The next time you fly a mission at dusk or forego 14 CFR Part 107 in daylight, you should start thinking about the people who design your beacons. As drone pilots, we demand a lot from our lightning bolts: they should be bright as the sun, light as a feather, tough as nails, cheap as dirt, light as cake, smaller than a postage stamp and charged for days on a single flash of battery.
Of course, this combination of attributes cannot be achieved in this material reality: the laws of physics simply do not allow it. Longer life means a larger battery that adds weight. A brighter beam means a bigger lamp and more volume. A robust housing increases both size and weight, as do user-friendly controls. All of this means that designing a drone flash involves a number of tradeoffs, and no single configuration is optimal for every application.
Even so, FoxFury made quite a number of good decisions when developing its new D3060 drone light and created a flash that is well suited for the vast majority of small Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS) operations.
Let’s start with the basics. The D3060 actually has two separate lamps: one up front and one up. They can be individually controlled and set for continuous high and low intensity beams and high intensity flash. At peak performance, each one emits a full 200 lumens, meeting the visibility requirements of three miles under 14 CFR 107 for operation at dusk and at night.
The device is powered by an internal battery that is charged via a standard USB-C port. Depending on your specific combination of settings, the D3060 will run for one and a half to three hours on a single charge. It’s waterproof and shockproof, and has a wide variety of features that make it easy and intuitive to use.
Manufacturer: FoxFury (foxfury.com)
Type: Flashlight with two lamps
Weight: 37 grams
Dimensions: 33 x 58 x 23 mm
Attachment: 3M dual lock closure
Fire resistance: NFPA 1971-8.6 (2013)
Running time: 1.5 to 3 hours
Charging time: 1.5 hours
Color temperature: 5,700 K.
Price: $ 59.00
Steve Jobs made Apple a consumer electronics legend with a relentless focus on the end-user experience of his company’s products – something now known in software development circles as “Quality of Life.” That’s not a concept that is often considered important among drone strobe users, but FoxFury delivered it anyway. When you connect the D3060 to the included charging cable, a red LED will illuminate to indicate that it is receiving power. When the charging cycle is complete, it will glow green. It’s a small feature, but it’s comforting to know before you head off for an important night-time surgery that your flash is indeed fully charged.
Each of the two lamps on the D3060 is controlled by its own simple push button: press it once and you get a uniform beam at full intensity. Press it again and you will get a steady, low intensity beam. Press it again and you will get a full intensity flash. A fourth press turns it off. It’s easy to set the configuration you want in seconds.
If I had a suggestion for future models, FoxFury would emboss either a letter “F” or a letter “T” on a button so you know which emitter you are going to turn on before you actually press it. I blinded myself several times during the test by looking down at the light while thinking I was turning on a lamp that was pointing away from me when it turned out that I was actually turning on the lamp that was pointing directly at my face . I’ll say this: it’s very bright!
Another example of where attention to detail pays off when designing the D3060 is in the mounting options available for the device. Each light comes with two squares of 3M Dual Lock adhesive backed fasteners that are surprisingly strong: both sides are always hooks.
The base of the D3060 is designed to hold one square of Dual Lock Fastener while the other square is attached to your drone. The base can also be swiveled 360 degrees, so you can adjust the light angle for your special mission. In addition, it contains two slots for alternative mounting options, e.g. B. a cable or a belt. With these mounting options, the D3060 can be used in other applications in addition to drones, e.g. B. in helmets, safety vests and other personal protective equipment.
The D3060 is made of polycarbonate, nylon and silicone components and is extremely robust. It’s fireproof, works in water, and can withstand a 10-foot drop on a hard surface. Basically, it still works after almost every drone it’s attached to has been destroyed – as tough as a drone bolt has to be.
At 37 grams, the weight of the D3060 is almost negligible, even for small commercial drones. When testing on an industry-leading platform from a well-known manufacturer, I noticed a five-second difference in flight time depending on whether the light was attached or not. Anyway, if you’re flying missions where there is significant margin, you definitely need to take a step back and reevaluate your operating parameters – you’re flying way too close to the edge to be safe.
When testing the D3060, I noticed that there is a cone about 60 degrees wide in which each of the lamps is the brightest. I checked this with a protractor. Then I found out that FoxFury is listing this fact under the specs on their website. According to the law, that’s not a problem. The FAA regulations for twilight operations do not mention a required viewing angle for your flash.
Even so, I asked myself: what if an airplane with a crew approached your drone at a 90-degree angle? The pilots probably wouldn’t recognize your drone until they were much closer than the required three miles, which would create a possible conflict. Fortunately, this problem can be at least partially fixed by using both lamps at the same time.
Another factor that could be a disadvantage for some pilots is the price: $ 59.00. Can you buy a working flash for less than that? Absolutely. Will it tick all the boxes like the D3060, especially when it comes to being light, sturdy, and easy to use? Probably not. The D3060 offers a solid balance of features for pilots who want to know they have a reliable solution they can rely on even in adverse conditions.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY PATRICK SHERMAN
During my tests, I discovered another important fact: strobes are almost as useful in daylight as they are at night. Crewed airplanes use their anti-collision lighting around the clock, and maybe we drone pilots should do the same. This would not only make it easier for other air traffic to see our machines, it would also make it easier to track these machines.
Having a lightning bolt on board makes it easy to spot your aircraft against any background and greatly improves your line of sight in certain lighting conditions. If you haven’t flown with lightning in the daytime, you owe it to yourself to try. You might be surprised what you’ve been missing.