TURBOFLARE 360



TurboFlare 360, retail $29.95 (www.turboflare360.com)
Manufactured by Synergy Design Group (URL not known)
Last updated 09-14-05





This isn't a true flashlight, but since it uses LEDs, batteries, and some circuitry to produce light, I guess it counts.

The TurboFlare 360 is designed to be a replacement for the old fashioned and dangerous incenindairy (fire-using) road flare. Instead of some flammable chemicals in a stick, the TurboFlare uses 20 red LEDs, which "rotate" 4 or 5 times a second; made to attract attention to a roadside problem, house or apartment problem, boating problem, or just for cool special effects at dances and raves.

It is weatherproof and floats, and it's safe to use around spilled oil and gasoline.

The TurboFlare 360 feeds from four AA cells for approximately 88 hours of life; and when they poop out, you just pop in a new set and keep right on going.


 SIZE



To use the TurboFlare 360, just push and release the rubberised pushbutton on its side, and set it wherever you might typically place an incendiary flare. Since the TurboFlare does not use fire though, you can place them in locations where it might be dangerous to put an ordinary road flare, such as on the roof of your house or car, in a window with curtains, in a boat, in the garden, on the lawn, and in other places besides just in a road.

To turn the TurboFlare 360 off after you're finished with it, just press and release the button on the side of the unit as if you were turning it on.



To change the batteries in your TurboFlare 360, take a small phillips screwdriver (#0 should work fine here), and unscrew & remove the two screws holding the pushbutton switch assembly in place. These screws are semi-captive, and will stay in the switch assembly if you're reasonably careful. Remove this assembly and set it aside. Tip the four used AA cells out of the light, and dispose of or recycle them as you see fit.

With the battery chamber facing you and the light upright, insert two of the four new AA cells in the left hand chamber so the button-end (+) terminal faces up, and insert the other two cells in the right hand chamber so the flat end (-) faces up. There are polarity diagrams embossed in each battery chamber, and on the underside of the TurboFlare's body, if you forget how the batteries go in.

Place the switch assembly back in place, being sure it goes down and sits partway inside the battery opening. It is keyed to fit in one way only, so if it doesn't fit, turn it 180 and try it again. Insert the two screws and tighten them.

There, that was easy, wasn't it?

Measures 96mA on my DMMs 2A scale.

Advertised runtime is over 88 hours per set of batteries.

There is what I believe is a low battery indicator; a 3mm LED that glows yellow when the batteries are running down. I cannot verify this until I have run a set of batteries through it, so please don't ask. Not yet, anyway. :-)
(Edit 04-17-04): I have indeed verified that this yellow LED is a low battery indicator LED, by installing known-weak batteries in the unit and then watching the LED. This LED stays on when there is a low battery condition, letting you know you should change them when you get a chance.




The above picture shows the top of a TurboFlare 360, allowing you to see the LEDs on it.

The TurboFlare 360 appears to be reasonably durable, and should easily withstand rattling around in a car trunk or being stuffed into a glovebox. I believe it can also survive being stepped on, if you aren't watching where you're going and somehow a shoe or boot ends up on top it for a sec.

There are 8 stabilising ribs projecting from the TurboFlare's sides. These ribs help the TurboFlare stay right-side up even if it's windy where you set it. If you somehow manage to break one or two of these ribs, the electrical and optical properties of the TurboFlare will not be altered in the least (as long as you don't break the switch itself), so you can quit worrying about it.

The TurboFlare is advertised as being weatherproof, and is advertised to float. I don't know how submersible they are though, so please don't go diving with them. Leave your TurboFlare 360s on the boat, where they belong. :-)

The TurboFlare is assembled with five screws on the top that fit into five matching nuts on the bottom; the top and bottom halves themselves appear to be waterproofed with two black gaskets that fit on the perimeter between the top and bottom halves.

The LEDs in the TurboFlare are aimed slightly up, so that other motorists can see them when the TurboFlare is placed in the roadway.

I have it turned on as of 4:41pm PDT on 04-17-04, and will see if there is any detectable heat after an hour or so on new batteries. If there is, I'll post my findings on this page.
I don't think there'll be, but you ("ya") never know. ;-)

It's been an hour now and there's no detectable heat from the TurboFlare. It just sits there, happily blinking away.

(Update 09-14-05): From R.B. came this message, posted in its entirety:

I run a volunteer emergency services team in the suburbs of Chicago. We started testing the TFs to replace standard fusees because of the cost replacement (you can't turn off a fusee and reuse it.)

In the Punishment Zone section of your review of the TurboFlare 360 you said:

"I believe it can also survive being stepped on, if you aren't watching where you're going and somehow a shoe or boot ends up on top it for a sec."

On one fire call we responded to, a departing Quint (one of the extremely large ladder trucks with pumps and an aerial platform) did a three point turn, running over one of the TFs three times in the process. It took only minor cosmetic damage (some scrapes on the underside) and a few stress marks on the clear dome where it go pinched by the legs.

We've also had squad cars (weighing 2.25 tons) drive over them, peel out on top of them (which sends them flying) and numerous other trucks and cars drive over them. They so far have taken nothing other than the above described damage, though if you kick one there is a chance you'll hit the power button and shut it off.

I can confirm that it is possible for them to be accidentally activated if left loose in a vehicle trunk.




Picture of it turned on, sitting on the seat of a chair.
I cannot measure the light output, as I do not
have the correct equipment with which to do so.


Quicktime movie (.mov extension) showing the TurboFlare 360 in action.
This clip is approximately 1.6 megabytes (1,653,888 bytes) in length; dial-up users please be aware.
I cannot provide it in other formats, so please do not ask.



TEST NOTES:
Test unit was sent by R.C. of Alaska, and was received on 04-12-04.


UPDATE: 04-20-04
If you have a Sam's Club near you, you can find these priced on clearance at a package of two for $9.81, which is about $4.91 apiece.
I don't know how long this price is good for, so you'd better jump on it now. :-)


UPDATE: 05-31-04
Since the TurboFlare 360 is advertised to float, I tested it in the bathroom washbasin, and yes, it does float. When floating right-side up, the bezel and LEDs are above the waterline, so diffraction should not be an issue here.
After drying the outside off with some bungwipe, I took the switch off to check the battery compartment for water, and none was found.


UPDATE: 06-23-04
I've heard anecdotal reports that the switch can sometimes activate itself when the TurboFlare is stored loose in a car trunk. I cannot verify this behaviour in my sample though, so please take these findings with plenty of crystalline sodium chloride.


PROS:
Bright, for what it is
Water-resistant, and floats
Should not "fly away" when run over
Has a low-battery indicator LED so you'll know when to change them


CONS:
Stabilising fins could break off if unit is thrown or otherwise mistreated; if fins near the switch become broken, the switch itself could become vulnerable


    MANUFACTURER: S.D.G. Inc.
    PRODUCT TYPE: Emergency road flare
    LAMP TYPE: 5mm red LED
    No. OF LAMPS: 20
    BEAM TYPE: N/A
    SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton on/off
    BEZEL: LEDs protected by plastic cover
    BATTERY: 4x AA cells
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 96mA
    WATER RESISTANT: Yes
    SUBMERSIBLE: Unknown/TBA (it has positive buoyancy)
    ACCESSORIES: None
    SIZE: 8" (20cm) diameter, 2" (4.75cm) high
    WEIGHT: 8.5 oz. empty, 12 oz. fully loaded
    WARRANTY: Lifetime

    PRODUCT RATING:

    Star RatingStar Rating





TurboFlare 360 * www.turboflare360.com







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