Questions we often hear: (Ice Cream Sandwich users should look at question 15).
1. How many lamps can I lay out in a string?
Answer: There is no limit to the number of lamps you can place in string. It does not matter if the string is kilometers (miles) long. Each lamp speaks to its neighbor; thus, if the end of the string is out of radio range from the beginning of the string, the command messages and timing sequences are relayed from lamp-to-lamp, even if there is a missing lamp.
2. What is the maximum distance between the lamps?
Answer: While the radio range is well over 300 meters (1,000 feet), we recommend a maximum range of 100 meters (330 feet). This distance exceeds all MUTCD distance between delineators or cones, and insures that “worse case conditions” do not compromise reliability. What are worst case conditions? Sun-spot activity, reflective signals off of moving vehicles, other transmission in the same frequency range, and who knows what else.
3. Does the range diminish as the batteries weaken?
Answer: No. Battery voltage is 6-volts. The circuitry operates at 3-volts. There is a voltage regulator that maintains 3 volts until the batteries go completely out. It is an all or none concept. When batteries are depleted, the lamp will not work. Want to check the battery status? Simply press and hold the 12/24 Hour button for 2 seconds. The green LED will flash 1 to 5 times to indicate status: 5 (or 6) flashes=full battery; 4 or 3 green flashes as battery voltages diminishes. Two red flashes, then 1 red flash when time to change battery. Easy!
4. How do you achieve such long battery life?
Answer: The small Beacon-Style lamps (atop cones) and Barricade-Style lamps use the same technology. The radio signal and supporting circuitry are activated for 1 millisecond every second. This is a “duty cycle” of 0.1% . The LED is lit for 40 to 100 milliseconds based on the operator’s choice. Hence, most of the time, even when operating, the device is in a deep sleep not consuming any power. Anticipate 3 months of battery life on 4 AA-Alkaline and 9 months on the 4 D-cell Alkaline batteries. Cold weather, below 40 degrees, will temporarily decrease battery capacity. But when the batteries warm up they return to the same state of charge.
5. Are the lamps designed to use in rain/snow/heat?
Answer: Yes. Weather will not impact reliability or operation. The circuit boards are “conformal coated”, which is a humidity-protecting layer. Condensation may enter the lamp, but will not effect long-term reliability.
6) How can I keep curious fingers from pressing buttons and messing things up?
Answer: Lock the membranes! We have designed into the system the ability to lock the buttons so that no one can alter or turn off the lamp. On the lamp, press and hold the Insert and On/OFF buttons simultaneously for a quick moment (don’t hold down). The red LED will flash to indicate that the buttons are locked. Oh, did I tell you that you don’t have to do this on each lamp? Do this on any one lamp of the string and they will all be locked. Or you can lock the buttons while listening to your radio with the heater on in your vehicle using the Remote Control Unit. Your choice.
7. Must I aim the lights for them to operate properly?
Answer: No and Yes. The radio link and operation of the lamps are not dependent upon position. HOWEVER, to achieve maximum light output the LED is focused using a lens. This pattern of light output is collimated, that is, a narrow beam of light leaves the lamps. This is much like a flash light. Hence, when setting up and deploying the lamps, they are most effective if “aimed” visually at the oncoming traffic.
8. Do I have to turn off each lamp individually. If I want to change the 12/24 hour operation, must I press a button on each lamp?
Answer: NO! This is the beauty and novel aspect of pi-Lit®. To change the behavior of ALL the lamps in a string (hundreds, perhaps) one must simply press the button on a single lamp. Any lamp! This lamp will send the message up and down the string. It does not have to be the first or last lamp. Any lamp! For example, to turn off all of the lamps, simply press and hold the “Group” button on any lamp for 2 seconds.
9. Do you only sell lamps in sets of 10?
Answer: Yes and No. The initial purchase of lamps is in sets of 10, and the price per lamp is discounted as such. We do sell replacement lamps as individual units. However, the price per lamp is slightly higher than the 10-lamp price….UNLESS. If you send us back your broken lamp, we will replace it at the same price point as the 10-lamp set. OR, call us to work it out. (949)415-9411
10. Can I swap the position of two lamps and still maintain proper sequence?
Answer: Yes, but there is a method to this madness. Take number 7, for example, and turn it off. Take number 5 and turn if off. Now take what was 5 and “Insert” it. It will become number 7. Take previous number 7 and “Insert” it and it will become number 5. Simple!
11. How can I set up the lamps to create a “funnel” like pattern on the video?
Answer: It is rather easy. But it will take 20 lamps (2 sets). Set up 1 through 10 on one side (right, for example), and then 11 through 20 on the left. All in the same Group ID. Here is how it works. Each lamp flashes once per second (very accurate). The time delay between each lamp flash is 100 milliseconds (1/10th of a second). Hence when number 11 is ready to flash, so is number 1. They will flash simultaneously. So will number 2 and number 12, and so on. Neat stuff.
12. What about theft?
13. What about theft?
Answer: The Barricade-Style lamps are bolted to their mount. Someone will really want to get a lamp to unbolt it. The Beacon-Style lamps can be tethered with a cable (supplied) to its mount. These lamps are typically deployed on high-speed roadways (e.g., tapers, work zones). If someone wants to stop their car on a 70 mile per hour roadway to steal a lamp, then perhaps we should just make them available for free. No sense in getting killed over a lamp. Most theft of barricade lamps (in our experience) is when they are used to designate a hole dug in a parking area behind the local pizza shop. High school kids walking home at night love these things. Sequential lamps, when used at DUI checkpoints, work zones, stadium parking areas, etc., are under observation during deployment.
14. What if the lamps seem to be confused? What if I am confused?
Answer: We won’t go there, that is, who is more confused. But, to clear your head or to clear the lamps head, simply unplug the battery for 5 seconds and plug it back in. This will reboot the “system” and allow you to start with a factory-fresh lamp. AND, we love to hear from you. It allows us to improve the lamps when we hear your issues. So give us a call and ask questions: Don’t get in a tizzy. (949)415-9411.
15. When purchasing multiple sets of Ice Cream Sandwich flares, should I request different “flavors”, colors, or frequencies?
Most will deploy the ICS flares in sets of 10. Each flare should be set down approximately 3 to 4 paces from its neighbor (8-12 feet; 3 to 4 meters). However, the radio range can be far greater. Hence, two sets of 10 flares, deployed within 200 feet (60 meters) of each other might interfere with the sequencing algorithm. Number 3 flare, for example, in the set on the east side of a highway might talk to number 4 on the west side of the highway and the sequence could be messed up.
To prevent this, we have developed 5 different frequencies. A set that is defaulted to frequency 1 will not talk to or hear lamps in frequency 2. Hence, they will operate independently as though there were no other lamps in the vicinity. At the moment, we denote the different frequencies by a color dot on the orange plastic case. The colors are green, blue, beige, black, and yellow.
So, if ordering multiple sets for different vehicles in your department, it might be wise to break the order into different “color dots” – frequencies, so that maintenance or emergency or law enforcement vehicles operating at the same incident can lay down a sequence of flares without fear of them talking to their counterparts on the opposite side of the highway, or further down the roadway.
The color dot designating frequency has NOTHING to do with the color of the LEDs flashing on the flare.
NOW – our deep dark secrete. You can change the frequency of a set of flares by a simple press of the buttons. If you care to do this, give us a call – (949)415-9411.