"Ice Cream Sandwich™" Sequential LED Road Safety Flare

PURCHASING

The ICS™ sequential LED road flares are sold in sets. They are packaged in sets of 10-flares, 6-flares, and 4-flares and are available in either rechargeable lithium ion or alkaline versions.  The set includes a carrying case with either lithium batteries and recharging carrying case (with car charger and wall charger) or with 4 alkaline batteries installed in each flare.

The off-the-shelf availble colors are:
1) Orange Flare (Orange Side LEDs/Red Top LEDs) – Orange Housing  (Most Popular)
2) Blue Flare (Blue Side LEDs/Blue Top LEDs) – Blue Housing
3) Red Flare (Red Side LEDs/Red Top LEDs) – Red Housing
4) Amber Flare (Yellow Side LEDs/Yellow Top LEDs) – Yellow Housing

Custom colors are available upon request.

We have distributors world-wide.  Where we do not have a distributor close by, we can work with you directly.  Call us 24×7 to discuss color options, battery choice, and general information.  +1(949)415-9411

The advantage of sequential-flashing warning lamps is the “motion” of the string of lamps and the directional information presented to the approaching driver.  The more lamps in the set the more visually effective.  The 6-set and 4-set represent a compromise between the “ideal” (more flares) and storage space and cost.  These smaller sets were developed to meet the needs of law enforcement motorcycle units where command management desperately wanted the sequential technology in the hands of their motor units, but had to live within the constraints of storage within a saddlebag.

SETUP AND USE

Turning on and positioning the sequential flares

NOTE:  a tap is a momentary press of a button: a hold requires a 3-second press of a button

It does not matter which flare is turned on 1st. They are all identical.  Simply tap (a momentary press) the round power button.  The small green LED will come on indicating that the flare is turned on and “thinking”.  The 1st flare will take approximately 3 seconds to begin to flash.  Subsequent flares will take less than 1 second. All subsequent flares must be turned on AFTER the preceding flare is flashing.  If 2 flares are turned on simultaneously, or too quickly in succession, the algorithm might confuse the numbers.  This can be used to your advantage – more on this later.

First, remember that the radio range between flares when placed on the earth’s surface (grass or asphalt) is attenuated significantly and limited to 15 meters (50 feet). When mounted atop a 30 cm (12-inch) traffic cone (or taller) the range is greater than 300 meters (1000 feet).

Second, our recommendations are arbitrary, although based on thousands of hours and hundreds of deployments. We believe the flares should be placed 4-5 steps apart, which equates to 4-5 meters (12-15 feet). Deployment of 10 flares in this manner will lead to a sequential string of lamps 40 meters (120 feet) long.

Third, simply tap the power button of the first flare and place it on the pavement.  Then, after it begins to flash and while still walking tap the power button of the 2nd flare.  After 4-5 steps place it on the highway.  Then, while walking and after the 2nd flare has begun to flash tap the 3rd power button and so on.

Finally, remember that nothing attenuates a radio signal more than a body of water.  That’s why submarines must surface to communicate via radio.  Your body is approximately 80% water content, so if you stand between the flares as you are turning them on at the limit of its range, you may find that they are not synchronized correctly.  This is rarely, if ever, an issue during typical deployments, but we provide this information to help you understand this remarkable technology.

Simple enough.  We recommend retrieving all of the ICS™ flares while they are still flashing.  This will help prevent you from leaving a flare on the ground in a dark shadow.  In addition, as you pick up the flashing flare and place it on the carrying case you will become quite visible on the highway and drivers will easily see you walking along the incident. Once safely in your vehicle, simply press and hold (3-seconds) the round power button on any flare and this will turn off all of the flares.  No need to turn them off individually.

We provided a neat trick for you! Our 1st release of the ICS™ flare did not incorporate this patented feature. While the flares are flashing in sequence you can simultaneously tap (not hold) the round and square buttons (power and pi). Do this on any single flare, number 7 for example! The flares will reverse the sequential march.  Note that the 1st flare that you turned on is now the last flare to flash.

So, the standard deployment (in default forward direction) requires that the 1st flare to flash be turned on 1st.  So, you walk upstream towards traffic 40 meters (120 feet) to turn on and set the 1st flare.  Then you walk back towards your vehicle 4-5 steps to turn on the 2nd flare, then towards the vehicle 4-5 steps to turn on the 3rd, etc.

Okay, with me so far?  Now, suppose you are a law enforcement officer accustomed to striking your flame flare as you walk towards approaching traffic.  If you reverse the direction of march and turn the flares off the system will remember this command.  The next time (and every time until you change it) the flares will turn on with the 1st flare on to flash last.  So, now you can turn the 1st flare on at your vehicle and turn on subsequent flares as you walk towards approaching traffic, just as you did with flame flares, and the sequence will be correct (in the direction of traffic flow).

Best that you try in the hallway, kitchen, sidewalk, or neighbors yard.

Please click here to watch tutorial video of the reverse deployment feature.

Operating the sequential flares

The ICS™ Sequential flare has 5 flash patterns to choose from.  Any flare can be used as a remote to change patterns. What you do to one flare will send the message up and down the string. To change the pattern on the flares, tap the round button. When tapping the round button you will see a small green LED flash indicating the number of the pattern chosen (1 through 5). Each press of the round button will cycle through the patterns. Once you reach pattern 5 (simultaneous flash pattern) another press will cycle the pattern to number 1. The patterns are described below:

  • Pattern 1 = Single lamp march
  • Pattern 2 = Two lamp march
  • Pattern 3 = “Wave” pattern (flares tail off to create a smooth marching light)
  • Pattern 4 = FAST single lamp march
  • Pattern 5 = Simultaneous flash pattern (flash in unison)

The ICS™ flare incorporates an accelerometer to detect its orientation relative to gravity. We designed this novel feature into the flare to maximize efficiency; no sense in directing photons to the sky or pavement.  All energy is directed towards on-coming drivers.  Pi-Lit® Sequential Flare is the only flare on the market that has this capability, and represents 1 of our 15 patents.  So, when magnetically attached to the tail-gate of a vehicle, all the light energy is automatically redirected towards on-coming traffic.  But wait, what if I want to force the light out the top when horizontal (such as when placed under a cone)?  No problem.  Simply tap the square pi button to disable the gravity sensor and lock the top LEDs on.  Tap the square button once more and lock on the side LEDs.  Finally, one click more and you are back at the default dynamic state.

In the default state, the flare is in the dynamic orientation mode. This means the flare will automatically flash the side LEDs when placed horizonally on the ground or the top LEDs when magnetically attached to the back of your vehicle. You do not have to press any buttons.

In the default mode these smart flares determine their sequential position in the order that you turn them on.  So, the 1st flare on is the 1st to flash.  The 2nd on is the 2nd to flash, and so on.  Now, suppose you are a first responder fire Captain, or State Trooper, and you want to be rid of flame flares.  Being as smart as you are you purchase a set (or many) of ICS™ sequential flares.  During your first deployment you find yourself walking upstream towards traffic 40 meters or so (130 feet) to set down the first ICS™ flare, then begin walking back towards your vehicle as you deploy the remainder of the set.  This is, of course, the proper way to deploy because the sequence must be in the direction of traffic flow.  But something doesn’t feel right?  You say to yourself, “Self, I’m accustomed to striking flame flares first beside my vehicle, and then adding additional flame flares as I walk TOWARDS traffic.

Okay, we heard you.  Now pay attention…

If you prefer to place your first flare at your vehicle and deploy as you walk TOWARDS traffic, you can do it.  Simply turn on your flares when you have a moment, at home, with the kids, at a restaurant or bar, wherever.  They will sequence with the 1st flare 1st, 2nd flare 2nd, etc.  Once you have them all on, momentarily and simultaneously tap BOTH buttons (using 2 thumbs).  The flares will reverse the sequence.  Now, the 1st flare will flash last.

When you turn off the set, the smart fella will remember this choice.  Next time you turn them on, lo and behold, the 1st flare on will flash last.  Now you can turn on the 1st flare at your vehicle and deploy as you walk towards traffic and the sequence will be in the direction of traffic flow.  Neat, huh!

You can turn off one flare at a time, or all of the flares at once.

To turn of a single flare, simply press and hold the square Pi (π) button for 3 seconds.  The flare will flash the red small indicator LED and turn off.

To turn off all the flares, choose any single flare, press and hold the round power button for 3 seconds, and all of the flares will flash a red indicator before turning off.

Yes, as of September 2018 the sequential LED will save the current parameters into memory. Parameters that will be saved will be pattern, reverse sequence (so you may deploy them in that manner), and group channel.

This feature allows the use to immediately turn on the flares in their preferred setting.  

Battery Status, Changing Batteries, Charging Flares

The ICS™ Sequential Flare is the only electronic flare on the market that lets the user check the state of the battery. No more random changing of batteries. Ask the flare before turning it on! 

To do so, when the flare is powered off (not flashing) simply tap the square “π” button.

  • 5 Green Flashes = full battery
  • 4 Green Flashes = 80-60%
  • 3 Green Flashes = 60-30%
  • 2 Red Flashes = 30-15% (Low -change or charge batteries)
  • 1 Red Flash = 15-0% (Depleted -change or charge batteries)

In addition to being the only electronic flare on the market that has the ability to battery status, the team at Pi-Lit® engineered the flare to be extremely efficient, using as little energy as possible. With battery life surpassing 24-hours with the lithium rechargeable version and 50-hours using the alkaline batteries, users can expect multiple deployments on a single charge or set of batteries, saving you time and money.

Using a key, finger nail, or other simple tool swing the 4 swivels away from the magnet-battery lid.  Either pry out the batteries or slap the flare in the palm of your hand or on a table.  The batteries will come out.  Take care to observe and replace the batteries with proper polarity.

In general, no. Here’s the deal.  Alkaline batteries are nominal 1.6 volts.  Hence, 4 batteries in series is 6.4 volts.  Red, amber (yellow), and orange side LEDs require 2.0 volts to turn on.  The ICS™ firmware is designed to control brightness based upon a 6.4 volt source.  Lithium batteries are nominal 3.7 volts (8.4 with full charge).  Hence, 4 AA-style lithium rechargeable batteries will lead to 14.8 volts when placed in series. This will exceed the voltage allowed for the various components on the flare.  So, unless you wish to emulate a flame flare with our electronic product (meaning, smoke will start rising), best not to do this.

The carrying case doubles as a charge station for all the flares in a set (10, 6, or 4).  Simply snap the flares onto the case (in any of the pockets) and plug the barrel plug into either the wall adapter or the cigarette lighter plug of the vehicle.  You cannot charge from a U.S.B. connector, as the 10 flares will draw too much current while charging.  When fully depleted the batteries will take approximately 5 hours to recharge.  The red LED indicates charging; the green LED represents a fully charged lithium battery.

NOTE: DO NOT CHARGE THE FLARES IN THE HEAT OF A CAR IN SUMMER , AND DO NOT LEAVE THE FLARES IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT IN A HOT CAR.  The trunk or behind a seat is much cooler than in direct sunlight. The battery charging system has 2 temperature protection devices.  When too hot (greater than 140 degrees Fahrenheit) the charge system will shut off and the flare will not operate.

No.  The lithium battery is custom designed specifically for the ICS™ product.  We can provide replacement battery and charge systems should you require one.  However, we anticipate, based upon conservative design parameters, that you should enjoy 1500 charge cycles.  It will not compromise your battery to leave it charging continuously.

Group Changing

The Pi-Lit® system uses 2.4-GHz radio signals to communicate, coordinate, and synchronize the sequential or simultaneous flashing.  Depending upon the product and deployment, the range can be up to 330 meters (1000 feet).  If you deploy a set of lamps on one side of the highway and another vehicle or work area is on the other side, they may be within radio range.  Hence, if your colleague on the west side decides to take an early 02:00 am break and turns off her lamps, she may inadvertently turn yours off as well.  Or she may prefer a different flash pattern.  So, we provide different Groups (frequencies) that you may choose to either allow the lamps to work together in a super long string (unlimited), or to insulate your Group of lamps from others in the area.  All lamps, regardless of color, in the same Group will synchronize.

Within our spectrum of 2.4-GHz we have 15 channels to use.  We reserve 5 for our road construction products (SunFlower™ and Barricade-style, and 5 for the ICS™ flare.  If you have a special need for more Groups (frequencies), give us a call and talk nice.

πOkay, progress marches on.  We have improved this feature, which is described in the next section.  For legacy products (After September 1, 2018), here is what you do:

For products delivered before September 1, each lamp must have its Group number changed individually.  This must be done while the lamps are off.  They must turn on listening to the proper frequency, so this action must be done with the lamp in the off state.  (Some people say that I repeat myself, that I say the same thing over and over again, that I am redundant).

With the ICS™ flare, with the lamp off, simply press and hold both buttons simultaneously.  After 3 seconds the green LED will flash telling you wish Group you are currently set to.  You are now in Group change mode. If you do nothing the flare will wait 3 seconds and flash red 2 times.  You have exited Group change mode and gone back to sleep (at least the flare has).  So any action must take place before the double red flash.  Again, to enter Group change mode press and hold both buttons simultaneously.  The green LED will flash indicating the current Group number.  Now, tap (not hold) the square π button. Each tap of the square button will increment the Group number.  Tap the button twice and you have chosen Group 2.  Oops, made a mistake.  Quickly tape the square button again 4 times and you will see the green LED echo back 4 flashes to tell you that you have chosen Group 4.  Oops, I meant Group 3, so tap the square button 3 times and the green LED will echo back your choice of Group 3.  When finished, simple wait 3 seconds and the flare will flash red twice and go to sleep.  It stores the Group change until you decide to change it again.  You have 5 Groups to choose from.  All the flares in the set, or at least all that you want to work together must be in the same Group number.  If ever you find that the set of flares does not seem to sink correctly, first check that all the flares are in the same Group number.

We have implemented a new quick and easy way to change the Group for your set of sequential flares. You can change the Group number on any number of lamps all at once.

  1. Turn on all the lamps you wish to change Group number on.
  2. Choose any flare.  Press and hold both buttons for 3 seconds (simultaneous).
  3. The red indicator LED on the flare that you are handling will come on for 1-second. This indicates that you are entering Group change mode.  CONTINUE TO HOLD BOTH BUTTONS! 
  4. After the continued press of both buttons beyond when the red LED first came on, the red LED will stay lit and will light on all of the flares that had been on.  You can now release the buttons.
  5. In 5 seconds all of the lamps will stop flashing.  They are still on and listening for a command from the flare that you are handling. Now all of the lamps are in Group change mode.
  6. Tap the square button to choose which Group you prefer. Each tap will increment the Group number.  Tap once for Group 1. Wait for the green LED indicator.  Tap again for Group 2 and wait for the green LED indicator. Tap again for Group 3. All of the lamps will echo back the same Group number.  When you get to Group 5 and tap the square button again you will return to Group 1.
  7. When you have chosen the Group you prefer, wait 5 seconds and all of the lamps will flash the red indicator LED.  Then the green LED will flash to indicate the Group chosen. The lamps have now turned off and gone back into a well deserved sleep.
  8. Congratulations!

NEW FEATURES AND UPDATES:

We have implemented a new quick and easy way to change the Group for your set of sequential flares. You can change the Group number on any number of lamps all at once.

  1. Turn on all the lamps you wish to change Group number on.
  2. Choose any flare.  Press and hold both buttons for 3 seconds (simultaneous).
  3. The red indicator LED on the flare that you are handling will come on for 1-second. This indicates that you are entering Group change mode.  CONTINUE TO HOLD BOTH BUTTONS! 
  4. After the continued press of both buttons beyond when the red LED first came on, the red LED will stay lit and will light on all of the flares that had been on.  You can now release the buttons.
  5. In 5 seconds all of the lamps will stop flashing.  They are still on and listening for a command from the flare that you are handling. Now all of the lamps are in Group change mode.
  6. Tap the square button to choose which Group you prefer. Each tap will increment the Group number.  Tap once for Group 1. Wait for the green LED indicator.  Tap again for Group 2 and wait for the green LED indicator. Tap again for Group 3. All of the lamps will echo back the same Group number.  When you get to Group 5 and tap the square button again you will return to Group 1.
  7. When you have chosen the Group you prefer, wait 5 seconds and all of the lamps will flash the red indicator LED.  Then the green LED will flash to indicate the Group chosen. The lamps have now turned off and gone back into a well deserved sleep.
  8. Congratulations!

SPECIFICATIONS

Pi-Lit® technology operates in the I.S.M. 2.4GHz frequency band. This spectrum of radio frequency is dedicated to low power devices designed for  use in the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical industries (I.S.M.).  We do NOT use Bluetooth or Wi-fi or Ziggbee.  We use a proprietary “stack” with our own special protocol.  This is a security measure to prevent hackers from driving down the street with a smart phone or PC from altering the function of the Pi-Lit® product.

Indeed.  All of our products utilize a “System on a Chip” (SoC) with microprocessor (computer) and radio transmitter and receiver all on a single silicon wafer.  This component is FCC compliant and our circuit design has been tested by an independent laboratory confirming that spurious signals and radio-frequency output energy fall within strict FCC guidelines, and that the device is immune from external radio-frequency “noise”.

The Pi-Lit® product line operates at 6.0 volts nominal. In fact, 4-alkaline cells (whether AA or D-cell) in series generates 6.4 volts with fresh batteries.

The rechargeable systems utilize lithium polymer battery technology with nominal voltage of 7.4 volts (8.4 volts with fresh charge).

In all of our systems the “smart” electronics (micro-controllers, multiplexers, and stuff like that) operate and 3.0 volts requiring a 3.0 volt regulator to maintain a constant 3.0 volts.  The LEDs operate at a higher voltage.  Lamp brightness (intensity) is controlled through Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), where the duty cycle (percentage of on-time to off-time) during a 1-millisecond flash is varied according to the battery voltage.  As the battery depletes, the duty cycle increases to maintain constant brightness.  This approach is much more efficient because it eliminates the need for large current-limiting resistors which convert electric current flow into heat.  What appears to the onlooker as a 200 millisecond flash is really 200 flashes each 1 millisecond long.  Your eye cannot resolve this rapid a flash, and it all blends together.  But by varying the duty cycle the intensity can be controlled.

In its current plastic housing the flares are rated at IP57. We are in process of designing a new injection molding tool that will improve its water and dust seal to meet IP67 or greater.

Can you imagine a road-surface product not designed to withstand the weight of a tanker truck? In fact, we design bragging rights into the firmware where each flare shouts out to the others, “Hey guys, I just sustained a ladder rig, bet you can’t beat that!” Just kidding.

In the publication section you can download the independent lab report where we had 3 flares tested by a concrete -geology lab that tests soil and concrete for bridges and high-rises.  They were the only lab that had the necessary equipment.  They subjected each of the 3 flares to crushing pressure to see when they would BEGIN to fail.  The first snap of plastic, not pancaking, was the termination point.  The 3 flares sustained 29,000 32,000 and 36,000 pounds! Better than we had anticipated.

Now, no doubt flares will fail on the road.  If a heavy vehicle hits the flare in a strategic location (corner, for example) it can crack.  As they say, bad things happen.  And while we do not warranty for failure owing to road impact, send us a picture and give us a call or email.  We value our reputation for both product quality and customer service.  One or the other might get you a replacement.

TROUBLESHOOTING

On occasion your computer goes bonkers.  The same may happen to the ICS™ flare. After all, the micro-controller is a sophisticated computer. You can reboot the flare computer by either removing one of the alkaline batteries and pressing buttons for a few seconds, or placing the lithium product on the charger and plugging in the wall or vehicle charger.  Both will remove power from the micro-controller and effectively reboot the product.  Pressing a button when the batteries are out or when on the powered charger will discharge the capacitors on the circuit board.  Capacitors help to filter the battery voltage.  The ICS™flare uses so little power when off that the capacitors will provide voltage to the micro-controller for 1 minute or more even without batteries or power.  Pressing a button discharges the capacitors.

If your ICS™ sequential flare is powered on and flashing out the top LEDs when it should be flashing out the side LEDs then this quick fix will resolve the issue. For both versions of the sequential flare (rechargeable and alkaline) you must reset the flare in order to unlock the top LEDs. To do so follow these instructions:

Alkaline – Simply remove the batteries in the flare. Once removed tap either the square button or round button to discharge the flare completely (resetting the flare). Install the batteries back into the flare.
Rechargeable – To reset a rechargeable flare, attached the flare to the carrying/charging case. Once attached plug the case into your vehicle or wall socket at your home or office. Once plugged in the flare indicator LED should turn red, showing the flare is currently charging. While its charging tap either the square or round button to discharge the flare completely (resetting the flare).  Once you have tapped the button you may pull the flare off the case. The flare will flash its main LEDs and flash the green indicator LEDs for current battery state.

This bug has been resolved. Newly purchase flares will not have this issue. 

MANUALS AND DOWNLOADS

CERTIFICATIONS AND LAB RESULTS

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