Welcome! Becoming a registered user of ShortWingPipers.Org is free and easy! Click the "Register" link found in the upper right hand corner of this screen. It's easy and you can then join the fun posting and learning about Short Wing Pipers!

Thanks Thanks:  0
Page 1 of 9 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 88

Thread: beacons and strobes

  1. #1
    Troy Hamon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    PAKN
    Posts
    866
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default beacons and strobes

    We have a red beacon atop our rudder and a belly strobe on our PA-22. The beacon is mounted on a tube that extends straight up out of the rudder, the main structure that the hinges are attached to. It is longer than the height of the rudder by about 1 or 2 inches, and the beacon is mounted on top of it. We have been having some intermittent trouble with the beacon, and aren't sure it is worth trying to delve into it as it doesn't look like anything manufactured in this century, has it's own power control, and isn't set up for replacement of bulbs. So, basically, we are looking to replace our beacon.

    The belly strobe is working fine, but is also quite ancient.

    With a 1951 aircraft, the requirements for specific lighting parameters are a bit hazy. But it is clear that for night flight we need to have function anticollision lighting. What I have been unable to find is whether we are supposed to have both a beacon and a strobe system. What I mean is, if we installed wingtip strobes, do we still need a beacon? I find no reference specifically to one versus the other, just to angles of coverage (which don't apply to my airplane due to the date of manufacture, but which I would still want to adhere to) for anticollision lights.

    Further, I am strongly in favor of LED lights as they are basically superior in every meaningful sense, but I have difficulty determining whether lighting systems are certified when I look at them online, at least on the sites where they can be purchased. I have seen a recommendation from AvWeb that any Par36 light can be installed for a landing light or taxi light so long as it is bright enough, and doesn't require certification. I'm guessing that approach would be less acceptable for strobes or beacons, but was interested in hearing people's take on that as well.

    So, to boil it down:

    1. Are we required to have a beacon?
    2. Are we required to have both strobes and beacon (no I'm not taking the belly strobe off, just trying to get some help understanding the lighting requirements)
    3. What beacons do people here recommend for an aircraft with value less than $30K? (Likely less than $25K).
    4. Do strobe and beacon installs need certification?

    Just trying to find the best solution. I'm hesitant to install lighting worth 1/8 the value of the airplane, but want it to work well and legally.

  2. #2
    NHPacerPilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Manchester New Hampshire
    Posts
    231
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    You need at least one anti collision strobe that meets the FAA requirement and operating position lights. I went through this because my 51 Pacer did not have an anti-collision strobe and I wanted to put it on the belly like others that I saw (your PA-22) but was told this did not meet the requirement so I put it on top of the rudder like yours. Whelen is the best source for this in my opinion. It seems that if your plane had a belly strobe or beacon prior to 1978 you are grandfathered. If you put a combination wing-tip and tail strobe-colored position lights then you need to make sure you can see the strobes and lights while standing directly behind the tail at a specified distance. Mine could not so I would have had to put an extender for the lights and those strobes draw quite a bit of amps. Where to mount the power box was a consideration too. If you go to the Whelen website, they have a section that explains the FAA requirements. I really don't like the Whitaker mount on the rudder (STC) but it was the cheapest and easiest way to go for me. The fiberglass whitaker mount does hold paint well so I painted it to match and it is well visible. I will put LED lights in place of the old flashlight technology lights I have now but they still work and it's a round to it thing. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    NHPacerPilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Manchester New Hampshire
    Posts
    231
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    n654037823_708865_6085.jpgn654037823_708858_1150.jpgn654037823_708866_7009.jpgI hope this picture came through. It shows just how forward the position lights are on the wing tips and when you stand to the rear I could not see anything. They are okay lighting but not for anti-collision. The strobe on top of the rudder could be seen in all specified locations per FAA and made my plane legal for night flight. They make an extension that you can install but that did not look right to me because they had to extend quite a bit out from the wing tip so I elected to do it this way. If you are grandfathered with your belly strobe then you should be all set. You could install a replacement self contained strobe for added visibility and keep your existing wing tips. They have direct replacement LED for those in the aircraft spruce catalog. I had to use the STC for the rudder mount because the FAA wanted to make sure they rudder would remain balanced and the mount would not cause any flutter at all.
    Last edited by NHPacerPilot; 11-20-2010 at 05:25 PM.

  4. #4
    Troy Hamon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    PAKN
    Posts
    866
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Thanks for the replies. Your beacon looks like it is mounted the same as mine, but mine does not have fabric up around the base of the strobe (or are you saying in your case it was fiberglass?). I will probably just get a new beacon, it seems easiest. With the tail beacon, is my belly strobe superfluous? It should provide pretty much 100% angular coverage in combination with the tail beacon, but is not as good alone as the tail beacon would be alone.

  5. #5
    NHPacerPilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Manchester New Hampshire
    Posts
    231
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Yes you only need the rudder beacon. If you wanted to change it to a strobe, then you could purchase the unit from Whelen and they would have the STC for that. The mount on mine actually fits over the top of the rudder and it is rounded at the bottom with a bolt that goes through both sides and through the rudder just to sandwich the two sides to the sides of the rudder. It is painted with the same color dope. You have to look close. The fabric was not affected at all. The nice thing about the self contained unit is that I only had to have one wire run up to the switch and one to ground it. You should already have that so installation would be easy. It would be your choice whether to keep both. If the belly beacon was installed prior to 1978 it is still legal but the one on the rudder meets the requirement so I would chose to use that one because the light dispersal is better and makes you seen a little better than the belly beacon. But you could still run both if you wanted and that would be added insurance. The wing tip strobes require mounting seperate power units in the wings near the lights or one big box somewhere in the cabin and that requires allot of wiring. The tail beacon alone is the best choice if you are going to eliminate one. In my opinion. I'm sure others will chime in and help out. I hope this helps. Beacon's draw more amps than strobes though but they are still used and are legal.

  6. #6
    Troy Hamon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    PAKN
    Posts
    866
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    What is the difference in official terms between a beacon and a strobe?

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    428
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    There are quite afew choices here.

    Strobes are NOT flashers or rotating beacons.

    Old style ROTATING Beacons used motors & New type Beacons are LED.

    The Fligt Strobe FS 4400 works well for 1/2 of whelen cost.

    Only STC'ed on a Cessna 180 so check with your IA on a Field Approval.

    Not a big deal & you should have a 337 for ANY system.

    I have used AeroFlash Tip strobes on PA-28's but as NHPP said mounting power supplies

    can be a chore on fabric aircraft.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    900
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    What is the difference in official terms between a beacon and a strobe?
    In "official" language understandable to ANY Pilot...A beacon is an light bulb that is turned on (and stays on) whenever "ON" is commanded by the operator. There is pieces inside a beacon. Them pieces includes a motor (a motor is electric and produces power by turning, and an engine is NOT a "motor", but generates it's own power DIRECTLY BY turning), and gearses, and the innards therein thereby are turned inside the "glass". This makes the light APPEAR to be directional (180 degrees) and when "rotating away" ... maybe you could even say "blinking". But the bulb itself does not rotate. Nor does it actually "blink". There HAVE BEEN "beacons" made for airplanes with two (or more) separate bulbs and reflectors which electrically were fed with "slip-rings" so that they could be rotated on a "plate". But slip-rings are a labor intensive piece (they wear out from all the slipping all the time), nor does it go "On and OFF". Either way, when you want to "show" a beacon, you flip the switch to "ON" and leave it there. You do the same thing with a strobe, but how it operates is clearly "different".

    A strobe is a high intensity discharge tube. There are NO "moving parts", as this type of bulb is "turned on and off" (electronically) and the "blink" is "viewed directly" at the very bright discharge tube (sometimes erroneously called "the bulb"...it ISN'T a "bulb") by an observer. The amount of light produced by the strobe is exponentially greater than the "candlepower" produced by a beacon's bulb and it may be cycled on and off FAST. There is no need to rotate a strobe, the brain really doesn't process a strobe light correctly and doesn't really know the difference between a quick on/off vs a sweeping light "flashing directly at your eye" as it rotates by. Except for how bright they are, strobes APPEAR to be a "very good beacon". When MULTIPLE flashes are coupled to a MOVING OBJECT (such as an airplane wing going by at quite a lotta feets per second) the strobe will actually be SEEN as (since the strobe is, after all, 1960s druggie technology a "trace". Like when you move your mouse pointer VERY FAST and the pointer looks like its an inch or two long (until you stop). LINES are much easier to see and identify than flashes and your eye can "find" lines faster, easier and better than a flash.

    Furthermore...One you can see for more than twelve feet, line of sight, at any offshoot angle and at High Noon on the brightest CAVU day of the year. The other "blinks" (for awhile) (and dimly) and you can pretty much only see it at all at night (maybe for SIXTEEN feet under the most ideal conditions of darkness)!
    Last edited by JohnW; 11-21-2010 at 01:53 PM.

  9. #9
    Troy Hamon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    PAKN
    Posts
    866
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    So...with that knowledge, the beacon on my rudder post is actually a strobe. I'd rather not replace it with something less bright, for the reasons JohnW implies. It is definitely looking expensive in relation to hull value, as I took a post-maintenance flight yesterday and it looks like we will be doing a bunch of work on nav lights as well. We had a circuit breaker pop on nav lights recently. My partner, who is an IA, dug under the panel and found the interior lighting was tied into the same switch, so we isolated the two sets, put in new wires to the interior lights, and everything was fine in ground run. But I took it up yesterday and when I turned on the nav lights they worked great...for a few minutes. Then the breaker popped and that was it. So we are at a point where we have to replace something.

    So if I now understand it, we could remove the beacon and belly strobe and install a set of combination nav lights that are also strobes? That way they would be visible from every side. Or, we could install regular nav lights and a new strobe on the rudder (masquerading as a beacon due to location)? I'm going to need to do some comparison shopping. I definitely like LEDs, but that looks like it is going to be a pretty penny. At least then we wouldn't be replacing bulbs and worried about them burning out, so there would be no reason to ever turn the lights off...I like having the lights on...

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    428
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Nav lights & Beacons/Strobes/Flashers are NOT supposed to be on the same switch.

    An often overlooked portion of Tip Strobes is RUNNING THE WIRE TO THE TIP.

    You may find that your belly & rudder units utilize similar mounting.

    You could replace the problem unit & move as desired.


    You could get a FS 4400 for under $200.

    As stated before it is PMA but STC'd only on a Cessna 180.

    Note I have a Field Approved 337 for this unit as a Belly Strobe on a PA-22 (20).

    If desired I could scan a copy & send to Steve Pierce so it would be available.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •