Federal Signal makes a huge variety of emergency warning
devices. They offer two dozen exterior mount, interior mount, perimeter and
directional warning lights, a dozen different sirens / speakers, a half dozen
flashers and accessories…and an in-car camera system. And that is just in their
red-blue law enforcement line.
Of all their state-of-the-art warning devices, during a
recent plant tour, four of them caught—and held—our attention: the Vision® SLR
and Valor™ lightbars, the SmartSiren® Platinum, and the DTX In-Car Video
Vision SLR Lightbar
The Vision SLR is the latest generation of the Vision
lightbar that revolutionized emergency lights 20 years ago. The Vision SLR
(Solaris LED Rotator) is smarter, more programmable, and with new features.
With available SpectraLux™ multicolor LED technology, the Vision SLR is also
much more powerful.
Federal Signal has made steady improvements to their
V-formation, individual pod, Vision lightbar since its introduction. The Vision
SLR is the very latest, the most versatile with the most features. It is a
premier lightbar, but it is Federal Signal’s best. It was specifically designed
for the maximum officer safety through intersections.
All linear lightbars provide some level of 360-degree
coverage. However, the majority of the light output is still typically within a
60-degree angle to the front and 60-degree angle to the rear. The Vision SLR
has up to eight times more total light output than a typical linear lightbar at
the critical intersection angles but more importantly, has more balanced light
output left-to-right, front-to-rear. In fact, the Vision SLR peak light output
is a 45-degree arc to the left-front and a 45-degree arc to the right-front—maximum
coverage for upcoming intersections.
The Vision SLR uses seven microprocessor-controlled LED
“smart pods” mounted in a V-pattern. The die cast base serves as an LED heat
sink. Unlike nearly all LED lightbars, the Vision SLR pods have rotating
reflectors. These pods use SpectraLux LED multicolor lights, that can be
programmed to flash between red, blue, amber and white.
The pods on the Vision SLR can change color every 1/8th of a
rotation, changing between any combination of colors. The Vision SLR uses
seven, direct-drive stepper motors, which divides a full rotation into a number
of steps. There are no gears. The stepper motor can command the reflector to
move and hold at any one of these steps. The individual pods can be made to
flash, rotate, oscillate, jog or hold steady.
For example, the seven pods can be programmed to display
three red, three blue and one white to the front, while the middle five pods
will display amber to the rear. Or the entire lightbar can be programmed to
display a steady white for scene lighting.
Each reflector has two LEDs that project light upward for
easy aerial location. The FedSig Convergence Network allows literal
plug-and-play upfitting. Using standard RJ45 connections, the Vision SLR can be
programmed using either the SmartSiren Platinum or Vision SLR control head and
a laptop. With control head programmability, the end user can customize the key
pad to program and operate all the functions of the Vision SLR. The lightbar
can be programmed to dim.
The era of 12-volt circuits and electro-mechanical relays is
almost gone. Today, nearly all lightbars are serial controlled. The auto companies
began using CAN bus (controller area network) in the mid-1990s. FedSig had this
in their SignalNet™ controller as far back as 2003. This is a network system
made up of control modules, multiplex cable, operating software modem and data
logger to digitally control the emergency warning system. The Federal Signal
Convergence Network is a controller system that works like a low-cost CAN bus
using CAT-5 cables.
The seven-pod Vision SLR is available in 46-inch, 53-inch
and 60-inch lengths. The lightbar has 12 LEDs per pod and a total current draw
of 18 amps. The Vision SLR is available with an 8-head LED SignalMaster™ for
directional warning. To service, the Vision SLR lightbar is as simple as
removing one screw, twisting the pod to remove it from the base, and unplugging
the connector from the lightbar.
The individual pods can be ordered in either one solid LED
color, like red or blue, or ordered as a multicolor LED. For example, one of
the pods on each side of the V-formation can be multicolor and the rest of the
pods a dedicated color. Of course, the entire lightbar can be ordered with
The Valor lightbar is a fixed position version of the
infinitely variable Vision SLR. The Valor is a V-shaped, extremely low-profile
LED lightbar and Federal Signal’s best-selling V-shape lightbar. That alone
makes the Valor worth a closer look.
Like the Vision SLR, the V-formation Valor is specifically
designed for maximum light output at 45 degrees forward to the left and right.
Off-axis light output is the key to safe intersection clearing. The typical
linear lightbar deflects light for an off-axis warning signal. On the other
hand, the Valor aims its LED modules directly at the intersection for an
off-axis signal. The more direct the off-axis signal, the faster
intersection-approaching traffic will move from detection to recognition to
The Valor uses Solaris LED Reflector modules. Solaris is a
clever reflector design in an area where reflecting light from the LED emitter
is the key to performance. With halogen bulbs, the trick was to effectively
focus the light output. With LEDs, the trick is to effectively distribute the
light output. The Solaris module was the first of the truly effective LED
The Valor lightbar takes a different design approach than
linear lightbars. On a typical lightbar, the LED modules are aimed forward and
light is reflected for an off-axis signal. With the Valor, the LED modules are
aimed off-axis and light is reflected forward for the on-axis signal. The Valor
uses SpectraLux LED multicolor LEDs. This LED lighthead can flash between red,
blue, amber and white. At a steady position in all-white mode, the Valor has
flood light—scene lighting—capability.
For example, the LED modules on the front can be solid color
or one color plus white. The LED modules on the rear can be one color plus
amber. The LEDs are solid red, blue, amber and white or combinations of
red/blue; red or blue/white; red or blue/amber; red, blue, amber; and red, blue,
Like the Vision SLR, the FedSig Convergence Network provides
an easy plug-and-play upfit. Serial controlled, the Valor uses just power,
ground and serial wiring. The Valor has 24 LED light heads in a 44-inch length
with six LEDs per head per color. The current draw for the Valor is 24 amps
(steady) and 12 amps (flashing). The Valor can also be dimmed. The Valor is
built with an integral, 8-head LED SignalMaster for traffic directional
warning. The Valor has integrated vortex generators for increased fuel
efficiency and reduced wind noise. (Think Texas A&M wind tunnel.)
FedSig is about as well-known for its SmartSiren controller
as they are for their lightbars. FedSig recently re-engineered the SmartSiren
from the inside out making the SmartSiren Platinum their newest control system.
FedSig’s Convergence Network simplifies the whole lightbar
and siren upfit with plug-and-play locking connections for serial communication
between the lightbar, siren, amplifier and controller. Convergence Network
products from FedSig include Vision SLR, Valor, Legend, LPX, PA300-CN,
SpectraLux ILS and CN-SignalMaster.
The control head technology makes it the most user and upfit
friendly controller to date. It is simpler than ever to wire, program and
customize. A Windows interface makes the SmartSiren Platinum easy to program for
one vehicle or the entire fleet. Just download the functions of the programmed
software from one control head to the others.
The SmartSiren Platinum has 14 solid state outputs and four
programmable inputs for lights, sirens and other functions. The front of the
amplifier also has diagnostic LEDs that emulate power supplied to the control
system and give a visual confirmation that power is being supplied. This
indicates SignalMaster functions, siren-lightbar activity, and data
transmission. The officer simply has a better idea of what is going on with
individual lights, sirens and other upfitted devices.
The external volume adjustments for the radio rebroadcast
and public address system are easy to reach. The fuses for horns and sirens are
prominent and easy to change. The rear of the SmartSiren Platinum amplifier has
six plug-and-play serial ports that can be used with the Convergence Network.
This means one connection to the amplifier and compatible emergency gear. The
rear of the amplifier includes four 3-amp outputs and four control inputs. The
back of the housing has easy access to park disable, horn ring transfer, and
radio rebroadcast inputs.
The remote control head is simple to read, easy to operate,
and now even faster to upfit. The controls are illuminated and have a solid,
tactile feel. The three-position slide switch is the standard of the industry.
DTX In-Car Video
Federal Signal’s DTX In-Car Video System is a new addition
to their public safety line. The DTX system is digital (as opposed to analog)
for a higher standard of security and improved video quality. Digital also
allows greater flexibility: simplified searches, viewing, transfer, storage and
management of video files.
The DTX system includes a DVR (digital video recorder) with
GPS and built-in 802.11G WiFi. It has a 64GB solid-state drive and supports up
to four channels (cameras) real-time D1 at 30 frames per second. The wireless
mic allows remote system activation frequency hops over 95 channels
(2.400-2.483 MHz) for secure and clear audio. The wireless mic also has a range
of 1,500 feet (line of sight), 10 hours of talk time, and audible, tactile and
LED status indicators.
The front camera has 10X optical zoom and 12X digital zoom
with speed-zoom capability and near-zero lux sensitivity. The rear seat camera
has a built-in microphone and infrared LEDs for nighttime viewing. A
color-coded wiring harness makes for an easy and accurate upfit.
The DTX In-Car Video System captures up to 60 minutes of
pre-event recording. Cameras can be prompted to automatically record with the
keying of the officer’s mic, activation of the emergency lights/sirens, or opening
of the gun lock (up to seven hardwired triggers), or even at a preset GPS
threshold. With an installed WiFi network at the department, DTX will
automatically upload videos.
The DTX System kit includes everything needed including
applicable software licenses. Standard
hardware includes the DVR, the front zoom camera, the rear camera, wireless
mic, and a 4.5-inch monitor with DVR control buttons. Software includes
DTX-CLIENT for in-vehicle viewing, DTX-COMMAND for a fully featured back-office
tool, and DTX-ADS (auto download software), which downloads video from the
mobile DVR via either a wired or wireless network connection. Data such as GPS
location, time/date, DVR temperature, vehicle speed, Google Maps, meta-date
from traffic radar and sensor triggers can be monitored.
When teamed with a 3G/4G wireless connection, the optional
DTX Mobile Link web portal is available. This allows dispatch and command to
view the entire fleet on a Google Earth map in real time and then view live
video from those vehicles. It also allows access to all DVR settings and monitoring.
The DTX-FLEET web portal is a full-featured fleet management tool used to
maintain all equipment in the field.
From lightbars to sirens to video systems, FedSig has a wide
variety of emergency gear specifically designed for the Chevrolet Caprice, Chevrolet
Tahoe, Dodge Charger, Ford Police Interceptor Sedan and Ford Police Interceptor
Utility—all spelled out in vehicle-specific brochures and website pages.