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I've been toying with the idea of adding a red beacon on the belly of my STOL 750. (I'll probably keep adding mods until the plane won't fly and then it'll be time to quit! LOL!) I was at Sun 'n Fun recently and learned that major vendors like AeroLED's do not make an experimental version, only a certified one for $695 !!!!
With our freedom to install non-certified equipment on our EAB's, I thought there surely must be a similar beacon out there in the non-aviation world that does not have the word "aviation" on the box and therefore be much more reasonably priced. A quick search seemed to indicate there are lots of beacons for the non-aviation world, but most are not as bright or are relatively huge compared to something like a AeroLED "Sunbeacon." Anyone found a reasonably-priced alternative that is bright enough to be worth installing?
Check out superbrightleds.com . I use these on my daytime only 601 wingtip strobes.
Thanks for the link, Doug. I am familiar with "Superbrightleds" and have used their products before - somehow, I missed this beacon they sell - thanks! Apparently there are multiple patterns of flashes that are user-selectable. Does the beacon "remember" the selected pattern when power is removed or does it need a constant 12v "keep alive" circuit?
Yes. According to one of the reviews, it retains your patter selection.
There's an 'n' in pattern, Bob. Sheesh!
Doug - I think you're correct that the Aeroleds "Sunbeacon" is about 16w ... and $695!
The SuperbrightLED's higher-power beacon is user selectable for color and I think some led colors require more power than others. I just emailed SuperbrightLEDs technical support to ask that if the unit is set for a specific color - red - is it brighter than the less expensive, single color red beacon, and if so, is there some parameter to tell me relatively how much more powerful/brighter - lumens, watts, percentage, etc. They're off for the weekend but I suspect I'll hear back Monday and let you know what they say.
P.S.: The SuperbrightLED's less-expensive red beacon has lots of very positive reviews from paramotor, LSA, and EAB pilots! If the more-expensive user-selectable color beacon is even brighter, it would be well worth a few extra bucks!
I think Scott Miller N706SM Cruzer has one of these on his plane as the red belly beacon. He was parked near me at the Zenith Homecoming 2022.
SuperbrightLED's responded to my email first thing this morning (Great customer service!) and said the more expensive beacon was "probably" slightly brighter as it draws 0.8 amps vs 0.68 amps for the less-expensive beacon. In the interim, I've learned quite a bit about LED strobe beacons! Apparently, it is difficult to compare different beacons due to the fact that different LED's have different efficiencies. In some cases, a beacon with fewer LED's can even be brighter than another beacon with more LED's!
I've decided to try an Abram's SAE Class 1 "Blaster 120." It has 12 "7th Generation" LED's at 3w each for 36w total. I "think" the wattage is the peak the LED can take and they actually don't run at that wattage continuously. As mentioned before, it's likely an "apples and oranges" comparison to other beacons as far as wattage. However, more importantly, it's a certified SAE Class 1 Beacon, so it's the brightest on the market of the hideaway mini-beacons. For street vehicle use, at least in some states, they're only legal for EMS/firefighter/police use, so at least there is some objective rating for them by being in the SAE Class 1. Also, apparently Abram's is a well-known "name brand" FWIW. It has the same form-factor as the other hideaway LED beacons and is $81 and includes a surface-mount fairing, so not too bad on price!
Look forward to seeing this lit up at the next homecoming.
I'd like to add a strobe on the top of my rudder so I'll be curious to know how bright it is to the sides of the unit.
They also responded to my question confirming the beacons with selectable patterns do indeed hold the pattern when turned off. One thought. If you're using a 'hideaway' LED module, make sure it's waterproof, at least IP 68. Some hideaway beacons aren't. If they aren't, you'll need to install a waterproof lens over it. I've been through this several times putting lights on emergency vehicles.
Update: I received the Abram's "Blaster 120" and it is certainly eyeball-watering bright! However, I don't think it is optimal for a belly beacon because as the name implies, it directs the light directly perpendicular to the installation surface with a 120 degree beam spread. When viewed in the same plane as the surface it is installed on, it's not nearly as bright. So, I've ordered the Abrams "Blaster 360" which has optics to distribute the light horizontally 360 degrees and not straight out the top of the light, so it is similar to the Sunbeacon II. It's a lower wattage but still a SAE Class 1 light, so it should be plenty bright! I'll update again once I receive it and test it.
Rather than return the "Blaster 120", I decided to mount it on the rear fender of my riding mower - I have to mow along the edge of a narrow road where the local yokels speed all the time and figure a flashing beacon might help prevent one of them from running me down! Hope it doesn't blind them and make things worse! LOL!