LED Cockpit/Panel Lighting
Last updated 12-7-04

A simple, dimmable LED utility light provides all the panel or map light I need.

This idea has been a long time in coming. I've been looking for a small, dimmable LED flashlight that was up to this task for years. All of the units I looked at were either too bulky, didn't swivel, were not dimmable or were way too bright (multi-LED). Finally, some enterprising sole out there made a unit perfectly suited for this purpose...and many others too.

May I introduce to you the Photon Freedom micro LED light. You can go to the web site and read more about it by clicking here. It's small, weighs 7 grams, gets 100+ hours from battery power, comes with a clip base with magnetic "feet" that allows it to swivel 360 degrees around and 180 degrees up/down...and best of all...is FULLY dimmable!! Perfect! I chose the "Red" color option for night vision, but they are also available in a variety of colors. I picked up a white one too, just for hands-free use outside the plane on the ground.

Now, most of you know that a LED (Light Emitting Diode) itself looks like, and you can see in the pictures that the "bulb" of the LED is exposed. So, when I tried the light in the cockpit the glare from the LED itself was being reflected off the canopy and instrument glass. The manufacturer also sells a "covert" option that adds a plastic shield over the LED "bulb" to eliminate the side-glare for an additional $2. I had a cheaper solution in mind - superglue a small piece of electrical shrink-wrap to the LED to form a collar. It worked perfectly and saved me a couple bucks at the same time.

For mounting, I just RTV'ed a couple thin steel pads under the longerons and the LED mounts just stick on via the magnets in the "foot clip". I'll have 3 of them - two in the front for redundant panel and map lights, and one in the back seat for a map/utility light. As you can see here, at full brightness, these little guys put out a lot of light!

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