Introduction: $1 Model Aircraft Navigation Lights

This is Instructable as a tutorial for making your Scale Model Of Aircraft more Attractive with just few simple steps .Its not only cheap but it also works fine, the strobe lights are having flashes at very high intensity so it looks like original aircraft's strobe light (which can be seen from long distances)

This circuit can be used in the paper model of aircraft or plastic models like Revell model aircraft and even in other model like Ships, Locomotive etc, a separate circuit is therein the pdf attached below for some special applications (other than aircraft). I m going to show how to make circuit, install it in the aircraft with appropriate method of controlling the lights.

This circuit uses simple electronics components like leds, IC 555, diodes, resistors and capacitors, etc. If you are hobbyist then you may be having all these stored at your home and also all of this didn't cost more than a dollar or two.

Some times the scale models when made with neat finishing its looks almost real but if you install lights in the model replicating the original model its looks more attractive.

Either its Revell's plastic model or a Paper model of the aircraft from websites like canon c park or every model if done with patience and with utmost care its looks extraordinary. And Installing with flashing led lights brings up attraction to model.

Step 1: List of Items


100 ohm (5-6)

330ohm (1)

1k ohm (6-7)

10k ohm (1)

15k ohm (2-3)


100uF (2)

10uF (1)


IN4007 (2)


IC 555 timer (2)

8 pin IC socket (2)

Other materials

5 position DIP switch

3mm Leds (Red, Green, White)

9v battery and clip


Ribbon wire (according to length of model)


Soldering iron

Wire stripper



All the Materials Excluding tools cost within a dollar so its cheap and not much hard too.

Step 2: Selection of Led's & Postion for Installing in Your Model.

Your Whole circuit depends on this "Numbers and position of the LEDS" As you need to solder the circuit in that manner as you have decided.

Basically for aircraft this circuit is used for flashing white strobes (at wings tip and rear end of fuselage) and also for flashing the red beacons (on top & bottom of fuselage). For each flashes one IC 555 is used, as in the circuit below one 555 for the white strobes and other for the red beacon. All other Led's are just connected in series with current limiting resistor between ground and positive terminal of the battery, and this remaining leds are constant lights they are not flashing.

When I made BOEING 737-900 DELTA AIRLINES with LED LIGHTS I used the above stated positions after examining the pics and videos from the original aircraft.

As it was in the 1:60 scale the 5mm led was too large for the model as it would be nearly of the size of the windows in the fuselage. So I used the 3mm led's. Its more better if you use the SMD LED'S (surface mount device) that are in the lights strips operating at 12v. I tried searching the local store but it was not available there so I used the 3mm one.

Step 3: Select the Place Where You Want You to Place the CIRCUIT Board, BATTERY, Switch.

If making a Paper model (light in weight).

Do take care while doing this in paper model as if the weight is not concentrated at the center the model be imbalanced and would not look appropriate. As in the 737 paper model i placed heavy (battery) at the center, less heavy circuit board nearer to the battery and switch at more distance from the battery on the other side. (Refer the images sketchup one and the real one)

If making a Plastic Model (stiff in nature, more weight).

If you are making a plastic model (like Revell) or from any other hard materials like cardboard etc. u don't need to worry about the center of gravity as plastic will not get bent if weight is unbalanced, whereas paper model will bent and gives weird shape.

This Circuit not only applies to the aircraft, You can do it on the Locomotives, Model sea vessels, or any other place where quick flashing light is needed.

Step 4: Fitting the DIP Switch for Individual Light Control.

After having fixed the place of fitting the switch (You may extend dip switch soldered on different small perfboard with 5 ribbon wire soldered with it as this type of method gives you capability of controlling switch more efficiently rather than controlling by small screw driver inside the aircraft)

As the switch directly soldered to the circuit board may not be accessible after the model has completed building. And you will have to go up with the predetermined position of the switch rather than controlling switch whenever it is needed.

I have done by cutting small perfboard with 5 ribbon wires (Don't get confused about position dip switch in the pic, I used a 6 position dip switch as 5 position was not available in store). I have connected this switch as following way-

Connection between terminals 5-6 controls all lights (Yellow wire is +ve terminal of battery )

Connection between terminals 4-7 controls White Strobe (flashing) (orange wire)

Connection between terminals 3-8 controls Navigation lights (red at left wing tip and green at right -red wire)

Connection between terminals 2-9 controls Beacon Lights (Red flashing at top & bottom of fuselage-brown wire)

Connection between terminals 1-10 controls wings light (constant white light - black wire)

You can put 4 SPDT switches instead of the single DIP Switch.

Step 5: Soldering the Circuit

This the most important task of the project solder perfectly without any loose joints use pcb connectors to connect wire ti the circuit board to avoid getting removed.Cheap way to avoid thin wired getting free from circuit board -Tie your wire (incoming & outgoing) with the single strand of the jumper wire passing over all the wires linearly and then twist with the pliers lightly and do solder that two points if needed as circuit will resting until you save the aircraft :) . (refer image of DIP switch WIRING in step4)

Before fitting in to aircraft do try on breadboard I even say to try on the breadboard before doing soldering to avoid some common mistakes .

I have posted the circuit diagram in the images, and a pdf file for more clear view in the link below. I have been asked by many peoples on YouTube asking for more better circuit diagram then previous diagram so to avoid getting confused I have increased the thickness of wire crossing the other wires in the diagram so it would be easy to follow the wire even by beginners so its more easy to understand.

Also there is One circuit with single IC 555 for makers other than aircraft or to be used as single led flasher(use your creativity)

This circuit will results in to 5 wires outgoing the board (if you made with DIP switch outside the circuit board) Negative, 2 output of 2 IC's , 2 +ve terminals for both IC's. For the method with DIP switch installed on the board will result in to 2 wires (respective output).

PDF is attached above with images.

Step 6: Connecting the Circuit

After the circuit has been tested on the breadboard start connecting the whole network of wires to their respective places .Write all colors of wires with their respective places in safe place for further use or you may get confused about the connection of wires.

As this is paper model i have to first make pieces and then attach the electronics but if you are making a plastic model fix all necessary wires before building the model tying all wires in one place with a plastic tape which looks systematic and will save lots of space for other innovative ideas.

For Cockpit and inner lighting extract power from the steady white lights in parallel to the previous mounted leds in series of 1k resistance for less number of leds, for more number led's do that resistance to 700 ohm.

Cockpit lighting and inner lights are only possible in the plastic model as thick plastic will not allow light to passed from it whereas in paper model it will look like skeleton of aircraft.

Step 7: Finishing the Project (keeping in Mind Neatness)

Connect all all other covers or remaining parts needed to complete the model. For plastic model the paint and the decals give the better finishing too. For any queries about lighting circuit in aircraft or other places (vehicles, architectural) just leave a comment.

Watch the video of Mine Delta Airlines Boeing 737-900 with LED Lights ,A scale model of 737-900 of website made by me, If you like my creations don't forget to subscribe here -Youtube page