Cabinet Lights Finished

Time: 3.0 hrs

The last component of the cabin lights was to wire up and install the switch and potentiometer plate. I originally tries to use a dual concentric 100k pot and dim off the two ground leads coming from the lights, but I wasn’t able to dim the lights all the way off and I wasn’t able to find a dual concentric pot with on/off switches built in, at least ones that would fit in the small space of the canopy ceiling. I had to switch to using a PWM dimmer, really a motor speed control that came with a pot with a built in switch. Fortunately the pot is very small so I was able to fit it on the plate that needed to also have a double throw double pole switch so that I could switch between the red and white lights.

Wiring was pretty straight forward. The lights have a single power lead, a ground lead for the red LEDs and a ground lead for the white LEDs. The power was fed from the dimmer directly to the lights and the ground was fed from the dimmer into the DPDT switch. Once assembled I tested prior to putting in the plane. The trouble with this arrangement is fitting all the parts up into the canopy ceiling. The nut plates also get in the way and there are foam blocks that also make it lots of fun. It ended up not being too bad getting everything stuffed in neatly. The one issue I had was the circular connectors are a bit long when you connect them together so it was a bit tricky to get them through the small opening for the lights. I hope they come out if I every need to do that.

So in all it probably took a little over a month to get all the parts and work out the issues to get the lights installed. Maybe it would have been better to get the Aveo’s. I probably saved quite a bit of money, but then again with having to buy some things that didn’t work or that I didn’t use that added some expense. Oh well. I’m happy with the way it came out. I just hope the electronics hold up. It’s a bit more complicated then I was hoping.

The switch is all wired up I’ll have to put the connector on for the the right light connection once I pass the cable through to the right side. There’s a bump in the middle of the canopy for the parachute cables so the connector won’t fit through.

I wrapped the dimmer in silicone tape. Now all that has to fit nicely up into the canopy.

Ah success and it all works, even the rear lights. I guess I’ll need to label the switch or maybe put a red and white paint dot.

I think next I need to start figuring out were all my avionics are going to go.

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Rear Cabin Lights (Part 3)

Time 3.25 hrs

More work on the rear cabin lights today and yesterday. Now I need to wait for a few parts to finish it up. It’s getting there. I’m kind of wishing I just bought the Aveo lights, it would have saved a lot of time.

I had to change the way I did the dimming and switching of teh front lights because of the way the lights are wired. The Airkit lights for some reason have a single power lead and two grounds , one for the white light and one for the red (rather then a single ground and seperate poor for each colored light). I didn’t like how the potentiometer was dimming the lights so I wanted to use a PWM dimmer to get better dimming. The problem is you can’t dim on the ground side so I had to do away withe the dual concentric knob idea and go with a double throw switch (to select the red or white light) and pot to control the PWM dimmer. It’s a bit of a tight fit to get the switch and pot on the mounting plate, but the tiny pot that comes with the dimmer helps. The pot also has a switch built in so that removes the need to put that in the dual throw switch.

I made a new anodized plate (I didn’t like the gray one) and did the cut outs for the dual throw switch and pot. I found a nice knob made by Kilo International on Allied Electronic’s site. They make a few styles so I purchased a few different ones to see what would work best.

Ran the wire to the rear cabin lights and pinned the ends for the connectors. The rear lights just use a 2 pin connector (+14V and Ground). This will connect to the touch dimmer and I’ll just wire that directly to the light. Oh and I also riveted in the nut plates as well.

It’s getting there. I never imagined it would take this long to get everything installed and wired up. There’s been a lot of trial and error. mainly because the space is so minimal in the canopy roof. The small circuit board hanging is the PWM dimmer (really a motor control) that I got off Amazon. It takes 14V in and then just a connection out to provide dimming for the lights. The ground side will go into the double throw switch. The PWM dimmer has a connector for the on/off switch and another for pot.

Pilot/Copilot Cabin Lights Install (Part 3)

Time: 2.5 hrs

Today I did some miscellaneous work on the plane. I pinned the front cabin lights and installed those. I had put the connector on thinking that there would be enough space to pass through the canopy, but I was wrong. The center of the canopy has the cabling for teh parachute so the connector would fit under it. I had to remove the connector, pass the cable end through to the hole where the dimmer is going and finally put the connector on. So much for being able to easily remove the lights… well it’s not that hard to pop the 3 pins out of the connector I supposed. I’ll hopefully get the dimmer soon so I can wiring that up. The rear lights are still on back order from Aircraft Spruce.

I also sanded the rivets I had filled for the canopy and also filled and sanded the hole in the canopy that was made by TAF.

LED light is pinned and connector is on. I had to remove the connector on the copilot light because there wasn’t enough space in the canopy to pass it through.

Lights are in. Hopefully they will stay that way. I do still need to test the dimmer when it arrives.

Touch Dimmer

Here’s a cheesy video I made of me messed with the touch dimmer I purchased to use on the rear overhead cabin light. This dimmer is pretty cool. The only thing I don’t like is that it comes back on at the level you had when you turned it off. It would be nice maybe if you could double tap it the get it to come on full brightness so you don’t have to dim is back up. I also hope it doesn’t cause any noise that will get picked up in the audio.

Pilot/Copilot Cabin Lights

Time: 1.5 hrs

Today I worked on the pilot and co-pilot overhead cabin lighting. I’m not using the ones available from TAF so I had to do some looking to find something that would work. I was originally going to purchase the Aveo EyeBeam lights, but at nearly $200 each that was a little excessive, plus the reviews I read hadn’t been that good so why pay a bunch of money and still have problems. They do look cool though and I may still get the white light ones for the rear seating unless I come up with a good dimming solution.

The lights I’m going to use were purchased from Aircraft Spruce for around $50 each. The version I purchases has 2 white and 2 red LEDs. I’m also going to use a concentric 100K ohm potentiometer to be able to dim the lights. The dimmer will mount where it is typically mounted in the 1.5″ hole that TAF has cut in the top (inside) of the canopy. The concentric knob will allow me to dim both the white and red LEDs with one physical knob rather then using two separate knobs.

The lights that I purchased have a mount (that is an additional purchase) that allows you to surface mount the lights, but since TAF already cut the 1.5″ holes in the canopy to mount the lights I’m not able to use the mounts because they are 1.5″ in diameter so they don’t cover the hole. I ended up purchasing some 0.063 clear anodized aluminum from Amazon and then uses a 2 5/8″ hole saw to cut the mounting plates out. This gave me just about a 2 1/2″ diameter mounting plate. I had the kids figure out the distance between the three holes that needed to be drilled for the mounting screws (nothing like a real world geometry problem to show them geometry is actually useful). I’m looking to use 3mm button head screws instead of riveting the mounts to the canopy. I’d like to be able to easily remove the lights and especially the dimmer potentiometer. I was considering using countersunk M3 rivenuts, but I don’t know if the fiberglass is thick enough and would rather not drill a large hole in the canopy for those. I purchased some M3 nut plates and will use 3/32″ countersunk rivets to hold them in. I should have them in the few days… I think I have enough rivets, will have to check that.

A few photos of the lights I found on Aircraft Spruce, made by a company called Airkit LLC. They have 2 red and 2 light 12V LEDs and only draw a few milliamps. There are three wires a positive (red), Ground for the red LEDs (green) and Ground for the white LEDs (white). They are very well made lights and are quite a bit smaller then they appeared on the site, but I think they will work well.

I was a litte rusting with my geometry so the kids figured out how far to space the mounting holes using the law of cosines :-). Was a little less then 1.7″.

Made 3 2 1/2″ mounting plates ,two are made from anodize aluminum for the lights and one is made from regular 6061 aluminum which will be painted grey to match the inside of the canopy.

Did a quick test to see if the lights would be bright enough. The red seems pretty good.

The white isn’t bad either… not supper bright, but there will be some lighting on the instruments as well so I think it will be enough light.

Got the concentric potentiometer mounted. I had to drill out the knob a little to get it to fit.

So once I get the nut plates I’ll put those in and put the lights up. Next on the list will be to figure out what to do for the rear passenger cabin lights and mounting the rear canopy windows.