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Frequently Asked Questions
OmegaLite® represents the most reliable hand held light source
ever made. NightStar's unique and fascinating design has inspired
people to ask the following excellent questions.
Can light output be made brighter by replacing
the LED with an incandescent bulb?
An incandescent bulb is highly inefficient and requires significantly
more energy than an LED. The capacitor in OemgaLite can only power
a filament light bulb for several seconds but can power an LED for
several minutes. An incandescent bulb also has a lifetime of approximately
500 hours and is extremely fragile. Quite frequently, a bulb will
break before it burns out. By comparison, the LED used in OmegaLite
will operate for more than 50,000 hours and is nearly unbreakable.
Therefore, for reasons of energy efficiency and reliability, an
LED is the logical choice for the OmegaLite emergency light.
Can adding more LEDs increase the light output?
The ETS (Energy Transformation System) Cell within NightStar can
power more than one LED, and with each LED added, the light output
will increase. However, power consumption will also increase with
each LED added to the system. Consequently, the duration of light
output obtained from a fully charged capacitor will diminish, thereby
requiring Omegalite to be shaken more frequently. Adding more LEDs
will also increase the cost of the device. Therefore, one LED was
chosen in order to maximize the time between recharge cycles and
to minimize the unit cost.
Why was a lens chosen for the output window?
Placing a specially designed acrylic lens at the appropriate point
effectively collects and images the light output from the LED. The
lens also serves as a window, and due to its design it is able to
withstand tremendous pressure, shock and hazardous chemical environments.
Therefore, with a single component, optimum light output and durability
Can batteries be included in the design to
allow for a longer, brighter light output?
A battery will power the LED in the OmegaLite for several hours
at its' maximum light output (the same light output obtained when
the capacitor is fully charged and the light is first turned on).
Additionally, the ETS Cell in OmegaLIte can be used to charge a
battery as well as a capacitor. However, the energy storage capability
of a battery is many times greater than the capacitor used in OmegaLite.
Consequently, it would require thousands of shakes to recharge a
battery using an ETS Cell. Also, the lifetime of a rechargeable
battery is rather limited when compared to a capacitor. The capacitor
in OmegaLite can be recharged several hundred thousand times. Rechargeable
batteries, such as NiCd, NiMH, and LiIon, can only be charged and
discharged several hundred times. * Batteries also fail to work
effectively in cold environments; capacitors do not suffer this
problem. Finally, batteries are both costly and considered a hazardous
material. Batteries that depend on chemical reactions not only pose
a danger to the environment but are also corrosive and can destroy
a flashlight. Adding a battery to the OmegaLite would therefore
weaken its design and marketability. One of the most unique and
significant features of OmegaLiteis that it will never need replacement
parts or maintenance. The components within OmegaLite and their
integrated design yield a product that can be relied upon to light
the way., anytime, anywhere.
*The rated lifetime of these devices is determined by the number
of cycles it takes to reach 80% of their rated energy storage capacity.
The user will still get additional cycles after the rated life however.
The diminished storage capacity means less useful battery life
How is the charging magnet reflected at either
end of the flashlight?
Neodymium magnets are mounted at both ends of the flashlight and
are oriented to repel the charging magnet. The magnetic repulsion
recoil system smoothly decelerates and accelerates the charging
magnet back through the coil without loss in mechanical energy.
Consequently, the loss of energy due to friction is extremely small
and is only the result of the cylindrically shaped nickel-plated
charging magnet sliding through a polished tube. Kinetic energy
is therefore efficiently coupled into electrical energy with almost
no degradation to the system. Lasting performance is obtained with
Why is the housing made from plastic?
Most importantly, any type of metallic housing will prevent the
charging magnet from moving effectively through the coil. This is
due to free electron eddy currents being set up in the metal housing
when the charging magnet travels through the barrel. Consequently,
magnetic fields generated by the eddy currents in the housing oppose
the magnetic field of the charging magnet. The faster the charging
magnet tries to move, the stronger the opposing fields will be in
the housing. Therefore, the charging magnet will never pass through
the coil with enough speed to charge the energy storage capacitor.
The plastic housing is superior to a metal housing in several other
ways as well. The material and manufacturing costs of plastic are
far less expensive then aluminum (aluminum is a likely choice for
a metal housing). Additionally, OmegaLite's plastic housing will
never rust or oxidize and weighs less then an aluminum housing that
would provide the same amount of crush resistance. The plastic used
in OmegaLite is an alloy of polycarbonate and ABS (Clear OmegaLite
however, is made of pure polycarbonate; polycarbonate/ABS is not
available in clear). Polycarbonate/ABS was chosen for two reasons.
First, it is difficult to break even at cold temperatures, and second,
it is unaffected by salt water, mild acids, alcohol, methanol, ammonia
based cleaners and is corrosive resistant when briefly exposed to
petroleum products such as gasoline, oil and grease. Clear OmegaLite's
however, are not as chemical-resistant against petroleum products
but have slightly higher impact strength.
What are the magnets made of and how are they
The magnet is an anisotropic sintered ceramic containing neodymium,
iron and boron (NdFeB). The anisotropic nature of the material (meaning
that it has properties that differ according to the direction of
the measurement) is due to the tetragonal crystalline structure
of the NdFeB molecule. The magnetic dipole associated with each
crystal lattice site aligns itself along a well-defined axis within
the bulk material. As a consequence of its molecular magnetic structure,
the material is remarkable in two ways. First, it possesses a high-density
magnetic field because of the alignment uniformity of the magnetic
dipoles, and second, it will hold this field for an extremely long
time even when orientated for repulsion with another magnet or subjected
to extreme temperatures. All of the magnets in OmegaLite were initially
slugs or disks of ceramic NdFeB. They were then plated with either
nickel (the charging magnet and the switch activation magnet) or
zinc plated (the repulsion magnets mounted on either end of the
light). The plating, which gives the magnets a metallic look, serves
to protect the magnet from corrosion, chipping and scratching. Nickel
is a standard, tough, smooth coating and zinc protects the magnet
and provides an excellent bonding surface. The zinc plated repulsion
magnets, which are pressed and epoxied into pockets will therefore
only come out when the flashlight is totally destroyed. Finally,
the coated ceramic pieces are placed in a torroid chamber that converts
electricity into an extremely high strength magnetic field. The
ceramic pieces become magnetized within a few seconds and will remain
so for thousands of years.
How does the switch work?
Inside the switch is a small magnet. As the switch is moved forward
the magnet slides over and activates a reed switch mounted on the
circuit board inside the flashlight. When the reed switch is activated
(or closed) energy in the capacitor flows through the LED. This
design feature has several advantages over conventional mechanical
switches used in other flashlights. The most significant advantage
is reliability; the simple sliding plastic switch can not corrode
or wear out and the reed switch is rated at over 1 million cycles.
In comparison, mechanical push button or toggle switches have components
that corrode and springs that fatigue after limited on/off cycles.
Another key advantage to OmegaLite's switch design is that it does
not require a watertight seal since the magnet on the outside is
able to activate the reed switch through the plastic housing. Finally,
because the electrical circuit is not exposed to the outside world
(as with a typical mechanical switch) there is no possibility of
igniting combustible materials.
Can NightStar's beam penetrate through smoke?
Experiments conducted in the "Zero Visibility Smoke Chamber"
at the firefighting training and test facility in Loveland, Colorado
demonstrated that OmegaLite's blue-white beam, though not useful
as an illumination source, is quite effective as an emergency signaling
light and can be seen through smoke over 20 feet away. By comparison,
the high power lights typically used by firefighters penetrate only
a few feet through smoke while simultaneously back scattering off
the smoke particles and blinding the searcher. OmegaLite's beam
appears as a blue-white shaft of light that extends out 3 to 4 feet
from the searcher and has no blinding backscatter problems.
(All tests were made possible by the tremendous support of the
Loveland Fire Department. Smoke in the chamber was produced by burning
hay and couch fabric material.)
Is a pacemaker sensitive to the magnetic field
that surrounds NightStar?
OmegaLite can affect a pacemaker's normal mode of operation. If
the heart rate of a person with a pacemaker drops below a preset
value (typically 85 beats per minute), an internal sensor monitoring
the person's heart rate activates the pacemaker. A pacemaker will
not send electrical signals to a person's heart unless their heart
rate drops below the preset value. In order to test whether a pacemaker
is operating properly, a reed switch is built into the unit so that
an external magnet held up to the patient's chest will close the
reed switch and deactivate the internal heart rate sensor. When
this happens, the pacemaker turns on and begins sending electrical
signals to the heart at the preset value. Pacemakers are typically
tested once or twice per year in specially equipped hospitals. If
a pacemaker begins sending signals to the heart at a rate of 85
beats per minute and the heart is already beating at a greater rate,
an arrhythmia condition can be triggered. The possibility of this
occurring is extremely rare; less than 1 percent of the people with
pacemakers would be susceptible to this condition, and those that
are, are in many cases already bed ridden. A magnetic field with
a strength of 90 gauss brought within 1.5 inches (40 cm) of a pacemaker
will close the reed switch. The magnet in OmegaLite has a surface
field strength of over 5200 gauss. Consequently, in order to avoid
turning on a pacemaker, OmegaLite should be held no closer than
2 inches (5 cm) from the chest. At this distance the field strength
has dropped to approximately 30 gauss. A cautionary statement regarding
the effect OmegaLite has on pacemakers is printed on the product
packaging and instruction booklet. (This information was obtained
from a phone conversation with one of the largest manufacturers
of pacemakers in the U.S.)