Good lights ruined by split flash

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
So time for me to vent my pet peeve....


I'm sick of seeing nice light heads ruined by split, X and pinwheel flash... No matter the size of the head making it split flash decreases it's effectiveness...


Large chunks of light flashing only the same colors at the same time just plain works better. Split heads end up looking like a twinkle or a blurr... pinwheel and X don't show up at all. I truly think splitting a head in any way is pure gimmick.


Some examples-


Check out the pinwheel pattern vs the solid flash in this example, totally ruins the light

 
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fp13-2

Member
May 20, 2010
359
Harrisburg, PA
I have to agree!! I'd go so far as to say it applies to lightbars too. One local PD car here has the bar flash half/half, and it's recognizable from further away than a bar with all the heads random, where you get the twinkle effect. They look cool up close (i.e. in an intersection), but once you're 1/4 mile away, it just loses it's effectiveness.
 

dawson75

Member
May 20, 2010
336
OHIO
Have to agree John ....


Could barely tell the lights with the pin wheel pattern were on.


The ol saying goes ..." Keep it simple stupid "
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio

Station 3

Member
May 21, 2010
3,395
Edinburg Texas
I hate seeing TIR-4s split red/red or any other color it just makes it a worthless light that you cant see from a distance. It makes a smaller foot print the light is already small dont ruin it by making it even less visible. And alot of you on this board are guilty of this you all know who you are. :roll:
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
Unfortunatly to stay competitive companies are basically forced to include split flash (and more fail patterns)... I'm sure they know that the lights were designed to be flashed as a full unit. Some are no longer title "whatever" compliant when split flashed. I can't believe the amount of these split flash fails I see on installs both locally and online.
 
May 22, 2010
1,163
Central WV
JohnMarcson said:
Unfortunatly to stay competitive companies are basically forced to include split flash (and more fail patterns)... I'm sure they know that the lights were designed to be flashed as a full unit. Some are no longer title "whatever" compliant when split flashed. I can't believe the amount of these split flash fails I see on installs both locally and online.

I agree with you John. Companies are forced to use the split patterns because that's what the customers are asking for. If one company won't do it for you, then another certainly will, so the other looses out.


I have my XP63s split flashing in the rear cargo area of my SUV and I agree they should be changed to solid flashing...I just have to find the time to get into it and change the patterns. Though secondary lighting isn't as bad to split flash as someone doing that with primary warning modules.
 

charlie82

Member
May 21, 2010
353
PA / USA
What are your opinions on split patterns for dual light heads? (i.e. dual avenger with one head opposing the other?)
 
May 22, 2010
1,163
Central WV
charlie82 said:
What are your opinions on split patterns for dual light heads? (i.e. dual avenger with one head opposing the other?)

Those are fine. I think John is meaning split patterns within a single lighthead. Having one head on an avenger flash while the other is off is different because each head in the dual light is fully lit and flashing instead of only half of the lighthead flashing.
 

gfpd26

Member
May 21, 2010
331
Greenville, IL
THe new ambulance here in town has the pin-wheel effect going all around the box. Not effective at all. makes it look pink coming down the road. Total waste
 

Fast LT1

Member
May 24, 2010
2,018
Sedgwick County, KS
charlie82 said:
What are your opinions on split patterns for dual light heads? (i.e. dual avenger with one head opposing the other?)

If you can run one solid color like R/R i prefer it because it leaves a bigger foot print and you can put it on a pattern that runs both wig wag and dual patterns.
 

bigcat

Member
May 20, 2010
641
Hartford County, CT
I am in total agreement. I never understood the draw of split flash patterns. People tend to use them on small lightheads too which is even more perplexing.


Along the same lines is split colors. Get a red lighthead and a blue lighthead, not two red/blue lightheads. By reducing the number of LEDs flashing at a given time on a given lighthead, you reduce the overall footprint of the light. Two sets of three LEDs that are not close to one another are going to be less noticable than six LEDs close together.


Don't even get me started on the split 900 series. I f*ckin' hate seeing those. Nothing is synced when they do that. I've seen setups with multiple 900 series lights where one is flashing the whole lighthead while it's alternate is split flashing two different flash patterns. The two different flash patterns aren't even synced together so sometimes the whole light flashes and other times it looks like it is malfunctioning. Then you get six of these lights all doing their own thing on the back of a rescue and I just want to flip out. It looks dumb as sh*t.
 

chono

Member
Jun 5, 2010
496
Midwest
fp13-2 said:
I have to agree!! I'd go so far as to say it applies to lightbars too. One local PD car here has the bar flash half/half, and it's recognizable from further away than a bar with all the heads random, where you get the twinkle effect. They look cool up close (i.e. in an intersection), but once you're 1/4 mile away, it just loses it's effectiveness.

Best way to do it with anything. Lightbars should run half half. All other lights should be synced red blue slow pattern. Not dance party at the club style.
 

lotsofbars

Member
Jul 20, 2010
1,999
NYC, New York
I think that the split smaller lightheads are good with different colors as long as they're at a relatively slow flash rate and they're synced. That's so both colors has some time to register and it's not just a super fast red/blue or red/white or whatever funhouse effect.
 

RL1

Member
May 20, 2010
1,650
Ga
lotsofbars said:
I think that the split smaller lightheads are good with different colors as long as they're at a relatively slow flash rate and they're synced. That's so both colors has some time to register and it's not just a super fast red/blue or red/white or whatever funhouse effect.


+1. Exactly what I was going to say.
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
RL1 said:
+1. Exactly what I was going to say.


If they are slowly flashed one color at a time it's BETTER than other options for split heads, but it's still less effective than using the whole lighthead in one color alternating with a whole lighthead of a different color. The bigger the footprint, the better the output. But slowing the flash rate down does help...
 

FreshDave04

Member
Jun 30, 2010
3,000
Elkhart, IN
JohnMarcson said:
If they are slowly flashed one color at a time it's BETTER than other options for split heads, but it's still less effective than using the whole lighthead in one color alternating with a whole lighthead of a different color. The bigger the footprint, the better the output. But slowing the flash rate down does help...

+1.


And I'm in agreement - the "pinwheel" flash is beyond ridiculous. Almost little to no warning. Such a waste in funds, spending money for those lights, only to have no real purpose/use.
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
It's kinda difficult to sort through... but from how I read the NFPA and KKK documents/package descriptions, the split versions of quadraflasres CAN still technically meet NFPA standards in some cases but not KKK. The pinwheel pattern doen't meet the requirments of ANY major "standards writing agency". The M series "X" flash from whelen appears to be the same way. These depts spend $$$$ to have the newest technolog lights and ruin them by selecting a "cool" flash pattern. The bare minium el'cheapo halogen system would be much more effective.
 

Rusted413

Member
May 25, 2010
265
Blacksburg, VA
I agree with all of you about the split and unsynched lightheads, it also drives me crazy to see the 600 series on the front of many engines/ladders/tankers etc unsynched, but around me some of the ambulances have synched 900 series flashing horizontally in an x pattern (comet flash I think) on the sides and it looks pretty good and is plenty visible. the full light head is red, not sure if that helps or not, but just an interesting observation.
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
Rusted413 said:
I agree with all of you about the split and unsynched lightheads, it also drives me crazy to see the 600 series on the front of many engines/ladders/tankers etc unsynched, but around me some of the ambulances have synched 900 series flashing horizontally in an x pattern (comet flash I think) on the sides and it looks pretty good and is plenty visible. the full light head is red, not sure if that helps or not, but just an interesting observation.


As far as I know 900s don't do the X flash.... M series does.. either way next to a solid one you can tell the difference.... Anytime ypou split up the light head in any way it diminishes the effectiviness.
 

Rusted413

Member
May 25, 2010
265
Blacksburg, VA
Sorry John, I wasn't more clear. I meant to say that the two 900 series flash in an x pattern on the side upper corners of the box. They are synced and split horizontally. So the lower half of the side rear 900 flashes with the upper half of the front side 900. Not sure if that clarifies things or not. Anyway, not trying to change your mind, and I agree that a full light head is obviously brighter than half, but in my opinion when they are synced it isnt as bad as unsynced.
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
Rusted413 said:
Sorry John, I wasn't more clear. I meant to say that the two 900 series flash in an x pattern on the side upper corners of the box. They are synced and split horizontally. So the lower half of the side rear 900 flashes with the upper half of the front side 900. Not sure if that clarifies things or not. Anyway, not trying to change your mind, and I agree that a full light head is obviously brighter than half, but in my opinion when they are synced it isnt as bad as unsynced.


That sounds like it would look ok at least.. the synch helps
 

grfd711

Member
Jun 23, 2010
1,546
Sherwood, AR
This thread is what I've been preaching the past few years. Last year, we put some red 900s on the front of our aging heavy rescue and our reserve engine, a '78 Mack CF. Despite the fact one has an Advantedge lightbar and the other has a Jetstrobe, the 900s are flashing solid and act as the main source of warning. What's better? They're on a simple wig wag pattern.
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
grfd711 said:
This thread is what I've been preaching the past few years. Last year, we put some red 900s on the front of our aging heavy rescue and our reserve engine, a '78 Mack CF. Despite the fact one has an Advantedge lightbar and the other has a Jetstrobe, the 900s are flashing solid and act as the main source of warning. What's better? They're on a simple wig wag pattern.


Perfect setup. Nice steady pattern with large chunks of light. Simple but effective.
 

John Hearne

Member
May 27, 2010
346
Pontotoc County, MS
There's a reason the big "E" at the top of the chart is easier to read than the smaller stuff. Ditto with lights.


As far as flash rate goes, anything beyond 180 fpm is a waste and I'd only use that for a vehicle in motion to suggest urgency. For a stationary vehicle, 75 fpm works great.
 

brewmeister08

Member
Jun 20, 2010
58
Austin, TX
Funny this thread exist...ATCEMS's boxes have the most boring pattern in the world. But I'll be damned if I can spot it halfway across the city!


Exhibit A:

 

fp13-2

Member
May 20, 2010
359
Harrisburg, PA
There is a local ambulance company here that has split R/W 700 series on the grill...that DON'T split flash...I have no clue what they were thinking when they did it. The lightbar is a bit odd too. They have the flush-mount Freedom/Edge. The two outer modules alternate (along with the rest of the lights on the box, then the middle of the bar flashes all at once. 6' of red just blinking...I don't get it.
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
brewmeister08 said:
Funny this thread exist...ATCEMS's boxes have the most boring pattern in the world. But I'll be damned if I can spot it halfway across the city!

Exhibit A:


They ATCEMS trucks look great..... the St lukes unit is bright based on the number of lights... not because the pattern is all that effective.
 

Mike L.

Member
May 21, 2010
261
Everett, WA
I think the only time split heads should be used are where minimal warning is needed. For example you respond to an aid call in a residential neighborhood and you don't want to wake up the entire neighborhood you could down grade to a split head pattern (but then again they invented 4-ways for a reason too).


Otherwise they are a waste IMHO
 

JohnMarcson

Administrator
May 7, 2010
11,045
Northwest Ohio
Mike L. said:
I think the only time split heads should be used are where minimal warning is needed. For example you respond to an aid call in a residential neighborhood and you don't want to wake up the entire neighborhood you could down grade to a split head pattern (but then again they invented 4-ways for a reason too).

Otherwise they are a waste IMHO

HAving a seperate split mode for low level waning sounds like a lot of trouble vs just turning all the lights off except 1 or 2
 

philyumpshus

Member
Jun 20, 2010
1,284
Malone, NY
A little off topic, but what's up with the St. Luke's ambo? I've never seen any manufacturer use the base XL model Fords, in the vans or trucks. And they save money by going with the XL but then put 12 600s on the front of the box? Who the hell spec'd that truck?
 

Zapp Brannigan

Lifetime VIP Donor
May 23, 2010
3,580
.
As much as I am not a huge fan, unsynced flashes tend to be the most effective. The human body is so accustomed to equal, repetitive things, that they tend to get 'lost'.


Ever notice how 'annoying' seeing something unsynced is though? Exactly, it catches your attention!


I do however, agree that a lighthead is designed a way to be seen that way, IMHO. Split patterns merely go to reduce their effectiveness.
 
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rwo978

Member
May 21, 2010
5,196
ND, USA
The second example in John's original post, of the back of the box... That's the new local ambulances, but in a random pattern, not sig alert. As if split 900 heads on sig alert wasn't crappy enough, throw it on a random pattern. Crap to the 2nd degree.


I'd say that 50%-75% of flash patterns are gimmick patterns with NO warning effect. Yeah, they look cool... but, how effective is a pinwheel, or the knight rider zig-zag? None.
 

Station 3

Member
May 21, 2010
3,395
Edinburg Texas
all the lights on my truck are not syncd i just think it looks cool even though it does sometimes piss me off a little.
 

theolog

Member
Dec 27, 2010
731
North Carolina
JohnMarcson said:
If they are slowly flashed one color at a time it's BETTER than other options for split heads, but it's still less effective than using the whole lighthead in one color alternating with a whole lighthead of a different color. The bigger the footprint, the better the output. But slowing the flash rate down does help...

What would you recommend doing with TIR4-type blue/white lights mounted in a pair on the front license plate or front bumber? Slow alternating the whole head? How about the same light mounted on a cage (one each side)? Thanks for your input.
 

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