Black light (UV) LEDs for instrument lighting?

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cluttonfred

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It occured to me while looking at LEDs for another purpose that the ready availability and low cost of "smart" LED lights, and especially black lights, would make for an easy and inexpensive way to add instrument lighting to an otherwise unlit panel of analog gauges. For example:

AM-RB-x6-led-accent-light-store.jpg

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/led-accent-lighting/am-series-miniature-rectangle-accent-light-black/25/175/

AM-OB-x6-led-accent-light-store.jpg

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/led-accent-lighting/am-series-miniature-oval-accent-light-black/27/191/

Anyone every mess around with black light for instrument lighting?
 

Jay Kempf

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Interesting idea. Very 70s. Is the crux going to be printing dial faces in something that will illuminate under UV? Or is your premise that all the old steam gauge white highlights will already glow?
 

cluttonfred

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Nope, no sunglasses, and yes, like a white t-shirt on the dance floor, I thought that the UV light would cause white markings to fluoresce.
 

Jay Kempf

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Didn't think of dressing for black light. I guess the pilot would have to be in all black, no notebooks with white paper, etc... in the cockpit or it would be distracting.
 

TFF

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It would make them fluoresce It still is an an extra dose of UV by something designed to make UV.
 

Aerowerx

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...like a white t-shirt on the dance floor, I thought that the UV light would cause white markings to fluoresce.
IIRC, this is because of certain components in the laundry soap.

So you would still have to use dials that will fluoresce at UV. Also, keep in mind the difference between short and long UV. You do not want to use short UV! Those will fry your eyeballs.
 

DeepStall

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UV cockpit lighting was done in fighters in WWII, if not earlier. I'm not aware of it being common in designs newer than the '60s, and don't know what prompted the change away from it until CRTs took over from steam gauges.

Good advice from Aerowerx about using eye friendly wavelengths. Retinal "sunburns" after UV exposure don't sound like fun!
 

Topaz

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The little "post" lights that screw into the panel, one per instrument, aren't going to be much more difficult nor expensive to install. And they cast red light onto the instruments, which won't mess with your night vision.

A "black light" flood lamp is going to create a galaxy of bright blue/green-white specks all over the cockpit, as everything that fluoresces under that wavelength does so, right down to the white threads in your blue jeans and the white laces on your shoes.

Nice "out of the box" thinking, but not something that's going to work out in practice, IMHO.
 

cluttonfred

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Thanks, guys. As far as I know it all the UV accent LEDs are UV-A so quite safe. I know that UV-activated fluorescent markings were used in the past, including on some 1950s automobiles using ordinary incandescent light and opaque (to visible light) glass UV filters to activate the markings. But I guess you're right about the unintended consequence of making everything fluoresce that can. I hear you on the post lights, Topaz, but I actually think that those new smart LED strips under the glareshield would make even more sense, especially with a dimmer circuit.
 
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