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Old 17-06-2018, 15:17   #1
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Dimming LEDís

I have been fooling around with different cockpit lighting solutions.
I used to use cheap daytime running light LEDs for autos and a dimmer.
They worked perfectly, but only would last a few months before salt would get to them and corroded them out right where the wires goes in. I tried waterproofing this to no avail.
So I bought some very good Aqua Signal floods. These are spreader lights and light it up like daytime, but when I dim them they flicker right at middle range, they work great dimmed way down and when very bright, but flicker in the middle, and the flicker makes them unusable, too annoying.
So I bought the highest speed dimmer I could find, thinking that would cure the problem.
It didnít.
Then I tried resistors, up to 5 ohm of 10 Watt resistors, did dim the total output, but didnít change the flicker, and besides from the heat coming off of the resistors, you could tell it was a very inefficient way to use my bank.
So now Iím thinking either try to find a better LED, or maybe a capacitor to smooth out the pulses? But have no idea of what size Cap to try, or if even a cap is the way to go.
These things do pull 3 amps at 13.3 V at full brightness.

What is a good cockpit light, one I can attach to the bottom of the Bimini and dim if I canít make these dimmable.
Bicolor would be nice, but not necessary
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Old 17-06-2018, 15:27   #2
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Re: Dimming LEDís

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I have been fooling around with different cockpit lighting solutions.
I used to use cheap daytime running light LEDs for autos and a dimmer.
They worked perfectly, but only would last a few months before salt would get to them and corroded them out right where the wires goes in. I tried waterproofing this to no avail.
So I bought so very good Aqua Signal floods. These are spreader lights and light it up like daytime, but when I dim them they flicker right at middle range, they work great dimmed way down and end very bright, but flicker in the middle, and the flicker makes them unusable, too annoying.
So so bought the highest speed dimmer I could find, thinking that would cure the problem.
It didn’t.
Then I tried resistors, up to 5W of 10 amp resistors, did dim the total output, but didn’t change the flicker, and besides from the heat coming I off of the resistors, you could tell it was a very inefficient way to use my bank.
So now I’m thinking either try to find s better LED, or maybe a capacitor to smooth out the pulses? But have no idea of what size Cap to try, or if even a cap is the way to go.
These things do pull 3 amps at 13.3 V at full brightness.
I'm surprised at the amount of flicker you report. What are you using as a dimmer? Do you know its switching frequency?

I hand-rolled a microcontroller PWM dimmer for our LED striplighting. A scope confirms that it runs at around 200 or so Hz, and at no point is the flicker discernable. I used a bit of capacitance on the output, mainly to suppress higher frequency hash.


[edit] do you know if your LED lights are rated dimmable? I've seen some of our house AC LED bulbs flicker when dimmed (and eventually die), and it turned out that they weren't dimmable. Maybe you can touch base with the manufacturer about their recommended dimmer type.
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Old 17-06-2018, 17:12   #3
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Dimming LEDís

13 KHz. Should be fast enough to not flicker?
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I have no idea if they are meant to be dimmed, although I doubt it.

I guess that leaves me finding something else suitable, anyone have an idea for mountable 12V LED? Would like bi-color red/white.
Not interested in flashlight / lantern ideas, rather be permeant.
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Old 17-06-2018, 21:06   #4
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Re: Dimming LEDís

I use a Hella Marine 2 Dimmer control on my LEDs - this works perfectly.



http://www.hellamarine.com/en/produc...ht-dimmer.html

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Old 18-06-2018, 04:47   #5
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Re: Dimming LEDís

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
13 KHz. Should be fast enough to not flicker?
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I have no idea if they are meant to be dimmed, although I doubt it.

I guess that leaves me finding something else suitable, anyone have an idea for mountable 12V LED? Would like bi-color red/white.
Not interested in flashlight / lantern ideas, rather be permeant.

Some LEDs are really fussy about the type of dimmer you use. With others you can't use one at all. Leading edge or trailing edge dimmers are sometimes required. Lutron do a big range and should have something that will work. You have to ask the maker what you need to buy first and if you can in fact dim with your lamp.


I am now mainly using 12v MR16 lamps by Soraa. Better for light quality than halogen and a quantum jump in quality from the ubiquitous SMD lamps I used to use and which most boaters have. Also pretty waterproof. Almost as good a lamp are the high end Philips products: MASTER LED ExpertColor 35W MR16. I have that on my boom. There is no spec I can find on waterproofing, but it looks OK.



Cheap dimmers do work, but I found they flickered just a little. so I binned them. I expect the frequency of switching is important there. I now use dimmers by Abel, potted and moderately expensive, you can get them in lots of switching variants, I think they are good, but there are many others.
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Old 18-06-2018, 04:50   #6
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Re: Dimming LEDís

I use “Power first” dimmers from Imtra (they are not in business but I was told by Imtra that the current models are the same) and Dr. Led bulbs. The expensive bulbs were the only ones I found I could dim. They work great though. I dim the cockpit light and leave it on at anchor for a deck level “anchor light”. Draws hardly anything.
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Old 18-06-2018, 05:50   #7
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Re: Dimming LEDís

You could also consider having a high bank and a low bank, and just switch them depending on the light you want.
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Old 18-06-2018, 06:38   #8
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Re: Dimming LEDís

I mounted a small led array from WM (less than $10). Came with a little snap on SS cover that I discarded. Mounted it on the bottom back bimini frame. Provides good light for the boarding ladder and aft cockpit.


https://www.westmarine.com/buy/west-...?recordNum=112

Years back (in the early led days) I bought a couple of single small SS lamps (one red one white). Mounted them in the front of the cockpit seat just below where the steering shafts exits. Great for a little lower cockpit lighting without messing with your NV. Used one of the old Perko two position pull on switches mounted under the seat (position one red/ two white).
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Old 18-06-2018, 07:08   #9
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Re: Dimming LEDís

What I used to use was these, and they worked amazingly well, very, very bright for when your at anchor and grilling at night etc, yet dimmable down to just barely giving enough light to see without color vision when on watch.
But they donít last.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 18-06-2018, 07:40   #10
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Re: Dimming LEDís

I wrote a long response but being new i somehow lost it lol.But for some laughs and all sorts of LED stuff take a look at BigClive on Youtube.He is a bit of a character that stumbled into a big following and has some neat projects.


The bulk of my response was about how I wasnt happy with what I found and decided to make my own. It was a lot easier than most would think. I found a Polish kid on Fiver who took my napkin drawings and turned them into Eagle CAD files for $15 though i paid him $30 for all the help.The board house took 2 days to make them and 2 weeks via mail and was $38 for 15 of each(3 designs). As far as dimming goes I use a buck converter for LED's on some lights instead of PWM,resistors or a rheostat etc and the others I use the 3 position switch that was already in place. I just have to wire the LED's different.


All in I have about $100 in total between the SMD LED's,boards and misc parts etc and I couldnt be happier. I had enough spare parts to do custom low voltage LED's in the engine compartment and its like day in there with no shadows. I'll never suffer in a dark engine compartment again. Another great bonus is they use less energy than most of the others I tried and lastly is they're great gifts. I get asked about them pretty often and when i do I give them a couple to try.
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Old 18-06-2018, 07:55   #11
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Re: Dimming LEDís

You may want to email aqua signal. Back around 2006-2007 I was working with an LED company selling to the marine market their first big marine customer was a motor yacht builder. They had all kinds of issues with the PWM dimmers they had been using with Halogens. They ended up using a resistor on the ground reference to clean it up. Talking with the IMTRA guys last winter there are still some incompatibility issues between different dimmers and different LED's a lot seems to be based on how the internal driver on the LED is set up.

If you want a whole new setup I have dealt with the guys at IMTRA before and their tech department is incredibly knowledgeable.

Haven't tried them yet myself but I have been looking closely at the Marine Beam LED"s as they are reasonably priced and I have spoken with the owner before at IBEX and he also seemed incredibly knowledgeable as well.
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Old 18-06-2018, 08:57   #12
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Re: Dimming LEDís

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
13 KHz. Should be fast enough to not flicker?
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I have no idea if they are meant to be dimmed, although I doubt it.

If your PWM dimmer runs at 13 kHz, and you are getting visible flicker at some settings, I'd bet that your LED is not intended to be dimmed. Contact the mfr to confirm.
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Old 18-06-2018, 09:37   #13
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Dimming LEDís

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Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
If your PWM dimmer runs at 13 kHz, and you are getting visible flicker at some settings, I'd bet that your LED is not intended to be dimmed. Contact the mfr to confirm.


Yeah, that is what Iím thinking as well, but admit I donít know he difference in ones that are, and ones that are not, cause I have had very good luck before on dimming ones that are not.
I ordered some more cheap daytime running lights for autos to see if that works, it did before.
These are a little better as they are encased.
Probably put the Aqua Signalís in my engine room, I donít need to dim them there.
These are the aqua signals, they are way too bright for cockpit use without dimming, good spreader light though.
https://www.westmarine.com/buy/aqua-...xoCP_4QAvD_BwE
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