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Controlling Your Car's Lights When Observing at a Dark Location

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#51 aeajr

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 10:46 PM

Friends,

We are not here to condemn car companies or to suggest unsafe driving.

The purpose was to discuss the ability to control the lights on you car so that you can make an informed choice on how to behave at a group observing session whether it is you and a couple of buddies or a major event.

Some people feel they are powerless when it comes to their cars. I think we have shown that that is not the case.

Most cars give you the ability to determine how your lights operate. your owners manual probably gives you the tools to take control. And the info provided here may give you even more control.

What you do with this information is up to you. But now you know.

Thanks to everyone who offered information, solutions, and tips. I know I feel better informed and empowered.

Edited by aeajr, 19 February 2020 - 10:48 PM.

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#52 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 10:55 PM

I have known of people who have small parasitic drains on vehicles that are not driven daily.  One solution has been to install a heavy knife blade switch in series on the positive side of the battery.   When opened, it cuts all electrical power. 



#53 aeajr

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 11:13 PM

to continue post 33.
I check and it is possible to have a device to turn off the lights (all lights) any brand of car, like those of the police and detectives.
the cost for my vehicle is $ 39 for the device plus the installation $ 50
in Canadian.
so I don't need anyone to push my vehicle anymore. lol.gif

Can you post information about the device and a source?

 

I don't think I need it as I can pretty much darken mine as much as I wish, except for the brake lights.  But it may be helpful to others who would like to be good observing buddies. 


Edited by aeajr, 19 February 2020 - 11:13 PM.


#54 sunnyday

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 11:17 PM

Can you post information about the device and a source?

 

I don't think I need it as I can pretty much darken mine as much as I wish, except for the brake lights.  But it may be helpful to others who would like to be good observing buddies. 

Yes of course,
I will ask for the name of the gadget, the manufacturer and all the necessary information.



#55 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 12:41 AM

I have known of people who have small parasitic drains on vehicles that are not driven daily.  One solution has been to install a heavy knife blade switch in series on the positive side of the battery.   When opened, it cuts all electrical power. 

In modern cars, this may well require a reset of various features like the security codes.  The 1999 Honda Accord we owned had this feature. 

 

The reason for full time headlights is that it makes your car, motorcycle, truck more visible during the daylight hours.   In the west, many 2 lane roads require headlights during the day.  

 

I don't go to star parties so I don't worry about lighting at night.  But I do worry about safety during the day and night.  

 

Jon


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#56 greenjuice

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 07:39 AM

While this thread has useful tips for us forum members attending star parties, I would say none of it applies to the realities of a public outreach event.

Over the last ten years at our nature center we have held many pubic events and I would say parking a large number of people in a short amount of time is by far one of the biggest challenges.

You have all types and age groups attending ; you get young folks, full of juice, zooming into the field, families with a carload of kids, old folks who can barely drive which sometimes takes multiple tries to get them into a parking spot, and this is in broad daylight, to say nothing of trying to park them in twilight when seeing is the most difficult.

And kids; what do they love to do at night on a grassy field ? They love to run wild and race around.

Am I going to take a chance on one of them getting injured by a car driving in with their lights off ? Not this cowboy.

No, the answer is choosing a proper observing field that ensures the flow of traffic in and out has minimal impact on the observing area.

If you can’t do that then you are increasing the chances of Murphy’s law taking over.

just my two cents.....


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#57 aeajr

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 08:09 AM

I agree that this discussion is not related to public outreach. That's why I didn't put it in the outreach forum.
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#58 greenjuice

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 08:15 AM

Yes, I know Ed. Just felt that some of my concerns still applied. Apologies for going a bit off topic.

flowerred.gif

-Mel



#59 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 08:46 AM

Yes, I know Ed. Just felt that some of my concerns still applied. Apologies for going a bit off topic.

flowerred.gif

-Mel

 

When I read Ed's first post, the assumption seems to be that when you travel to dark skies, there will be other people observing. For many of us, it doesn't work that way. I typically observe alone and if there is someone else, I tell them to use their lights. It's not the best road, the gate is narrow.. when they're tearing down at night, I turn on the lights to make it easier.  

 

They're facing an hours drive home, hitting the rock wall or fence is a bad way to start out.. 

 

Public outreach is different but the same basic ideas apply, safety is the number one concern and proper planning goes a long ways.

 

Jon


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#60 LDW47

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 09:28 AM

When I read Ed's first post, the assumption seems to be that when you travel to dark skies, there will be other people observing. For many of us, it doesn't work that way. I typically observe alone and if there is someone else, I tell them to use their lights. It's not the best road, the gate is narrow.. when they're tearing down at night, I turn on the lights to make it easier.  

 

They're facing an hours drive home, hitting the rock wall or fence is a bad way to start out.. 

 

Public outreach is different but the same basic ideas apply, safety is the number one concern and proper planning goes a long ways.

 

Jon

Every situation will be a little different that will have to be assessed at the time and in advance and the proper considerations made, its only logical ! Safety is the number one concern though, why take chances its only a sport, a hobby ! Lights or no lights the eyes recuperate pretty quick, it sure isn’t a lost nite, a lost opportunity ! Some people read too much, listen to others too much and if you are a perfectionist it is even worse ! Clear Skies and keep looking up no matter what !


Edited by LDW47, 20 February 2020 - 12:24 PM.

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#61 bunyon

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 09:30 AM

Right. I'd rather lose dark adaptation than see a friend (or even a stranger - well, most of them) drive off the road or get run over. And outreach is different than a star party, even though a lot of folks call outreach events star parties. 

 

If the focus is on a full night of observing and people are camped out, you should be driving a car on the field. Driving a car at night requires lights. So, if you want to leave early, park well away from the observers. Inconvenient? Sure, but turning your lights on is inconveniencing others. Courtesy is absorbing any inconvenience you cause yourself rather than forcing it on others.

 

In an emergency, turned the darned lights on, even at a "serious" star party. 

 

 

I guess my point is: Do whatever you have to to darken your car at observing events. I roll my windows down so I can access what I need in the car without opening the door. Would like to be able to open my door but fiddling with fuses is a bigger pain, to me, than just not entering/exiting the vehicle while observing.


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#62 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 09:31 AM

I think the topic is about multiple people observing and or imaging at a dark site.  At my dark site, it is frequently only me, sometimes a couple of others.  I wish more people would take advantage of my dark site.  I guess it's too inconvenient. 



#63 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 11:38 AM

I think the topic is about multiple people observing and or imaging at a dark site.  At my dark site, it is frequently only me, sometimes a couple of others.  I wish more people would take advantage of my dark site.  I guess it's too inconvenient. 

Maybe but read the first post.

 

https://www.cloudyni...-dark-location/

 

It seems to be a generalized discussion of driving to dark skies. It does mention groups but that's a ways down and it doesn't seem limited to group situations.

 

Jon


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#64 dustyc

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 02:20 PM

Our Mazda CX-5, has switches on all the interior lights so those are off during the trip. I cover the backup lights and the low power "running" lights with some blankets that have magnets sewn into the corners for quick on and off. Dashboard is covered with a red plastic sheet. 

So far so good.


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#65 Keith Rivich

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 03:15 PM

I haven't read through this entire thread so I apologize if I repeat someone...

 

At our dark site we have pretty much come to the conclusion that disabling lighting on modern cars is asking for problems. Driving without lights is just as problematic. Years ago we instituted "light windows" at set times. One can use any reasonable lighting during these windows. At other times we just ask that a few minutes warning before using white lights be yelled across the field. Especially those driving on the field after dark. This has worked out quite well. 

 

My other solution was to use double sided suction cups to hold red lexan on any exposed external lights. They can be removed once safely off the field. Interior lights can be controlled by red covers held on by the sticky picture hanging thingys. They do not leave residue behind. 


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#66 LDW47

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 04:13 PM

As my old grandmother used to say at her star parties ‘ where theres a will theres a way ‘, lol ! At least I think she said it, lol ??



#67 aeajr

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 04:28 PM

Right. I'd rather lose dark adaptation than see a friend (or even a stranger - well, most of them) drive off the road or get run over. And outreach is different than a star party, even though a lot of folks call outreach events star parties.

If the focus is on a full night of observing and people are camped out, you should be driving a car on the field. Driving a car at night requires lights. So, if you want to leave early, park well away from the observers. Inconvenient? Sure, but turning your lights on is inconveniencing others. Courtesy is absorbing any inconvenience you cause yourself rather than forcing it on others.

In an emergency, turned the darned lights on, even at a "serious" star party.


I guess my point is: Do whatever you have to to darken your car at observing events. I roll my windows down so I can access what I need in the car without opening the door. Would like to be able to open my door but fiddling with fuses is a bigger pain, to me, than just not entering/exiting the vehicle while observing.


Just turn the interior lights off so they don't come on when you open the door. That's what I do.

#68 Keith Rivich

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 04:34 PM

I have known of people who have small parasitic drains on vehicles that are not driven daily.  One solution has been to install a heavy knife blade switch in series on the positive side of the battery.   When opened, it cuts all electrical power. 

Not to get off topic but cutting power has it own problems...least of which is losing all your presets. Worst it resets your adaptive fuel settings, along with the OBD2 monitors, and can cause the vehicle to behave differently. 


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#69 Keith Rivich

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 04:36 PM

Just turn the interior lights off so they don't come on when you open the door. That's what I do.

Yep. My GM has a button to turn off interior lights, well most of them. My other strategy is to leave a window down so I can reach in and get things without opening the door. I cover the window with a heavy blanket to keep out buggies and humidity. 


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#70 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 06:30 PM

Not to get off topic but cutting power has it own problems...least of which is losing all your presets. Worst it resets your adaptive fuel settings, along with the OBD2 monitors, and can cause the vehicle to behave differently. 

Not to get off topic, but are you never planning for a dead battery?  So a dead battery necessitates a complete reflash?  I am sticking to older cars.



#71 Sean Wood

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 07:07 PM

My 2012 Toyota Prius has functions in the cars dashboard menu to enable and disable how the headlights function. I make sure to disable the fog lights and running lights before I get to my observing location. before I open my doors I turn off the interior light options, this is a selector switch near the overhead lights.  The only lights I had no control over were the lights in the lower part of the doors. I researched what the bulbs sizes were and found red LED replacements on ebay. 

I saw several posts about having the dealer disable the auto lighting options. Folks may want to try the app Carista. It allows you to connect to your car via a bluetooth OBD2 device, about $15 us, and lets you diagnose and customize certain aspects of your cars operation. Not sure if it will for sure do any specific vehicle but it will let you change a good number of features. Some customizations are behind a paywall but it's definitely cheaper than what most dealers would charge.


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#72 Keith Rivich

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 07:34 PM

Not to get off topic, but are you never planning for a dead battery?  So a dead battery necessitates a complete reflash?  I am sticking to older cars.

No reflash needed. Adaptive strategies are reset back to factory specs and the ECM must relearn your habits to optimize fuel mileage and performance.  No big deal. Most folks don’t notice the shift.  That’s why we hook up a “memory saver” battery before replacing a bad battery. 


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#73 bunyon

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 08:29 PM

Just turn the interior lights off so they don't come on when you open the door. That's what I do.

 

Can't be done on my car. At least, with a switch. I could cut some fuses or wires or something but easier just to not go in the car.



#74 sunnyday

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 09:33 PM

Can you post information about the device and a source?

 

I don't think I need it as I can pretty much darken mine as much as I wish, except for the brake lights.  But it may be helpful to others who would like to be good observing buddies. 

to answer your question. here is what I got as a response from the dealer,
these a piece of origin which is manufactured for nissan by a subcontractor (belkin) I still find it odd that this piece is not listed in the directory of nissan parts.
I will see if I can have more info.


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#75 Glutch

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 10:56 PM

That's GM.  I talked to Ford, explained the situation, and they sent me instructions to give to the dealer directing how to do it.  If Ford can do it, so can GM, if they choose to.

 

My F150 is a stealthy truck now.  When I open the doors, nothing happens.

Hey John, Who did you contact at Ford to get the info for the dealer to reprogram the car.  I would like to go that route.




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