|The Ultimate Camping Lantern is FCO!|
|How many times have you found yourself
on a campsite communing with nature under a beautiful
starlit night sky to have your enjoyment of the nocturnal
elements mercelessly impacted by adjacent campers
with a highly obtrusive camping lanterns
beaming lumens all over the place?
Our trip to Walmart in preparation for a camping trip found the following camping utility in our basket -- a neat battery operated lantern for less than $6.00! What a deal, however, one often gets what they pay for. In this case, we got much more glare than we had expected, and as a result, we would have turned into another fun-loving but unknowingly obnoxious camper obliterating the enjoyment of the peaceful night for someone else beside us.
|A bit of engineering was needed
to cure the ubiquitous glare emitted by this
lantern. First, a flat shield was created from roof
flashing that fit underneath the top of the shade to
prevent direct uplight from coming out of the open top.
This provided an improvement that removed much of the glare when carrying the lantern, however, it
did nothing to prevent horizontal glare from
traveling an enormous distance in dark surroundings.
A stiff chrome plated wire loom fits into the plastic pilaster where the bulb is mounted and extends up into a loop that allows hanging and also holds the shade in place. The shade distributes some of the glare to a larger surface area, however, in dark surroundings this light still causes enormous uplighting and light trespass that extends negative impacts over great distances. The illumination under the lamp left a lot to be desired as indicated in the photo below.
Notice how a veil of luminance obscures the lantern and the surface below due to the high contrast being created by the shade. Imagine the impact a lantern like this has on adjactent campers 100 feet away! From a distance this fixture looks like a construction light on the side of a highway! Clearly, something better had to be developed.
|Hmmm...how could one create an effective
shield that would fit inside of the shade and provide
full cutoff optics performance? Since the pineapple
juice can FCO shield performed so well for the residential porch
light shielding, perhaps a smaller can would suffice for these shielding needs,
The wire loom holding the plastic shade is slightly smaller in cross-section than a tomato paste can diameter. These little cans were used to create the first battery operated full cutoff camping lanterns and the results were truly amazing!
Careful measurements were made to determine whether the can would suit the intended purpose. It was the perfect size in every direction, including its diameter. Two holes were punched and reamed to the size of the wire and a putty knife easily cut a slit between the two holes. A bit of pressure forced the loop of wire loom through the slit in the top of the can and it rested perfectly about 1/2 inch below the bulb. The plastic shade was refitted and covered the can entirely, so when turned off the lamp looks identical to the photo at the top of the page.
When the switch is turned on a completely different lighting effect enabled much better visual conditions. The surface below and directly adjacent to the lamp improved ten fold in quality and the cutoff angle meets the IESNA 80 degree specification. Illuminance measured above the 80 degree line dropped off to zero on the 1/100 footcandle scale of the light meter as the sensor approached the horizontal plane. An FCO camping lantern has indeed been achieved, all thanks to 4 ounce tomato paste cans and a bit of imagination!
|If you are prone to enjoy sleeping outdoors in campsites, before you plan your next trip why not carefully assess the lighting you will be using? Building very effective shielding for your lights will improve the lamp's performance and enhance your visual acuity. It will also improve safety for everyone near your campsite and significantly reduce the impact your lighting has on others in the campground as well. These camping lanterns now have three years of in the field performance and we are very satisfied with the results. Not only will this modified camping lantern serve our needs more effectively than its original design ever could, it also serves as an incredible tool helping teach the benefits of full cutoff lighting to everyone who comes within view of our campsite after dark!|
|Below is a demonstration showing the before and after effects we have experienced in the field when this type of shielding is applied.|
|Click here to view plans|
Taming the Gas Coleman Lantern
A common element at nearly every campsite is the enormously bright gas powered lantern. Retardless of where you go someone has one searing into everyone's eyes and lighting up the trees as well as trespassing into other campers' nearby space. There is hope for taming this beast, however.
To make shields for the typical gas mantle lantern with a straight cylindrical glass lens the most durable material is aluminum roof flashing available in 8" wide rolls from any reasonably well stocked hardware store. Usually a 50 yard roll costs less than $10, but you can shield many outdoor lights of different kinds with what is left, PLUS repair your roof someday so it is well worth the investment. This flashing also works quite well for making griddle cakes for breakfast on a Coleman grille or gas stove. Nothing like a stack of hotcakes on those crisp dewy mornings!
A good pair of tinsnips is an invaluable tool for any well equipped camper, and this shielding materal cuts like a hot knife through butter when you have the proper tools. All hardware stores sell tinsnips and they are reasonably priced. We never go camping without a pair of them in the trunk for emergencies. A heavy duty pair of scissors will also suffice, but they will get dull and may get nicks when cutting metal. Tinsnips will not get dull when cutting metal because their jaws are hardened and they are well worth the investment.
Click on the image below and review the concept of how this lantern shield works and where its relationship to the bottom of the gas mantels must be located for it to shield the glare and reflect useful light downward and outward effectively. Print this diagram for future reference.
Here is how the gas lantern shield is created. Refer to the diagram above as needed.
For more ideas, or if you have questions about how to easily create effective shielding for one or more of your camping lanterns or outdoor lights feel free to contact me with your thoughts. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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|©2001-2005 Cliff Haas|