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Old 22-04-2016, 05:56   #31
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

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Originally Posted by deblen View Post
This is quite impressive

(link to FLIR video deleted)
Looks like a wonderful gadget, the video states the pros, but IMHO i's but not without it's cons.
  • The thought of some untrained dude who's (probably) been having drinks with guests operating a big power boat with his head buried in a screen while blind to everything else is a real concern to me.
  • The screen would kill any night vision he might otherwise have, and he'd be blind to everything outside the ~24-degree camera view (including another boat on collision course).
  • 320x240 or 640x480 FLIR resolution can't provide a detailed image far enough out for navigation, unless the operator zooms (thereby narrowing the view further). I've used other cameras that have dimilar resolution and field of view limitations.
Maybe there are other issues but that's what comes to mind without having used one.
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Old 22-04-2016, 06:25   #32
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

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If the laser is used for range finding only and not to illuminate the target why not simply put a cap or cover over the laser output lens?

Laser I am used to fires through either the day TV lens or maybe the direct view optics, didn't have its own optical path.
Either way it was easily disabled, just remove power from the thing. Usually it can be physically removed, and a weight substituted in its place, but I don't know about this system, but it is solvable I'm sure.
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Old 22-04-2016, 12:33   #33
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

steve-
Military and government purchasing is not the simple matter that private shopping is. There is often a contract requirement, the terms of which may often reflect "coaching" from someone trying to be a sole supplier. Or regulations. Or simply, the purchasing agent is just some newbie assigned to "purchasing" with no knowledge of the equipment. I have a document that a certain military agency filed with Congress certifying me as the only available sole-source vendor for an item they were purchasing without any bidding process. How they came to me, I never found out. How I found the goods? I made a phone call and asked someone about sources. Why the agency couldn't have done the same thing, I don't know.
Sometimes the procurement details aren't obvious to outsiders. Like the famous coffee pot on the B1 bomber, I think that "scandal" was because it was ten grand a piece? And what the Nooze didn't mention, was some minor detail like the contract spec called for it to remain closed and not eject scalding coffee even during combat maneuvers or a crash. Just a bit more than your standard Mr. Coffee could handle.(G)
The public rarely gets a straight answer on any issue from the Nooze. Even ignoring any questions of "Who got paid off to write this spec?" or "Who's nephew picked this?". And then, sometimes, mistakes just happen.


A better question might be, if a USCG SAR team isn't equipped to find a target at night...Who or what might be able to intentionally enter the country at night without being seen. Forget the SAR, there's a bigger problem being ignored.
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Old 22-04-2016, 12:35   #34
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

The other little minor issue, is the Military is run by Civilians, most often some form of Politician
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Old 22-04-2016, 12:37   #35
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

Which makes the USCG all the more luckier. They're run by administrators in DHS, instead.(G)
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Old 22-04-2016, 12:43   #36
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

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It's not new either, when we went to Bosnia in 96 I think, I asked at a briefing if we were allowed to use the laser to determine location of bad guys, later on we were told the Laser was to be classified as a Weapon, so we could use it only if we were going to shoot. I think that was a good call.
Indeed, laser keys for British tanks were kept in the Armoury for this reason.
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Old 22-04-2016, 17:07   #37
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

What does any of this have to do with the FDA??????

And since when does the Coast Guard, let alone Homeland Security, care about the FDA?

Turn the system on already!!!
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Old 22-04-2016, 18:38   #38
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

sailorboy1,

A quick google search found this on the fda.gov site: FDA’s authority is over the manufacturers of laser products. These products must meet a federal standard for the amount of radiation they can emit and must be properly labeled.

I believe that the military is exempted/allowed to use non-eyesafe lasers, however, they still have to label them IAW FDA requirements. The CG perhaps lost an exemption when they fell under DHS, rather than DoT.

Hellosailor, tracking, I used to write requirements for military products, and as part of my last job in the Army, I tried to reconcile issues between the Army Staff, program managers, acquisition folks and manufacturers.

Unfortunately, the staff reviews currently required are horrible, time-wasting events, and some are not done by people that truly understand the product or the impact that their 'opinion' could have on the capability being requested. Case in point is hollow point ammunition and its use by the military. It is a classic example of relying on precedent and lazy, uninformed DoD lawyers. But I don't want to bog down the post with this distraction. A more aggressive lawyer, and a CG administration ready to fight for what they need, would likely solve this.

Tankersteve
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Old 22-04-2016, 20:33   #39
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

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If you have a problem that results in you floating around in a life raft some dark night and a Coast Guard SAR Chopper flies right over you but keeps on going, you can thank the Food and Drug Administration, if you survive. For more see "Red Tape Keeps Coast Guard Night Vision Equipment idle". Your Government at work....

If you are in the USA, please contact your Congressmen/Senators about this latest "brilliance" on the part of the Administration.
We were the first ones in Canada to have night vision on board for Search and Rescue. We were the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliaries (volunteers) in Lake St Francis near Cornwall Ontario. The NVG we acquired in 1993 and they are still used today and are essential for night searching. I am sure this is a misunderstanding and will be solved sooner than later...
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Old 26-04-2016, 12:59   #40
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

What the F? Why would they do that?
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Old 27-04-2016, 19:37   #41
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

This is moronic.

Until a couple months ago, I ran a very large helicopter engineering company. One of our major products was designs for IR cameras for SAR operations. Some, but not all had this same problem. In fact, we had this precise problem for the 3 Los Angeles Sheriff's Department helicopters we modified.

As A64pilot has surmised, we're not talking about NVG goggles, from what I can glean from the rather poor article. What we're talking abut is the FLIR ball mounted under the helicopter's chin. It's gyro stabilized and has a mighty big zoom lens, low light camera, and IR camera (3 separate sensors). It will also often have a designator laser.

It is the laser, and only the laser, that is often not eye safe. I don't know of any system that can't be easily disabled with "strapping" or wires to various pins. These could be wired to a switch in the cockpit or permanently wired. We permanently wired them for the LASD project, but with a jumper that they could remove in the hangar, but not in flight.

For us, it was an FAA requirement that the laser be disabled as the FDA determined it not to be eye safe. The LASD wasn't that fussed, because they have a filter over the night sun spotlight that can be engaged to only shine in IR and light up an area. It serves their purposes well.

So the issue is certainly easily solved by simply disabling the laser and going flying. If it's taking them more than a couple weeks to that, then somebody's just being either stubborn or stupid (or both).
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Old 27-04-2016, 22:58   #42
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

Chris-
Perhaps not so easily. There are rules (like the CFR section for the FCC dealing with radio modifications for different services) that will state "blah blah MAY NOT BE EASILY MODIFIED for use " and that means if you can have a tech wire in a switch or jumper, that's "easily" modified and the whole thing is still illegal.
Of course, you could change that pesky language, but then the change has to be approved by all the committees, and then it has to be posted for public comment, and then after a comment and review period, it STILL doesn't take effect until 90 days after the change has been published in the Congressional Record. (Thrilling reading, that is.)


So simply following "the process" to make a change, can wind up taking six months. While that might seem to be a problem, the real problem is that someone didn't understand what they were buying and fitting into those helicopters.


It would be faster and simpler to just lease the choppers to the USN for $1 a year, and then second the crews over to active duty in the USN. Then the lasers become legally exempt immediately again, don't they? (sigh)
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Old 28-04-2016, 11:51   #43
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Re: US Coast Guard Night Vision Disabled by FDA

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Chris-
Perhaps not so easily. There are rules (like the CFR section for the FCC dealing with radio modifications for different services) that will state "blah blah MAY NOT BE EASILY MODIFIED for use " and that means if you can have a tech wire in a switch or jumper, that's "easily" modified and the whole thing is still illegal.
Of course, you could change that pesky language, but then the change has to be approved by all the committees, and then it has to be posted for public comment, and then after a comment and review period, it STILL doesn't take effect until 90 days after the change has been published in the Congressional Record. (Thrilling reading, that is.)


So simply following "the process" to make a change, can wind up taking six months. While that might seem to be a problem, the real problem is that someone didn't understand what they were buying and fitting into those helicopters.


It would be faster and simpler to just lease the choppers to the USN for $1 a year, and then second the crews over to active duty in the USN. Then the lasers become legally exempt immediately again, don't they? (sigh)
I'm not talking hypothetically here. We had this precise issue on civil registered aircraft and solved it with an external wiring harness which was certified by the FAA.

Remember that an aircraft isn't legal to fly unless it exactly matches the wiring diagram. A tech can't just go clipping wires without an approved change.

Also, these camera systems cost close to a million dollars each. They are highly customized to the customer's desires and can be configured without a laser.

Whoever bought the system screwed up just like we did and accidentally specified the laser. For a fee, they could easily be sent back and have the last disabled internally or removed.

I'm certainly not suggesting the rules be changed. As you say, that would take forever, and frankly I think the rules are right at least for SAR missions.

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