Red vs. Green in the Cockpit

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by SoCal 182 Driver, Jun 16, 2020.

?

Which color instrument lighting do you prefer?

  1. Red

    10 vote(s)
    66.7%
  2. Green

    5 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Friends -

    I'm not trying to reignite the age-old "red vs. green lighting in the cockpit debate," but which color to you prefer for instrument lighting, and why?

    Thanks!
     
  2. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    RGB controller, like they have on modern gaming rigs (PC computers).

    Does it need TSO?
     
  3. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I just by pass the whole thing and bring this guy along....

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  4. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have blue and white (that can be dimmed).
     
  5. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Don’t think I really have a preference. I grew up being used to red, but got used to using green in the Navy. I’m comfortable with either.
     
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  6. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Why isn't WHITE a choice? The most important feature is the ability to dim it sufficiently.
     
  7. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    White
     
  8. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm interested in those advocating for white lighting. I was taught that white was a no-no at night due to the rods and cones structure in the eyes. Has the thinking on that changed over the years?
     
  9. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Unless you’re using paper and have a steam cockpit, color choice really isn’t that important these days. Obviously with glass, you’ve got plenty of white light that can degrade night vision, but in night mode or dimmed, it’s not really an issue.

    I’ve used red and green in steam cockpits and prefer green. Green tends to allow better contrast because the wavelength is more sensitive to the eye rods and cones. Red is a bit better for night adaptation but not that much better than green to really matter.

    NVGs is a different story and use an all green filtered or white LEDs that are compatible with the goggles. STC required as well.
     
  10. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have mostly steam gauges...with a Garmin 530W and a JPI 830. iPad for charts, though I carry a back-up paper chart.

    I've long thought that green lighting worked better for me, but when I was speaking with a friend recently, he strongly believed red was better. So, I thought I'd query the smart folks here.
     
  11. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    If I were to re-do the lighting I'd want to install RGB LED strips and 3 dials to set whatever color you want.
     
  12. WDD

    WDD Cleared for Takeoff

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    I was taught that Red is the best for cones vs rods. BUT - notice that night vision goggles project in green light?

    Go with what works for you.
     
  13. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    When we were rigged for Red in the control room and then I popped into the Sonar room that was rigged for blue I was like "this is way better". And all of them beat wearing those stupid red goggles/shield while rigged for white. That was a lot of years ago, maybe the rigged blue night lighting never worked out.

    But I'd vote for blue/white as @donjohnston does.
     
  14. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    Just what are you looking for at night, IFR, with your "night vision?"
     
  15. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The key is DIM. If your lights aren't dim, it doesn't matter what color they are. The argument is that low light vision is primarily done by rods and rods are less sensitive to red light. However, it's not all shades of red, and red light still depletes the rhodopsin (the photosensitive protein) just slower. So a continuous red light is still going to destroy your night vision as well.

    Red is still theoretically better than any other color. Green however is right out. The only reason the military uses green is because their artificial night vision stuff is less affected by it.

    But the question is what are you going to do with your vision. White light allows you to see all the colors on your charting and instrumentation markings better than monochromatic light of any color.
     
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  16. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Executive summary, intensity is more important than color, but depending on what you are trying to do, red, green or dim white can all be good choices for specific applications. He uses "science", but no idea if it's right or not. Interesting reading anyways
    http://stlplaces.com/night_vision_red_myth/
     
  17. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    It's not like many of us have a choice.

    I have a red lens flashlight and a very bright white light for inspections. The airplane instrument lights are white.
     
  18. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I have "instrument white" which is blue and I prefer it over the red it replaced.
     
  19. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Even under IFR, you have a responsibility to see and avoid when in VMC
     
  20. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I use white.
     
  21. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I prefer red as a carryover from my early flying days.
     
  22. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    When I was designing my lighting system, I found an Air Force research paper on cockpit lighting. Basically it said that color isn't nearly as important and brightness as far as retaining nightvision. Red and green were the worst for cockpit functionality. White was best followed by blue.
     
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  23. Brad W

    Brad W Line Up and Wait

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    I vaguely remember reading something years ago about some study or idea that something about green light was bad in a way because the brain continuously has to decide...is that blue light? is that green light? back and forth like a strobe light..... must have been in some aviation magazine. Now if there's anything to it I have no idea.
    regardless...I think I prefer red in the cockpit, although that's based on old steam gauge panels
     
  24. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Fun topic as I studied rod photoreceptors in my graduate work.

    Rods are much less sensitive to red light, so they are not bleached so badly by a red light. Since the rods are the receptors which are primarily responsible for vision on low light conditions, this allows them to still see non red lights outside better.

    Here is a page with an overview on this - http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/vision/rodcone.html
     
  25. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So what do you recommend, Peter?
     
  26. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    While brightness is certainly important, 20 years of transitioning between white light and darkness and red light and darkness on the bridges of ships tells me that study is probably flawed.

    My eyes have always been able to transition to darkness much quicker from red than white light.
     
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  27. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude

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    There has to be more to the story.
    That goes against other standard medical knowledge.
    Without seeing it, I would speculate that reading paper for example requires much brighter red lights than white light levels. As such the red may be harder on night vision. However, I do not think such situations apply to the modern GA plane with EFB and other tools.
    I suggest this specific scenario based on my backlit e-reader. In red/night mode I need a higher light level at night to read than the white backlit setting, roughly 33% more based on the settings. (8% for red vs 6% for white)

    Tim

    Sent from my HD1907 using Tapatalk
     
  28. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    Astronomers use red.
     
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  29. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    I did not mean to imply that there was no benefit to red lighting.

    What the document said was that while red lighting is superior for retaining night vision, properly dimmed white light reduces the advantages of red so that the difference is relatively small. It also negates the problems red lighting creates for reading colors on charts.

    So my takeaway was that if you're flying a ground support mission in an F-16 at 250kts on a dark night in Afghanistan then definitely red cockpit lighting. Flying a GA aircraft to a lighted airport? Not that big of an advantage of red over dimmed white lighting.
     
  30. Jim Rosenow

    Jim Rosenow Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    That didn't take long, Mike....and I KNEW it was coming!!...even if I had to do it myself! Keep your stick on the ice!

    Jim
     
  31. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not really. Only color hard to read under red light is red, and both nautical and aeronautical charts don’t use red ink. That’s the reason for magenta on charts.

    No because you are probably on goggles and red is one of the worst colors for NVGs.
     
  32. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    Okay. You win.

    Got that everybody? It's got to be red and only red. Further discussion is just a waste of time now.
     
  33. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    "I'm not trying to re-ignite the debate, but let's have a debate..."

    :confused:
     
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  34. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm just trying to gather information, and hear what opinions people have. That's a far cry from trying to reignite the debate.
     
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  35. ahypnoz

    ahypnoz Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lets continue the debate.

    I think that it depends on if you are using oxygen in your bird at night. The (red) rods when you compare rods effectiveness at high altitude at night in comparison with sea level performance showed negligible elevations of thresholds for red light response, but at high altitude (green) cones did show significant impairment. These response held over almost the entire dark adaptation function. So if you fly at night with no Oxygen, red light is probably the best choice, especially when you include contrast intensive tasks IFR (reading “real” paper approach plates at night). Due to their night function rods overall function does not change much with altitude. Green lights (cones) are probably a better choice if you fly at night with oxygen or in a pressurized aircraft, (green) cones are much better as discerning fine detail in general than (red) rods. But the Cones are significant impaired at higher altitudes, unless you have oxygen.

    At sea level both Rods and Cones work pretty good, it is only with higher altitudes do you see a difference in performance and the cones just not working all that well. The longer and higher altitude he worse the effects.

    My assumption is when one puts oxygen on at 5000 feet at night, it is the higher activation of the cones ( that have been dormant due to hypoxia) which is occurring, hence greater contrast and everything appears brighter.
     
  36. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Um, no. Magenta will be indistinguishable from blue under red light. Blue is used on charts. Magenta is used because it's one of the primary subtractive colors (hence a single ink color in a full color process). Red lighting will also make yellow indistinguishable from green.
     
  37. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    My wife prefers dome light white, especially right before I begin the descent....:D
    *click*
    [​IMG]
     
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  38. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Red lights matter
     
  39. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Especially at intersections.
     
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  40. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I recommend and use red light.

    But if you think about it, what matters is how much rod vision you have left after exposure to whatever light you are using. The photosensitivity curves of the different normal human photoreceptors are well known. So there is an equivalent amount of green or blue or white (which is a mixture) light which will yield the same amount of bleaching of the rods as a red light. It will be dimmer of course.