Aeronautical Safety Beacon System (ASB)

Looks like I’m not getting out of ‘The Shed’ anytime soon. (Okay by me, I really enjoy ‘The Shed’ now that it’s open.) Unfortunately, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really had the time to spend reviewing all of the products and services for which this feature was intended address. As a side note, the author understands that not all products that are reviewed here are something that all consumers can afford or might employ. However, the idea is to make folks aware that these products exist and to act as a conduit for small business and the end users that may share product/services and need.

In this installment we showcase another innovative product that is intended for use to augment the applications of unmanned systems. The topic of this latest installment and reviewed product is being used on one of my current projects for the SMDC-BL future warfare experiments division.

Our product need in this instance is a flight safety solution. Safety being high on the list of our priorities we operate in accordance with 14 CFR Part 101. Doing so requires the flagging and strobing of our testbed aerostat’s tether for extended operations.

In need of some high quality strobes that included an IR capability left us with few places to turn. I recalled that during my tenure on the PGSS program, one of the contractors STARA Technologies Inc. was working on a product that should meet the aforementioned goal, the Aeronautical Safety Beacon System (ASB).

The Aeronautical Safety Beacon System comes neatly packed in a Pelican Storm Case Model i2950. (Given as a frame of reference for the size of the entire package.) As I crack open the case, I’m treated to what looks like something you’d see in a Hollywood movie production.  Bespoke foam fit, Spartan, but well thought out affair; clean, direct and to the point. Definitely intended for employment by operators a few rungs below 007’s stature as there is no vanity mirror in the case. ;-) On the other hand, taking them on the road could inspire TSA to have themselves a field day with this case. The units could be misconstrued as something nefarious to the layperson for their production quality. (Yes, they look that good.)

Contained in the kit, and comprising the system are; 20 custom configurable beacons (I’ll get into that in a bit), 80 AA batteries, 20 Tether Flag Clamps a operations manual that contains an operations log and finally, a screwdriver. The screwdriver is used to remove the cap for changing the batteries and configuring the beacons to flash White, Red or IR. You are also able to configure the flash rate to intervals between 0.5 and 2.5 seconds. So, between the light sensor and flash rate selector it is possible to extend battery life out to an impressive 6 ½ weeks. The handy built in test capability allows you to test your battery level eliminating any risky guesswork.

In our field operations, experience gained during the exercise has allowed us to shave a solid 10 to 15 minutes off of the time taken to more a TIF-25K model aerostat. Mitigating vulnerability during the mooring and unmooring phase of operations.

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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).