A lil' history ...
If this was not enough, the "Mini-Beacon" also allows you to run it in "free-running" mode (connect battery and it repeatedly flashes), or you can control it (on/off) using a spare receiver channel on your R/C receiver (you can use a transmitter stick or switch). The setting is accomplished using two small jumpers on the board and is described below in detail. Additionally, and most likely most important... you can also control the Mini-Beacon using a "Mini-Flash" Controller by simply plugging them together!
Design Criteria Summary:
1) Design a simple, cheap but effective "Rotating
(1) PIC 12F629 Chip (preprogrammed with Mini-Beacon code)
(Sorry, I am not selling these in
kit form... I'd rather build, test and sell)
The web version of the manual is shown below:
Mini-Beacon controller has a servo cable which can either be plugged into a
spare channel on your Radio Control receiver (Rx) or it can simply be connected to a 5-6 volt
power source. Opposite of this servo cable lies a two pin connector
(inline with board) that is used to connect your beacon LED. The onboard
output driver/transistor is capable of providing around 600mA to a connected load.
A typical 5mm LED draws 20mA while a 1 watt Luxeon emitter draws an average of
350mA. 3 sets of jumpers/pins located on the Mini-Beacon are used to
either set the flash pattern (1 of 12), set the servo control function, or allow
the controller to free-run. First thing you will obviously need to do is
connect an LED to the Beacon output pins (see picture above, observe polarity).
Be sure to use the proper series current limiting resistor inline (series) with
one of the LED leads (typically 56-120 ohms).
Note: No jumper and/or short should be across the "Free-Run" pins.
Now, when you plug the Mini-Beacon into your
receiver, not only does it gets its power, but it also reads the servo signal
output signal from the receiver's servo channel and
either turns on or off the beacon effect. The PIC is pre-programmed to switch
on at roughly 60%. If you use a switch to control this function, you might
have to reverse that channels servo function on your transmitter in order to get it
to work to your satisfaction (i.e. configure on/off position of switch). Also, be sure
the R/C channel you are using has its "end-points" set to at least 100% on the
1) Disconnect any jumper/short attached to the pins labeled "Servo Jumper" if it is connected.
2) Apply a push-on jumper across the pins labeled "Free-Run"
Now, every time you power up the Mini-Beacon, it will begin flashing, and continue so as long as power is applied. You can still plug the Mini-Beacon into your receiver for power, but the servo control function will not work.
the Mini-Beacon with your "MINI-FLASH" !
Now, set up a Mini-Flash channel (#1 in this
example) such that all 50 events have a checkmark in every location. Set
the Servo Control for channel #1 such that it is only ON for 0-1/4 throttle
("*---"). Now, when the Mini-Flash channel is High or ON
(only between 0 and 1/4 throttle), it applies power to the free-running Mini-Beacon, allowing it to flash
its preset pattern. When the Mini-Flash channel turns off, so does the
Mini-Beacon. You can then set up the Mini-Flash such that the channel
events (all 50) are selected or check-marked (left to right), and then you set
the servo control for the stick position you want for that channel to activate.
If you are using a switch on your transmitter to control this channel the
Mini-Beacon is plugged into, simply set the servo control to "**--".
The "Mini-Beacon" can be programmed to display 1 of 12 different flashing sequence patterns stored on the PIC. To change the pattern, perform the following steps:
1) Apply power to the Mini-Beacon and be sure it is flashing its programmed pattern.
2) While the pattern is flashing, continuously short the programming jumper (two pins shown towards the top/left on drawing) with either the supplied jumper or a piece of conductive metal (coin, paper clip, screw/nail, etc...)
3) Soon after you short these pins together, you will see the LED glow constantly bright. While it is glowing steadily, remove the short/jumper and you will see the controller quickly flash a certain number of time before continuing its rotating beacon effect. The number of flashes seen here indicates the pattern number it is now using and displaying. The 12 different patterns are shown below:
4) Continue applying and removing the jumper (following steps 2-3) until you selected the pattern you like. When you are satisfied, you are done! Every time you now power up the controller, it will use this pattern you have selected.
NOTE: Recent Mini-Beacons I have sold also have another hidden function that allows you to quickly reset the pattern to Pattern #1, rather than having to cycle through all the patterns using the jumper/power numerous times. With the Mini-Beacon un-powered, connect the programming jumper and then power up the Mini-Beacon. You will see the LED glow steady and will do so until you remove power, so remove power. Remove the jumper and re-power the Mini-Beacon. It should now be set to program #1, regardless of its previous pattern setting.
Q1. How do you compensate for differing forward voltages and current drawn by differing LED's?
A1. Ah.... good question....
You simply enter the supply voltage (in the controller's case, 5 volts), the LEDs forward voltage (this varies from LED to LED) then enter the rated LED current (typically 20-25 milliamps). Then hit the "find R" button and the program calculates the resistor value you need for that LED (typically a 68-120 ohm resistor is required). Be careful also as there exists some LED that already have the series resistor incorporated in the LED (not all that common though). Once the resistor value is determined, I usually then solder it to the end of one of the LED leads. The wires then leading from this LED assembly is then connected directly to the controller using a miniature machine-pin female socket (I will provide at least 8 with every controller). Putting the series resistors on the PCB would take up space (unless they were SMD maybe).