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Products Ignition CDI Features

last update:
February 04, 2003


Light Speed Engineering (LSE) is a pioneer in the design and production of ignition systems for experimental aircraft.

Sixteen years of research and development have been invested in producing the Plasma CDI (Capacitive Discharge Ignition) systems. The Plasma CDI is completely solid-state, intended for high-performance home built aircraft.  Light Speed Engineering currently offers three Capacitive Discharge Ignition Systems: the PLASMA II CDI, the PLASMA II PLUS CDI, and the PLASMA III CDI.

LSE's Plasma CDI systems were instrumental in providing error free service on several around the world flights, including Mike Melville's, Dick Rutan's, and Jon Johanson's.

Light Speed Engineering's Plasma CDI

Light Speed Engineering is well known for its world record setting flight efficiency and consistent racing victories. The Plasma CDI plays a significant part in the success of many racers and sport pilots who put reliability and performance on top of their list.

Proven to be the best the industry has to offer, the following list notes several unique features of the LSE Plasma CDI systems that are not available in any other aircraft ignition:

Easy installation with built in timing light on the sensor module and prefabricated adjustable crank sensor assembly on direct crank sensor systems.
Hot Spark: >130 mJ spark energy @ 0 - 3500 RPM
Best firing accuracy, cycle to cycle and cylinder to cylinder
Largest input voltage range: 5V - 35V
Minimal current consumption: 4-cyl: 0.4A, idle - 1.2A, cruise
6-cyl: 0.4A, idle - 1.9A, cruise
Light weight: CDI Ignition module: Plasma III- 1.7 lbs, Plasma II & II Plus- 1.1 lbs
Dual Output Mini Ignition coils: 5 oz. each
Low "noise" makes it Storm Scope compatible
Best shunt resistance (fires wet and fouled plugs)
Aircraft Key Switch Starting available on Plasma III and Plasma II Plus
Discrete logic (no microprocessor) for maximum reliability
Interconnect feature:
On dual LSE Plasma III or II Plus CDI installations, the control module automatically shifts the timing curve as needed when only one system is operating.
Hand Starting (Armstrong Starter):
Unlike other electronic ignition systems, aircraft equipped with the LSE Plasma CDI may be hand-propped.

*Builder must supply mag drive gear from non-impulse mag for Hall effect modules.
*Choice of crankshaft position sensor: Hall Effect Module, installed in place of magneto, or Direct Crank Sensor assembly.  Systems equipped with the Hall Effect Module are $120 more expensive than the direct crank sensor systems. 
*All 6-cylinder systems use direct crank sensor assemblies.

CDI Features

Electronic ignition (EI) has been used on automobiles for over twenty-five years, yet the aircraft industry has been unresponsive in adopting any form of EI technology, and letting go of the nearly 100 year old magneto.

Electronic ignition offers four distinct advantages over a magneto based ignition system:

The first is reliability. Electronic systems have no moving parts and can be expected to operate much longer, requiring less attention and maintenance than mechanical systems.

Second, capacitor discharge ignition systems produce a much larger and hotter spark compared to a magneto - up to 40,000 volts versus a maximum of 17,000 volts from the magneto. The more powerful spark allows a larger gap, which improves hot and cold starts as well as power and fuel efficiency.

Third, and possibly the biggest asset to electronic ignition systems, is that the electronics permit automatic spark timing optimized to RPM, manifold pressure and altitude conditions. The combination of these features maximizes fuel economy and power, ultimately allowing the Plasma CDI ignition system to pay for itself through lower operating costs.

Finally, the components for electronic systems are all mass produced, giving electronic ignition a distinct cost advantage over replacement parts for magnetos.  

Hall Trigger Module with Plasma

All 4-cyl Lycoming engines are capable of using either the Hall Effect Module mounted in place of the magneto (pictured above) or the direct crank sensor assembly for crankshaft position information.  6-cyl systems use the direct crank sensor assembly exclusively.  Further information on the direct crank sensor triggering mechanism may be found on the Crank Sensor page.


Copyright 2000 by LIGHT SPEED ENGINEERING, 416 E. Santa Maria, Hangar-15, Santa Paula, Ca 93061 U.S.A.
Mail Address: P.O. Box 549 Santa Paula, Ca 93061 U.S.A.
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