View Full Version : how to backlight.

David Withers
11-22-2008, 02:38 AM
the process of making "integrated style backlighting" in panels is probably easier than placing leds or globes in a make shift style behind panel hardware.


copper pcb blank.
soldering iron.
aircraft panel.
grain of sand or micro minature bulbs 3, 4, 5, 5, 12 volts etc.

1 drill your 2-3mm holes halfway though the rear of your panel where the light will distribute evenly.

2 using the same holes, drill a 7-8mm sink hole a quater way though the rear of panel.

3 use some tracing paper to trace the holes you have drilled and the panel shape.

4. the panel needs to be divided into two parts. a postive power side and a negative side. to do this we use a thin grinding wheel or an engraver to remove the copper in a thin line on the pcb blank. this line must divide each light bulb point on the plate. so if we have seven bulbs required then we have to engrave a line though all of those seven pionts in a loop. this is so that the lightbulb legs can be in the correct postition and each tiny leg can be soldered onto opposite polarities.

5. there also needs to be a small power connector in the circuit somewhere. dill two tiny (1mm) holes on either side of the ground out loop at a position of your choice. poke a twin pole connector through the copper board and solder the legs on the back. the corresponding area on your aircraft panel may also have to be ground out to accomodate the solder lumps...just like the drill holes for the bulbs.

this method is suprisingly easy. the lower du panel in the pic took me about 3 quaters of an hour to make. and it cost about 3 dollars au. the bulbs come from china for about 20 cents au each.

any questions class?:D

David Withers
11-22-2008, 02:46 AM
as soon as i work out where my image has gone ill stick it up.

11-22-2008, 03:40 AM
I was going to ask where the pictures or video is...

David Withers
11-22-2008, 10:48 AM
ye of little faith.
its easy andy.

some of you guys must have pulled your "manufactured" panels apart "just to see how it works".

i did.

the toughest part is obtaining the right size bulbs.....ebay....china.

they are usually used in model train setups as street lights or in doll houses (that should help with the leg work). fairly expensive from the local model train shops at 5 dollars each but. you can get em off ebay for ten cents or twenty cents each....go china!

its a flightdeck solution of my own. ;)

patents???...yeah right.

<a href="http://img352.imageshack.us/my.php?image=lowerdupanelig0.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://img352.imageshack.us/img352/4055/lowerdupanelig0.th.jpg" border="0" alt="Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us" /></a><br /><br /><a href="http://img604.imageshack.us/content.php?page=blogpost&files=img352/4055/lowerdupanelig0.jpg" title="QuickPost"><img src="http://imageshack.us/img/butansn.png" alt="QuickPost" border="0"></a> Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!

11-22-2008, 12:57 PM
Cool,I use the same method accept,I do the copper etching method for the traces maybe tack on 20 more minutes to the whole thing and its done.Surprisingly its not hard as I thought and the results are excellent.If any one has the patients its well worth it.Soldering is easy to,I use the Cold Heat soldering gun and its so fast!!

11-22-2008, 06:22 PM

This looks like a great way to do the backlighting.
I'm having a little trouble with your explanation on how you did it.
Are you saying to drill part way through the Aircraft panel?
I'm using old FDS panels (not IBL) there is a gap between the backers and the front panel would I still need to drill the "back of the front" ? :?:
Also what voltage did you use and do you use resisters anywhere?



11-22-2008, 06:41 PM
From the responses it sounds like a great idea, but i need pictures. The explanation confuses me. thanx What panels are you using or did you make your own?

Joe Cygan
11-22-2008, 06:55 PM
Hey builders I did make a video on how to do this type of back lighting for the Lear panels using just simple hand tools. Give me a few days and I'll post it. Pretty simple stuff!


11-22-2008, 07:45 PM
Hey builders I did make a video on how to do this type of back lighting for the Lear panels using just simple hand tools. Give me a few days and I'll post it. Pretty simple stuff!


How are they coming along Joe? Did you figure out how you are going to price the Lear Panels yet and when they would start becoming more widely available?


David Withers
11-22-2008, 09:53 PM
a panel as thick as an fds signature panel would be best. i have also glued white or clear plastic onto the rear of thin elite style panels aswell. works a treat.
sorry about my explanation. fairly rough.

see this

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/9408/ibllightingba8.th.png (http://img155.imageshack.us/my.php?image=ibllightingba8.png)http://img155.imageshack.us/images/thpix.gif (http://g.imageshack.us/thpix.php)

Joe Cygan
11-22-2008, 10:36 PM
How are they coming along Joe? Did you figure out how you are going to price the Lear Panels yet and when they would start becoming more widely available?


Hi Scott,
Well the panels are done and I'm putting together the numbers to put together a price.

11-22-2008, 11:18 PM

Sent you an e-mail was wondering if you got it


Joe Cygan
11-23-2008, 02:07 AM

Sent you an e-mail was wondering if you got it


Did not get can you please send again?


Hessel Oosten
11-23-2008, 04:35 AM

Some of these backlighting pics have already been posted by me in another thread
See my pics of this backlighting principle here:


Who was the inventor of this principle ...: Simply Boeing ! :-) ;-)
Open an original panel and you can see it.

Hessel Oosten, The Netherlands, 767

p.s. The aliasing on the pics is caused by the low resolution, not by the mill .....

11-23-2008, 11:14 AM
How do you go with heat dissipation using globes instead of LED's? Having globes in such close proximity to the panels and also having them encased in glue, doesn't this pose a heat problem. It seems that LED's with their lower wattage would be a cooler alternative. My experiments also seem to reveal that bright white LED's are much more intense than incandescent globes therefore more effective.


11-23-2008, 03:29 PM
If you use 5 volts you wont get heat as much.I use a combo of bulbs in my MIP I use 12 volts,MCP,Ped ,and overhead use 5 volts.The 12 volts get rather warm,I plan on using a heat sink out of copper to see if I can disepate the heat.I do recommend anyone going this route to use 5 volts.But in my opinion the bulbs are much better though.


11-24-2008, 09:01 AM
I found an ebay site where I can get 3 -12v grain of wheat incandescent globes rated at 68mA but I also found a US shop (http://www.allspectrum.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=166&osCsid=0f65c71ce9d1ad5e8251322110984344) selling 6v globes rated at 200mA and 50,000 hour life. My question is, would I get more value out of the 200mA globe over the 68mA? The 200mA globe is around twice the price taking shipping into account. What are you guys using?


David Withers
11-25-2008, 12:52 AM
you have no worries about heat with bulbs of this size.

hey kennair, the bulbs on the site you linked to are too big mate.

they have to be 2mm in diameter max. this brings the length back to say...3-4mm.

11-25-2008, 03:12 AM
Thanks David,

I've gone with the ebay globes which are smaller.


12-01-2008, 01:38 PM
Hey guys this is what i do when back lighting.

For example, If i was to make a small panel, i do this:

All panels designed on a design program, and printed on high grade thin card and then printed from a high quality laser black and white printer (no colors in my panels) All text on the panels is WHITE.

Once my panel is printed i place just infront of a dim light to see what is backlit and decide if i want to back light it or not, all WHITE areas on the card are available to be lit. So all my text i.e. FLAPS is now backlightable.

All my panels are made from 3mm hardboard, a template of my panel is glued to the hardboard and then the areas i want backlit are cut out, so if you wanted 'flaps' lit up then you would cut out the perimeter of the word 'flaps', once all your cut outs are done then, i glue the official template to the hardboard template and then laminate with a non gloss thin laminate sheet, so now i have a sandwich effect, i now have the hardboard with the cutouts, the template (no cutouts) and the laminate (which makes the panel identical to the real thing).

I then place a flat white LED behind the text to be uplit (in the cutout) and wire up all the LEDs to a switch in my avionics panel, which now means that i have an uplit panel at the flick of 1 switch.

Many of you may not like my idea, but for the people like me that havent got alot of money to be spent on alloy panels from cnc cutting people then this idea is perfect, cheap and highly effective, and its also fun to do, my panels are as good as anyone elses just that they are not made from alloy or metal!

When my panel is complete that im building now, i will be happy to upload some pictures for you (for those interested in my idea).

Maybe this idea has been done along time ago but i thought id mention it, as i discovered my idea by mistake by leaving a photo on top of my internet router that had LED's flashin and noticed the LEDs 'lighting' up my white areas of the photo, in which i transfered that priciple to my panels and gave panel building a whole new fun dimension of building for me!

Alex J