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Building a SmokeStopper and save your electronics

The SmokeStopper

Like the title says we’re going to build a device that is able to prevent your equipment going up in smoke while testing it or when flashing your ESC goes wrong.
I’ve found this topic on RC Groups where mnemennth explains exactly what the SmokeStopper does and how it works.
His knowledge about this device is far more advanced than mine but I’ll try to explain how the device works and how to build one in this tutorial.

The SmokeStopper is a device made with a light bulb used for the tail light of a car. The bulb acts as a current limiter allowing only the maximum amount of current the bulb can handle will go through your quadcopter. The amount of current that is too much to start frying your equipment will be put into heat by the light bulb. The bulb we will be using in this tutorial is a 12 volt bulb with a 24 watt and a 4 watt filament which has an approximately output of 2,5 amps. This means the maximum amount of current going through your quadcopter will be 2,5 amps, just enough to power up your quadcopter and spin up the motors with very low throttle.

Parts needed to build a SmokeStopper

All we need to build this awesome device is:

  • 12 volt 24w/4w light bulb (used for car tail light)
  • 16 gauge wire (black/red)
  • 3S lipo or 12 volt power supply
  • XT60 connector (gender depends on your setup which I’ll explain later in the tutorial)

Note: mnemennth mentions a light bulb commonly used in American cars and can be hard to obtain in Europe.
I will use an European light bulb in this tutorial which you can buy at almost any gas station or hardware shop.

European taillight bulb
A tail light used in most European cars.

Powering your SmokeStopper

Since our light bulb is a 12 volt bulb the recommended battery to use is a 3s battery or a power supply which has a 12 volt output.
In this tutorial I will use my modified Xbox 360 Slim power adapter which has an output of 12,5 volts. You can also use a 3s lipo which has a 12,6 volt output fully charged.

I use the Xbox PSU to power my Accucel 6 charger but it is also perfect to power up your quadcopter with this SmokeStopper since the maximum amount of current it can produce is 6 amps which is way below a lipo battery can produce. The adapter also has a build in short protection so if anything goes wrong with the bulb, your wiring or anything else the Xbox adapter will shut down itself without doing any damage to itself or your equipement.
I will soon write a tutorial to modify your old Xbox 360 Slim Power adapter to use with an Accucel 6 charger or to use with the SmokeStopper.

Here’s a video from mnemennth showing his SmokeStopper and explaining how it works.

Building the SmokeStopper

In this tutorial I used the battery cable of a damaged lipo battery which has a male XT60 adapter.
On my Xbox 360 PSU I have soldered a female XT60 adapter, just like the on on your quadcopter.

Lipo cable with XT60 male adapter
Here’s the battery cable of my damaged lipo battery which I’m using for the SmokeStopper.

We have to solder another XT60 male adapter to the other end of the black cable. We also have to solder a red wire to the positive side of the XT60 adapter and solder to the light bulb.

Connecting the other XT60 male adapter.
Here I’ve contected the other XT60 to the cables we need for the SmokeStopper.

Now that we’ve finished the wires and XT60 adapter it’s time to solder the red wire to the light bulb.

One red wire must be soldered to both the pads on the bottom of the light bulb (Positive). We solder the other red wire to the side of the bulb (Ground).

European taillight bulb and wiring
One red wire goes to the positive pads on the bottom of bulb, the other goes to the ground which is the side of the bulb.

And this is how it should look.

Wires soldered to the light bulb
One of the red wires is connected to both pads on the bottom of the light bulb. The other wire goes to the side of the light bulb.

The SmokeStopper is now finished. To prevent making shorts while connecting it to your quad we finish it with hot glue and isolation tape.

Finishing the SmokeStopper with hotglue.
Note that my hot glue skills aren’t the best.

Finish the SmokeStopper with some hotglue.

Feel free to ask me any questions but it’s probably better to ask your question on RC Groups. The people on RC Groups have way more knowledge about electronics and rc helicopters in general than me. All credits go to the people on RC Groups especialy mnemennth who introduced this device on the forums.
Reading the topic on RC Groups for more detailed information about the SmokeStopper is a good advise anyway.

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