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Old 16-02-2010, 18:54   #1
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Location: PNW
Boat: 1983 Barberis Show 38 - "Hello Gorgeous"
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RGB LED Lighting Project on 'HG'

Those that know me, know I hate to do just the ordinary. On the forums there are lots of talk of LED lighting. Like most initially - I bought according to what was available at the Chandelier shops etc..

Forewarned - some will find this post useful, others will laugh and go 'why bother.'

Approaching soon that live aboard / full time cruising lifestyle - I wanted a lighting system that was capable of being used in many different ways. I knew LEDs were the way to go and I had long ago purchased a ton of singleton use LEDs of all kinds. This summer, I thought about all those purchases and how much work is required to devise a system and how so manual the usage was.

Thus, I started investigating RGB lighting. In the automotive segment, there are a ton of light bars and strips used to give that glow. Yep, we may mock it - but when you think about it - sometimes the "not that" can sometimes be applied to better uses elsewhere.

My goals were based on my experience of sailing at night or anchoring out:

1. On the hook / sailing at night time:

Visibility of the vessel. Many times coming into a harbor where there are mooring balls or anchoring you may never see them at all (esp at 3am) or the only thing they have lit is their masthead light. Almost impossible to range because at night things that appear close can be further and those that look far away can be way closer. Coming in to dock at night - there is rarely enough light to see anything until just upon the dock much less on deck.

2. Eye fatigue. Use of bright spotlights, non configurable interior lighting, etc cause that blur and re-adjustment at night.

3. Entertaining / enjoying the evening on-board in the evening- mood lighting.

4. Distress situations and being able to pronounce the location visually.

5. Having the lighting be a low draw.

For interior - DR LED and maybe some others sell the dual white / red led lights. During my service on board submarines green was the preferred interior lighting unless a call to battle stations in which everything went to red (at least in the control room). Personally, I prefer blue as it is even more calmer and how I have my Airstream rigged.

On 'HG' I am completing a multiphase project that integrates remote control of the lighting, and color selection of the lights.

Visibility of the boat - I have 96ft of RGB Led strips installed. 3 zones in the design: The bow, the cockpit, the mast. What is cool about these leds is they are not rope lights and when installed look like (when not lit) just a stripe. When lit - they are super bright and can provide a glow while in dock that illuminates well over 50 ft.

Above: Starboard bow - configured in blue - still visible during daylight.

Via mobile camera - at night. A lot of the light is washed out.

I'll post later the whole boat done in the zones I have designed via 16' strips

What I used and from (link) - just exterior.

These Waterproof Ribbon LED strips are designed for use in an environment to protect against water and other elements. These LED Strips are built on a flexible circuit board allowing you to bend and twist in just about any direction. Each Ribbon LED strip comes equipped with a 3M adhesive backing and can be stuck just about anywhere. (link)


(Direct link)

I used CAT-5e cable and each pair stripped and twisted together to make the wire runs. Make sure connections are marine quality etc.

I like these although have to state. The rear cockit ones are going from black to a milk white and will write the company about it - leds work but seems for waterproof not so as of yet. The cool thing is being able to select but if you play around with the product the common positive and common positive are important.

At any rate will write more as I have the interior non waterproof, as well as others that I am using to covert standard Home Depot fixtures into RGB lighting....

- Jody
S/V "Hello Gorgeous"
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Old 16-02-2010, 21:07   #2
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Location: living aboard in Friday Harbor, WA
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Interesting site - thanks. Some of it is a bit over-the-top with the style thing, but it looks like they have some practical products... I'll be interested in hearing reports on long-term survival in moist settings, RFI, and efficiency. I have a few under-counter applications on my boat, and although I have a few naked Luxeons and constant-current boards in stock, I have too many projects piled up to get interested in packaging jobs.

Cheers, neighbor!


S/V Nomadness
Nomadic Research Labs
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Old 16-02-2010, 21:37   #3
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Hi there Jody. I dont know how well they would work on a boat but I have been thinking about these kind of lights too. I used to have LED strips on my semi truck that I got at a couple of truck stops namely at the Iowa 80 which has the biggest store of these lights in the country. These light strips and group and single lights were waterproof enough to put on the cab as well as on the trailer rub rails and along the side and top of the trailers and come with a warrentee that said these lights will outlast the trailer they are put onto. I was thinking that those lights would be great to outline the mast and the cabin top or the rub rail so as to give you lights to make it easy to find your boat at night. I thought that maybe they could be used as running lights also. They have lots of different colors too for inside mood lights. I used to have red lights over my drivers seat for night and blue strips around the roof of my sleeper for mood lights as well as bright white ones for reading or doing paperwork. I also had a christmas tree on the grill as well as a pumkin for halloween. There were guys who run with a cross as well as some with smily faces etc. These lights had to work in any weather no matter what. The law says that you dont have to put extra lights on your truck but any lights that you do put there must allways work or you will get fined and it was the easyest way a cop used to see you having missing lights so they had to work.
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Old 17-02-2010, 08:42   #4
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I've purchased several LED strips of various types from Oznium.
The Tri chip LED's were installed in our house kitchen as under counter lights. Wife loves 'em and so do I.
We used "Waterproof SMD Bar for the undercounter application on the boat as there was limited space. I just used hot glue to install.

I have no affiliation with them other than a customer.
They're a great company with which to do business.
"I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned,
but not greed to want to take somebody else's money"

-Thomas Sowell
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