Lights are an extremely popular scale accessory, so I jumped at the chance to add a set from the guys over at Helios RC. I went with an inexpensive 6″ LED light bar for my Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. I have seen tons of LED options on the web–everything from homemade to extravagant and expensive. Helios RC Lights are at the inexpensive end of things ($15 for the 6 in. length), but all of the dirty work is done for you. These LED strips are available in 2-, 4-, and 6-inch lengths, but if you contact them, they can actually do some custom work on request. That’s something you probably won’t get from an outfit on an auction site that ships from a warehouse. And, speaking of shipping, the Helios RC lights shipping was free!
The Helios strip comes with bare wire leads. You have to wire it in to a 9-11.4 volt power supply (a 3S LiPo packs delivers 11.1 volts and will give extremely bright results). Anything less than 9V will not be bright enough. For this initial installation, I choose a 9v alkaline battery (easy to get and fine room for an just about any RC vehicle). To make turning the lights on and off easy, I used a toggle switch I had laying around. As far as the whole installation process goes, with a battery as a power supply, you can add the LED light strip to your rig with relative ease.
My kit, the Nicklite, did come with a aluminum mount, but you can be creative with the mounting. The stripes themselves have a self adhesive backing so you can stick them to anything really. The strip itself is also water resistant and has a silicone sealed face, so it will help keep the lights safe from mother nature when out on the trails. I painted the aluminum mount flat black to better tie fit with the roll cage on the Wrangler. If you wanted the lights to be well protected, you could mount them to the hood, right in front of the windshield frame, or down on the bumper if you want to go with a narrower strip.
PERFORMANCE & FINAL ASSESSMENT
The LED strip is super bright and easily lights up the path in front of my Wrangler, so driving at night on the trails or judging the rocks is much easier and just plain fun. As I write this, it’s the time of year that the days are getting shorter and daylight is less, so having working lights is not only cool but useful. I look forward to shedding lots of light on the trails before and even after the snow falls.
DID YOU KNOW?
In a nut shell, LEDs are just small tiny lightbulbs that fit into an electrical circuit. Unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don’t have a filament that will burn out, plus–and this is a big one–they don’t get especially hot. They are illuminated by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material. The lifespan of an LED surpasses the short life of an incandescent bulb by thousands of hours. Tiny LEDs are already replacing the technology found in TV’s to make dramatically thinner televisions that run cooler and last longer. In today’s world, you can find LEDs in all kinds of places. They save energy and shed lots of light onto any situation. The first colors for the LED were only red, green and yellow. Now you can get LEDs in almost any color. White LEDs are most common for practical lighting applications where a incandescent bulb would have been once found. Other colors are more for “indicator” (blinkers) illumination or custom effects.