How-To: Add LED Heads & Tails - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 12-23-2007, 04:24 PM   #1
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How-To: Add LED Heads & Tails

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How-To: Add LED Heads & Tails

AKA - How to become an official RC ricer!

by RG

Needed: An RC with any RX that has a free battery/3rd channel slot

Time to complete: An hour or so

Materials: Visit your local electronic crap shop (I went to The Source aka - RadioShack), buy the following...

- 2x 12V, Clear whtie LEDs
- 2x 12V, Red LEDs
- A few feet of 22 gauge wire
- TX/RX/Servo type plug for the RX (don't know the proper name for it)
- Some CA glue and/or automotive type goop
- Electrical tape (you choose the colour)
- A big pack of crimp type connectors (if you are like me and can't solder)
- Some shrink wrap tubing (if you prefer to solder)


- A body reemer, or tiny screwdriver
- A drill
- A 13/64 drill bit
- Wire cutters and strippers
- Java... mmmm... coffee. You can substitute beer/alcohol if it's after 11AM or you live in Mexico (or Oshawa.... ZING!).

Step 1: Trim the leads

On each LED, trim the leads so that they fit the crimp connectors. If you are going to solder, perhaps you can omit this step.

Step 2: Attach crimp connectors to each LED

Step 3: Bend the LED leads

Be careful when you bend these suckers, they can break quite easily. Bend all 4 so that they will fit at each corner of the body.

Step 4: Label the negative(-) leads!!!

Pay attention in 9th grade science kids! I did not recall until I had already fashioned the entire harness once that LEDs only permit current to flow through them in one direction. In other words, each LED has a positive/negative connection. If you hooke them up incorrectly, they won't work. I chose to hook each LED up to a 7.2V pack just to check the polarity and labeled the negative side with a black piece of electrical tape. Essentially, the LED will only come on when you have the +/- correctly attached to the battery. Below is an example of one of the "labelled" LEDs in the body.

Step 5: Test fit one of the LEDs in a spare body

Probably a good idea, just to ensure you have the proper drill bit size. In my case, with those LEDs, 13/64 worked well. 3/16 was a tad small... 1/64 too small even.

Step 6: Drill holes in the body where the LEDs should go

I would recommend scoring the body first where you want the hole to be using a knive or small screw-driver...

Step 7: With the body upside down, put the LEDs in each corner for a test fit

Step 8: Rig up the harness, secure it to the body temporarily with tape.

Here is a crappy schematic, you need to wire these up in series-parallel.

Here's what my mocked up harness looked like in the truck...

Step 9: Take the harness out, test it

Make sure everything works as expected...

Step 10: Glue & Goop

Put the harness back in and goop the crap out of it!

AND YOU'RE DONE! Here's what mine looks like, camera takes crappy low light photos unfortunately...

Now go drive in the dark or something.
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Old 12-23-2007, 07:25 PM   #2
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awsome how to man!!! are they really really bright? awsome job -Wes
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Old 12-30-2007, 07:16 PM   #3
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Thanks for the information
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Old 12-31-2007, 12:37 PM   #4
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ha i was just brainstorming this idea myself last night great job, how much did it cost
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Old 01-11-2008, 03:26 PM   #5
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thanks man nice job too
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Old 02-02-2008, 03:43 PM   #6
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Thumbs up

I was just wondering how to do this thanks for the how to
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:36 PM   #7
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very helpful thanks!
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:59 PM   #8
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i have got some led light set ups on ebay for 10 bucks shipped. they come with 2 headlights, 2 fog lights and 2 tail lghts. a switch and a 9v plug, they work great.
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:25 AM   #9
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Nice work, good write up
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Old 02-15-2008, 02:29 PM   #10
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That's a really great How To!

For people that can't find LEDs that run off 12V, I found a really helpful tool for calculating resistor values:

You still need to know a little about electronics to get going though. You need to know what voltage you will be feeding your LEDs with and what the forward voltage of the LED is.

If you are powering the LEDs as suggested in this thread by stealing power from a receiver, it will probably be 5 or 6 volts.

LED forward voltage is different depending on the colour and manufacturer of the LED. I have some typical values written down at home, but off the top of my head, the white LEDs are often 3.3v.
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