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Old 22-03-2008, 11:43   #1
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Bebi LED lights

Hi,

I thought I had been on this board before talking about Fiji, but I was confused between this board and Cruisers Log (same bbs software, I guess). Just to introduce myself to those who don’t know me from other boards, like SSCA, Cruisers Log, CS-BB and others, I’m 1/3 of the directors of Bebi Electronics, Ltd. in Fiji. I’ve been a live-aboard sailor since ’81, and cruising/working/living in a variety of SoPac islands since ’86. We are currently moored up in Savusavu, as we accepted a contract to manage Waitui Marina (where our business office is) when my wife (and one of the directors) became 'in a family way'. Gavin, my son was born in January, has 1500nm under his belt, and at the end of this year when our contract runs out, we'll be moving back home to Fawn Harbour, where our manufacturing is.

Normally, I stick to Fiji, cruising, or electronics in general, and I wouldn’t respond to a discussion about our products directly (advertising, not really appropriate to the spirit of the boards), but being slightly slandered (no need to panic, I’m an American by birth, not outlook: No one’s getting sued!), I feel somewhat compelled to respond, hopefully including information that will be of general use in purchasing LED lighting products, in general, also.

Here goes:

In the early 1970’s, I purchased a set of Bose Speakers. Dr. Bose of MIT, the inventor, refused to ever publish any specs in lieu of getting into the specs ‘game’ (more later about this).

Bebi Electronics is currently using the Nichia NSPW5nnDS series of 5mm ‘lamp-type’ LEDs in its products.

Dr. Nakamura of Nichia is credited with being the inventor of the ‘ultra-bright white’ (in quotes, as in lighting, the terms ‘ultra’, ‘bright’ and ‘white’ are as valid as they are in a soap powder advert), and continues to lead the field in the chemistry of the PN junction (think filament of a light bulb) and the reflector, which turns the ‘blue’ LED into a white one.

Unlike SSC (Seoul Semi-Conductor), who is embroiled in constant legal battles with Nichia for ‘lifting’ its reflector technology, Phillips LumiLED took a different approach in the chemistry of its reflector phosphor, which saved it a lot of court battles, but also produces a slightly (slightly, mind you!), less ‘white’ device.

As long-term Nichia customers, we were using the ‘DS’ series device in our products prior to their official production release last November (2007). This is thus, far from an old technology in the actual LED dice.

Moving forward (and why the comments aren’t a complete slander), is that rather than using an SMT device with heat sinking, we have instead chosen to remain with the 5mm (T1-3/4) form, as opposed to switching to a device package, such as is sold by Phillips, which relies heavily upon a heat sink technology to drive the junction at a higher current without destroying either the PN junction, or the reflector coating.

There are many reasons why we have chosen the 5mm lamp approach, in spite of the technology advantages of the SMT case design of Phillips, the largest two of which are; first, the issue of waterproofing our product; second, our secondary business goals are to have the units assembled by hand, rather than robotically, so that they can be manufactured in the village of Bagasau.

Aside from the case differences, something else that needs be looked at is how we arrive at our specification numbers, as opposed to what others advertise (the specs ‘game’).

We advertise what the average lumens are, across the light cone specified, with the actual bin lots we purchase, at the actual drive levels that we run the LEDs at. The idea here is to give the customer as realistic representation of what they are buying as possible. Since a lot of our customers are converting from halogen or incandescent, I’ve tried my best to graphically illustrate the differences in the technologies (and other ‘stuff’) on our page Bebi Electronics-What Our Marine RV & Off Grid LED Specifications Mean in an accessable way as I can, while still remaining technically accurate.

(This is going to get technical, sorry. If you aren’t interested, skip down to the paragraph beginning ‘Back to the Bose…’) Taking a look at the Phillips web site at what they advertise as being their ‘latest and greatest’, the Luxeon K2 with TFFC, and downloading their paper, DS16, take a look at diagram 19. What they rate in their advertising is the MAXIMUM output at the zero axis, not an average over the entire coverage section, as we do.

Further, you have the amount of light produced as opposed to the input current. Again, relying on the same document, Figure 1, and column labeled ‘typical’ (which is what we base our own numbers on, not maximum), you’ll see 220lm/1.5a of drive current, or, stated another way, it produces 0.147 lm/1mA. If you were to apply (in the case of our Kalokalo light) 60mA, that would be 8.8 lm (as opposed to our 15) generated from their device for the same input current, but again, only at the maximum point, not the average!

As you can see from the above example, the total quantity of light emitted from an LED is a matter of how much current you drive it with, but the efficiency of the LED is remains based on the chemistry of the PN junction.

Since the object of the exercise is to reduce current consumption and cabin heat (where do you think the heat from the sink goes), what is the point?

In addition, LEDs will not cure bad backs, failing sex drive or flat feet. If you want a nice, warm, evenly and fully lit, cabin, stay with (or move to) a CF. (LEDs day will come, however!) At 1.5a drive, an Alpinglo CF light does a great job of cabin lighting (we have no connection with Alpinglo, I just think they make a nice product)!

The advantages to the Phillips approach to an OEM are obvious to an OEM-if you can drive a single device harder, as opposed to multiple devices, you can save a considerable amount of assembly costs, especially using SMT devices in a robotic environment.

Another little ‘gotcha’ is the concept of ‘binning’ by manufacturers of LED devices. What is often published is the performance of the highest rated ‘bin’ of a given device. (My opinion is that the manufacture of the ‘white’ LED is in its infancy, as the binning of devices is done after manufacture based on testing of the completed lot, not something ordered by the Production Control department. I cannot qualitatively substantiate my opinion). The specifications that small lots of LEDs are typically sold as being are those of the highest bin sort, not the lowest or the mid-range.

Which devices an OEM receives is a function of what is ordered and what is allowed to be ordered; typically a range of bins is all that is allowed by the manufacturer.

In the case of Bebi Electronics specifications, we specify based on the bin range that we order, not what the maximum bin is within the device range: ~30% greater output than what we are actually using. Again, the emphasis is on accuracy and integrity, not ‘specsmanship’, however tempting it may be (and you’d have to look at our bottom line to understand the temptation!).

Back to the Bose Speakers: I eventually sold and replaced them first with JBL studio monitors, then later replaced them with a pair of ‘baby Maggies’ and a 36” Cerwin-Vega sub-woofer. (Pent-ultimately, I found I didn’t care for the sound of the Bose 901s. Ultimately, I found I didn’t even like living on land, sold the whole shooting match, used the proceeds for a down payment on my first boat, and moved aboard it in ’81.)

Light, as is similar to sound, is truly a very, very personal thing, and no two people ever perceive light colour or intensity exactly the same. The CIE chart merely defines for comparison, it does not indicate what you see. Just to make the old farts feel worse, you loose roughly 50% of light energy sensitivity by age 50, between 50 and 60, another 50%! A radio comparison (as cruisers you would be familiar with) would be if you saw at age 20 ‘S-9’, at 50 it would be ‘S-8’, and 60 ‘S-7’.

My suggestion is rather than converting all of your lamps at the same time to the same brand of device (including our own!), is to get down to a ‘short list’, purchase one of each, and if you like it, continue the march with it.

No single manufacturer can meet the expectations or desires of every persons ‘taste’ in both colour and intensity.

Thanks for wading thru all this crap, you’ve earned a gold star AND brownie button!
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Old 23-03-2008, 12:28   #2
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If I ever get a boat I plan to buy your lights for it. I have read a lot from numerous sellers.

I have heard one thing about the anchor/masthead white light. It is that it is too white and looks like a star. Have you heard it and are you going to try to make a "more yellow" light?
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Old 23-03-2008, 15:39   #3
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Thanks for the kind words, and apologies to anyone who read my post as being an advert for our products: It was not my intent to advertise, it was/is intended to be a correction to an intent to mislead based on specification manipulation.

Yes, the 'moonwhite' colour emitted by the 'truer white' LEDs can easily be mistaken for a star at a distance. I'm personally not a big fan of mounting a masthead anchor light in the first place, we have ours thrown over the main boom, a better place would be in the foretriangle, but it was simpler to wire it up where it is (main boom over the cockpit).

The logic is that I can't/won't anchor someplace where a large ship needs 2 miles to react if they see my anchor light; it'll run aground first. I anchor in places where I'm worried about a half-asleep fisherman is coming in at night and is only looking directly forward. If my anchor light illuminates part of the deck so as to make my boat look like a boat, so much the better.

On the emitted light colour, to the best of my knowledge at this second, there isn't really an single LED dice which can produce a true 'warm' (ie; white-ish/yellow-ish/red-ish) light, based on my interpretation of the published light boundry co-ordinates.

There is a method that can produce any colour that you'd like in a single package, which is referred to as an RGB LED. All that needs be done is to dial in, via drive current, to each of the 4 leads (3 anodes, 1 cathode) within the package to get the colour out that you'd like.

Besides the cost, there are two problems with this route. The first is that the maximum intensity of light which can be derived is limited to the 'weakest sister' of the three dice within the package; the second is the design of the reflector/lens combination within the package to accomodate three physical devices simultaneously, which again limits the intensity.

Not being either a chemist or a physicist, my 'best guess' is that the RGB technology will overcome its limitations sooner than the single dice/coated reflector approach will.

Hope this helps and best,
Michael
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Old 23-03-2008, 19:28   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Homsany View Post
Thanks for the kind words, and apologies to anyone who read my post as being an advert for our products: It was not my intent to advertise, it was/is intended to be a correction to an intent to mislead based on specification manipulation.
The mods here are very conservative and jump in quickly. Stick around and you'll see that the result is one of the calmest forums around. They pulled my first post when I got in here, too. Mine was a rant against a manufacturer, which they don't allow, either.

I was pleased to note that you recommend CFLs over LEDs for area lighting. Most LED manufacturers play the rating game to say LEDs are more efficient than CFLs, which they aren't for area lighting (end lumens vs lumens) although they are getting closer all the time. What makes sense to me is to use CFLs for 110v area lighting and LEDs for 12v lighting and all running lights. The vibration resistance of LEDs is the biggest advantage for me. I'm surprised to not see more LED lighting on boats. Especially running lights.

-dan
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Old 23-03-2008, 21:05   #5
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Michael, thank you for sharing some of this information with us from the manufacturer's point of view. It is all too rare that we have guest who will do that.

I'm aware that at least one manufacturer of "white" LEDs apparently has so much variation in the manufacturing process, that they sort the run into three bins (each having twice the brightness of the next, i.e. 2-4-8 comparative brightness) and then each of the three bins gets sorted again for color (white, whiter, whitest) so that there are nine disctinctly different LEDs in any UNsorted batch the consumer may buy, such as from a surplus house. Now, a little color variation might not bother many of us, but to find a fourfold variation in BRIGHTNESS....that would just turn me off.
And of course, for those of us buying less than a thousand at a shot, we just can't usually buy sorted ones by bin-type.

In the past 2-4 years I've watched LEDs come down from "commercial users only" to the point where they're actually rational now for some of us. Sticking $200-600 up the mast is still simply unaffordable for most daysailors, but considering what an LED aloft can do towards revising the entire energy budget (and cost of fuel, alternators, batteries) for someone who is simply using the boat for 3 nights under way versus day sailing...LEDs are certainly a rationale (if pricey) choice more often these days.

How do you feel about the "magic" solutions that flash LEDs, so they are not really constantly on, supposedly lowering overall power gain but supposedly not reducing LED life or creating other drawbacks? About putting more than just the bulb up there and what electronics can/can't add to the picture?

And about how long the LEDs will last, with any tradeoffs in power for birghtness and longevity?
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Old 23-03-2008, 22:29   #6
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I just upgraded my cabin lights with your Rinorino 12 LED lights (last one was just finished and is sitting on the computer desk right now.)
Nice and bright and only draws 40mA!
Look forward to upgrading the navigation lights with your products next.
Keep up the good work.
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Old 23-03-2008, 22:46   #7
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Re anchor lights, the garden light LED's are a popular choice as an anchor light in NZ they are solar charging and apart from having one blown off the boat in hurricane force winds they seem to go forever without any problems. They give a distinctive light that although isn't all that bright it is different from other surounding lights and catches the eye because they are not so yellow as the 12V bulbs normally used. I have mine on the arch at present and although it would probably be better in the fore triangle it is as equally visible where it is.
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Old 24-03-2008, 12:14   #8
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Quote:
How do you feel about the "magic" solutions that flash LEDs, so they are not really constantly on, supposedly lowering overall power gain but supposedly not reducing LED life or creating other drawbacks? About putting more than just the bulb up there and what electronics can/can't add to the picture?
Turning the light on/off very quickly (PWM) is a common current regulation scheme. It saves no energy in the lighting (which is where all the energy goes anyways), but it is a more efficient method than the linear current regulation that we use (which I guess is a statement of what I feel about it!). On the other hand, it is more expensive to implement (but going down, as LED specific drivers are on the market now) and there is a potential for the switching transients of getting into other electronics (a competitor has received a serious, but not really deserved, 'black-eye' because in very rare circumstances, their LED electronics 'gets into' marine band VHF. I call it 'not deserved' as the radio should have sufficient immunity designed into. Hams have suffered from this sort of crap for years; being blamed for cheap TV design).

PWM is what is used also to dim LEDs, which also raises a thought I've had (but have no answers to): COLREG specifically disallows any scheme to control intensity on a navigation lamp. LEDs, whose output is more or less linear to current, must have some sort of a scheme incorporated to limit current, and thus intensity, or they'll blow up (technical phrase there, sri ).

Various nations have certified LEDs as approved for use on their flagged vessels, but COLREG is yet to be modified to account for technology changes. Hmmm! Food for thought! I don't think anyone really gives a hoot about recreational sailors, but it might be a while before you see them on trans-ocean shipping!

Quote:
And about how long the LEDs will last, with any tradeoffs in power for birghtness and longevity?
I'm sorry, that's just too big of a question, its all dependent on the build of the LED itself. (Since I'm already 'sin-binned' , I did note on the Phillips web site that on one of their graphs, they illustrated the life of the cheapest Asian 5mm LED as being 'typical'. Bush League!). A well designed, well built LED lighting product should give you a life of 50k hours with a degeneration of no more than 50% (this isn't as dramatic as it may sound, look at the COLREG distance scales: 1nm=1 lm, 2nm=4 lm, 3nm=12 lm, perception of intensity and distance seen is NOT linear!).

Quote:
I just upgraded my cabin lights with your Rinorino 12 LED lights (last one was just finished and is sitting on the computer desk right now.)
Nice and bright and only draws 40mA!
Look forward to upgrading the navigation lights with your products next.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks!

Quote:
the garden light LED's are a popular choice as an anchor light in NZ they are solar charging and apart from having one blown off the boat in hurricane force winds they seem to go forever without any problems.
So long as you're aware of the range limits, its your boat, why not? Most I've looked at have ni-cads that you can/should replace when they start not making it thru the night. And, if they do go south, they're cheap enough that you can store a spare set of 'guts' with the battery out (after charging first).

In places in the US (and EU?), you might get cited as they aren't COLREG compliant (in the US, certification documentation for nav lights is only required of manufacturers, importer, etc. of new recreational boats produced after 2002, not the current owner/operator, as per 33CFR Sub-Part M, paragraph 183.801-803).

And of course, consider my question above about COLREG and dimming!
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Old 24-03-2008, 13:53   #9
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T....and there is a potential for the switching transients of getting into other electronics (a competitor has received a serious, but not really deserved, 'black-eye' because in very rare circumstances, their LED electronics 'gets into' marine band VHF. I call it 'not deserved' as the radio should have sufficient immunity designed into. Hams have suffered from this sort of crap for years; being blamed for cheap TV design).
Michael,
I don't understand your argument here. You put an LED tri-color on the top of mast, where it belongs, and it by necessity gets placed very close to the mast head VHF antenna, this induces noise onto the VHF and you feel it is the VHF's fault?

Not arguing, just really interested in your thoughts here.

Paul L
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Old 24-03-2008, 14:34   #10
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this induces noise onto the VHF and you feel it is the VHF's fault?
You have to understand that this feels really weird to me, being placed in the sin bin for advertising and defending another manufacturer!

Nevertheless, as a long-term boat person and ham (home call AH8E, first licenced as KH8AG) I do feel that better noise immunity should be built into a product sold for marine use, esp. with the plethora of other electronics on boats 'these days'. If you'd like to get an earful from another party about shoddy radio design, query Greg in the Communications Forum of the SSCA board.

My thoughts tho is that the 'other company' has to change it's design as a consequence or continue to suffer as a result.

On a humourous note, when my wife and I were first dating, I was going to put up a little 2m vertical at her house so she could hit the local repeater easier. The first night, we only had enough time to put up the ABS sewer pipe that we were going to use as a mast. The next day, the landlord complained that it was ruining her TV reception!
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Old 24-03-2008, 14:50   #11
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... The first night, we only had enough time to put up the ABS sewer pipe that we were going to use as a mast. The next day, the landlord complained that it was ruining her TV reception!
You sure it was ABS and not Carbon fiber

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Old 25-03-2008, 23:52   #12
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Michael, you are not "sin-binned". This is a Vendor forum. You can openly discuss your product here without any issues. As you know most Forums do not allow Vendors to promote their products in any way shape or form. At CF We have created a specific Forum that a Vendor can discuss his product in with no consequence. Members can then choose to view here or not. In our regular forums, you can answer direct questions to your product. But you can not take the discussion further than the direct question. You can not discuss prices in any regular Forum. You can here in the Vendor Forum.
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Old 26-03-2008, 11:44   #13
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Cool, and thanks for the info Alan.

And thanks again for letting me publish 'regular' stuff in the main body of the other forums. In general, I far prefer to contribute as a sailor and a SoPac/Fiji resource, something I'd far rather be doing more of than flogging off lights!

Best,
us
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Old 14-07-2010, 01:05   #14
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I have purchased three LED light products from BEBI in Fiji and have found Michael to provide a great service. Not only does he provide employment to locals in Fiji but he backs up his products with great after sales service. After 6 months I had one of his lights fail. The day I notified him of the problem he sent me a replacement.

He gets my endorsement.

Paul
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Old 14-07-2010, 02:56   #15
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G'Day all,

As another very happy Bebi customer, I wonder if Machael is still participating in the CF? I found his earlief contributions to be informative and not too egocentric, and would like to have further conversations with him... Still there Mike??

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Manly Qld Oz
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