Directing Traffic with Better Battery Life—Marshaling Wands

Paloma Basilio

Batteries are an essential necessity to our daily lives. They have become so essential that we may not even notice how much we use them, until the remote control stops working. Let’s think about battery use on a larger scale, however.

A marshaling wand, the bright orange cylinder wand you see the ramp agents doing strange movements with to guide the pilot in and out of the gate, uses two C cell batteries, which typically do not last very long. Not only are the wands used at airports, but by police, fire and the military.

Nvate battery life Crowdfunding Ken Dial Kickstarter marshaling wand Photonic Designs

Credit: Kickstarter

Kent Dial is the founder of Photonic Designs which is a company that concentrates on developing a way to extend battery life. He is asking for $50,000 through Kickstarter to fund his version of the marshaling wand.

According to Kickstarter, Dial is “trying to create a small solution to a major problem that contributes to the extraordinary amounts of battery waste we produce.” His reason for wanting to tackle this issue is because “the United States throws away billions of batteries a year.”

Through extensive research he learned the battery life for one wand is about a week, according to Kickstarter. It is cut shorter if weather conditions are rainy and if the wand is accidentally left on for a long period of time. Because the wands go through so many batteries, “in aviation, a single airline at a major airport will consume thousands of batteries a year.”

Dial began this project by collecting broken or trashed wands around the airport and “installing his tech inside” to later give to airport ramp agents. Dial modified the batteries using an on-board power supply for the marshaling wand that has lasted over two years since he first gave it to airport ramp agents in 2012 to test out.

“This resulted in a completely new patent-pending board design that actively manages and distributes power in the most efficient way possible,” Dial said on Kickstarter. “This drastically reduced the energy needed to do the same job, which enabled us to move to an on-board power supply that lasts years using just two non-rechargeable AAs.”

Not only has Dial increased the battery life, but he also redesigned the marshaling wand to weigh less, turn off automatically if left on for too long, and to withstand water damage. Older models tended to break because they were prone to roll around due to the wand’s cylindrical shape. The exterior of Dial’s marshaling wand has two triangular stoppers so it will not roll.

Photonic Designs is hoping to raise the money by March 25. Dial said his main goal is to be able to “build [the marshaling wand] in the United States.” With the donations, Photonic Designs will reach the minimum amount it needs to contract a local manufacture. Plus, according to Kickstarter, “the pledge money contributed helps us purchase our plastic injection molds, create an inventory of boards to supply our Kickstarter pledges and send out additional test units to other airports.”

Backers will receive a Photonic Design T-shirt if they pledge $30. Pledges of $50 or more will receive the apparel package, which includes all of the “promo clothing from the Kickstarter campaign—T-shirt, beanie, and wristband.” If you are feeling generous, so is the team at Photonic Designs because pledges of $100 or more will receive “The Works” which includes “the apparel package combined with the CAD drawing package, including a cinch bag to stuff all your goodies into and a water bottle.”

To pledge, visit the project’s Kickstarter page.

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