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Gigahertz-Optik BTS256-EF light meter for qualification of nautical navigation lights at OPTONAVAL

Nautical navigation lights on the test bench

About the Project

OPTONAVAL develops and manufactures specialist nautical lighting systems for operating helicopter flight decks on yachts, research vessels, platforms, frigates and the like. In 2020, a new product family of navigation lights was developed offering the complete light guidance of ships. 

As these areas are highly safety-relevant, there are specific and narrowly defined regulations that determine the various characteristics of the luminaires. These regulations define function-specific beam angles, luminous intensities and color regions for the signal colors. The measurement of these parameters for certification of the luminaires is carried out by accredited testing laboratories and institutes such as the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH, Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie) in Hamburg. These measurements are official, exact and costly. 

In order to avoid unnecessary measurements there, OPTONAVAL has its own in-house goniometer in an eight-meter-long measurement tunnel, which was of fundamental importance in the development of the 

various navigation lights. The demands on the horizontal beam sectors are very specific and require highly precise construction and measurement of the luminaires. The measurement sensor, which communicates with the in-house software for the goniometer, is a PCB-based photosensor that produces high-resolution but abstract measurements. For relative measurements, this is sufficient in the development phase of various deployment scenarios.

With the Gigahertz Optik BTS256-EF spectral light meter, accurate values for illuminance and luminous intensity can be assigned to the photosensor values in measurement sequences under controlled conditions in the measurement tunnel. Additionally, absolute measurements at 1m can be made in the company’s own darkroom. Thus, meaningful light distribution curves in the horizontal plane at different angles of inclination can be precisely displayed and the characteristics of the optics and LEDs used can be evaluated. The BTS256-EF is also used in the darkroom to record the chromaticity coordinates of the LEDs used.



Optonaval was founded in Hamburg in 2013 as a company with high technical ambitions. Since then, Optonaval has developed and introduced various lighting solutions, both for land-based applications and for nautical applications. Today, Optonaval focuses on Helicopter Visual Landing Aids (HVLAS) and Navigation Lights, as well as custom engineering solutions and safety applications.

The global fleet of naval vessels as well as mega yachts and specialised vessels are the main target market areas. A key concern here is to combine state-of-the-art technology with award-winning design.

Rapid success through highly precise measurement results

As some of the regulations involve very tightly defined color regions for the functional signaling effect of the LEDs, it is crucial to narrow down their selection to a minimum from a range of possible LEDs by taking preliminary measurements. Ultimately, the measurements in the accredited test laboratory will show whether the LEDs remain true to color under various conditions, but the measurements in advance with the BTS256-EF are essential in this selection process.

Statement Mr. Boris Frentzel-Beyme (Lighting Design / R&D) and Mr. Markus Hempel (CEO):

„With the BTS256-EF we have been able to speed up our processes and improve our quality which is beneficial to our customers. The support from Gigahertz-Optik was excellent and helped us to make this project a success.“

The traceable, reliable and precise measured values of the BTS256-EF thus give us the opportunity to carry out extensive development steps independently and only begin official measurements with an advanced prototype and pass them at the first attempt. This and the technical skills of the team at OPTONAVAL made it possible to bring a complete family of navigation lights to market in a very short time. 

Kalibrierlabor Einblick
Kalibrierlabor Einblick
Kalibrierlabor Einblick
Kalibrierlabor Einblick
Kalibrierlabor Einblick
Kalibrierlabor Einblick

From left to right: 1) BTS256-EF set up in the darkroom for measuring absolute and traceable spectral illuminances and irradiances as well as colour coordinates. 2) Open measurement tunnel with aperture system for effective elimination of stray light 3) Adjustment of the goniometer to the input optics of the BTS256-EF measurement device ) Variation of the inclination of the flight deck light to be measured between measurements 5) BTS256-EF aligned in the measurement chamber in the beam path. 6) Measurement of a navigation light in the red light spectrum and with positioning of the sharp sector shading on the input optics BTS256-EF - in accordance with measurement specification according to standard EN 14744-2005

At a Glance

  • Qualification of nautical navigation lights
  • Eight metre long measuring tunnel
  • Informative light distribution curves at different angles of inclination
  • A successfully implemented project thanks to very good cooperation