February 4, 2013 – I’ve been looking forward to this; I started work on the scratch-built LED nav lights.
I have seen this lighting on several other builders’ websites, and I really liked the clean updated look. It will also be cheaper than standard lighting, and I’m not too concerned that they won’t be bright enough.
I had previously made templates of the cutout in the wingtips to form the backing plate, so I cut out .020″ aluminum to fit. After it was shaped, I drilled for the attach screws in each corner. The clecos in the center were to hold the metal in place so I could shape the edges.
I used the bandsaw at work to cut the plexiglass. I am going with mirrored plexiglass for now.
I made a template for the LED holes, and transferred the holes to the plexi with a #40 drill. I measured the LED lens housing at .270″, so I had some room to make up. I slowly stepped up the holes through a range of drill sizes. As the holes got bigger, I used core drills where I could. These make cleaner holes and can go through plexi with no damage.
The last picture above shows the core drill I used for the final hole size, which was .278″.
I gently deburred the holes, and used a 5/16″ countersink to countersink the holes to act as reflectors for the LEDs. This went a lot easier than I thought it would.
I also needed to drill screw holes in the plexi to mount them to the backing plates. I piloted them with a #40, then took them up to a #27 to accommodate the screws.
I had to order screws and nutplates from Spruce. I am using 6-32 stainless screws to mount all of this.
Now it was time to install the LEDs.
I am using the Cree Rhea LEDs from LED Supply. I have 6 red and 6 green. I used Arctic Silver thermal adhesive to mount the LEDs to the backing plate. I marked the location of the LEDs on the plate, cleaned it well, then mixed the adhesive. I applied the adhesive quickly (this stuff has a short working time) to each LED and placed them in position. When all 6 were roughly in place, I set the plexi over them to position them correctly, then let it set up.
You can see the LEDs in place in the above picture.
Next, it’s time to wire the LEDs.