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LED Emergency Signal Beacon

Use an LED-inset balloon as an emergency signal.
  [vote for,

Public disclosure:

You’re at sea, the night is dark, and suddenly your boat starts taking on water. No problem (well, yes, actually big problem but…), just put on your survival suit and launch the “LEDballoon” (cool name eh?)

It’s a small kit, perhaps the size of a can of soda, that contains a long-life lithium battery, a self-inflating balloon (activated when the can is opened – filled with helium), and a very thin, and strong, wire that would unreel 100 feet to allow the balloon to float skyward, and supply it with power. The can would have a fastener that could be clipped to a life jacket.

The balloon itself would be covered in enough LEDs so that it could be seen from any direction, including from directly above, and would strobe to minimize power consumption and maximize visibility.

Modern LEDs are so bright that they can be seen for miles. Have you ever had a guy in a new car in front of you almost blind you with his new LED brake lights?

If used in stormy areas, it could be shaped to remain airborne, even in strong wind (like a kite), as a tethered balloon may tend to blow back to the ground under conditions like this.

The wire used to conduct power, and tether the unit, could also provide a makeshift antenna that’d probably yield considerable range so that the visual beacon could also be a radio beacon.

A small radar concentrator (a passive radar box reflector) could also be placed on the wire (or in the balloon) to light up the radar screens of search planes.

The system would be perfect for campers, mountaineers, boaters etc.

Very cheap to manufacture. Very easy to use.

TIB, Sep 09 2003

Ignore distress call balloon http://www.avianballoon.com/snowman.htm
Call off accidental mayday. [kamenmann, Oct 21 2004]


       "I thought you said we was gonna shoot us some sharks, Vern."
'Welp, usually thar's sharks out here'
"Hoooooly Sheeeeeeyut"
'Goddamn, lookit dat'
"Whatchoo figger 't is?"
'U - F - O'
"Not anymore"
'Them aliens is screamin' '...
thumbwax, Sep 09 2003

       "Lookit them sharks a comin'. Yeeha!"
FarmerJohn, Sep 09 2003

       LED Zepplin.
phoenix, Sep 09 2003

       Hey [phoenix], I like that name. Wonder if I could get away with it?   

       Has anything mentioned here at the halfbakery ever gone to market?   

       I'm totally clueless when it comes to that kind of thing, but have several notepads filled with ideas, some of which would probably be fairly successful.   

       Just wondering what the next step would be for a poor boy like me in finding a partner to take care of the business side of things.
TIB, Sep 09 2003

       Keep those ideas flowing! I couldn't find a previous link for internally lighted balloons, so that link will have to do :). Consider 1) fewer leds in a spinning balloon, 2) internally luminated like that of an airship co. (the name escapes me at the moment), 3)Needed in a storm suggests lightning and a wire tether might not be healthful.
kamenmann, Sep 09 2003

       An existing piece of safety equipment is a little flashing beacon that floats and transmitts radio signals. The balloon could be attached to this device, so that you could be at a lightning-safe distance.
Worldgineer, Sep 09 2003

       [kamenmann]: Thanks! I was thinking 5 LEDs should do the trick – four at 90 degrees from each other, and one on top. The balloon would have some type of swivel joint to stop the tether from becoming tangled, so it could indeed spin. I considered internal illumination, but decided against it as a concentrated point-source of light may attract more attention from a distance, something akin to a lighthouse beam. In the case of a lightning storm, you’d definitely want to reel the sucker in until it passes. A slightly stronger, larger version, of the balloon could also be used for added floatation if needed, but that defeats the purpose of the idea.   

       [Worldgineer]: Great idea. Maybe all that’s needed is a modification of one of those devices to include a balloon tethered RACON. It would only need to float a few metres above the sea to allow aircraft to spot it from a great distance.
TIB, Sep 09 2003

       Excellent, but I'd put in a full power strobe.   

FloridaManatee, Jun 03 2004

       Paging [TIB]. If you're still around, send me an e-mail.
Worldgineer, Dec 14 2006


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