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Arduino Airbus Anti-Collision Lights

Airbus aircraft, like the model A380 above have a specific anti-collision lighting setup that I like. The white LEDs on the wing tips blink twice, then the red light on the top and bottom blink. I’m ignoring the tail light since I’m not sure I care about it for what I want to do.

Here’s the timing diagram:

The middle row shows the wingtip lights blinking for 50 milliseconds, wait for 350 milliseconds then blink the red (top row) for 100 milliseconds. The bottom is the tail I’m ignoring for now.

I implemented this on an Arduino:

Here’s the code (and yes, I know the loop is unrolled):

void setup() {
  // initialize digital pin LED_BUILTIN as an output.
  pinMode(LED_BUILTIN, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(12, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(11, OUTPUT);
}

// the loop function runs over and over again forever
void loop() {
  digitalWrite(12, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(11, HIGH);
  delay(50);
  digitalWrite(12, LOW);
  digitalWrite(11, LOW);
  delay(50);
  digitalWrite(12, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(11, HIGH);
  delay(50);
  digitalWrite(12, LOW);
  digitalWrite(11, LOW);
  delay(350);
  digitalWrite(LED_BUILTIN, HIGH);
  delay(100);
  digitalWrite(LED_BUILTIN, LOW);
  delay(400);
}

So the question of course is, why?

I think it would make a neat set of lights for a bicycle helmet or something lighter (e.g. a headband) for runners. If it’s good enough to protect a half-billion dollar aircraft then why not try it on the mean streets?

I need to miniaturize and package it, and make it work in the rain as next steps.

Here’s the Arduino clone kit I used, and the ultra-bright LEDs. The kit came with some fogged white LEDs which are OK, but not great. Overall it was a fun first project, and if you already know how to write software and some electronics you can get going extremely quickly. My problem was I never had a real reason to use an Arduino until now…

2 Responses to Arduino Airbus Anti-Collision Lights

  1. oleksiy.muzalyev December 7, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

    It is interesting for RPAS (UAV) too.

    I installed ultra-bright LED navigation lights on some of my fixed-wing and multi-rotor RPASs, as I often fly very early in the morning when it is still dark outside. For example:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwIBJzM0u50qUVNZLU1XakpKWHM

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwIBJzM0u50qbGdGRThaYVgzalE

    Red on the left side, green on the right side, white on top and bottom (see Navigation light at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigation_light ). Sometimes I install a blue light on bottom as it is easier distinguish an orientation in the air. It would be a good thing to have a programmable anti-collision strobe lights too.

    Some quad-copters and fixed-wing RPASs have got navigation lights but more often than not they are no adequate to fly in darkness (visible only from beneath, or not bright enough).

    There are ready kits for aircraft models, though they are not perfect for all situations:
    https://www.brack.ch/multiplex-multilight-191713
    https://www.brack.ch/multiplex-power-multilight-292963

    If used for cycling, hiking, running, etc., it would be a good thing to included also a SOS mode in Morse code, and also a steady mode for Germany where blinking lights reserved only for emergency vehicles (police, firefighters, etc.). Or even add a possibility to communicate in Morse code with pre-recorded messages or even by keying a message.

  2. gc December 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    Maybe if you talked to yr Dad he would design an ickle board using ATTiny 45 or similar….cheap, compact etc.????????

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