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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    7

    Default Night light for chart work

    Hello all,

    In planning for some night sailing over the coming months, I fitted a short strip of red LED lights over the chart table, simply assuming that this was the correct procedure. I tested them over the last weekend, and not only did I find them too bright (I have about 15 in a ribbon) but the red light made my Imray charts very hard to see. I reverted to a very dim white light, which may have damaged my night vision, but at least I was able to see and plot on the chart.

    What is the correct accepted method for this? White or Red?

    Giles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
    Posts
    13,747

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    Welcome to the forum.

    It is personal choice. I prefer white to red.
    Cynical Scottish almost retired engineer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Me; Nth County Dublin, Boat;Malahide
    Posts
    687

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    Red is the colour that has been used traditionally, but it does make red features on the chart hard to see, as does the dimness of the bulb, as used in the flexible map-reading lamp fitted to most boats built in the last forty years or so. In fact, the brightness of your string of LEDs may be more than would be considered necessary.
    I have acquired a headlamp which has both red and green LEDs, which I hope to experiment with soon, to see if the green light is more suitable.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    I am tempted to try using a very dim white bulb. I think I'd rather be fully informed about the navigation than have the best night vision. If the bulb is dim enough there may be a good balance....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    5,918

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    Whatever you use needs to be VERY dim to avoid defeating your night vision. An LED strip will be WAY too bright - a single low power LED bulb (think instrument panel bulbs) would be more like! Once your eyes have adapted to darkness, they are surprisingly efficient in dim light; even the light from my chart-plotter at it's lowest setting and in night time colours seems very bright. However, night vision is effectively monochrome, so your chart needs to be readable without colour information. Admiralty charts (which adhere to IHO international standards) are certainly designed to be usable in low light conditions; I would have hoped that other suppliers would have looked at that aspect when designing their cartography.

    If you can distinguish colour, the light is too bright and will degrade your night vision once your eyes are fully dark adapted. That's why the colour characterisitics of lights are given in the abbreviations as well as by the chart symbol - the colour of the chart symbol may not be visible.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    2,277

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    I have used a truckers red light for years. The important bit is it has two bulbs in it wired in series , to get a suitably dim light for the truly dark night. Needless to say they have lasted for years, and the current is very very low.
    David

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Southampton
    Posts
    35,250

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    I have both.

    Under the side deck above my chart table is a strip of red LEDs and a strip of white LEDs. They're fed by a dimmer circuit and a changeover switch, so I can select red or white and the preferred brightness. At night I will set these ones to a very dim red, to make the general area of the chart table visible.

    Then, under a wooden lip just above the surface of the table, which hides the clamps that hold the chart in place over the Yeoman, there is a strip of white LEDs angled to spread light across the face of the chart but not shed any upwards. These are on a separate dimmer, and they put just enough white light onto the chart itself so as not to hide red and orange features.

    Finally, the chart table light panel has a master on-off switch that is bigger than all the others and placed against the woodwork so that your hand is naturally guided onto it in the dark. This lets you set the dimmer knobs and red/white switch as required, and then easily flick the whole lot off as you stand up and on as you sit down.

    Some people would probably say I overengineered it

    Pete

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Live London, Sail Solent
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    We have a dim diffused red LED above the table. I find it relatively easy to read anything that isnít magenta but some of older crew members sometimes struggle. I tend to note down anything important that is in magenta on my passage plan notes.

    I do have a head torch that has a red light if I want a little brighter but I use it sparingly and make sure itís off before heading back to the cockpit. Biggest risk to night vision on one of the board I regularly sail is the light in the heads. The switch is just where you might lean if on starboard tack and thereís a window out to the cockpit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Boat (now back in) the Clyde
    Posts
    5,218

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    Quote Originally Posted by prv View Post
    . Some people would probably say I overengineered it .
    Pete
    Yep, I think you have.

    Most of the time below decks will be doing multiple things - kettle on, check chart then make tea/coffee etc. Perhaps heads visit also. Could spend all day fiddling with all your various lights witches and dimmers.

    I tend to keep a small £1.99 LED torch in my pocket at night. And either use this, or more likely simply use the glow from my phone home screen. Both can be moved around to cover all of the tasks without touching any light switches. (Canít actually recall if the boat has a chart table light, suspect it has but that may have been a previous boat. Didnít work on that boat and never bothered to fix it!)

    And I was advised that a head torch is a no no except on singlehanded boats. Other person says something and you immediately turn round and blind them with your eBay torch.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Southampton
    Posts
    35,250

    Default Re: Night light for chart work

    Quote Originally Posted by dunedin View Post
    Could spend all day fiddling with all your various lights witches and dimmers.
    I suppose you could, if you were very bored.

    Otherwise, as it gets dark I just flick the overhead light from white to red and turn the brightness down.

    Pete

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