Wing Tip and Tail Strobe Lights
This is what I did to install the Vans System 6
lights in my RV-8. This system consists of
position/strobe lights for the wings, a white strobe for the tail, and
one power supply. Even if you are installing different lights
a different aircraft, the ideas here can still help you out.
I bought the Vans System 6
kit after going to Sun-n-Fun. The vendors there, and the
Whelen representative, all said they could not beat the Vans price.
have two switches on my throttle
one for nav lights and one for strobe lights. The nav light
was straightforward. The power runs from the switch, through
the left gear box, and under the floor. Just aft of the main
spar it splits into three. The wing wires run through the
wing conduits, and the tail wire runs through the conduit under the
and aft on the left side of the fuselage.
power follows the same route--through the gear box, then below the
floor to the strobe power supply. The shielded bundles for
the strobes run from the power supply, through the three conduits to
the wing tips and tail.
I want to be able to remove
the wings without having to cut wires. So I used interlocking
connectors from Radio-Shack at the wing roots.
spent some time trying to fit the power supply into different parts of
the plane. It came down to two spots to choose
from. Just behind the aft luggage compartment, or
below the floor. I
chose to install the power supply below the F-830PP left floor, just
aft of the F-805B-L. It was easier to install upside down,
but this meant I had to remove the cover and drill a drain hole in the
new bottom aft corner. I
riveted an aluminum angle left to
right between the F-815-L and F-814-L aft of the F-805B-L to attach the
aft end of the power supply. Two aluminum angle brackets are
riveted to the F-805B-L and two to the new piece of aluminum
angle. A bolt and nut through each bracket and the power
supply lip holds the power supply secure.
started by drilling the holes for the light fixture in the
wingtip. I didn’t have a drill bit large enough for the big
so I used a drimmel tool to make it the final size. I made
square hole by first drilling a hole, then filing to final shape.
sure you fit the lights so they are oriented along the longitudinal
axes while the plane is in flight. I have seen builders make
mistake of installing the strobe lights level with the plane sitting on
ground—this is especially noticeable on a tail dragger.
step was to fit the plexiglass covers. You can see in the
how much I ended up cutting off. I took off enough to get
to start with, then I slowly worked my way to a good fit by trimming a
little at a time. I temporarily installed the strobe lights
testing the fit to make sure the plexiglass cleared the strobe.
final note: I would chase all the platenuts before installing
them. They are way too tight to begin with. I
when I was screwing the cover on, one of the rivets ripped
So I had to remove the wingtip to repair it.
Update: After my first flight, I saw
that the heat from the strobe lights had started to warp the clear
covers (see the picture). You can see the warped portion just
in front of the green lense.
So I have moved the entire fixtures as far aft as
This left the front of the old hole showing, so I made a cover plate of
aluminum. I painted the aluminum plate the same color as the
blue of the wingtip, but by angling the bright flash, I got the
aluminum to reflect enough so you can see it in the picture.
If you are going to install these types of lights,
I suggest you
install them as far aft as possible the first time.
and drilling the tail light was relatively simple.
The only real issue was the limited space. Initially I
would be able to use platenuts to secure the light, but there just
isn’t room inside the rudder tip. So next I thought I would
able to reach the nuts with a socket, but there wasn’t even room for
that. So I ended up gluing the nuts in place on the inside of
I put two cheap screws through the holes and tightened the
nuts down. Then I put some masking tape around the hole to act as a dam
for the epoxy. I mixed a little fiberglass epoxy with some
micro-balloons to make it a little stiffer and packed it around the
nuts. When it was dry, I removed the screws and did a little
of sanding to clean up the drips of epoxy.
What I Would
I built my wings, Vans did not offer the LL 7/8 MR-16, RV-7/8 Wing Tip
Landing Light Kit.
If I had the option, I
would look into this all in one system. It would probably be
cheaper, lighter and easier/quicker to install than using the two
separate landing/taxi lights and wing tip lights.
from Strobe Lights
to Electrical System
Return from Strobe Lights to Kit Plane Advice Home