Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pimp My Rig

During the recent severe storms we lost power at home a few times. I had my radios on battery power monitoring various emergency frequencies but at times I was struggling to read some of my equipment with non-backlit displays. A small LED flashlight worked well in a pinch, but afterwards I started to think about how I might improve the lighting at my station without using wall-socket power and/or consuming a lot of my station's reserve battery power.

The answer came to me while I was wandering around a Target store. There's a company called WinPlus that makes a line of auto accessories under the brand name "Type-S"; they offer a lot of dashboard gizmos, LED map lights, gadget holders, etc. Their stuff is actually quite well-conceived, for the most part. One of the items they sell is a "Dash Mood Light Set" which consists of two small "LEDs in a barrel" with 3M adhesive-backed swivel-mounts and a "cigarette lighter" accessory plug. Setup was very simple; all I had to do was plug in the lights (using an accessory socket) and stick the swivel-mounts on the radio faceplates. The lights draw less than 10 mA of current and provide great illumination of the displays even in total darkness. The wires are very slender so I was able to tape them down with black electrical tape and now they're essentially invisible.

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