Code 3 PSE has some exciting, perhaps revolutionary, new products for 2009. Since 1974, the St. Louis-based vehicle warning systems manufacturer has been a consistent industry leader. Its MX7000® lightbar is one of the most successful halogen rotator lightbars ever designed. This dual level lightbar introduced such innovations as dual-level design and integrated ArrowStik® traffic director. Code 3
plans to revolutionize the lightbar industry again with its Defender™ bar. This completely new lightbar is a substantial departure from previous company offerings and sets itself apart from the competition’s LED designs in several ways, including being up to two and a half times brighter with improved off-axis visibility.
While LED lightbars currently offered by all manufacturers are certainly brighter than older strobe and halogen units, the Defender uses patent-pending TriCore™ technology lightheads to dramatically increase light output. TriCore Technology
What is TriCore? How does it work? Well, the technical details are not yet available, and we will tell you immediately when they are. However, Code 3 considers TriCore to be the next step for lightbars, beyond LEDs. The Defender is the first product to take full advantage of this new light source for emergency vehicle use. A patented light capture and dispersal array, combined with efficient light-driving electronics, delivers more light per watt of energy used than any LED, strobe, or halogen lighthead now made. Until the official release of the Defender, that is about all Code 3 will say.
Individual TriCore lightheads are modular and versatile. Each is designed to function in steady burn or flashing modes, the latter having a variety of user-programmable flash patterns. The lightheads are available in 2.7 inches or 5.2 inches and can be mounted in either a corner or directional position without modification. Each light is attached to a mounting bracket and wired to a quick-connect plug for ease of removal. All TriCore lightheads are sealed against water, dirt and other debris. Since the lightbar itself is sealed by its domes, each lighthead is effectively double protected from failure.
The TriCore lighthead’s electronics allow dimming of the lightbar for low-light conditions, while still maintaining SAE 360-degree lighting compliance. According to Code 3, the Defender meets all applicable SAE, California Title 13, NFPA, and ECE65 standards for coverage, color, and luminous intensity when properly configured. Its unique design results in full coverage, regardless of viewing angle, and eliminates the dead spots common in LED lightbars.
Despite its brightness, the Defender is comparatively easy on the eyes at very close distances. Upon seeing it for the first time, one former police officer noted that he wasn’t “blinded” by the lights as he got into and out of the demo car. Anyone who has made traffic stops for a living can appreciate the importance of this aspect.
What else does the Defender offer? The bar is very low profile, at only 2.25 inches high. Because of its modular design, the 13.5-inch-wide bar is available in lengths from 23 to 94 inches—almost 8 feet—so it fits everything from golf carts to large command post vehicles. Mounting kits are available for just about any application.
The Defender’s extruded aluminum frame uses two ridged spines to increase rigidity and strength over older Code 3 designs. This eliminates bowing of the lightbar when mounted and high-speed fluttering. I can appreciate the bowing concerns, having noticed that many competing designs are prone to bowing toward the roof when tightened securely.
The Defender’s domes or lenses are made of impact-resistant polycarbonate plastic and secured using screws instead of Code 3’s traditional clips. The inverted bucket design domes are clear with a black inter-molded solar top barrier. Optional colored barriers are available, giving the lightbar a more traditional look still preferred by many agencies for easy identification of police vehicles. The inter-molded barrier lessens internal heat and prevents UV degradation of lightheads and internal wiring, both important design considerations.
TriCore take-down and alley lights are offered for the Defender, providing several benefits over halogen versions. Designed with additional patent-pending light-capture and dispersal technology, these lights are claimed to exceed the output of any current 55-watt halogen or LED take-down light now available. Each light is 2.7 inches in length and designed with 12 degrees of horizontal spread, illuminating a wide area with intense white light.
LED take-down lights in general are considered to be superior to halogens for video recording, and these TriCore technology lights should be no exception. In addition to using less amperage than halogen lights, LED-based take-downs also are capable of flashing at faster rates and being truly synched to the warning patterns.
All in all, the Defender may be the next step forward for emergency vehicle lighting. Code 3 claims that the bar offers increased visibility, enhanced officer safety, and vastly improved reliability with ease of service. The Defender’s debut at the 2008 IACP show in San Diego was very well received, and Code 3 officials feel so strongly that their TriCore technology is superior to competitors’ designs, they are planning to incorporate it into their SuperVisor™ and WingMan™ series of interior-mount lightbars. The new units should be available in the second quarter of 2009.
Improved RX2700 Lightbar
The Defender is not the only lightbar news out of St. Louis for 2009. Code 3 has improved upon its RX2700™ lightbar with the introduction of the new central controller version. The RX2700CC™ provides for “one touch” pattern selection, built-in ArrowStik traffic director, LED dimming and other features.
Optional LED take-down and alley lights are now available on the RX2700 series, as well, offering 70% less power consumption and almost unlimited service life. Add these features to the RX2700’s intense PriZm™ LED lightheads, and you have another powerful Code 3 lightbar to choose from.
Since lightbars sit on top of the vehicle’s roof, they are in a great position to capture the sun’s rays. Taking advantage of this, Code 3 now offers a solar panel option. This externally mounted 5-watt panel is about half the size of others and features an LED charging status indicator and a quick connect plug. The unit works with all lead-acid batteries, providing a source of power to keep the vehicle’s battery in a peak state of charge and extending battery life as much as three-fold. The solar panel can help offset the parasitic electrical drains that routinely plague police vehicle.
XT-Series LED Lightheads
Code 3 has introduced a number of other new or improved products. One that reps are especially excited about is the expanded XT series of competitively priced, interior / exterior mount LED lights. The XT series began with the XT3™, three-LED lights, offered in single surface or bracket mount lightheads and two, four, and eight head sticks. Code 3 has now released its XT4™ and XT6™ lights, using four and six LEDs per head, respectively.
The XT4/6 lights are offered in single, dual, and quad units, with several mounting options for use almost anywhere on a vehicle. Single- or dual-color combinations can be ordered in any of five safety colors. Potted circuitry provides shock resistance and weather protection for these versatile lights. In addition, they can be synchronized with other XT units or the new Hide-A-Blast LEDs.
Hide-A-Blast Corner LEDs
Introduced at the 2008 Police Fleet Expo in Milwaukee, Code 3’s Hide-A-Blast™ LED lights are a replacement for hideaway strobes in vehicle headlight and taillight assemblies. LED hideaways have only recently become a serious contender to replace strobe versions. Early LED corner lights offered limited light spread, reduced positioning options, and generally failed to impress in any light. Recent advancements in the LED industry mean that newer emitters are even brighter and more efficient. While each lighting manufacturer has its own idea of the most effective design, the overall state of LED hideaways is very good.
Code 3’s Hide-A-Blast lights use three banks of two or three LEDs in a triangle-like arrangement to provide for powerful directional light from the front of the lighthead, as well as to throw light into the host light housing assembly’s reflector, allowing for a wide viewing angle and strong off-axis performance. In doing so, it mimics the way a strobe hideaway functions, while offering the LED advantages of reduced power, long life, impact resistance, and 30 flash patterns. Hide-A-Blast lights mount horizontally or vertically in a 1-inch hole. Each self-contained unit has its own sealed flasher / control unit, 15 feet of cable, and is available in red, blue, white, and amber.
H2 Covert Siren
Another new product from Code 3 is the H2 Covert™ siren. Simply stated, this is a full-featured siren with a compact handheld remote controller that can run almost any warning setup. This siren has everything an installer or end user could likely need or want: park-kill; horn-ring transfer; PA and radio rebroadcast with gain control; 100/200 watt siren output; up to 100 amps of switching with three progressive and four auxiliary buttons; seven available siren tones plus two programmable air horn pitch tones.
An interesting feature is the EU lock, which ensures that a minimum warning light level is on while any siren tones are active. If the siren is turned on without the minimum light level on, then that light level will turn on. It is also possible to program the siren to activate automatically in level three.
The H2 Covert siren’s handheld controller is a great solution for today’s compact vehicles. It can be mounted much like a radio hand-mike or, in undercover applications, stored out of sight until needed. A 25-foot extension cable is provided, allowing for trunk installation of the amplifier. Backlight buttons change color when selected, and the backlighting can even be turn off. The H2 Covert siren is backed by a five-year warranty and meets SAE J1849, 2004/104/EC and California Title 13 guidelines.
Code 3 has given a lot of thought to motorcycles. Specifically, it has turned out complete warning solutions for Harley-Davidson and other police motorcycles. The Motor Patrol Ready packages are user configurable with tons of options available. The Harley-Davison package in particular allows for dozens, if not hundreds, of possible configurations of lights and sirens.
All lights are LED with Optix, LED-X, or XT series versions to select from. Of special note are the forward-facing Par36 LED lightheads and the SuperVisor™ windscreen mounted “lightbar.” Together, these two lights provide as much warning power to the front as some roof-mount lightbars. Pick your colors, and be confident that your motor officers will be noticed.
Side and rear lighting options for the Motor Patrol Ready package are impressive in their own right. No fewer than eight light mounting positions are offered per side, each having several variations to choose from. The rear lighting duties are handled by a multitude of XT3 lightheads in any of five mounting locations, with a four-head mini-light stick available for rear mounting on the radio box. Three siren options allow you to pick waterproof or water-resistant, with or without a PA feature. Of course, the siren is a full 100-watt unit.
There’s more. Code 3’s sister company, Kustom Signal, offers its new, smallest in the industry Raptor radar or proven Golden Eagle radar for the Motor Patrol Ready Program. The Road Warrior, a completely new digital video system, designed specifically for motorcycle applications, is also available. Check with your Code 3 dealer for more on its motorcycle products.
With all these new products, it’s easy to see why the folks at Code 3 are so enthusiastic about the direction the company is headed. The TriCore technology holds great promise for the future of emergency vehicle lighting, and initial impressions have been very positive. The next idea in lighting is here, and it will be interesting to see how competitors respond to the challenge. If you have not given Code 3 products a long, hard look recently, now is the time. Be warned. The company’s future is bright, so wear your shades!
Matthew Ayers is the owner of Command & Control Installations in Sevierville, TN, and is currently a sergeant with the Sevierville, TN Police Department. He can be reached at C2installs@charter.net.