Umarex Gauntlet



Click here for Merit McCrea – WHEELHOUSE SCOOP

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
SoCal Squid
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
It's Here!

Lighting the underworld
Last week, I wrote about squid-getting basics, in­clud­ing a small departure into how squid see, taking a little liberty in describing their eyes — a strange off-axis pupils. The other big part of squid getting is the lights.

Having a big gen-set used to be de-rigueur, a basic requirement, because it simply took so much power to break the lumens barrier — to put out enough light to pull squid from the depths. Using a standard quartz or incandescent source, it took roughly 1,000 watts plus, just to play in that game.

However, the problem wasn’t really about power. It was about efficiency. Almost all that power was being wasted. Old school incandescent bulbs were less than 3 percent efficient in converting electricity to light, with the rest being lost as heat. That 1,000-watt squid light produced less than 30 watts as light.

What’s more, on deck, over half of that light never made it into the water at all, being broadcast out across the water, into the sky and reflected by the water’s shiny surface.

More efficient conversion of electrical power to light in the water could hypothetically cut the power needed more than twenty-fold. And if that could be accomplished, it meant an effective squid light could be run from a small boat on battery power.

Aboard commercial squid light boats and party boats, it’s the much more efficient metal halide bulbs that are used. These require massive “ballasts” as heavy as car batteries. The smallest of these are 400 watts. Those stadium lights you might have noticed blazing from the boats are typically 1,500 watts plus per bulb. These are as much as 17 percent efficient, a vast improvement over 3 percent. Still, over 80 percent of the power used never becomes light. And a lot of that which does, never enters the water.

As I cruise toward the Love Lab, located out on Coal Oil Point, I pass an inconspicuous, single story industrial/office building. It sports emblazoned above its door, “CREE.” This business turns out to be one of the pre-eminent producers of light emitting diodes, or LED lighting. It seemed strange such an industry giant should seem so inconspicuous, located right across the street from the local Home Depot.

Then, the most recent issue of Convergence, a science outreach publication published by the collaboration of UCSB’s Colleges of Engineering and of Letters & Science, headlined the Solid State Lighting and Energy Efficiency Center, or SSLEEC.

Further investigation re­vealed the engineering behind the world’s rapid conversion to LED lighting to be centered right here, in little old Goleta, California. And, it revealed the latest blue LEDs are now as much as 84 percent efficient, with the most efficient red LEDs coming in at 60 percent and green at a meager 30 percent. Even at just 30 percent efficiency, it represents just half the juice required by the next best lighting solution.

LEDs make light by coercing electrons to jump a gap from one side of the diode to the other. And when they land, light is emitted. But as you might have gathered, a given LED casts off light of only a single color.

Here’s where the going gets tricky, very science-y, quantum effects in fact. Irrespective of brightness, light’s different colors pack different punches, with the blues being the heavy hitters and reds the weakest. All the other colors of the rainbow are in between, ordered as you see them organized in that rainbow.

There are compounds, “phosphors” that when hit by a heavy hitter, respond by hitting back with a lower level color. So a blue LED can be coated with a variety of phosphors and be made to emit the full spectrum, more or less. That’s what you see when you flip on an LED bulb and that tiny yellow square blasts out white light. When it’s off, the LED itself is clear. Its yellowish phosphor coating is what you see.

The Convergence author wrote, “Since 2008, Professor Ram Seshadri, director of the Materials Science Laboratory at UCSB, has worked to insure that the phosphor is not the source of inefficiency, since efficiency is the whole reason to use an LED. ‘We want every blue photon that hits the phosphor to be converted to a yellow photon’ he says.”

Underwater lights virtually eliminate light lost above the water. By combining underwater lighting and the latest LED technology, lighting squid can be effective even without a big generator. A number of LED underwater lights are now available and in coming seasons we’ll likely see ever brighter, more efficient and less expensive options offered.

Because blue LEDs are the most efficient of them and leading-edge phosphors highly efficient also, you’ll get the most light per watt using blue or white LEDs.

However, green seems to be the color most readily available in drop-light style LED underwater lights. Specialty fabricators in the Southeast and along the Gulf Coast offer waterproof, ultra-bright, white “flounder lights.” Most are designed to be bracketed to hand-held or rail-mounted poles.

Of course, be sure not to use your primary starting battery to power your squid light. You could end up dead in the water in the middle of the night.

* * *

Merit McCrea is saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. A veteran Southern California party boat captain, he also works as a marine research scientist with the Love Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. He can be reached at:

Reader Comments
Be the first to comment!
Leave a Comment
* Name:
* Email:
Website (optional):
* Comment:

Luna Sea Sports Ad
Advertise with Western Outdoor News