Right wingtip complete

October 23, 2013 – With the right wing on the table, I wanted to arrange the wiring so that the wingtip would be removable and the wiring would be reasonably secured.

I cut the 4-strand cable for the strobe to length and terminated the wires for the wingtip. I clamped the wires to the rib I installed in the tip. Here’s a before and after:

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Here’s close-ups of the wiring inside the tip, and of the terminal connection on the wing itself.

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I temporarily installed the wingtip to the wing, mainly just for storage. The phillips head 4-40 screws I have will not work later on. I’ve already stripped a few of them, so I’ll be getting torx fasteners later on.

Of course I had to try my lights with everything installed.

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I’m calling the right wingtip complete.

A friend from work came over and helped me put the right wing back in the stand and the left wing on the table.

Time: 2:30

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Continuing wing tip lighting assembly

October 10, 2013 – It feels like forever since I’ve done anything on the airplane. Money issues and just life in general have gotten in the way, but things may be looking up.

I continued with the right wingtip lens. They’re trimmed about as well as I can get them, and then I transferred the holes for the attach screws. LJ helped clean up the cut edges and the screw countersinks.

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I also had to repair the foam rib I installed in the right wingtip. Part of it had pulled away from the tip.

101013004Before I installed the lenses, I needed to finalize the installation of the lights. I had made some spacers for the mirrored plexi, but I didn’t like them because they were hand cut and not very straight. A good friend of mine at work helped me out by cutting spacers on his lathe at home. They came out beautifully; all the same size and nice and smooth.

I assembled the lights and installed the lens.

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The next thing I’m working on is securing the wiring in the wingtip so that when the wingtip is installed, the wiring will be safe.

I put the right wing on the table so it will be in an as-installed position. I realize that some people will say that this is over-engineered, but coming from a maintenance background, I want it…well…maintainable.

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Time: 5:00

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Started wingtip lenses

March 21, 2013 – I started cutting and fitting the wingtip lenses.

Van’s provides you with a formed bubble of plexiglass that you cut to make the two wingtip light lenses. I didn’t get a picture of it before I cut it in half, but here is a lens half before trimming:

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I set it in place over the wingtip cutout and started trimming. I was able to use snips until I was down to fine adjustment, when I used files and sandpaper.

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When I was happy with the fit, I taped it in place, and drilled the screw holes at #40, and clecoed the lens in place. Now on to the other one…

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Time: 2:00

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Wingtip lighting almost done

March 5, 2013 – I’ve come a long way since my last update.

Since I did the green LEDs last time, I got the red ones done:

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Here’s a guide to how I wired the LEDs:

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I installed the strobes on the wingtip cutout backing plates I made. As I wrote before, I didn’t want to attach the strobes to the wingtip fiberglass.

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These are the outside and inside views of the strobes. The strobes are Whelen Vertex Hide-a-way Super LED strobes that I got from Strobes N’ More. If they turn out to be not what I need, the cutouts are the standard 1″ hole, so I can drop in a regular strobe if required.

030513005The next thing I needed to do was to make spacers for the screws for the mirrored plexiglass since it sits on top of the LEDs. I needed 1/4″ OD and ID to fit a #6 screw. I found longer spacers and cut them to fit. Unfortunately, the height I need is only 1/8″, so these were kind of a pain to make. They aren’t pristine parts, so I’ll be replacing them with better spacers at some point. For now, they do the job.

Here you see the spacer between the rivets for a nutplate:

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…and placed over a screw for the plexiglass:

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Here are side views of the plexiglass installed with the spacers:

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I hooked up both wingtips to power, and…

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…everything works!

Not the best quality, but you get the idea…

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I started installing the wiring on the outboard wing ribs. I made brackets for the LED drivers. I used thermal epoxy to attach the driver pucks to the brackets, then screwed the brackets to the ribs. I plan on using the terminal bars to connect the lighting to the wiring, so I installed terminals on the driver puck wires.

Time: 6:40

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Continued wingtip lighting

February 11, 2013 – I continued work on the wingtip lighting by drilling screw holes for the plexi for the strobes, then drilled the strobe holes.

I drilled the holes in the plexi to 1″ to fit the strobe itself.

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I took the corresponding holes in the fiberglass underneath to 1 1/2″ to fit the body of the strobe. This will allow the strobe to sit higher in the opening. I will attach the strobe to the plexi and the aluminum underneath, instead of also going through the fiberglass.

I then cut out the face of the wingtip cutout where the nav lights will be. This will allow for a bit of cooling. Some people have installed heatsinks onside the wingtip. I’m going to wait to see how hot the LED assembly will get before I go through that work. It will save a little bit of weight.

Below is the sequence for these cutouts:

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I drilled the nutplate holes, countersunk them, and installed the required nutplates.

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Then I started in on the soldering. I have to do some research, but I had a heck of a time soldering to the contact points on the LEDs, plus I know now some have to be redone because the wires run where the plexi will sit down on top of the LED assemblies.

Here’s my initial wire arrangement:

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Hooked up the driver and power…and…WooHoo! It worked.

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This puppy is BRIGHT!!! Some of the trial and error work is done, no smoke leaked out, so I can clean up the wiring a little bit, learn from my mistakes, and move on.

Time: 5:30

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Started wingtip lighting

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

020413011I 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.

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You can see the LEDs in place in the above picture.

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Next, it’s time to wire the LEDs.

Time: 4:25

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