Night Time Illumination

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Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:41 pm

I need some advice. I'm building a smaller 5 person mutant vehicle. A bamboo airplane on a golf cart chasis. I want to trim out the outline of the plane in lights for evening driving. There are a few ways I can go. Generator. Battery. Generator to recharge batt. solar to recharge batt. Inverter. AC. DC. LEDs. Rope lights. Other? I want plenty of lumens to make it bright. Price is always a consideration. Will my Yamaha 2000 quite genny be to loud? The optimum spot to mount the genny is in the frt. But will it smoke me out? Any thoughts or suggestions out there?
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby MacGlenver » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:41 am

Having never wired or built a MV, nor having ever used a deep cycle DC battery, I suggest using a deep cycle DC battery.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby BBadger » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:54 am

Well does your generator sound loud when you use it? We used a small generator in the hood area of a hollowed-out van, and it worked, but no idea on smaller vehicles.

I'd use the deep cycle batteries, such as those 6V 200AH batteries at Costco, but remember to not discharge them below 50% or it will shorten their life substantially. You'll have to run the calculations to determine how many you need: 50% * Amp*hour * voltage / Watts = hours of runtime. I'd also recharge with the generator unless you intend on using the solar panels all the time the rest of the year too; they're not worth the investment for just Burning Man.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby Ugly Dougly » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:01 am

I knew we would see bamboo airplanes.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:14 pm

For safety, bouncing light off the entire structure can make it recognizable with low light levels.
You must be visible from all sides.
Brighter isn't always better, if it's point source.

LEDs are easy, but you also have other potential sources.
Fluorescent
HID/ colored HID
Low pressure sodium / amber only, but the most efficacious of all - might make a good bounce light.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby TomServo » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:31 pm

My suggestion: Box it in the back, to give the impression your golf cart is gas..and to keep the noise behind you. Build the box lined with sound absorbing material, with an offensive side left open for air intake. Make sure the ENTIRE vehicle is lit! Neons under the chassis are a good idea. Obviously..if using 12V auto lighting, use an inverter. DO NOT STRAY (too far) from the plans you submit to the DMV!! Hope to find you in line!
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby percussivepaul » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:31 pm

Surely a power inverter would be the simplest, just run the lights off the vehicle engine? You already have a generator, charger, and battery under the hood...

The only concern would be if the load is too high for the little golf cart motor, but if you light it with LEDs it won't be more than a few hundred watts, should be a piece of cake, just get a power inverter and hook it up to the battery or via cigarette lighter -- get one that has 120VAC and 12VDC outputs if you like.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby percussivepaul » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:38 pm

Oh, unless it's an electric golf cart. Do these things have motors in them? Guess that makes a difference :)
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:25 pm

TomServo wrote:My suggestion: Box it in the back, to give the impression your golf cart is gas..and to keep the noise behind you. Build the box lined with sound absorbing material, with an offensive side left open for air intake. Make sure the ENTIRE vehicle is lit! Neons under the chassis are a good idea. Obviously..if using 12V auto lighting, use an inverter. DO NOT STRAY (too far) from the plans you submit to the DMV!! Hope to find you in line!


I like the idea of putting the genny in back. However the ass end is already a lil heavy because of the tail. I was hoping to use the genny as a counter balance in frt.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:27 pm

gyre wrote:For safety, bouncing light off the entire structure can make it recognizable with low light levels.
You must be visible from all sides.
Brighter isn't always better, if it's point source.

LEDs are easy, but you also have other potential sources.
Fluorescent
HID/ colored HID
Low pressure sodium / amber only, but the most efficacious of all - might make a good bounce light.


Never thought about bouncing the light onto the body. I like it.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:29 pm

percussivepaul wrote:Oh, unless it's an electric golf cart. Do these things have motors in them? Guess that makes a difference :)


Golf carts come electric and gas powered. I have the gas version.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby junglesmacks » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:36 pm

Yeah.. bouncing light can have some really, really cool effects..

Image


renojeff wrote:
gyre wrote:For safety, bouncing light off the entire structure can make it recognizable with low light levels.
You must be visible from all sides.
Brighter isn't always better, if it's point source.

LEDs are easy, but you also have other potential sources.
Fluorescent
HID/ colored HID
Low pressure sodium / amber only, but the most efficacious of all - might make a good bounce light.


Never thought about bouncing the light onto the body. I like it.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:07 pm

Gunna test out ultra violet paint and a blk light. The paint comes in clear so you will only see it at nite w/ the blk light on it. What do you all think?
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:19 pm

Could work.
Test it out, and check durability too.

There are UV LEDs and some newer small fluorescent tubes.
PL-S is probably the most efficient, but there are smaller ones.

Any choice of color?
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby BBadger » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:27 pm

Use the fluorescent black lights if you want "true" black lights. They also produce quite a bit of it and are not that expensive. The UV LEDs are usually longer wavelength (395nm) so they're more violet than UV. They will fluoresce surfaces, but it won't be as "black light" as the shorter-wavelength black lights (365nm).
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:34 pm

explain what you mean regarding the numbers you gave. Are they different colors? Is one brighter than the other?
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:41 pm

That is the light frequency, so yes, different colors.
Different light.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:43 pm

In fluorescent you will specifically want blue-black light tubes.
They filter more visible light.

There are also UV fluorescents geared more to plant life than paints and inks.

There are HID UV sources, but I am not impressed so far.

Direct UV light is harmful for eyesight.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:04 pm

Image

I found one for 335 nm, AlGan type.

LEDs are very monochromatic, very spiky.
Search UV LED spectrographs or check the manufacturer's tech sheets.

The frequency could be wrong for the material, or too specific a frequency to excite the material the way you want.
As for brightness, different LEDs do vary in brightness.
You can compare specs.
Some are in odd measurements, while most light sources are indicated in lumens.

I haven't experimented with UV LEDs, so I can't answer about efficacy for this purpose.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:13 pm

LEDs are often measured in brightness at a point source in candlepower, rather than total lumens which is more useful.

This makes wide angle LEDs seem dimmer than they are.
If you need wide dispersion, don't be fooled.

I recommend the LED Museum as an information source, and urge you to the support the one man operation.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:20 pm

thx gyre
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:29 pm

Hope it helps.


http://ledmuseum.net/
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby BBadger » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:37 pm

The reason you choose a shorter wavelength "black" light such as 365nm, rather than a longer wavelength near-UV "black" light such as 390nm, is that it is right in the middle of the longwave-UV spectrum (~320nm to 395nm) where it can affect far more fluorescent materials (such as red invisible inks) with greater intensity, and because it produces far less visible light for better contrast.

A 365nm wavelength black light is best achieved with fluorescent black lights because the mercury vapor technology they use already produces wavelengths that can be converted to 365nm relatively efficiently. The best black lights usually use full-sized tubes, but specialized compact versions also exist. LEDs are not as efficient, because of the amount of energy that is required to generate shorter wavelengths with such materials; it's also a reason why shorter wavelength LEDs are expensive and were some of the last LEDs to be developed.

Most people will end up getting some cheap "UV" LEDs from eBay, and they're at 395nm or so. That's fine if you want to fluoresce white or blue colors or maybe even fluorescent yellows or greens. If you want to light up other wavelengths (reds and such), and/or really produce an authentic bright black light appearance (everything but your fluorescent colors appearing black), you should seek out true black lights. LEDs in "true" black light 365nm do exist but are very expensive compared to regular cheap "UV" longer-wave LEDs. Even small 5mm 365nm LEDs will cost about $1.25 a piece. I bought a 10W one for $110 or so and the price really hasn't gone down even over the past year and a half. Getting that thing to work required a special heatsink, and a special power source that provided 19V and about 800mA. Note that the 10W corresponds to input power (yes, I was driving it higher than its supposed rating); the output power -- in terms of light -- was only about 500mW with the rest going into heat.

Black lights produce light in the UVA territory. While all UV light can affect your DNA to some extent, you usually won't be exposed to enough of it over long enough durations to make a difference. Do not use UV sources that produce light at wavelengths 320nm or below. That is moving into UVB territory, and that is very harmful to your body. UV wavelengths even shorter than UVB are UVC. Germicidal fluorescent bulbs produce UVC at ~260nm, which severely damages DNA -- consequently making them work very well for sterilizing purposes.

Note also that lumens are not a useful measure of power with respect to UV LEDs because lumens are based on the eye's ability to perceive light, and also because using UV LEDs for black lights is mostly for the fluorescence they cause, not the perceived (or rather imperceivable UV output). You should, however, take into account how bright a color will look for a given output power. For example, those blue lasers (445nm) you see on the playa are being run at around 2W output power, and yet will appear less bright than a green laser (532nm) running at less than half that power. At night, the worst color as far as brightness is concerned is red. Green is usually always a good choice if you want to stand out.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:52 am

I've built a few illuminated MVs, and used most of the power sources that have been discussed.
I started out using just the engine's alternator and an inverter. No good, not enough power. Remember, you're always idling on the playa and most alternators don't put out much current at all at idle.

Next power idea was a Honda EU1000 generator. It worked fairly well, but on a moving playa MV I had a lot of trouble with the poor thing getting choked to death from playa dust. If you go with your Yamaha generator, try to give it a location as well shielded from the dust your MV will kick up as possible. (Yeah yeah, I know MVs are supposed to go slowly enough to not raise dust but even at 5 MPH the reality is there WILL be dust!) It got old always having everything go dark and having to service the choked-out generator.

Solar sucks if cost is an issue. Sorry green people but it's just not cost-effective for a one-week-use MV that needs a lot of electricity.
The DMV requires a LOT of illumination and you need lots of watts.

The final kick-ass solution for me has been to use GM "CS 130" alternators, and install two of them. These particular units were designed to produce lots of current at idle speeds, exactly what you need - and they're common at wrecking yards. They are generally found in late-'80s to early-'90s GM smaller cars and S-10 pickups. I pay maybe $15 for them at my local Pick-A-Part. I bring a few spares because the playa is not kind to any electrical parts.

You can Google how to wire them, it's pretty simple, and I find that with two of them I can run an inverter and maintain about a 1000-watt load at idle speeds. One of mine is connected to the engine's starting battery, and the other to a deep-cycle "house" battery, as two completely separate electric systems, with a heavy-duty battery switch wired in so when the engine is running I can connect them both directly together for max power to the lights. I think this year I'll install a solenoid to do this automatically, and install two more alternators if I can figure out a way to cram them into my crowded engine bay.

With that setup I'm running lots of lighting, sound system, blender, coffeemaker, etc. and it's seamless - there's just always power.

I've got dimmers on most of my lighting so when I'm parked and running the lights just on the batteries I can reduce the power draw.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:09 am

http://www.amazon.com/LED-Rope-Light-In ... B0042XF9ZW

These are about the only affordable LED rope lights I've found. The reviews on them are horrible but I got about 200 feet of them anyway, we'll see if they last. Costco sells them really cheap, but only around Christmas and they disappear fast.
My regular incandescent rope lighting has been very durable; of course it draws more power, but if the cheap LEDs are too unreliable I'll just keep using the incandescents and arrange for the power they need.

My "neon" bottom lighting underneath is just super-cheap 4' fluorescent shop light fixtures, I think they were under $10 each at Home Depot. I wrapped the bulbs with blue cellophane, then slipped on those clear plastic tubes they sell to protect the bulbs - mostly to hold the blue wrapping on, but also to contain the glass should one get broken.

When using cheap inverters to power several fluorescent fixtures, I found that they wouldn't start up. I even tried changing to different styles of ballasts... then I discovered if you just turn on each fixture, one at a time, they will work.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby TomServo » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:34 am

renojeff wrote:
TomServo wrote:My suggestion: Box it in the back, to give the impression your golf cart is gas..and to keep the noise behind you. Build the box lined with sound absorbing material, with an offensive side left open for air intake. Make sure the ENTIRE vehicle is lit! Neons under the chassis are a good idea. Obviously..if using 12V auto lighting, use an inverter. DO NOT STRAY (too far) from the plans you submit to the DMV!! Hope to find you in line!


I like the idea of putting the genny in back. However the ass end is already a lil heavy because of the tail. I was hoping to use the genny as a counter balance in frt.


How big is your Generator? If it's 2000 watts or less, shouldn't be so big you couldn't store shit up front to counter counter balance. Or, keep it low..and below the radar of weight differential. Solar is great and all, but I would NOT put it on a MV, and expect it to work! Lighting is a major safety aspect for your night license! Even if you pass the drive thru at DMV, should your lights fail and it's reported, you may be grounded for the next year...more complaints, and you can be grounded this year. If the generator is above 2000, you may try and seek(trade) out a lower watt Jenny...unless you have a refrigerator on board.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby renojeff » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:39 am

thx captain. any experience w/ UV paint and lighting?
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:52 pm

Just a little, a few painted decoration items on the interior. I've got backlights inside, three 18" fluorescent blacklights and one two-bulb 4' shop-light fixture with fluorescent backlight bubs in it... I have no idea what the specific color range is, they're just whatever generic backlight bulbs the hardware store had. They work great and they're cheap.

The simple solution to operating 5 or 6 fluorescent fixtures that have to be powered up one at a time until they're all on was to run each of the light fixture's power wires all to a common spot (near my other controls) and mount a "power strip" to plug them into one at a time.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby gyre » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:49 pm

There are charts on the tubes too.
More spiky than I would have thought.

The big advantage to LEDs is that they can run with a homemade housing or none.
They love cold, hate heat.

Fluorescents draw more power in cold, and dim when they don't get it.
You need a housing, or a cold weather ballast, or both.
There are safety shields of thin plastic, cheap.
12 volt ballasts will save you a power step possibly.

Fluorescents vary a LOT in all respects.
Ballasts especially.
Check the specs.
There are one piece compact fluorescents, but a separate ballast is almost always superior.
The straight double tubes are far less fragile than corkscrews.
They will take up to 200 degrees in some cases too.

By the way, I have an odd duck.
A blacklight strobe that uses two foot tubes.
It works by varying the cycles per second.
It's from the early light show days, and almost all handmade electrical.
It is infinitely variable.
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Re: Night Time Illumination

Postby junglesmacks » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:23 pm

LEDs have no problem with heat.
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