CEJAY PHOENIX JUNIOR INFRARED BEACON
BY MIKE MOSACK
April 03, 2018
San Diego, California USA
6' 1" (1.90 m)
240 lb (109.00 kg)
I've been backpacking for over 30 years, doing day trips, weekenders and week-long or longer trips throughout the year. I backpack in all climates and seasons, from summer desert trips to Spring/Winter camping in Michigan, California and Grand Canyon, Arizona. I rely on my equipment constantly. I prefer to go lighter when possible and I am always trying new items. Quality and reliability of items are paramount to me over price and weight.
Manufacturer: Cejay Engineering LLC
|Image from mfg website|
Year of Manufacture: 2010 (my beacon)
Manufacturer's Website: www.cejayengineering.com
MSRP: Not available. Mfg says to call for a quote but there are numerous retail purchase options.
Listed Weight: 8.5 g (0.3 oz)
Measured Weight: 11 g (0.4 oz) without the battery
Size - 30.11 x 18.73mm (1.19" x .74")
Flash repeat cycle - 1.3 Seconds (fixed)
Flash duration - 20 Milliseconds (fixed)
Battery - Common 9 volt
Operational Duration - 200+ hours per battery per the mfg.
Configuration - 3 Light Emitting Diodes (LED)
Switching - Attach or remove battery to turn on or off
Coverage - 240 degrees (vertical axis) x 360 degrees (horizontal axis)
Operating Depth - The optional Poseidon (Phoenix) Mounting Clip provides a water tight casing for the beacon and battery assembly. If immersed without the Poseidon case, the unit will continue to operate until the contacts fail due to water and electrolytic corrosion. While there is no information referencing actual maximum operational depth, it appears by the manufacturer's information, that the only restriction is the time it takes for the electrical battery connections to actually corrode to failure or the battery runs out of power. An optional water tight case can be purchased if desired, but admittedly, I choose to use a waterproof clear plastic sealable bag when conditions warrant.
The Phoenix Junior Infrared Beacon IR-14 hereafter called the beacon, is an extremely rugged Infrared marker beacon. The beacon was originally designed as an individual military combat Identification marker to assist in identifying friendly forces. It also is commonly used as a vehicle/equipment marker, drop zone indicator for skydiving or other parachute operations and as a perimeter marker. The manufacturer states that since its introduction in 1984, the beacon is the most widely used electronic combat ID system in the world. I choose to use it as a very lightweight and easily portable distress/rescue beacon for rescue and law enforcement personnel having access to Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) / night vision equipment. This allows for rescue personnel to continue their search during hours of darkness when many might instead choose to suspend search operations until the next day. It could also be a motivating factor to choose to primarily search during hours of darkness as the beacon flashes are easily visually recognizable when appropriate visual aids are used. I just ensure my emergency contacts at home know to advise any rescue personnel that I have this beacon with me and plan to use it if needing rescue.
The beacon is a completely sealed/molded type of plastic that encases 3 LED infrared strobes. The beacon has two exposed electrical contacts to connect to a standard 9 volt battery. There are no other obvious features to describe. To operate the beacon (to turn it on or off) simply connect or disconnect the battery. The beacon will flash consistently and continually until the battery is removed or the battery power is completely drained.
Per the manufacturer -
"Phoenix Jr. and the war on terrorism.
The beacon has been utilized by American and coalition forces for combat identification in theaters of operation such as Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The beacon has many uses in combat and other operations for marking personnel, vehicles, pathways or locations. It incorporates a flash rate that was specified to prevent confusion with small arms fire. "
Nightly use in Afghanistan during military operations, with night vision gear over the course of 4 years, from 2008 to 2012.
Conditions: Urban and rural areas to include hostile areas with austere living desert conditions
Duration: 49 months of almost continual carry and operation during night combat and patrol operations
Numerous miscellaneous day hikes ranging from 2 - 5 miles (3 - 8 km) in the area of Eastern San Diego County, California, USA.
Conditions: Maintained trails, grassy areas, some concrete sidewalks and maintained roadway shoulders. Temperatures ranging from approximately 70 to 90 F (21 to 32 C).
Duration: Day hikes only.
Three-day trip to the Pacific Crest Trail section in Laguna Mountain region of Southern California, USA
Conditions: Foot trails and forest access dirt roads. Temperatures ranged from approximately 55 to 80 F (13 to 27 C) and elevations from approximately 1000 to 4000 ft (300 to 1200 m).
Two-day trip in the area near the Klamath River Recreational Area in Northern California where the conditions included clear and sunny skies with temperatures that ranged from 65 - 94 F (18 - 34 C).
The ruggedness of this little beacon is unlike anything I am used to. I have carried this with a fresh battery taped to it (upside down so the contacts aren't touching) so that they are held together until I needed it and kept in my pack; attached via hook and pile sticky tape and secured to my helmet; tied to the outside top cover of my pack for greater visibility; when traveling over water I have kept the beacon and battery secured in a sealable plastic sandwich-type baggie. All of these securement and carry options have worked well for me, keeping in mind that the benefit of maximum visibility when the beacon is in use is a necessary consideration.
Use of the beacon is like a security blanket in that I know anyone with night-vision or infrared capabilities like military, rescue, and law enforcement helicopters using Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) can easily see my beacon flashes at night when they're in range. So when I'm participating in military operations and wearing night-vision equipment, I can see everyone of my fellow soldiers and equipment that we've marked with beacons. It is especially useful when we're in zero light conditions.
Having had the opportunity to have used these extensively and seen them with night vision equipment, I can easily attest to their capabilities. As a result of my experience, I have come to the conclusion that these beacons are perfect for back country recreational use in varying conditions and terrain. I keep one with me, in my backpack, in my travel carry-on luggage during flights, etc and have one ready with a fresh battery in case emergency rescue is required.
I recommend that the beacon is only used in an emergency, during hours of darkness for the most effective visibility. I also highly recommend that family and friends are kept informed of travel plans and routes and that the infrared beacon is carried by members traveling so that if rescue operations need to be effected, they are aware of the beacon and can make appropriate nighttime search plans as well.
THINGS I LIKE
I like the brightness of the strobe flashes even though they can only be seen with special equipment.
I like the reliability of the beacon having used this in extreme life and death conditions and have never known of a single beacon failure.
I like that the beacon itself is a sealed unit so that it is essentially water/weather proof.
I like that the beacon uses a standard 9 volt battery that can be purchased virtually anywhere, even internationally.
I like that the beacon is very small and lightweight and can be stored virtually anywhere.
I like that the beacon has no moving parts, no switches or anything that wears out and that battery replacement requires no tools.
I like that FLIR equipped rescue, military, and law enforcement personnel already have access to visual equipment as standard operating procedures.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
I don't like that I cannot see or hear any evidence that the beacon is actually working unless I have immediate use of night-vision equipment. I would love to have an audible click or other verification that the strobe is working so that I know when to change the battery. Currently, I just store a fresh battery (or two) and go by the battery's expiration date or if I use the beacon I get a new battery for the next time.
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Read more gear reviews by Michael Mosack