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Red Light Mod's From Regular Bulbs

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#1 Bob Riggs

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 04:33 AM

I'm in need of a way to transform regular clear 12 VDC bulbs to red to protect night vision. I'd appreciate feedback from any who have adapted clear bulbs to red by whatever means; nail polish, lacquer, etc. What's worked best for you?

Thanks for your input!

#2 skinnyonce


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Posted 14 March 2013 - 05:52 AM

maybe these..

#3 Midnight Dan

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 06:42 AM

Red LED replacements for most 12V bulb styles:


#4 tecmage



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Posted 14 March 2013 - 07:39 AM

If you're trying to protect your night vision, I would stay away from superbright LEDs, as they ARE super bright!

#5 amicus sidera

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 09:35 AM

I just ask my wife for the use of her dark red nail polish, as needed... couple of coats, works great.

#6 John Kuraoka

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 06:19 PM

I use a Sharpie brand paint pen; we have several of them in different colors. You can buy them at a craft store. They're actual acrylic paint - you have to shake the pens and prime the hard, fibrous nibs.

Even so, it took several coats to ensure complete coverage on a clear LED.

I used as my base one of those cheapo single-LED keychain lights (the kind you can get 5/$1 on sale). I disassembled it, painted the LED, and reassembled it. It wasn't very bright to begin with, so with the red-painted LED it's perfect - just enough to read a star chart by.

#7 Eddgie


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Posted 14 March 2013 - 07:57 PM

If you have a flashlight with a clear plastic lens, you can by Red Tinting Film and simply remove the lens, press it to the tape, and trim around the edges.

Auto supply stores often have this though you may have to order it through them on the web.

Just search on "Red Tinting Film."

I use a red LED flashlight now, but if you have an old flashlight you can recycle it this way.

And that gives you far more choice in the kind of flashlight you can use.

Also, you can buy glass tinting at hobby stores. It is a paint that you apply to the bulb.

This works but not well.

Nothing I have tried works as well as red tinting tape.

Some people used to line the inside of dome lights in their cars for star party light control.

#8 stevew


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Posted 14 March 2013 - 08:29 PM

I just ask my wife for the use of her dark red nail polish, as needed... couple of coats, works great.

I prefer red led astro flashlights.
But I have used red nail polish too, and it works great, as long as you not planing on painting the bulb with it.
I also have a push on push off battery powered light. I think some places call them Moonlights. They are meant to go inside your closet, or under a shelf.
I spray painted it deep red, and put a piece of velcro on the back, and another piece of velcro inside the back of my tailgate, and it works great.


#9 jerwin


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Posted 15 March 2013 - 11:01 AM

There was a guy in another forum that bought what I believe were kids water balloons, he trimmed the red ones and slid them over the end and was done in minutes. I purchased some cheap red LEDs and was able to turn one bright headlamp into a dimmer one, however I also killed the 2nd headlamp I tried to convert. If I do it again I'm going for the balloon route.




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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:48 PM

Red Tape, works pretty much any where, and can double layer if needed.

#11 Gene7


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Posted 15 March 2013 - 09:33 PM

Red LEDs

It is much better and efficient to use a LED than a white incandesent (or even a white LED). With a white source all colors, except the red are produced, filtered and thrown away. Use only the small 5mm LED, it will produce plenty of light when driven at about 20Ma of current. Do not even think of the metal star mount or automotive mount which could produce 100 times more light than desired.

LEDs and Lithium Ion batteries were made for each other. One Lithium Ion cell, with a bias resister will drive one LED. Three NiMH cell would be required unless you just used the top voltage off them that would be a pain. A lithium cell will hold a 3.9 volt charge for over a year. Your lowest cost, most compact battery you will find is a cell phone battery.. If you do not have an old cell phone you can buy extra batteries for about $4. each, same for a charger for them at Amazon. Of course a 1,000 MaH battery will power a LED at .02 Ma for 50 hours of operation.

For the LED I suggest you Google up "LED Supply" and order several 5mm Red 660 nm deep red (important) 50 degree units. These are through hole types, note the polarity. When driven with a 4 volt battery us an approximate 100 ohm resister in series they will operate at near their power limit of .020 amps. Incease the resistance if they are too bright. Gene

#12 Bob Riggs

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 01:50 AM

Good suggestions guys, I thank you. I found an inline rheostat at Home Depot and with a string of red Christmas lights (a rope light might be even better) I think I'll have the area lighting I need.

Thanks again for the good input!


#13 smallscopefanLeo


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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:20 AM

I am a flashlight-a-holic. That said most of my observing lately has been of the Solar System, so no red lights have been employed in most recent week.

I highly recommend getting a dimmable headlamp with red LED's. There are many models out there, mine is an older Photon Freedom Fusion that starts out more than sufficiently dim for me, but then I have yet to get to a Grey Zone! Not sure how dim a light would be needed under the darkest of skies.

For getting from the house/car/base of operations etc. to your scope and gear, I also recommend Mini Maglites- you can get an older one used for pretty cheap, use weak AA batteries for a dimmer light, and there are color filter kits (as well as all kinds of holders and holsters and accessories galore, including a head strap) for them all over the net. To dim it to the levels you want you could customize it with extra layers of filtration / rubylith material and also paint the lens itself, and the bulb red too if you are so inclined.

Almost forgot to add here ... also from LRI/Photon, the little keychain photon freedom micro lights (available in any LED color you want and of course red!) are indispensable. I have been using them for a decade and a half now, get the original made in the USA for a few bucks more, not the knockoffs from China! They have even been used on the Space Shuttle.

All that said, my favorite astro light by far is the twin red LED rounded body Rigel Systems Starlite :love:
When the lights in the house are all off, and that puppy is around my neck and tucked into my shirt pocket accompanying me out the kitchen door one last time with observing chair in hand (and with the rest of my gear already waiting for me and cooling outside).. then I know that things are about to get SIRIUS :rockon:

#14 BSJ



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Posted 18 March 2013 - 06:22 AM

If you're trying to protect your night vision, I would stay away from superbright LEDs, as they ARE super bright!

The red leds from superbrightleds aren't too bright for Astro use. They're super-perfect in my car...

#15 Sarkikos



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Posted 18 March 2013 - 09:39 PM

Red auto touch-up paint to paint over white lights in flashlights or to make red lights dimmer.

For the overhead lights in my car, I cut out filters from Rubylinth and attached with Velcro over the lights. Now if I want to revert to white light, I can just take off the red filters. But I don't. I prefer the red light for day and night.


#16 rockethead26



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Posted 19 March 2013 - 12:06 PM

The red leds from superbrightleds aren't too bright for Astro use. They're super-perfect in my car...

I just ordered some red replacement bulbs from SuperBright and am looking forward to plugging them into my Prius to see how they perform. I ordered a couple different models for the trunk and dome with low and next lowest output to see how they compare.

I can turn all interior lights off easily enough, but it will be nice to be able to grab something out of the car and see at the same time. I'll get to try these out at the Texas Star Party.

Thanks for the reference!

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