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Project Notes

#560 Hurst Point Lighthouse

Building the wonderful Paper Shipwright model of the historic Hurst Point Lighthouse, and bringing it to life with a Fl(4) W 15s LED array.


Here’s a quick demo..



I recently stumbled upon David Hathaway’s Paper Shipwright, offering a range of paper models of ships, lighthouses and other buildings. I had to buy a few (some are even available for free download if you have a suitable printer).

Hurst Point Lighthouse held special appeal for me, as I grew up in the area and spent many a day sailing this part of the Solent with my father.


The paper model is a 1:250 rendition of Hurst Point Lighthouse (Hampshire, UK). The current lighthouse dates from 1867 and was modernised and electrified in 1997.

  • Location: Hampshire, UK
  • Position: 50 42′. 44 N 01 32′.94 W
  • Height: 26m
  • Built: 1867
  • Light: Fl(4) WR 15s 14nm


The Light

The lighthouse characteristics are recorded as “Fl(4) WR 15s 14nm”.

Translated, this means flashing 4 times every 15 seconds, visible to 14 nautical miles. “WR” I think means alternating white and red, but I’m not too sure and wasn’t able to find any clear confirmation. For the build, I’m going to simply do a flashing white light.

I decided to use a simple 555 timer circuit comprising two cascaded timers: the first provides the overall 15 second window with an on-period long enough to enable the second timer to perform 4 flashes at about 0.65 Hz.



First testing the basic circuit on a breadboard:


Some circuit notes:

  • diode D2 is not required (I had it in circuit as originally I was using a smoothing RC circuit on the LEDs, but removed this in the final build as it wasnt adding much to the effect)
  • timing is not 100% accurate, as it is at the whim of component values and tolerances. But I have it close enough for my liking.
  • the first flash is a little longer than the following ones, as C5 must charge from fully discharged to 2/3 VCC and then oscillating between 1/3 and 2/3 VCC. There is probably a way to avoid this but I haven’t solved that problem yet.

Here’s a scope trace of the flashing sequence:


The circuit was finally transferred to some protoboard before installation:

build_soldering protoboard_layout

I used three SMD white LEDs in a parallel radial array for installation in the model. Copper wire provides a solid mast making installation easier. A plastic sleeve and some aluminium foil complete the light fixture.


Testing the LED mast on the breadboard:


Building the Model

It’s quite an easy model to assemble, just requires a steady cutting hand and some patience. The fit of the parts was very good.

The support buildings:


I diverged from the paper model for the railing and light enclosure, fashioning these with some clear acrylic, cotton thread, and some component lead offcuts.


The base is made from some random balsa wood that I had on hand, and painted with a “seafarer’s oak chest” impression in mind.


The base after varnish and switch installation. Ready for the electronics and final assembly.


Circuit installation in the base of the model:


All assembled:


With a dramatic backdrop!


Credits and References

Project Source on GitHub Project Gallery Return to the LEAP Catalog

This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.