two circuits in parallel, connecting at the center splices. These two wires tuck away nicely between the plates above and below the arms. The final connection is made with the appropriate plug to tie into the power harness. I used one of the plugs supplied with my Typhoon kit to tie into one of the auxiliary power plugs on the stock power harness. One could even take power off of one of the “RAW” connectors on the AQ 32 board. However this final connection is made however, it should be a plug in hookup so that the light circuit can be isolated if so desired. I have not found the LED’s power draw to be a factor however as my power meter shows that the entire light circuit draws about 200ma. My power meter is +/- 100ma, but that still is less draw than the rest of the Typhoon’s circuitry in a static (motors off) state, and no comparison to the amp draw of the motors in flight. I hope this will be some help to you folks who want to light your Quadcopter, but aren’t sure of a method. I hope to get some twilight flight video posted soon. Please feel free to contact me via PM or the forum should you have any questions, or if you just want to tell me I fly or write like a girl.
It's me again. I'm going to show you a few simple hints on wire routing with the Typhoon. As you may have noticed in the information on lighting the Typhoon, wire routing can be a little challenging. We're going to discuss a few ways to cleanup the wiring to the arms. I really love the Typhoon kit, truly a marvelous piece of design, engineering and production. Everything has room for improvement however. The main power harness could benefit from a little organization. A simple way to help that is to pair up the ESC power leads into red and black pairs. They can be secured in this manner by tying them together with zip ties or heat shrink. As you can see in the picture, I used heat shrink tubing (1/4"). I think it does a little cleaner job, and the zip ties could cut insulation if over tightened. The 1/4" HS can be a little tight however. Sip it over one lead at a time so that you only have to clear one bullet plug at a time. Even so you may need to stretch the tube a little by slipping it over the jaws of needle nose pliers and push the jaws open against the tube.
If you've built a Typhoon, you've experienced the adventure of attaching the arms to the frame, hopefully without pinching any of the ESC leads between the arm and the frame or the arm and the standoff. I recently had a mishap caused by pinching the signal lead between the arm and the standoff. I came up with a way to prevent that (necessity is always a mother). First route the ESC leads exiting the arms in a right angle with the power leads on one side, and the board cable ('servo leads') on the other. We want them to run inside each upper corner on the arm. A blunt probe can be very helpful here, I used a sculpting spatula.
Once the leads are routed, use an alligator clip to secure them in the upper corner of the arm and secure them with a dab of hot glue. This will hold them out of the way to allow you to secure the arms in the frame cutouts and over the threaded standoffs without getting them into a critical area. I have started using my wife's hot glue gun with some frequency on this aircraft. Some where in the manual, a wise man reccomended using hot glue to 'thread lock' nylon screw heads and nuts to the metal surfaces of the Typhoon, and this works very well indeed. You can see some of this in my detail pictures of lighting the Typhoon. Plastic is frequently unforgiving of conventional thread lock liquids, so hot glue is the way to fly. On the subject of lights, it has come to my attention that Hobby Lobby RC also sells the LED strips at a quite attractive price. Signing off for now, we'll be doing some more work on Typhoon wiring and lights soon.