This bulb converts your ordinary anchor light into a Tri-Color and Anchor Light combination navigation light - read on to see how we do it.
Currently available in BAY15d Indexed Bayonet (for Hella, Aqua Signal and Osculati, etc.) or BA15S single-contact bayonet base (for Hella 2492, etc.) .
Marinebeam and its French partner MarineLED have been working on this concept for several years, and this patented bulb is finally available for sale. It is also now available in a complete economical Tri-Mode fixture, ready to install for those needing to replace their fixture also. This is the same bulb recently reviewed and recommended by Practical Sailor.
What is it?
- It is a patented LED bulb that replaces your existing all-around BAY15d or BA15s bayonet-type anchor light bulb, and turns it into a dual-mode Anchor Light/Tri-Color Light - without changing fixtures or adding switches or wiring.
- The bulb itself meets the requirement for both an all-around anchor light, and a tri-color navigation light. So, it can be installed in virtually any clear anchor light fixture (using BAY15d or BA15s type bulbs) and it will meet the USCG and COLREG requirements for boats up to 20M.
- You simply replace your existing anchor light bulb with the Tri-Mode LED bulb, and you instantly have 3 functions. LED anchor light, LED Tri-color light, and emergency SOS strobe.
- The anchor light also has Dusk-to Dawn functionality, so there is no need to remember to turn the anchor light on or off when mooring.
- See video showing functionality below.
What problem does it solve?
- Most sailors like the idea of having a mast top tri-color because of its enhanced safety and visibility, but put off the installation because it means routing 60 feet or more of additional wiring up the mast, as well as installing an additional switch, additional thru-deck fittings, fuses, etc. The typical Aqua Signal, Perko, and Hella fixtures are also very expensive, especially in LED or strobe type, and tend to last only a few years on a cruising boat. Now you can use your existing anchor light fixture, or buy an inexpensive incandescent replacement fixture, and still accomplish a tri-color without breaking the bank.
How does it work?
- The user changes the functions using the boat’s existing switch. By varying the timing of the ON/OFF sequence of the switch, the bulb’s integrated micro-processor recognizes your request and changes to the correct mode. When you first actuate your switch, it will turn on the default dusk-to-dawn anchor light function. If you turn off the switch, then turn it on again within 3 seconds, you activate the tri-color mode. If you turn off the switch and wait from between 3 and 7 seconds, you will activate the SOS strobe mode. If you turn the lamp off, and then wait more than 7 seconds, the next time it is turned on it will revert to the default anchor light mode.
- The bulb also has a unique rotating feature, which allows the tri-color bulb to be easily aligned with the boat's centerline, regardless of the socket or fixture alignment.
- The default dusk-to-dawn function automatically turns on your anchor light at dusk and turns it off again at dawn. This function is handy when mooring, or when away from your vessel during twilight hours. If this function is not desired, it is easily defeated by covering the photo-sensor, which is on the top of the bulb.
Why is the bulb unique?
- Most incandescent and LED navigation lights use lenses and reflectors to impart most of the required functional characteristics of the lamp, such as color, sector angle, overlap, etc. Because our bulb is intended to be placed within a clear anchor light fixture, our bulb must meet all of the required characteristics as a stand-alone bulb. It is the only bulb on the planet that could be mounted bare on the mast top and still meet all of the COLREG, USCG, and EN Norms for an all-around light, as well as a tri-color.
- One of the most difficult characteristics to accomplish is the requirement for each of the sectors to have a consistent output over the whole angle. Because LED’s are not isotropic like a filament bulb, this is extremely difficult to accomplish using a single LED for each sector. We actually had to specify a custom LED package and dome, which is produced in small 600 piece runs, especially for this product. The sector angles are very-well defined, with no overlap, and have consistent output throughout.
- The COLREG’s define very specific “color coordinates”. When the color is determined by a lens, maintaining the color is easy. It never changes. When the color is produced by the LED itself, controlling the color within the COLREG coordinates is much more difficult. It not only requires specialized LED manufacturing and sorting (binning), but also requires specialized electronics to control the drive current to very tight tolerances, even as the voltage varies from 10 to 30VDC.
- Additional electronics are included to control the photo-sensor, and the switching modes, and all the electronics meet the very stringent EN60945 EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) specifications to avoid interference with radios, GPS, and other electronics on board.
- LED life is generally only affected by one thing – heat. The key to long life is to allow a thermally-efficient path for the heat to easily move away from the high-powered LED’s to a large surface heat-sink, which can then convect the heat away into the surrounding air. In our case, the main body of the bulb, including the sector-blinders, is constructed from CNC-machined aluminum-alloy. The LED’s are mounted to a thermally-conductive pad, which is then attached to the heat sink body using a special thermal paste and fastener.
- We also decided early-on to make the bulb as water-resistant as possible. Typical clear coatings affect the optical and color properties of the bulb, and prevent the dissipation of heat, which is quite important for the longevity of LEDs and electronics. We sourced the latest specialized coating compounds which have superior optical and thermal characteristics.