Intro: Light Up Skis
Light up the slopes with custom multi-color removable LED lights for your skis. (Or permanently install them - jump to the end to see what a permanent installation looks like.)
The LED strips are a self-adhesive, waterproof product from Glowhut.com that run off a 9-volt, come with a IR remote for changing the lights from red/blue/green/white/yellow/purple/pink. In case you don't want to dedicate a pair of skis for night skiing, you can use rare-earth magnets to hold on the light strips.
Enjoy and have fun lighting up the slopes!
Step 1: Supplies
- Cable-ties, 4-inch, black.
- Package of 4 zinc-plated, 3/4" inch corner braces (you only need 2 but it comes in a 4-pack)
- 9-volt batteries. Looks like reviews says Rayovac is best. 8-pack on Amazon for $13.40
- 4 LED strips from Glowhut.com model 5050 RGB with IR remote. You'll need to measure to see how long of strip you want. If you are going with the removable LED lights as I describe here, then you also need to consider the length of the metal mounting plates. They come in 9", 12", 15" and 21" lengths. I suppose you could cut them to length with a hacksaw. Try to pick a length of plate that can lay flat on your ski. If you pick one too long, it will run up against the curve of your tip, making the plate more likely to pop off the ski.
When ordering the LED strips, tell them you'd like compatible remotes with all the strips. Silly, but there are several frequencies so you could end up with 4 different remotes needed to run all 4 LED strips. Also see if they can make the lead wires as short as possible. In fact, you can ask them to remove the connector between the LED strip and the battery connector. You'll notice in my photos, there is a connector - that ended up being a weak link that would sometimes become disconnected (until I superglued it). The connector just makes the wires longer. We won't need to be disconnecting the LED lights from their controller (IR pickup) so ask to omit it.
IF YOU WANT REMOVABLE LIGHTS, YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
- 4 mounting plates = "Simpson Strong-Tie Z-MAX Galvanized Medium Strap Tie" from Home Depot. That is a fancy way of saying sheet metal strip 1.25" wide by 9, 12, 15 or 21" long ($0.93, $0.97, $1.29, $1.73).
Devcon Plastic Welder glue (25ml). $2.68 on Amazon. Plastic Welder is great for cold temperatures and sticking to skis. Although I have had two magnets fall off - I blame that on surface prep.
- 80 grit sandpaper
Frostking weatherseal tape, clear, 2" wide, 100-ft long. $7.47 at Home Depot. This is very good at cold temperatures.
- Rare earth magnets, 3/4" diameter, 1/16" thick. Neodymium. 10 pack. $8 + free shipping on Amazon.
- You could buy 3/4" diameter, 1/8" thick, magnets from Home Depot. $5 for a 3-pack. A little stronger (6-lb pull instead of 5.3 for the ones above): http://www.homedepot.com/p/Crown-Bolt-3-4-in-Neod...
Step 2: Install LED Strips on Metal Straps
Here's the idea in a nutshell: Permanently glue magnets to your skis. Use the magnets to hold metal plates on your skis. The LED strips are permanently installed on the metal plates. When you want lights, you slap the metal plates on the skis and add a bit of tape for good measure. When you are finished, pull off the metal plates with the lights. Viola!
These instructions are assuming you want lights on the front and back of the skis (ahead and behind your boot). That means 2 LED strips per ski, one metal strap for each LED strip.
- Using some 80-grit sandpaper, rough up the side of the metal strap that will have the LED strip.
- Clean the metal straps with soap and water and dry thoroughly.
Optional: Paint the top of the metal strap with a color that matches the color of your ski. Paint the back of the metal strap a bright color, like red, so that (god-forbid) if it does fall in the snow, you'll have a chance at finding it. Be sure to give it a couple of days before you apply the LED strips so that the paint has time to cure.
- Peel back the adhesive backing on the LED strips and apply the strip to the metal plate. One LED strip per plate.
- You may want to add a dab of plastic welder glue to the end of the LED strip where the battery wire hangs out because the flexing may eventually cause the LED strip to begin peeling away from the metal strap.
Step 3: Install Magnets
Word of caution when working with rare-earth magnets: they are STRONG! If you let two of them go at each other, they can break themselves. Keep them separated as much as possible
- Pick where you want the metal straps to sit on the ski. You should plan to install a magnet every 5 inches or so along the strap. I used 3 for the 12" strap on the back of the skis, and 5 on the front for the 18" strap. You will also need a magnet near the front of the toe binding for holding the 9v battery, and a magnet might help behind the heel binding for holding the magnet as well (although we'll use a cable-tie there).
- Using the 80-grit sandpaper, rough up the 3/4" spot for each magnet on the ski. Clean with soap and water, dry thoroughly. Also be sure to roughen up the magnet surface - it is too smooth.
- Mix the two-part plastic welder glue with a disposable plastic knife or popsicle stick. You have a few minutes to apply the glue to each magnet, then place each magnet on the ski. (Make sure it is well ventilated, 60F or warmer, and that you are using dishwashing gloves to keep the glue off your hands - although it does clean up fairly easily off your skin.)
- Let the glue cure for 24-hours before touching the magnets.
Step 4: Add Battery Holder to Skis
There is nothing besides a magnet and tape that holds the 9v battery on the front of the ski.
However, the rear battery can be easily attached to the end of the binding. I glued a 3/4" L-bracket ("corner brace") on the end of the binding so that I could run a cable-tie through the hole and around the battery, securing the battery to the binding. A magnet at the base of the 9v also holds it in place.
Update: I've had some issues keeping the front battery in place with just a magnet and tape so I finally screwed in an L-bracket into the ski with a single #8 (3/8" long) pan-head screw. In the middle of the ski, there is plenty of depth so you won't penetrate the bottom of the ski - drill a 3/32" pilot hole that just breaks through the top layer of the ski.) I also had issues with the rear L-bracket coming loose so I drilled that in place on the binding.
Step 5: Apply LED Plates to Skis
Note: The IR sensor on each LED strip has a connector that attaches to the battery connector wires. This set of connectors is prone to being pulled apart while skiing. Wrap some of the cold-weather clear tape around the connectors to keep them together. (If you take the connector apart, make sure you have it connected correctly - it can go back either way. With the battery connected, power up the lights to make sure you have the connector properly connected.)
Now you are ready to lay your metal plates onto the magnets. You'll be surprised at how strong the magnets are. Carefully lay them on - otherwise they can really slap hard against the ski.
The tricky part is finessing the battery and lead wire from the LED strip so that it fits nicely on the ski. You'll need to use the cold-weather tape to keep the wires fastened.
Lastly, apply a strip of the cold-weather tape to the front of the metal plate, holding the plate plate against the ski. Do this for the rear plates as well. This is mostly a precautionary step, but now that you've invested the time and money to light up your skis, the last thing you want is to lose one of your lights in the snow.
You'll notice that you have four IR remotes. They should all be compatible with all the lights, so you only need to bring one on the slopes. May want to bring a 2nd as spare, in case you drop it.
Go light up the slopes!
(When you are finished, remove your tape and remove your lights to keep them in good condition.)
Step 6: Light Up the Slopes!
It would be great to hear from you if you try this out. Thank you and have fun!
If you'd like to see more things I do with skis, check out my website: http:\\www.skiartistry.com
There you will find a variety of art pieces made from recycled skis.
Step 7: Alternative: Permanent Installation
Another alternative is to permanently mount the lights to the skis. In the above photos, you can see I applied the self-adhesive lights directly to the ski. I cleaned the ski surface with rubbing alcohol before application.
You'll notice in the second photo the LED strip goes directly to the IR pickup then to the 9-volt connector. There is no connector between the IR sensor and the LED strip. I asked Glowhut to remove that and wire it directly. It cost a couple of bucks more but reduces the wiring length.
To hold the battery in place, I attached a 3/4" L-bracket that I shorted the foot so that it only needs one screw to attach to the ski (#8 3/8" pan head screw). I used cable-ties to fasten the IR sensor to the L-bracket so that it cannot wiggle.
You'll also notice in the second photo that there is a white silicon hold-down strap over the lights near the battery. I added a strap to both ends of the LED light strip just in case the adhesive begins to give up. In all the skiing with my removable LED strips, I've never had the adhesive let loose. (I did loose some rear lights when I omitted the clear tape for helping hold the lights on... magnets were strong enough for the front strips, but one of the rear strips came off. That happened 2x - once last year and this year.) The hold-down straps don't actually cinch down against the LED strip, though. I used #4 (3/8" long) stainless steel screws for attaching the hold down straps.
I drilled a 1/16" pilot hole all the way through the tip and tail of the ski since those regions don't affect performance. For the middle hold-down straps, I was careful not to drill through the bottom of the ski and not to tighten the screws too much because they'd also poke through the bottom of the ski. That wouldn't be the end of the world as long as I first drilled a clean hole. You don't want a screw to create a bulge on the bottom of our ski.
Care needs to be taken with the IR sensor when moving/storing your ski since it sticks up and is permanently attached. Furthermore, be gentle with the 9-volt connector in the cold. The wires can become more susceptible to breaking due to fatigue in the cold.