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Strobes.


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I was thinking of adding a strobe to my Castelluccio, i thought it would look cool and that's the only reason why, i did a search for strobes and found a website with this in bold text on the main page:

"Safety while flying or being on the ground, has always been one of my main concerns in paramotoring. In order to avoid collisions in the air, the pilot needs to be seen by others. This is why I installed a strobe light on my paramotor. I wanted to be more than compliant to Part103. I wanted to be seen by others"

"in order to avoid collisions"? what on earth is he going to hit apart from a wall or tree (yes and i've done that before! :? ) and what's going to hit him? The only thing that flies around here at an altitude i'll be at is helicopters and unless he's flying with his eyes shut how's he not going to see me, oh and hotair balloons seem to be in abundance here as well and i don't see one of those with a strobe.

Is a strobe worth the investment just to look cool or is there other reasons i'm overlooking like at dusk perhaps (have i just answered my own question? :shock: )

http://www.aerocorsair.com/id44.htm

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Thats an inrteresting one Richard.

I was once at 2000ft on the very edge of Solent CTA class D airspace when a Turbo prop out of southampton flew up towards me and past me. Later the pilot filed an airprox report and in it he states he first saw me when 500 metres away! He also reported me as a "powered parachute" coloured blue, when in fact I was free flying on a pink and grey paraglider.

So yes .....you would have thought we were easily spotted but I am sure that pilot would have seen me from further away if I had been strobed.

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Richard,

As a powered parachute moving at around 20 kts you are effectively stationary to all other fixed wing traffic and to all intents and purposes, unable to maneuver to avoid.

If you are on a collision course with another aircraft, you are both 'stationary in the picture' to each other.

The eye is famous for catching relative movement which is why a mouse caught in the open will freeze when in the vicinity of a bird of prey. Remeber, you are a stationary target in the windscreen doing nothing bar getting bigger.

ANYTHING in that deadly situation that can catch the attention of the only pilot really able to maneuver away (the other guy) in my mind has to be a sound investment. Nothing works quite as well as a strobe, other than being the size of a Vulcan and equipped with one of Mr Martin Baker's excellent devices; and even that doesn't always save the day after a midair!

20080111-kwpmuin88wxtfdefycrdqxyk16.jpg

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Hi Richard,

You may be aware that several weeks ago two light aircraft had a mid air in daylight, one plane landed safely, the other wasn't so fortionate and all soles on board perished. How could they have failed to see each other?

I fly with a strobe, my first requirement was that it was as bright as I could find and flashed as many times per minute as possible, purely because I reckon that would give me a better chance of being seen by other aircraft.

I eventually bought a twin flash unit. This works on the principle that the first flash catches your eye and the second flash is so you can locate it. A bit like "I saw something.... there it is"

The second criteria was that it had to be reliable and form an integral part of the paramotor. Have a look at the pics in the Leicestershire Branch forum, I think it meets that design brief quite well.

I have just had a black wing custom made. My prime motive for this was so I could be seen. In the past I have been flying around knowing full well that other pilots weren't far away. On occasions I have looked and looked but couldn't see them because they have merged into the backgound of the sky, (BLUE AND YELOW WINGS ARE GOOD AT THAT), black will stand out a whole lot more, allow other aircraft to see me and avoid any conflict in the air.

If I can do soemthing to stay safe, then that something I will do.

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Yep. One might not be able to see the unit if stood 4 ft away from it perfectly in line or directly underneath it, but you will see the flash of light well enough. It also lights up the rear of my helmet and the underside of the canopy. If I want to make sure it is still working during flight, I just look up at the canopy.

The driver can accomodate a second strobe head, so one could always add another, doesn't need it though.

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  • 2 months later...

have just ordered one. Will let you know what its like. Dont forget postage from usa will at least double the cost. Have asked manufacturer for a bulk oorder price also so if any good maybe Simon can do a "ffer of the week " on them?

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I've bought one of the cheapo dual head ones designed for the 'custom' car crowd. Cost me about £12. I've machined some perspex bar into domes for the bulbs rather than the little rubber 'socks' that the manufacturers provide. I intend to mount them at 3 and 9 o-clock on the cage, should be visible from any angle.

With the control box set to alternate triple flashes, it's pretty good. It's much brighter than my dive strobe.

Plan is to set the electronics into resin once I'm certain I've got the settings I want. That should then fit in a space about 5"x3"x1", although it does include a heatsink that I'll have to mount on the surface of the resin so it still dissipates waste heat. It all runs on 12v so will run on the motors electrics. One thing to bear in mind is that there is very little that interferes more with radios than a high energy strobe.

As a PPL, trust me, everything you can do to make yourself more visible is WELL worth it. I've never had to file an Airprox, but I know how easy it is not to see another aircraft, especially if it's on a reciprocal heading and effectively stationary. It's not until the last second or so that the brain notices the rapidly increasing size of the oncoming object.

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My bit.

I spend my working day flying around in a helicopter. A big part of getting from A to B is collision avoidance. Small aircraft of any type are very difficult to see. If silhouetted by the ground and not the sky very very difficult to see. Hangliders and gliders just dissapear as they turn even when they are silhouetted by the sky and you are watching them closely.

A fast jet pilot will spend a fair amount of his time head inside the cockpit navigating and fighting his aircraft, he probably wont see a paramotor in his flight path untill its to late.

I think strobes are a great idea and hope the above one proves to be effective, I will definately have one.

Regards

Whitters.

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Available from boundtree in Telford (without the 'authorised personnel only' constraint that the copshop site applies) is the version with 4 different lenses (clear/amber/green/red) at £22.95 + VAT and delivery. Got one coming to look at.

link here

the cop shop are happy to sell the clear lens version to anyone also.

Let us know when you have yours and whether it is good enough. The other "strobe thread" has decided that the ebay one is not nearly powerful enough.

Where will you mount it? I thought on top of helmet would be good?

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Francis. I looked at those. What a great idea. I mounted one at the top of my frame but I think the vibration has killed it. It was hassle remembering to plug it in to my unit's charging socket too AND the plug used to vibrate out so switching it off midflight. A couple of those, one on the helmet and one under the fuel tank would get the job done. I couldn't find the ones with the white lense. can anyone provide a link to those.

Dave

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Hi Dave

galler's link to the telford shop http://online.boundtree.co.uk/Scripts/p ... oduct=2400

and also the copshop in my post can supply a clear lens.

If many people want them the copshop are the uk importers I think, so maybe Simon can do a offer of the week on them with a bulk order? I have contacted them asking for a deal price so anyone interested in one or more of these units please indicate.

The price is likely to be £20 including vat +postage to you.

NB I think the Telford link includes other colour lenses in the price galler quotes.

I ordered one from the states and my credit card bill shows £8.99 for the unit and 5.98 for postage. (but there is vat and import duty to pay on top of that.

When it arrives this week I will post my opinion of its brightness but Dav is saying it is OK?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well the LIGHTMAN strobe is here!

It cost £16 in total.

It is small and bright but I doubt it will be bright enough.

It is intended for night time use on roads or to mark out runways and "safe paths". For that purpose it looks effective.

I expect it will be good for PPG at short range, i.e. to alert other PPG in the vicinity (same site). I will test it in the air and see what range it is effective at and report. I expect it will be adequte on a dull day, or against a background of cloud, but will probably dissapear in a bright blue sky.

It has variuos fixing brackets and I will use the 6mm threaded hole in the back to mount it on top of my helmet. It is small and light enough to gho there but the switch is underneath so will have to be switched on then mounted.

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I have also obtained a lightman setup and concur that it is really not a complete answer in itself. However I intend also to give it a go next time out and see what happens. I also obtained a MPI little strobe - one torch battery and about hte same sort of brightness as the lightman (but a few bob cheaper) in a small dome. Both of them are fairly insignificant in terms of extra weight.

The intention is to try them with the lightman facing forward fitted (vertically) to the front of the lap reserve container, and the dome one strapped into the cage top joint securing arrangements and directed astern. The logic for trying it this way is that as has already been identified, we are especially hard to spot from dead ahead and astern (no target speed across hence zero bearing rate ie steady bearing). Granted that even at a 90 degree track the angular velocity we input is pretty small, but it does seem most risky in the head and stern arcs so it seems most sensible to look at those as the first resort.

Yeah, not a full answer, but as has already been said, anything we can do, however small, to increase our chances of being seen....

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I really thought attempts at strobes on paramotors were a bit of a waste of time, but after seeing a few microlights out on an overcast sky on monday, i think it would be quite a good idea to get one. When flying in sunny conditions/blue sky, i don't think they are necessary, but when it is dull/overcast or visiblity begins to fall, then i think they could be worthwile. While LEDs are improving in power output, they are not omni directional- Several LEDS would be required in a number of directions to be effective. The 'pulsing' of the strobe is also important. At the moment anything commercially available and effective seems to be 12V and Xenon based.

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