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Federal Signal State-of-the-Art

Written by Police Fleet Manager Staff

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 System.

 

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 multicolor LEDs.

 

Valor Lightbar

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 response.

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 reflector solutions.

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, white.

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.)

 

SmartSiren Platinum

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.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, May/Jun 2013

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