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Instrument Panel Light

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I installed a strip LED instrument panel lighting system last year, but it did not light up the upper portion on the gages very well. I decided to search for a red LED flashlight and a way to mount it on the upper area of the rear cabin bulkhead. Sure enough I found a really nice little flashlight and a small swivel mount to install it on. It uses (1) AA battery. It has a bright and dim power setting (as well as a flasher mode, kind of a pain, ha ha). I bought these 2 items using Amazon Prime at a total cost of about $16. Now, the amazing part, I can see the left, right, center, and lower panel with no blind spots. I flew at dusk tonight and never used my main instrument light (this is better). The little flashlight also has a focus system that goes from narrow to wide angle beam (pretty much the full beam is needed. The flashlight comes with a pocket clip which has a lightening hole. The threaded post on the swivel mount (1/4-20 threads) fit thru that clip and I installed a 1/4-20 jam nut behind the clip. I tried installing the swivel mount with double sided tape, but it didn't hold. If you use short #6 sheet metal screws like I did, BE CAREFULL, THERE IS STUFF BEHIND THE BULKHEAD!!!

New Instrument light 2.jpg

New Instrument light.jpg

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I found a 96% efficient 12vdc to 1.5vdc Buck Volt Converter (new name to me, ha ha) and decided to buy it. I will fabricate a "dummy battery" with 2 wire leads so that I can power the flash light with the main aircraft power source. I'll add a switch somewhere on the instrument panel or near the light. I have 2 circuit breakers for internal lighting and now I will use both: One says Cabin Light and the other says Instrument panel light. So, I will use both of those circuit breakers and make all my marking agree. The new "Cabin Light" works so well, I will never use the Instrument panel light, that's just my redundancy (+ I always carry a $1 Walmart LED flashlight, ha ha). Posting a pictures of the Converter. Not sure where I will mount it, probably on the rear of the instrument panel. The wire will route thru the center console, up the back of the cabin rear bulkhead. Patent pending, ha ha! 

12vdc to 1.5 vdc converter.jpg

Mounting hardware and heat sink for 12vdc to 1.5vdc converter.jpg

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Just in case anybody is interested in this cabin light idea . . . I finally got around to making the dummy battery (wood dowel, 2 brass screws, and some soldering). And so I did a bench test of my idea. The buck volt converter had no instructions, but I just went back to the instructions in the Amazon listing. I adjusted it to 1.5 volts, but I might decide to reduce it when I re-install the flashlight/wire it up. I have the 2 circuit breakers that I need (one says instrument panel light, the other says cabin light). But, I only have one toggle on/off switch in my center panel. So, I will install an extra toggle switch along side my dimmer switch that goes with my strip LED panel light kit. I'll be glad not to have confusing markings (I'm re-doing them with my clear vinyl sticky back printer paper). If you are doing any amount of night flying, it's really great to have 2 interior light systems (I had a bulb burn out in my Mooney many years ago and my spare bulb pack was empty! Luckily, their light system was 2 lights and I was able to see well enough. BTW, the better flashlight is (single mode, the 3 mode changes modes every time you cut power): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06X3SY4LG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Cabin light with step down converter attached.jpg

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And just as a last resort back up I carry one of those headband LED headlamps that has a red light in it. Energizer I think, about $15-20. 

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Hi Mike, very creative! I was tickled by your past planes, I too had a C-150, and M20C. I'm finding the CTSW is great for a retirement plane. Posting a pic of the 62 Mooney, I had just repainted all the trim, and just rolled it into my new hangar, about 1987. The Mooney sure was a lot easier to land than the CTSW!!! But, I make everybody jealous by taking the first turn out after touching down, ha ha. 

Mooney.jpg

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Agree with all of that, especially the landing part. I stick one out of three now. Probably wont feel comfortable till I have about 100 landings. I had a 66 C model, loved it but in many ways the CT is more fun. 

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OK, my installation of the flashlight and wiring into my electrical system is complete. I'm posting a bunch of pictures I took along the way. I'm including also a picture with only the Crazed Pilot string LED light system turned on. Definitely not a good system (the angle that the light strikes the panel just does not work). But, it's wired separately now and so it will be my back up light which is great to have. 

I think I will remove the right panel and turn the voltage down a bit on the buck converter board, maybe to 1.2VDC because the cockpit light is a bit brighter than what I need. You don't want to go stronger than what you need of course, keep your vision out the windshield at it's best. Hmmm, the Crazed Pilot light system has a dimmer switch, maybe I can wire that to work with the Cockpit light also . . .  

Oh, it doesn't show, but I mounted the buck converter board to a thin piece of aluminum using the stand off's provided with it. Then, I mounted the buck converter with Velcro to the rear face of the right instrument panel. I was kind of worried that it might cause interference some how, but it does not as far as I have noticed so far. 

 

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