Review: 150 Million Candlepower Militay Xenon Arc Battlefield Illuminator (AN/VSS-3A)

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33696933
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a vss 3 drooooool

cd520
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I would love to see some beamshots of that puppy!!!!

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there are a couple beamshots on cpf 

for example
 

Budgeteer
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Can you cook on it? I bet you can...

Who needs sun anymore?

kragmutt wrote:

They're gonna send you a green redcat with a black LED.

2100
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Very nice bro.  At least you'd have a real good use for this puppy, which is great!

 

Stylish ones : http://www.francis.co.uk/technical.asp#panel-3

Performance ones : http://www.francis.co.uk/technical.asp#panel-5

For me PBCP is good but i'd prefer metal halide as i'd like a thicker beam with lots of lumens as well as throw.  Eg i'd much prefer TK70 95k lux 2200 OTF 5 mins than SR90's 120k lux @ 1m and ~1300 OTF 5 mins. As you can see the metal halides are not outdone by the xenon short arcs.  But it can be argued that the differences in the systems bulbs are not there, eg the metal halides are very close to xenon specs/built.

Happy playing, i am still searching for "my kind of light".

sb56637
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Oh wow! That entire rig looks like a lot of fun. But if you only show a glimpse of the engine in the pictures you simply have to give us details. 350 V8? Ford or Chevy? 4-valves/cyl twin overhead cam or pushrod? Is that a carb or an air filter I see? Or is it diesel?

Truly incredible write up, and a sweet job on this project. And bonus points for the beautiful scenery. Automatic frontpage and sticky for this article. Mind if I move it to the "spotlight" category?

Thanks again!

P.S. You forgot to post the link to this light on DX.  Silly

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

2100
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FlashPilot wrote:

. Also, watt per watt, metal halide wouldnt provide the range necessary in this application, nor would the bulb survive the constant high impact loads a high speed boat, aircraft or moving tank delivers to it.

Wow, your small vessel is subjected to high-impacts? In what sense?

OT a bit and just for knowledge....Not really sure about that range part, technically/theorectically speaking, the MH range also have "short-arc" versions as well, i sure did not know this till recently.   Ignoring the accuracy of the specs (they are pretty close, as Ushio/Philips/GE also have similar stuff), 240000 lumens for 8mm arc length = 30000 lumens /mm.  But basically the lines are somewhat blur at this juncture, because as you can see such bulbs which are used for advertising/stage don't have a lot of hours as well.  With a 18" aperture, you can get like 0.6-0.8 deg divergence which hangs around with the tank lights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APbk6vcZR5E  If one is after such things for fun, it is 850 bucks shipped to here for a 5kW version, but it is big. A UPS would make it movable. (I don't think that is expensive, people can pay 2.5k for a PH50/Maxabeam!). Has even CE certification.

 Anyway, if you want another one (and since you said that it is the cheapest component LOL!), there is another on sale at CPF right now, in the Spotlights and HID section.

You can get such bulbs on aliexpress.  Someone made a 1.5kW bike light.  Comparison with dealextreme's SSC P7.   (this belongs to Siamese on CPF)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVz8P9H8nME

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um7oRyHt_1s

asd

 

 

2100
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But seriously, on a bobbing boat, i'd really prefer say 5 deg beamwidth than 1 deg beamwidth.  Luckily the tank light is focusable.   Laughing

 

PS. Your 1kW bulb has a 3.5mm arc gap.  Interesting, thanks a lot for the diagram!  Compare with the HMI 2500W used in the stage/advertisement lights. 

Edit, just saw your 150 million CP figure.  That's impressive with 1.6kW power (1 deg?) and approx 15" aperture, the front is 16" square.  If you look at the Francis FH560 model with 22" aperture (big), it is 2.5kW and 141 MCP. So converted to 1.6kW is 90 MCP if you hit the dimmer.  But you get 3 deg beamwidth to play with, due to lotsa lumens....the downside is it's a bit bigger.   To get twice the throw, you need 4X the CP.    90MCP and 150 MCP is something like a 3 XM-L and a TK35.  LOL!  Sealed

http://www.francis.co.uk/_includes/docs/pdf/datasheets/___FH560_2500w.pdf

Not saying which is better or what....just pointing out the technical differences on paper.  Just last night we had like 50 over these 100-250 MCP spotlights shining during our National Day parade just 1.5km away from my house.   It probably has a few billion MCP when one cluster of 20-30 shine at a spot during a particular program mode.

You mentioned NightSun, those lights has a bad central donut in flood.  So they are like spot only. I know, definitely VSS-3 wins (i think I have seen some beamshots couple years back). Expensive stuff with a 11" aperture! http://ils.spectrolab.com/sx-16_enhanced_prez.html

 http://www.spectrolab.com/DataSheets/illumination/Searchlights/SX-16%20040309%20REV%20D.pdf

 

I think ma_sha is aiming to break the 100 MCP mark in a portable set (!!) as in you can actually carry with 1 hand easily, but it is put on hold temporarily as i think he changed job and thus needed to shift to a new house.  Now the record is 56 MCP.

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Howly s#$t Shocked I have beamshots for comparison 8) (mouse over - mouse out to see the difference)

 

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Very good.

kragmutt
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Lol SashiX.

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sb56637 wrote:

Oh wow! That entire rig looks like a lot of fun. But if you only show a glimpse of the engine in the pictures you simply have to give us details. 350 V8? Ford or Chevy? 4-valves/cyl twin overhead cam or pushrod? Is that a carb or an air filter I see? Or is it diesel?

Truly incredible write up, and a sweet job on this project. And bonus points for the beautiful scenery. Automatic frontpage and sticky for this article. Mind if I move it to the "spotlight" category?

Thanks again!

P.S. You forgot to post the link to this light on DX.  Silly

Sick light. It says 5.7 4V on the valve cover so that would make it a Chevy 350 push rod 2 valve per cylinder 4 barrel carb, great motor.

I am already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.

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Truly impressive!

2100
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FlashPilot wrote:

2100, thanks for the information. While your comparisons, conjecture and thoughts are interesting, this light wasnt made in China, nor is it a consumer or commercial level product. After seeing literally hundreds of different short arcs in operation, I have no doubt that it delivers exactly as the mil spec documents rated it. There was an earlier model tank light, the AN-VSS-1, which was absolute massive, heavy at over 200 lbs., and utilized a 2.2kw short arc.  The much smaller and technically superior VS3 walks all over it in terms of the amount and quality of light delivered on target. It was designed for one thing in mind and that was for putting a 120mm shell directly on target during night hunting. At over twice the wattage and size reflector, the VS1 still didnt have the range of the VS3. Thanks for the heads up about another unit for sale, but at this time in my life I have no use for another one. If you're thinking about setting up one of these behemoths, please consider that they require an APU or constant power source other than batteries to deliver maximum output. Most owners run them on a pair of deep cycle batteries and will never know what they are missing by not investing in the APU.

Yeah, as flashaholics would call it, its definitely a pocket rocket.  LOL!  Bro, don't worry I know what "Mil-spec" means, I have spent 2.5 years full-time in the Air Force, and after that 10 years of reservist (each year you get to go back to base for 2-3 weeks, up to 40 days a year but my vocation does not requirement it to be that lengthy), i fully discharged just 3 years ago.  (Yippee!)   South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore require mandatory army training for the guys.

 I have been following the 60" carbon arc thread since 2006/07, problem with such things is that the user better prays that nothing gets blown because it is "mil-spec".   1 pair of deep cycle marine batts is not sufficient.

The good thing about those advertisement spots is that you can run them off a server UPS.  So while that route is not so glam, as high-end, and is bigger, it is definitely cheaper, easier and gets the job done through sheer power.  (i think they can do up to 15kW now)   I don't have 10k to spend on lights due to other hobbies and also commitments plus i want to retire by age 45-50, but 800 bucks shipped for a 200 MCP advertisement spot made-in-china is definitely doable.  Laughing

But the sad thing is, all this is on paper and pretty unattainable, it is not about the money, it's about the space (storage) as I live in an apartment.  And I did some photography jobs for yatchs as well as on yatchs (small 55-70 footers), it is extremely expensive to operate a boat, if you do not have 50 million, can just forget about such luxury stuff here. It costs a little over 400k to own a BMW E92 M3 here!  I think the base spec in the US it'd be about 52k.

 With the really short short-arcs, focusing precision and reflector quality is very important.  That is how Ra's Thor got to the 50 MCP mark with just 100W and 9" aperture.

2100
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Hey bro, nobody asked this, how much did the ramping system, batts, lights cost ya?  It'd be good if you can do a breakdown, probably the light is the least expensive.

2100
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Yeah, I know it is extremely tedious and in the end it might not even work. That is why I am not even looking at this way, anyway I am not so hardcore.

I actually have a HP R5500 UPS which is not in use, coz we purchased extra by accident. Along with 4 ERMs (external batteries, the internal ones in the UPS lets you rip full power for just 5 mins)....all in the company, not used at all.  Could easily power the darn made in china searchlight (really plug and play) and have mobility.  

http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/servers/proliantstorage/power-protection/rackups/r5500xr/index.html

Actually you don't need carbon arcs. Nowadays the smaller xenons can operate in groups with DMX, like i mentioned in another thread which was deployed on our National Day. But probably very  tedious to setup and calibrate to operate as a "single unit" so as to point at a few particular spots.  But then you get disco modes.  Sealed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aySFA_KAw_k  (the lights are actually brighter, the scene is underexposed) 

I didn't manage to search youtube for a cloud pointing video for that, but a few weeks ago I did see it able to light up some pretty high level clouds few kilometres up when they are all programmed to point at 1 particular spot, the wispy kind not those low-mid level 1-2km stuff which is easy.

 

 

 

 

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Wow, that officially takes the cake for most impressive DIY project. Awesome. Smile

2100
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Haha....yeah I think those big searchlights just caught on big time last year over here. The local astronomers are complaining though!  Big Smile

 I mean i am aware of advertising searchlights being used here for quite long as I do photography and they do use them for product launches/opening of pubs indoors and outdoors etc...but just not very big ones as in maybe a couplle of 2-3kW rented from the event company that's about it. What they are limited by is not the $$ or size, but rather the electrical feed, ie 240V 20A.  This affects the sound as well, either that or you get a lot of 13-20A circuits and extensions.

The 1.2kW "small moving head" disco type ones are popular because they do pack a punch and are very versatile to deploy in all sorts of jobs, hey no sweat just plug 2 to a 240 13A socket here in a regular hotel ballroom, lay your control cables and you are ready to Rock n Roll. Just that it is like a fat 10 deg beamwidth, similar to what you get from a XM-L with a 40mm reflector, hence a 1kW XM-L.  LOL!  Definitely not to the scale that you see at Las Vegas.  I hope it is not insensitive for me to say, but the 9/11 "Tribute in Light" is impressive as well.   That 2011 National Parade was probably the biggest searchlight show that was ever put up here. They had to use a whole farm of gensets to power them, no joke.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU_qK-XvTwQ&feature=related  (yeah I know, the hotspot is huge, so lux is not there, but the ones i have seen last week is setup to add up to be much tighter and brighter hotspot)

 

OT and you probably have seen it on youtube, but for the benefit of others.... Carbon arc searchlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qDc1MIKnMo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zqLAin9HHs&feature=related

We will never get them here, because trailers are not exactly allowed here on the roads, i mean not for ordinary citizens.

 

Each 60" Carbon Arc is probably 2 billion CP max if i remember correctly, and of about 12kW.  Those Made-in-China big ones can go up to 10kW from what I see on alibaba (they claim 15kW though), but you can never be sure of the mirro reflector/ballast/bulb specs, read cheap ass MIC bulbs vs expensive GE/Philips/Ushio bulbs.  But anyway the biggest here on Francis searchlights it is Polaris/Stardrift/Moonraker http://www.francis.co.uk/_includes/docs/pdf/datasheets/__polaris-moonraker.pdf 

7kW, 1.5 deg, 10 lux at 10km. 28" aperture and 25" mirror.  So that means 1 billion CP.    Exact cumulation is very difficult of course, this is not an exact science setup like those 600 concave mirrors trying to melt 1kg of steel in 1 second hotter-than-the-sun stuff you see on Discovery channel.  LOL!   I think about 50pcs of those 5-10kW individual lights, maybe not as big and bad ass and high performing / collimated as the Francis biggest ones, but still easily packs a bigger punch than a single carbon arc. Of course it is an absolutely unfair comparison, 50 vs 1 and extremely large-scale commercial vs personal hobby, and nobody is preventing one from getting 2 or 3 carbon arcs.  LOL!  But I think it has never been done before now, though during WWII it'd have been a usual sight!  (ie WOW!)

 

The good thing about Carbon arcs vs the regular HIDs that we come across is - carbon arc lives!  The sound and jumping arc.

 

Interesting experience on your mainframe/DC and UPS infra.  Yeah I have been to the genset room and battery room before, but just as a guest as I am not directly in charge of operations. 10,000 SLAs is WOW, hehe.... I actually tried to count and gave up, just a rough estimated I guess they have about 150 to 200 x 2V cells on each rack and about 12 racks. They do that for both IT as well as telephone switches, as I work in the biggest telco in this part of the world. They don't pay too well though, hey what is new?  Big Smile

They use bigger gen sets in the Air Force/Army though....

 

BTW, you met BVH/ShortArc, and those guys in CPF before?  (or are you guys too far apart in USA)

 

 

2100
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Hey I found a cool site! : http://ancientskyscraper.com/85601.html

http://www.victorysearchlights.com/victory4.html

Light Output:
The average multi-beam has 2 or 4 Xenon lights, but each of the lamps are only 2KW to 4KW in size. Beam output is 208 to 332 million candle power for each lamp.
Our Carbon Arc light output is 12KW at 800 million candle power

 

2100
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Problem is that i have seen the 5-10kW units, but not the Carbon Arc.  Laughing

Actually the "farm" managed to light up cirrus clouds so that is comfortably over 20000 ft, could be 30-40k ft. So seriously I don't know how bad that can be.   But operated singly for these Chinese stuff, there is probably no fight of course. The 60" aperture of the carbon arc does mean something in addition to the precise mirror, this really helps to "lift" the ~ 12 lumens per watt efficiency of the carbon arc.  

The Francis searchlights is actually reputable internationally, ISO certified and distributed worldwide, it is not the "CCC" that we'd come across.  So I tend to believe their figures to be quite belivable. As you said they are used commercially, a quick check shows that they are used on big commercial freighters, Defence and Law Enforcement like Prisons etc.     I know what are you talking about the military and all that stuff (I was in the Air Force before), but there is still a limit.

Pls don't get me wrong bro, I know how those Chinese stuff work and how reliable they are with my HIDs. But they still work based on the technology, and even if clobbered together "haphazardly", they still get the goods delivered.  60" aperture + precision mirror is great, but still < incandescent efficiency of ~12 lm/W means that the 12kW power is cut down a lot in terms of sheer lumens even if you manage to collect and focus that in a crazy manner.   Of course I know your passion and many other collectors the passion is really is in this and really look forward one day in which someone can do a direct A-B shoot out between those lights.     There is no mistake what a farm of those can do....the comparison is just "totally unfair" of course, may I stress again.  Smile

PS, how long is the arc length of the 60" carbon arc?  This info is very useful to me as well.  Again may I stress, i am just interested to know all these stuff for knowledge, am sure everyone is.   Smile    Eg, for hifi, i like my LP and single ended tubes, there are some NOS tubes which i really like, and i also like my pro-audio stuff.  I have 2 pro subs from this company :  do check out the youtube link, it is quite interesting as the claim is "worlds largest subwoofer" (pls don't that that literally, of course) and yes they do deal with the military doing other projects like infrasonic Sonic Boom generators. Of course the commercial offerings are not like that, but the tech (bass horn) is there and not new http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbf3bzpgml8

FlashPilot wrote:

Id love to play around with this beauty. What a lovely pair she has. Tongue out

 

Way cool!  Will never happen here though...sigh. 

 

 

2100
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And lastly, a 20kW Xenon arc, 1.3 billion CP

http://www.brettpeabody.com/

Interesting, I know some short arcs have low lumens efficacy (ie the Maxabeam) but its lower than i thought for these high-end ones, it is 40 lumens per watt.

http://www.thehenryford.org/imax/about.aspx

the lamp
The lamphouse on top of the IMAX projector utilizes two 15,000-watt liquid-cooled, short-arc xenon lamps. The lamps weigh 10 pounds each, and are nearly two feet in length. Costing more than $6,000 each, the lamps have a life expectancy of only about 1,200 hours of operation and are replaced 4 times per year. Because of the extreme high-pressure xenon gas inside the quartz glass envelope of the lamp, projectionists must wear ballistic safety gear when changing out a lamp. If dropped, the xenon lamp would explode with the destructive force of a hand grenade.

The average luminance of one of these xenon lamps is approximately 1.6 billion candles per square yard--about equal to that of the Sun as viewed from the Earth's surface! The lamp has a light output of approximately 600,000 lumens. NASA uses this same type of lamp at the Kennedy Space Center to illuminate the Space Shuttle at night on the launching pad.

During normal operation, the clear quartz glass envelope of the lamp has a surface temperature of about 1,300 degrees. To prevent the lamp from overheating, it has coolant "jackets" that allow cool distilled water to be pumped around the electrodes at the flow rate of 8 gallons per minute and a pressure rate of 100 psi. In addition, an exhaust fan removes 1,200 cubic feet of air per minute from the lamphouse. The xenon lamps operate at 37.5 volts DC, and 400 amperes of current.

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Let's say you're in San Diego, California and you want to roast marshmallows in nearby San Rafael................

 

Small blue switch on the back for " Low Power Mode "  gives 18 Lumens of light for 46.7 years on a single charge.

 

Handy " Diffuser Attachment "  ( not included ) makes a perfect " Night Reading Light " for the entire State of Delaware.

 

Amazing light and the  "mouse over" picture and giant Laser effect of the beam are very impressive.

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FlashPilot wrote:
It was designed for one thing in mind and that was for putting a 120mm shell directly on target during night hunting. 

Late to the party pedantry...

105mm projectile...remember we're talking about an M-60 series with an M68 main gun. The 120mm gun didn't enter the picture until the M1A1 in the mid 80's.

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Can’t believe I missed this awesome thread, here’s a nerco bump. Party

BLF ≠ B-grade Flashlight Forum

 

Nikki
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Hi..

i am looking for a battelfield search light ..something very similar to what u have posted. please chat with me on nafees.iaf@gmail.com and help me buy this light. i am looking for a long range spot like which can make a spot covering the distance of 3 Kilometers.

Request to give your mail id so that i can communicate with you regarding the same.

Thank you…

Nikki Smile

edward22
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Kind of impressive.

dsiddens
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Everybody needs a hobby. Yours is interdiction on the Sac waterways!

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Next time your out at night, get us a couple of beamshots.