Quantcast

Anyone tried a Strobe or bright flasher to help locate rockets?

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

FROB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
389
Reaction score
0
I'm thinking a flashing ultra-bright LED might be effective, especially at dusk, but then again, maybe not. Anyone know if this can help more than a beeper?
Trouble with beepers is, it can be virtually impossible to tell which direction its coming from- especially in the woods.
100+ lumens' worth of flashing LED might help, no?
 

MarkII

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
8,212
Reaction score
9
No, but I've thought about it off and on over the past couple of years, for all the same reasons you cite. I also think that it might help with visually reacquiring the rocket as it descends from one of those "out of sight" flights. Putting a radio transmitter in a low-power rocket would be overkill, even if I could be physically done, but a simple strobe would be quite feasible. I have been thinking about whether a very tiny add-on module could be made for Micromaxx rockets as well. These don't fly very high, even by LPR standards, but the tiny size of some models can cause them to go out of sight on a 120' flight, and they can be a bear to find in the grass afterward. Unfortunately, I am just about totally unschooled in the design and construction of such devices.

Mark \\.
 

CharlaineC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
1,098
Reaction score
4
Theirs some great plans Here at jb gizmo i'm planing o'm making a few of the different locaters and transmitters.
 

brianc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
3,220
Reaction score
1
I'm thinking a flashing ultra-bright LED might be effective, especially at dusk, but then again, maybe not. Anyone know if this can help more than a beeper?
Trouble with beepers is, it can be virtually impossible to tell which direction its coming from- especially in the woods.
100+ lumens' worth of flashing LED might help, no?
http://www.wolfstardesigns.com/NiteBow.htm

:D
 

bobkrech

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
8,351
Reaction score
27
This omni-directional LED might be useful.



RL8-W110-360 White LED (360 degree)

White Super Bright 8mm Led, 11,000 millilumens / 360 Degree Viewing Angle, Unique LED with phosphorescent coating emits white light in all directions (360 degrees around, from end and bottom, just like a filament bulb) $ 1.89

specs http://superbrightleds.com/specs/w110-360_specs.htm

from http://www.superbrightleds.com/

All you need to add is an oscillator circuit. A common collector logic chip or a CMOS 555 timer circuit could be used to turn it on and off.

Bob
 

DexterLB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
571
Reaction score
0
That's cool! Theoretically it _should_ work, but the range may be tooo limited on daylight.
 

highpowerrocket

Active Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
41
Reaction score
0
I tried a strobe light like those used in survival kits. Works OK until the rocket lands - it doesn't take much to loose sight. I have found that a simple, and very cost effective, "personal alarm" beeper works much better.
 

FROB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
389
Reaction score
0
Thanks for all the suggestions,
Actually I have no trouble building one, in fact i've already got everything i need-
I was just wondering if its something truly useful or a waste of time because its been tried by someone else and proven ineffective.
I'd probably use a red-amber Luxeon Rebel or K2 flashing at 1.5-2 Amps peak, powered from 3 AAA batteries, hanging from a surplus 3' "flare" parachute and pointing up into the canopy to illuminate it on the way down.
Hopefully the chute will also act as a diffuser when it catches in the weeds or lands on the ground.

it would use a light sensor to tell when to turn on, and after 15-30 minutes it would go in into a power saving mode with a much lower duty cycle, so the batteries could last at least a week if the rocket is inaccessible and one needs to get help and or equipment to get to it. Naturally a beeper will be on it too, with the same power-save strategy.

I just had a funny thought- imagine if it could turn on in response to sounds instead - i can just picture myself trudging up and down the corn rows , clapping my hands and calling out "here rocket!...Here rockeee,rockeee, here!" :D:rolleyes:
 

Handeman

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
7,721
Reaction score
315
Location
Stafford, VA
Thanks for all the suggestions,
...snip
I just had a funny thought- imagine if it could turn on in response to sounds instead - i can just picture myself trudging up and down the corn rows , clapping my hands and calling out "here rocket!...Here rockeee,rockeee, here!" :D:rolleyes:

That's a good idea, where did I hear that before? Oh Ya....


<Clap> On


<Clap> Off





Actually, for the power circuits, I would think you would want the sound beacon to be on low power for the first 30 - 60 minutes. If you haven't found it by then, then it would kick into the high power, high db mode for the next hour or two to give you a better chance of coming across it.
 

FROB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
389
Reaction score
0
Actually, for the power circuits, I would think you would want the sound beacon to be on low power for the first 30 - 60 minutes. If you haven't found it by then, then it would kick into the high power, high db mode for the next hour or two to give you a better chance of coming across it.
Good idea.
I think one loud chirp every 30 seconds or so in low power mode is good- to know that you're in the vicinity, so your search grid can have fairly large quadrants. then a short burst on the strobe 3 seconds after the chirp- so if you hear the chirp you have time to turn your head in the general direction and with some luck you can spot the flash.
 

blackjack2564

Crazy Jim's Gone Banana's
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
8,962
Reaction score
1,100
Location
Savannah Ga
I was at a launch last year during my travels, and saw 2 guys with unbelievably bright strobes. Upon inquiring, they told me they were quite simple to make and used the flash unit from throw away camera's, gotten from Walmart and Walgreens trash.
I did not understand the how to's I was told, being electronically challenged, but was told it's a no brainer for some one who does, and most of the parts were free from the throw away's
 

pyrovette20

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
474
Reaction score
0
I built a 30'' payload section for my magnum last year. It has 30 multi changing leds from Wolfstar mounted in the nose cone. 100 green leds (4000-5000 lumens each) mounted through the body tube. And 5 green 3 watt leds mounted through the body tube also. Cant miss it at night. Next one I am thinking about is trying to get a flashing beacon from an airplane. Have to figure out the powerdraw it will take to last at least an hour.
 

FROB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
389
Reaction score
0
... It has 30 multi changing leds from Wolfstar mounted in the nose cone. 100 green leds (4000-5000 lumens each) mounted through the body tube. And 5 green 3 watt leds ...
I'm guessing you were'nt too concerend about cost - just curious, how much did you end up spending on LED's?
How effective was it in helping locate the rocket - during the day, or at dusk?
If you had just 3-5 green 3W LED's, would it be enough for that purpose you think?
 
Last edited:

WiK

Site Admin
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,636
Reaction score
0
...100 green leds (4000-5000 lumens each) mounted through the body tube...
4000-5000 lumens per LED, are you sure? :eek: The LED light I've got for my mountain bike only puts out around 700 lumens, and that's enough to light up a forest at night!

I think pointing LEDs into an unpainted plastic nosecone makes quite an effective 'beacon', especially if they flash. That way you don't have to wory about special omni-directional LEDs, or could just use a flashlight if you can find one light enough. I've got a Fenix flashlight which uses a Cree Q5 LED, which looks pretty awesome on full-power strobe mode. One of these days I'll have to build a night launch rocket around it.

Phil
 

FROB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
389
Reaction score
0
...they were quite simple to make and used the flash unit from throw away camera's...
Yeah i though about using or making an old-fashioned xenon strobe.
The upside is you can have much brighter flashes, for the same power, but with a much lower duty cycle. For location that's good.
Downsides are:
- those tubes are fragile; i'd be worried about them breaking under typical ejection and landing forces, especially in the case of "incomplete" deployment.
- and they don't last too long- the cheap ones anywhere from 1000 to 50,000 flashes.
- They require more 'lectronics, including relatively large 300-400v capacitor and small transformers (2) which add weight and take up more space - not great for low-mid power rockets.

On the other hand the high power/super bright LED's cost more - right now a 3W is about the same cost of a larger strobe tube that can produce flashes 100x as bright.
But they're virtually unbreakable, they don't wear out, much smaller and lighter too, come in very intense colors, and are easier to drive and can be made to flash any way you like - in pretty patterns if you prefer.
If you count the electronics, i think i can make about 10-15W's worth of LED flash for roughly the same cost to make a small xenon strobe- if that proves to be sufficiently bright, that's what i would do. if not, then its "back to the drawing board"...
 

Handeman

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
7,721
Reaction score
315
Location
Stafford, VA
...snip
I think pointing LEDs into an unpainted plastic nosecone makes quite an effective 'beacon', especially if they flash. That way you don't have to wory about special omni-directional LEDs, or could just use a flashlight if you can find one light enough. I've got a Fenix flashlight which uses a Cree Q5 LED, which looks pretty awesome on full-power strobe mode. One of these days I'll have to build a night launch rocket around it.

Phil

That is exactly what I did for my night launch Estes Patriot. It's modified for 24mm motors and needed a little nose cone weight anyway. I found a kids toy headband light at Walmart that is a bright LED that either is on steady or flashes. It's just the right size to slip into the nose cone and shine upward. Works great! It's amazing how bright it is at night. The first launch it landed in 2 foot high winter wheat. The light lit up the wheat around it for 5-6 feet and was visible from hundreds of yards away. Easier to find at night then it would have been during the day.
 

FROB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
389
Reaction score
0
4000-5000 lumens per LED, are you sure? :eek: The LED light I've got for my mountain bike only puts out around 700 lumens, and that's enough to light up a forest at night!
Phil
I'm pretty sure that should have been Candelas, not Lumens. The best 3W led's can put out about 100 lumens, which is blinding bright.
 

pyrovette20

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
474
Reaction score
0
I'm pretty sure that should have been Candelas, not Lumens. The best 3W led's can put out about 100 lumens, which is blinding bright.
My bad. I think it is candelas or whatever they measure it in. The 3 watt leds I bought one RP auction site about a year ago. I believe they were about $3 each normally they run about$7-8 each. The 100 leds I found on E-bay were about $4 per 20 bulbs.The leds Wolfstar had were about $9 per 10 bulbs. Probably about $80 in leds, wire and resistors.
 
Last edited:

TMR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
54
Reaction score
0
Ooops Bump. Interesting topic! Some of the links are still working too.
 

boatgeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
2,732
Reaction score
1,155
I think one loud chirp every 30 seconds or so in low power mode is good- to know that you're in the vicinity, so your search grid can have fairly large quadrants. then a short burst on the strobe 3 seconds after the chirp- so if you hear the chirp you have time to turn your head in the general direction and with some luck you can spot the flash.
If you're programming, having three loud chirps about 0.5-1 seconds apart followed by a minute of silence would probably be easier to find. You might also do some research on what frequencies are easiest to home on for direction. My smoke alarms are the wrong frequency or too short a chirp--I can't figure out which one wants a new battery without standing under it to see where it's louder.
 

Onebadhawk

Sponsor
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 11, 2013
Messages
5,825
Reaction score
343
Hey,,
This is a pretty cool idea...
By the way,,,
High frequency sounds are MUCH easier to home in on then low frequency sounds....
And please,,,
I beg of you,,,,
Don't ask me how I know that........

Teddy
 
Top