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Lighting your model with Fiber Optics and LED Info

6 replies
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  • Member since
    April 2015
Lighting your model with Fiber Optics and LED Info
Posted by Wolfman_63 on Friday, July 28, 2017 5:56 AM

I have received many requests on how I am doing the fiber optic lighting on my 1/350 USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. This is a step by step on installing the fiber optic lines. This can be done on any model. The first step is to drill a hole where you want the light to be. I am using 0.5 mm optic lines. The holes are drilled with a 0.5mm drill bit and are at a 45* angle so the lines will be flush to the surface on the bottom side.


The next step is to bend the fiber optic line at a 45* angle with a pair of round tip needle nose pliers. You will need to bend the lines first. If you install the line without pre-bending they will not sit flat to the surface. You want the line to stick up around .2" above the surface on the light side. This is done so that the surface can be painted and weathered first. Once the surface is painted/weathered the fiber(s) can be trimmed flush.



To install the line, first make sure the line slides into the hole easily. The lines are glued in using acrylic gel medium. Do not use Cryo/superglue. The superglue is too stiff and causes the fiber optic line to become extremely brittle and crack easily. The acrylic gel dries clear and has some flex to it. This allows you to route/move the lines to the LED source without applying stress to the lines. I dip the entire end of the fiber into the gel and insert it into the hole. I then use a toothpick to make a nice fillet around the hole for strain relief. Finally a piece of tape to hold the line down into position until the gel cures.

Here is the acrylic gel medium I use. It is available and many local arts/crafts stores.





Here is a picture of the lines after the acrylic gel has cured:



The lines are then placed in a bundle taped and trimmed flush. A piece of 7mm shrink sleeving is cut and a 5mm LED is inserted into the sleeving. The fiber optic bundle is inserted into the other side flush to the top of the LED. The sleeving is then shrunk. NOTE: be very careful and apply heat quickly to shrink the sleeving. If you hold the heat gun too long you risk melting the fiber optic lines.


Finally apply power to the LED and admire your results. Here is a picture of the flight deck runway and foul line. This is over 250 feet of fiber optic lines and 4 LED's (1 blue and 3 white) In the picture I have not trimmed the lines flush since the deck still needs to be painted and weathered. Also due to the camera and light levels, the optic lights appear much brighter then actual.


To show an example on using fiber optics and a micro LED, Here is the frensel lights for the carrier I made:

I bought all my LED's from:

All fiber optic lines were from:

They have many sizes from 0.25mm up to 3.0mm

I hope this information will help you if you want to illuminate your model.

I am still learning tips and tricks for lighting, I will answer any questions that I can.


UPDATE: 05/28/2020- I linked the photos from another source. The previous one went away and so did the photos. Since I originally posted this I completed the ship.

I also created a "How To" CD with more detailed info including how to wire it all up for Flagship Models. You can get the CD at

Please feel free to contact me thru my website at



David's Scale Models -






  • Member since
    September 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Friday, July 28, 2017 7:48 AM

Excellent tutorial.  Answers a lot of questions, including where to get the cables and lights.  Thanks for posting!


Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 

  • Member since
    May 2015
Posted by Griffin25 on Friday, July 28, 2017 9:12 AM

That is quite impressive. Great info. Thank you for sharing.




  • Member since
    August 2016
Posted by Keyda81 on Friday, July 28, 2017 9:45 PM

Thanks for posting!  I was wishing I had gone this route when I added LED's to a C-130.  Live and learn! 

  • Member since
    August 2012
Posted by JMorgan on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 1:44 AM

Never knew about the acrylic gel medium. Good recommendation.

  • Member since
    May 2020
  • From: Monroe, NC
Posted by dawgfan56 on Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:16 AM

I know you are busy and I respect that, but, if you don't ask......  Is there any chance of a repost with the pictures?  Thank you.

  • Member since
    April 2015
Posted by Wolfman_63 on Thursday, May 28, 2020 3:16 PM


I know you are busy and I respect that, but, if you don't ask......  Is there any chance of a repost with the pictures?  Thank you.


I have updated the original post. The photo hosting site I use to have is gone (and so were the photo links) I have hosted them on my own website now so they will not fade away. I also added some more links on the bottom of the post with updated info. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.


David's Scale Models -







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