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Thread: Beta Light?

  1. #1

    Default Beta Light?

    In the book "SAS Survival Handbook" by John Wiseman they make a reference on page 29 (just in case anyone has the book and would like to see what I read) to a "beta light." He describes it as a small light emitting crystal about the size of a small coin that is fairly expensive but almost everlasting. It's used to read maps in the dark, and provide small amounts of light. I have been trying to figure out what the heck he is talking about for about a month now. I can't find anything on the internet about it (even the mighty google has failed me) and no one I know has any idea either. I wish he wrote more about this light crystal because it seems interesting to me. I figure that if I was going to find an answer to this question anywhere it would be here. I appreciate the help.


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    Super-duper Moderator Sarge47's Avatar
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    Exclamation Uh, dawg!

    Quote Originally Posted by survivalhike View Post
    In the book "SAS Survival Handbook" by John Wiseman they make a reference on page 29 (just in case anyone has the book and would like to see what I read) to a "beta light." He describes it as a small light emitting crystal about the size of a small coin that is fairly expensive but almost everlasting. It's used to read maps in the dark, and provide small amounts of light. I have been trying to figure out what the heck he is talking about for about a month now. I can't find anything on the internet about it (even the mighty google has failed me) and no one I know has any idea either. I wish he wrote more about this light crystal because it seems interesting to me. I figure that if I was going to find an answer to this question anywhere it would be here. I appreciate the help.
    Wal-Mart sells them, but they're really just a small light about the size of a coin with a single LED light. I have one on my Buck LED Lumana Folding knife. They're available everywhere. I own a couple of cheapies, but my best light is the Pietzle Tikka EP Headlamp.
    SARGE
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  3. #3

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    Wow, that was alot less sci-fi than I thought it was going to be. I'm kind of let down a little bit. I really thought that this was some kind of light magnifying crystal that is a rare find in nature or something. I guess I let my mind wander a bit too far on that one. Thanks for destroying all the magic of the beta light for me. LOL.

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    a bushbaby owl_girl's Avatar
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    Thatís hilarious lol

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    Senior Member Fog_Harbor's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's an LED. I got several from the local five-and-dime for about $2.00 a piece. They come in white, blue and red mostly, but you can get other colors as well - they're just harder to find.
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  6. #6

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    Thanks guys. I didn't mean to waste a thread on that simple of a question, I just really thought there was going to be more to it than that.

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    Senior Member Fog_Harbor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by survivalhike View Post
    Thanks guys. I didn't mean to waste a thread on that simple of a question, I just really thought there was going to be more to it than that.
    No biggie, just remember; when the book was written, LED's weren't as prevalent as they are now. And for all I know, maybe that's what they call them in Great Britain.
    Let freedom ring
    Let the white dove sing
    Let the whole world know that today is the day of reckoning
    Let the weak be strong
    Let the right be wrong
    Roll the stone away
    It's Independence Day

    -Martina McBride

  8. #8

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    I just stumbled upon this mystery this morning myself. I think he mis-spoke when he described it as a "light emitting crystal". He was almost certainly referring to a capsule of tritium coated with phosphor inside. The 'beta light' name he uses clinches it for me. From the wikipedia entry on self-powered lighting: "In the tube, the tritium gives off a steady stream of electrons due to beta decay. These particles excite the phosphor, causing it to emit a low, steady glow. One could use any beta particle-emitting substance, but in practice tritium is preferred because it is not very hazardous."

    The other thing that makes me lean toward tritium instead of a battery powered LED is the suggested use as a fishing lure!

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    I believe Microtron is correct. I Googled "tritium light" and came up with several suppliers of compact tritium lights.

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    A man of many Gadgets
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    Well yes I would have to agree with Microtron about it being a tritium light they have to be kept in a small pouch there is no off switch and unless technology has changed I believe that they were trying to focus the light to concentrate it to make a brighter light with a longer range.... O and I know for a fact it is being used in the fishing lure industry. I am not the every week fisherman that a friend of mine is but I think he said they were trout or bass lures and little over priced that goes with the hobby I guess
    Do not leave home without it.. and you will never wish you had it ...

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    All hail the mighty power of Wiki!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_light

  12. #12

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    I haven't used the Beta light that Wiseman speaks of but I did have a Small gear marker on the same princple. I have seen them marketed as "Trasers"
    http://www.glowrings.com/
    They don't seem that bright in the light but the darker it gets the better they seem to work.
    So attached to your torch for when you need to find it when it's dark ( when else do you need your torch?) or the lanyard hole of your Knife for when you drop it. they are great for map reading I'll stick with Leds.
    Carl

  13. #13

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    I have only found it in the internet and is sold in England. No local, for non-military sources.

    I don't know if you can ship radioactive material to the states (Tritium)?

  14. #14

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    Hi Survival Hike

    I stumbled across this wilderness survival forum looking for a Beta Light myself!

    Wiseman is talking about one of these:

    http://www.beta-light.com/

    Until I get access to one, I'm sticking to an LED with a watch battery attached!
    Last edited by Flying Dog; 09-30-2008 at 02:48 AM.

  15. #15

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    Hi Gang,

    I am a year late...

    Have been searching Beta Light in ebay and Google i too came up empty handed.

    After reading this forum i searched Tritium light in ebay and found numerous lights.

    I assume they are the same?

    I hope this lights the way.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Hey there Potsy2008 - let me light the way to the Introduction section for you so that you can tell us a bit about yourself. http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...splay.php?f=14 Thanks.
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    Cool Well now...

    Yeah, good ole Survivalhike. I wonder what ever happened to him? He's the guy that started another forum back when the "Heathen Chinee Spambots" attacked, resulting in getting himself banned. Later he was allowed back in, posted a bit, & disappeared...hope he's alright!
    SARGE
    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."
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    Proud father of a US Marine....SEMPER FI!

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
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  18. #18

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    This thread has most of the information about "Beta Lights" correct but misses a few points.

    Yes they are just small tritium lights. They have a radioactive isotope that excites phosphor and makes it glow. It is the same thing they use for pistol night sights (look those up).

    They don't last forever but do last a very long time; like 10-15 years. They are about the size of a quarter and are always "on."

    They were developed for the military to use as tactical lights so the enemy can't see you at any distance. They are not like a flashlight that you can see a half a mile away. Because they aren't designed to emit very much light, they aren't good for much other than reading a map or some other task right in front of your face. You can't use one like you can use a regular flashlight, that's just not what this is for. A glow stick probably puts out about 20X the light one of these things does.

    The SAS book mentions them because they 1.) will fit in the smallest of kits and 2.) will store for very long periods with 100% reliability.

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    Not LED at all Richj is right,

    Betalight - Self illuminating unit that does not affect Night Vision
    The Betalight is a self-illuminated unit with a wide range of uses is compact, robust and has an in-service life of over ten years. Illuminates without affecting night vision. No batteries are required as a glass capsule internally phosphor-coated and filled with tritium gas, activates the phosphor to emit light.
    Ideal for map reading
    http://www.penrithsurvival.com/penri...mia/pid/242045

    Used in all kinds of Tactical devices,
    http://www.betalight.nl/files/252gvu8ch.pdf

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Well, nice that you solved this 2-1/2 year old 'cold case".........Lots of fokes not around anymore.
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