Sailplane (glider) canopy flasher


Newly Enlightened
Jun 15, 2024
I'm interested in building a glider 'canopy flasher' similar to various commercial offerings available at great expense.
These cost around EURO 400 up to EURO 800 and mostly have vastly more bells and whistles than I want or need.

These are rated around 4,000 lumens which I expect, given it's aviation, is close to real lumens.
The flash rate is legislated to minimum of 40 FPM which is about where I'd prefer to sit to minimise power consumption, but up to 60 FPM is fine too.

My thought is perhaps 4, or 5 XP/XT/XHP Cree's with something like the Carclo 10mm elliptical
This should give plenty of lumens and allow for some lenses aligned vertical and some horizontal for somewhat wider and tuneable coverage.

What I don't have any real clue about is how best to drive an array like this.
Simple is good as far as I'm concerned - I want it to start flashing when it's turned on and stop when it's off. That's all.
Given the low duty cycle I can probably drive these very hard, so being able to do that would be good.
Gliders run 12V systems, usually from 12V7Ah SLA batteries.

I'm just starting out looking at this stuff, so excuse my ignorance please.
I understand XHP 50.3's can run 6 or 12V. By putting two 6V in series they could be driven by 12V.
So it seems finding the right driver is the key. Obviously the driver would need to be able to output sufficient current.
I'm guessing that the only practical way to achieve all LED's flashing synchronously is to run them off the same driver.
Looking at the datasheet I believe I'd need (for 4 LED's to keep this manageable) either a 6V 12A driver, or for 12V a 6A driver. 72W.
Initial searching suggests these are not that common. I've found a LumenCraft 10A driver that they report as being capable of 125W. They talk about, "zener modded 6V driver" but I haven't found exactly what that mod is.
I'm reading all this as suggesting I would need to run two series pairs of Leds connected to the driver in parallel?

Getting that sort of current out of the SLA is unlikely (they're usually fused at 7A). I wonder if it's possible to put a large capacitor close to the LED driver to supply the peak current? With short, low duty cycle flashes I'd expect that could be possible, although I've got no feeling whatsoever how big a suitable Cap. might be. I do have several large (multiple farad) caps that were part of a spot welder that I could possibly re-purpose.
Am I on the right track?

Any suggestions where to look for well priced, reliable delivery of LED's, Optics and drivers? I'm in Australia & delivery from USA is often ridiculously expensive.

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