Tower Lights and Infra-Red Devices

In his recent Alabama Engineering Academy blog, noted broadcast engineer Larry Wilkins discussed a very important matter regarding tower lighting.  He noted:

“In a previous newsletter we wrote about the requirement of towers that are using red LEDs to change them out to include IR emitters.  This is for pilots that may be using night vision goggles.  Standard Red LEDs cannot be seen through night vision goggles.

A question came in from a reader in Radio World about how to monitor these IR emitters. “You would need the same night-vision goggles or some sensor to see the IR emission.”

Tower light systems usually monitor the current being sent to each beacon and obstruction light, and sensors are adjusted to detect the average current expected on functioning illuminators. Since LEDs draw so little power, and IR emitters would only contribute a small fraction of the total power for each light, how one would monitor this IR activity at each point on a tower? 

According to Richard Hickey with Vertical Bridge “The major manufacturers of red LED lighting started incorporating IR devices into their products soon after seeing the first safety bulletins from the CAF and FAA, including making the lighting controllers capable of sensing the additional current in the IR”.

An article on the subject appeared in Radio World.  To see the article click HERE


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