New (October 2013) LED wingtip landings light discovered
I have been working on getting new landing lights on my RV for some time now. Earlier this year I purchased some Cree T6 XM-L LED lights from DealXtreme.com. I ran into issues with keeping them cool as they tended to overheat and burn up. I then was deterred because they discontinued selling this light. I was a bit bummed out about this since I thought I could get these to work.
A few months ago I ran across a company called Baja Designs (http://www.bajadesigns.com). They make LED lights for dune buggy's and motorcycles. I was quite impressed with the light these LED pumped out. Many forums raved about how bright they were. They also seemed to be just about the right size to fit into the wingtip of the RV. The cost was also in line with what I though was an acceptable price for this technology and the quality of the product. MSRP, the Squadrons run $299.95. However, on Amazon they are $260.
The version I bought was the Baja Designed Squadron in the Spotlight format. The specs on these are quite impressive. Here is the list from their website:
Here is an Isolux Plot I found on the Baja design website. I was torn as to which version of the light to get. Since there wasn't much of a difference between the driving and spot light, I went for the spotlight. It would be really nice to do a side-by-side comparison of all four varieties of the Squadron (Combo, Spot, Wide-Cornering, and Flood/Work).
Here are a few pictures of the Squadron. From the front this thing looks mean!!!
It is much smaller than I thought it would be.
The cooling fins are quite beefy. I believe the housing for the lights is made out of aluminum. They are also lighter than I thought they would be.
I decided to compare the weight of the Baja Design Squadron to the Duckworks HID. The Duckworks HID come in at 0.76 lbs.
And the Baja Design Squadron is slightly lighter at 0.72 lbs.
The next project was trying to figure out how to mount these guys to my wingtips.
I took off the previous wingtip light mounts.
Next I fabricated a new mounting plate out of 0.063" sheet. The old mounting plate was made out of 0.032" and it was a little on the flimsy side.
I did keep the side portion of the old mounting plate where the Nav light is mounted. I figured why do more work than I have to re-fabricating everything.
I wanted to mount the new LED lights as far outboard as possible so they could get as much light closest towards the center line of the RV. It would be awesome if these lights could be used for both taxiing and landing.
I also needed a mounting plate for the light to mount to. The light comes with a mount designed to be mounted to handlebars with a single bolt at the bottom. That mount wouldn't of worked for me. I planned to use the 4 screw holes used to hold the front trim on. I made an appropriate mounting plate (pictured on the lower left).
I didn't think the front trim was necessary. I would replace it with my mounting plate made out of 0.063".
Here is a picture of how the LED light mounting plate is attached to the wingtip plate. This setup is extremely adjustable and very very study. I cannot more the plate at all.
These are the springs I used for the inboard adjustment points. I purchased them from Ace Hardware.
And finally the light mounted.
The light uses metric screws. I bought M4x10's which ended up working great.
And the final product. I used only a single light for a few weeks to test it out. I figured why should I spend twice as much as I needed to for a pair of them if they may not work out. I flew for about 10 hours with this, and it was on all of the time. There was ZERO radio interference, Zero GPS performance interference and ZERO NAV antenna interference. These lights seem to be very well engineered.
After my test of the right wing went so well, I purchased another set and installed it into the left wing. I have to say this side went MUCH faster. It's always easier to build something the second time.
Doh! When I took apart the right side, I notices some hazing in the plexiglass lens. This is from where I applied loctite like an idiot. I completely forgot that Loctite causes hazing on plexiglass. Luckly, all of this is hidden from view when the mounting bracket is attached.
I needed to finish up dressing the wiring in the left wing. Once I completed that task, it was time to aim the lights. This picture shows a couple of things. Most apparently, take a look at how bright these suckers are! Secondly, you can see the general beam they show and also how I have them aimed. This was as low to the ground as I could get them. The bracket I made is hitting the outboard edge of the wingtip, so this was the best I could get. Since the tail of the airplane is up when it is flying/landing, I wanted the light to be concentrated a little on the high side. Also, isn't it amazing how well a GoPro camera works at night???
Even though the lights are aimed high, there is a decent amount of light that is available for taxiing. I would like there to be a little more, but this isn't bad at all considering they are recessed wingtip lights.
One takeoff, once the tail comes up the lights nicely illuminate the runway.
Approaching the threshold of the runway, this is where the lights start illuminating the runway. I would say this is 500-1000' from the runway.
At about 5-10' off the runway the lights do a nice job of lighting up the runway.
And on touchdown things just keep on getting better. I am very happy with these lights. The only thing I wish was better was the light during taxiing. It's not terrible, but it's not great either. For example, I had a hard time seeing the taxiway lines and the runway turnoffs. However, I have to ask myself how often will I really fly at night? It felt great to get some night flying in, even if it was just in the pattern. It's definitely a surreal experience.
I have no affiliation with Baja Designs and I purchased all of the lights at full price. I have contacted Baja Designs once I completed my test to let them know the results.
Great write up! Thanks for the info.
Wow, what an excellent writeup, thanks for taking the time to do all of this. We have 55watt HIDs in the wing in DW mounts, Looks like these would do an even better job. Are you getting any radio noise???
I have not put landing and taxi lights on yet. Kept waiting for some cool led ones to mount in cowl down low. Figured over a few the technology would be there. Seems its slow but coming. Post some updates and progress as you log some hours. Will be watching. Thanks for the info.
Those look great but the price is still out of line.
I have the 100W Halogen's (not HID's) in my Duckworth leading edges and am very pleased with them. Something like $3.95 from Pep-Boys when they burn out.
One of these days I will upgrade to LED's but not until the price comes down.
PS. The other thing I did was to aim the left one down so it lights up the taxiway with the tail down and the right one is parallel to the wing. That way I can taxi out with the left one on and the right off. Once I take the runway, they both come on. It works great and on final the combination will illuminate the runway at 500' AGL.
I wish we lived close by so we could compare them side-by-side.
Mike, Good to hear from you, great write-up.
I have the 75W shooting out through the Creativ LED nav lights and have often thought about cutting in the DW housing. However, since I am painted, that idea never gets traction. I really like that you found a way to get them in the wiingtips. Well done !!
Better taxi lighting
You could try putting one of these spreaders in front of one of the sets of LEDS.
It will spread 25% of your light about 50% sideways.
It's cheap enough to be worth a try...:)
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