Articles By Our Members

LED Dome Lights for Boat Interiors and Mast Lights

by Brian Clarke, April 2006

Recently, white LEDs have dropped in price, and because of their long life and low power consumption, are being considered for interior and accent lighting on model boats.

Unfortunately, most are shaped so the light beam is focused out the top and not out the side, as in a regular grain-of-wheat incandescent bulb. By machining a cone-shaped depression in the end of the LED, the light tends to reflect out the sides and so may be used on the cabin ceiling to illuminate cabin interiors or in brass fixtures on mast lights.

Modification Diagram

This is simple with a lathe and may be done with a Dremel tool if you are careful. You cannot cut too deeply or you will damage the light producing surface and small bond-wires connected to it.

The most common white LEDs is a Gallium Nitride blue LED coated with a phosphor that, when excited by the blue LED light, emits a broad range spectrum with a blue cast. They may be given a "warmer" tint by lightly painting with Tamiya Clear Orange paint.

Photographic Comparison
Light patterns of normal and modified LEDs.

Modified LED on Model
Modified LED in machined brass fixture for mast lamp.

LED as Formation Light
The same technique may be used with red and green LEDs for port and starboard lamps.

Brian Clarke

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