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MOD note: The following topic became a bit of a derailment of the 'Low Bucks Project' thread. The posts moved here are now in it's own thread. The other thread can now return to it's very excellent purpose!

Ron (Faster)

LED bow light upgrade. I wanted to upgrade to LEDs in my bow light, but didn't want to pay a lot. These bulbs are available cheap, but they are only one directional. I soldered three of them together in a cluster, and they still fit in the fixture. In hindsight I should have soldered the two side lights in front of the center one so it fit better in the fixture, but it works even being off center. The brightness is much brighter than the old incandescent, with much less power draw.





 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

LED bow light upgrade. I wanted to upgrade to LEDs in my bow light, but didn't want to pay a lot. These bulbs are available cheap, but they are only one directional. I soldered three of them together in a cluster, and they still fit in the fixture. In hindsight I should have soldered the two side lights in front of the center one so it fit better in the fixture, but it works even being off center. The brightness is much brighter than the old incandescent, with much less power draw.





This is ill-advised for a large number of reasons (#1, it's not legal). Do some searching here and you'll learn other reasons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm sure to many everything I do on my boat is ill advised. I taught myself how to sail by launching the boat and figuring out how it all works. If I kept to what some advise I would never leave my couch, and they could sit smugly by knowing they had saved me from my foolish self. As it is, when my bow light fails in the middle of the night and I am run down by a freighter in the inland lake where I do most of my sailing, know that I died with a smile on my face.
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

I'm sure to many everything I do on my boat is ill advised. I taught myself how to sail by launching the boat and figuring out how it all works. If I kept to what some advise I would never leave my couch, and they could sit smugly by knowing they had saved me from my foolish self. As it is, when my bow light fails in the middle of the night and I am run down by a freighter in the inland lake where I do most of my sailing, know that I died with a smile on my face.
We all take risks, especially when we are learning. Some are good risks that are worth taking, others are foolhardy. I'm not suggesting that you sit home on the couch - that's a mis-characterization.

I am suggesting that others NOT do your LED "upgrade," even if you stubbornly insist on doing it yourself.

But FWIW, you'd be much better served by putting in a new incandescent bulb that gives a full white spectrum, and thus will display the right color through the red/green lens. Plus, you will be legal.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
And for what it's worth moderators can delete my dangerous and practically illegal post. I was just trying to contribute something to a community that has helped me out a lot.
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

We replaced the incandescent festoon bulbs in our nav lights with LEDs several years ago. There is absolutely NOTHING illegal about using LEDs, as long as they are bright enough and result in the right colors. But that won't stop the SailNet "experts" from telling you otherwise.
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

We replaced the incandescent festoon bulbs in our nav lights with LEDs several years ago. There is absolutely NOTHING illegal about using LEDs, as long as they are bright enough and result in the right colors. But that won't stop the SailNet "experts" from telling you otherwise.
I don't know where people come up with the idea LED lighting is "illegal".
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

And for what it's worth moderators can delete my dangerous and practically illegal post. I was just trying to contribute something to a community that has helped me out a lot.
Your post is fine, and appreciated.
Know that you are no more "wrong" than anyone commenting on your post.
MANY of us have successfully converted out nav lights to LED and ended up with perfectly acceptable lights which use less power and last longer.
I think you're probably perfectly capable of noticing an unsafe color change.
Thanks for your input.

On a side note, there are festoon bulbs with rows of diodes all the way around, sealed in glass. I opted for those for better directional coverage and their water resistance.
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

LED emits light frequencies that are not acceptable to human eye. Although they might be bright enough for the machine that measures them, the human eye might not see. For example, I cannot read a newspaper under a led light, but can read under a hot light which is much more dimmer than the LED. You can use led light for your inhouse needs but please use other accepable lights for navigaiton lights which are meant for others to see. I am sure there is a good reason why only some led brands are acceptable for navigation lights.
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

Please... if y'all are gonna pick fights, divert to another thread. I kinda like the low-buck solutions, and peace, and I'd ask the moderators to keep this thread peaceful and low-buck.
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

Please... if y'all are gonna pick fights, divert to another thread. I kinda like the low-buck solutions, and peace, and I'd ask the moderators to keep this thread peaceful and low-buck.
Exactly right. Please, please, don't let this thread get killed. I sometimes think this thread is the single most useful one we've ever had here. :)
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

I did the same conversion to my boat may years ago, combining three clusters of 9 LEDs in each. You can get LEDs with a large viewing angle and only need to cover 180 deg. On the amount of light you get...if you use colored LEDs then you get more light out of the colored lens because the lens filters out the other color spectrum of a white light. My green is way too bright, if there is such a thing? It illuminates half way up my head sail.

Now I did not care about using the existing bulb mount or fitting it to the socket. I soldered the connections for two reasons, 1. most of my lighting issues are bulb socket connections corroding, and 2. I'm not planing on ever having to replace these bulbs.

Another trick I find useful, use hot glue to mount and seal electrical connections.
 

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Re: Low buck projects- Let's see 'em!

Not trying to pick any fights. But since readers use and copy the ideas presented in this thread, it is important that accurate information is conveyed.

I'll ignore the legalities of it for now. You can look that stuff up in many places, and COLREGS can vary in different countries.

But the facts of color science cannot be ignored. Cheap LEDs emit cool light at very limited, specific wavelengths. That's part of what makes them energy efficient. But passing such narrow-band illumination through a red/green filter that was designed for incandescent light will cause a change of observed color and potentially severe attenuation of the brightness. The resulting color change can be confusing to other boaters. In particular, the green filter could emit a blue light that makes you look like a military or police vessel, which could really land you in hot water with the authorities.

Those who know color science will immediately recognize that a traditional red/green color filter does not change the wavelength (color) of incident light. It merely attenuates the off-wavelength light and allows red/green light to pass through. Such filters are designed for the broad spectral band of an incandescent bulb. Passing light from a cheap LED bulb can lead to very unpredictable results which usually fall outside the wavelength specifications of the COLREGS.

It is possible that there are warmer LEDs that may be more successful in an incandescent fixture (though still not USCG certified in the US). But those bulbs are a lot more expensive, and you may end up buying and discarding a whole bunch of them before finding the right one. It's doubtful that you'll find such bulbs on DX or some other cheapo website, or at your local Walmart or auto parts store.

As a practical matter, the best way to make sure the light is the right color, brightness, and meets all the other COLREGS is to buy an LED fixture that was designed and tested for the intended task as a combined unit.
 
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