Let There Be (Baggage) Light!

The F1 Rocket has an extra deep baggage area – and it gets dark way back there without some lights.

Ain’t modern technology grand? Way back twenty years ago when I built my RV-8, cockpit lighting was grain-of-wheat bulbs and rheostats. Now we have LED strip lights you can buy for about twenty bucks, and that’ll buy you twenty or thirty feet! With a roll of 12 volt LEDs on hand, I decided that since the F1 Rocket has an ultra-deep baggage compartment, why not light it up a bit?

The fuselage stringers made an excellent place to mount the light strip (using 3M Trim tape), and they’ll be wired up to a pair of magnetic switches in series that will be rigged to the back of the rear seat (the “lid” of the baggage area). When you open the seat, the lights will come on! Both switches will have to “open” in order of the lights to come on, so (sorta) fail-safe to not run the battery down—it always pays to think about failure modes.

Strip lights and double-sticky tape are a perfect fit on the fuselage stringers -out of the way, yet totally exposed for maximum light!

The rest of the roll of LEDs will be used under the cockpit rails for both the front and back seats, as well as for the footwells in front—plenty of light if you need it. Those will be controlled from dimmers connected to the Garmin GAD27 which is part of the EFIS.

Yup, modern technology is convenient… and cheap! I probably would have spent as much for shipping as I did for the lights if it wasn’t for free shipping from Amazon.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.



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