Whistlemania IV – Sound Off…

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Whistlemania is back!! This week we broke out the sound meter to see how loud our whistlers could get.

Let me first say that measuring decibels is just one more variable to consider and a loud rating on the sound meter may, or may not, correlate with the distance heard on the ground. Nevertheless, decibel ratings are often used as a marketing tactic by whistle manufacturers.

For the testing I used an Extech SL10 Personal Sound Meter, my lungs, and the lungs of Jake, a 9 year old, athletic boy weighing 67 pounds.

Forty five years ago, on this very weekend, a six year old boy went missing in the Smokies and was never seen again. This tragic story and lessons from the huge search effort helped to shape the search and rescue techniques and protocols of today. A whistle is one of the best items to equip your kids with in the woods, so it makes sense to see which whistles work well for them.

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The Dennis Martin story: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/jun/28/missing-dennis-martin/

Thanks to my pint size partner, we can also extrapolate the effectiveness of each whistle for an adult with a chest injury or condition preventing the full use of the lungs. Last year, I was routed to respond to a hiker that had been pinned under a tree for a day, after a tornado rolled through the park. http://www.local8now.com/news/headlines/Rescuers-work-to-save-53-year-old-hiker-trapped-by-tree-211582431.html. I never made it there, getting redirected to another emergency, but that scenario could easily crush ribs or restrict your lung capacity. Furthermore, COPD, asthma, and a host of other lung ailments restrict the breathing ability of millions each day, so value may be found for them as well.

I asked Dr. “Hunk” Miller the ins and outs of lung volumes and this is my lay person understanding. If one were to blow on a whistle, you would use both your Tidal Volume (TV) and your Expiratory Reserve Volume (ERV), which equals out to be 22 ml/kg.

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Jake, weighing in at 30.5 kg, has around 670 ml of potential air to blow his whistle. That would be the equivalent of a 135 pound person with only one lung or with a chest compressed so it cannot fully expand. If you weigh 135 pounds or more, one could assume that a good performing whistle for Jake would function equally as well if you had an injury that restricted your lung volume or a chronic breathing problem.

This is all important if you consider that if you are using your whistle, there is a high chance that your are injured and/or under the effects of adrenaline, potentially affecting your breathing rate and capacity.

Here were the testing parameters:

1. Decibel level measured at the meter. I assumed, and testing supports, that manufacturer’s claims are done at this distance

2. Decibel level at a distance of 4 feet by a 200 pound adult. Notes on how hard or easy to blow each whistle are in parentheses. Resistance seemed to be the determining factor and can been seen in the duration of the whistle blast in seconds. “Hard”, in this context, means that the whistle provides an amount of resistance greater than the other two categories and does not connote difficultly in use.

3. Decibel level at distance of 4 feet by 67 pound boy. Notes on how hard or easy to blow each whistle are in parentheses based upon Jake’s opinion.

I chose 4 feet for tests 2 & 3 because two other field whistle tests were done at this distance and following that standard will allow comparison.

 

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Jetscream Micro –  

  • Meter – 113 dB
  • Adult –  97 dB   (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 95 dB (easy)

Fox 40 Classic – Manufacturer claim of 115 dB

  • Meter – 111 dB
  • Adult – 99 dB  (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 90 dB (easy)

ACME 660 –

  • Meter – 126 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (medium) 4 seconds
  • Child – 101 dB (medium)

ACME Tornado 635 –

  • Meter – 124 dB
  • Adult – 100  dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (hard)

Hammerhead – 

  • Meter –  124 dB
  • Adult – 100  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 99 dB (hard)

Tin Whistle – 

  • Meter – 129  dB
  • Adult – 103  dB (easy) 4 seconds
  • Child – Fail – fingers were too small to cover chamber openings

Fox 40 Mini – Manufacturer claim of 109 dB

  • Meter  – 116 dB
  • Adult  – 96 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 94 dB (easy)

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  Manufacturer claim of 110 dB

  • Meter 119  dB
  • Adult – 93  dB (easy)  3 seconds
  • Child – 82 dB (easy)

ACME Tornado 636 –

  • Meter – 115  dB
  • Adult – 97  dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 87 dB (hard)

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  Manufacturer claim of 100 dB

  • Meter – 123  dB
  • Adult – 105  dB (hard) –  5 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (hard)

ACR – 

  • Meter – 124  dB
  • Adult – 104  dB (hard) – 5 seconds
  • Child – 106 dB (hard)

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Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – 

  • Meter – 125 dB
  • Adult – 105  dB (medium)  3 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (medium)

Zipper Pull Whistle – 

  • Meter – 105  dB
  • Adult – 90  dB (hard)  5 seconds – lip placement must be perfect
  • Child – 87 dB (hard)

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – 

  • Meter – 123  dB
  • Adult – 100  dB – (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 96 dB (hard)

Sternum Strap Whistle – 

  • Meter – 126  dB
  • Adult – 102  dB (medium) 5 seconds
  • Child – 98 dB (hard)

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  

  • Meter – 112  dB
  • Adult – 93  dB (hard) 3 seconds- lip placement must be perfect
  • Child – 94 dB (hard)

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Windstorm – 

  • Meter  – 130  dB
  • Adult – 109  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 105 dB (hard)

Hammerhead Mighty – 

  • Meter – 129  dB
  • Adult – 104dB  (medium) 2 seconds
  • Child – 99 dB (hard)

Lifejacket Whistle – 

  • Meter – 119  dB
  • Adult – 98  dB (too easy) 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 84 dB (easy)

FOX 40 Eclipse – Manufacturer claim of 115 dB

  • Meter – 119 dB
  • Adult – 98 dB (too easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 97 dB (medium)

Storm – Manufacturer claim of 130 dB

  • Meter – 130  dB
  • Adult – 112  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (medium)

Scotty Lifesaver –

  •  Meter  – 112 dB
  • Adult –  91 dB (medium) 2 seconds
  • Child – 89 dB (easy)

ACME Tornado 2000 – 

  • Meter – 118 dB
  • Adult – 98  dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 91 dB (medium)

FOX 40 Sonic Blast – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 120 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 90 dB (easy)

UST Jetscream – Manufacturer claim of 122 dB

  • Meter – 109 dB
  • Adult – 95 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 93 dB (hard)

Whistles for Life – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 121 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 86 dB (too easy)

Promo whistle –  

  • Meter – 109 dB
  • Adult – 95 dB (easy) – 3 seconds
  • Child – 92 dB (easy)

FOX 40 Sharx – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 125 dB
  • Adult – 104 dB (too easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 92 dB (medium)

ACME Cyclone 888 – 

  • Meter – 118 dB
  • Adult – 97 dB (easy) 3 seconds
  • Child – 100 dB (hard)

ACME 649 – 

  • Meter – 115 dB
  • Adult – 97 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 95 dB (medium)

BigPig Outdoors Ear Ringing, Spit Flying Observations:

1. Most of Jake’s scores were very close to mine, a few higher, and some a bit lower. This suggests that lung volume to achieve a loud whistle blast is not much of a factor. Jake outperformed me on several whistles and in one of the linked studies, the child routinely got higher scores.

2. I am not a fan of the “Too easy” to blow whistles. The largest difference between Jake and my scores were seen with these and a few of the windier “easy” whistles. A little resistance by design or by a pea, allowed a more efficient use of the expelled breath in my opinion.

3. Some whistles require perfect alignment or placement of lips that could prove challenging under stress or while injured. These whistles were also tough for Jake to manipulate, and would therefore be poor choices for little ones.

4. The decibel scale is logarithmic, so my lay person understanding is that a 10 dB gain doubles the loudness. In perceived loudness, the 5 – 10 decibels can make a big difference. Source: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-levelchange.htm

5. Like I stated earlier, I think decibel ratings are not as important as the distance that a whistle can be heard, which is a factor of loudness, terrain, and frequency.

Stayed tuned as Whistlemania hits the woods and lakes to see how the whistlers perform at distance…

 

Resources: Adiittional whistle tests based on decibel levels

http://sgtmikessurvivaltips.blogspot.com/2008/05/who-gives-toot-whistle-tests-coming.html

http://sgtmikessurvivaltips.blogspot.com/2008/09/whistle-tests-part-two.html

http://briangreen.net/2011/03/safety-whistles-decibel-testing.html

http://www.refsworld.com/index.php/whistle-decibel-comparison-chart.html#.U5iXFvldX58

If you are new to the blog and wondering why anyone would spend such an inordinate amount of time on researching whistles, start here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/05/whistlemania-i/

then go here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/15/whistlemania-ii-the-iceman-cometh/

and then here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/28/whistlemania-iii-slippery-when-wet/

 

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10 thoughts on “Whistlemania IV – Sound Off…

  1. Alexandros

    This extended whistle review of yours will probably end up being the most thorough anyone can find on the internet.Congrats for the effort and detail you’ve gone through those 4 parts.I am waiting the fifth one which will be the more defining one about which of these safety whistles will be the better in a survival scenario. I my self after a pretty extensive on line search ended up buying the Storm Safety whistle and the Fox 40 sonik blast.I think i have pretty good chances of both being amongst the top 3.

    Again, congratulations for this extended review and i’ll be waiting for part 5 to see which of them all can be heard the furthest in the wilderness.

    Greetings from Greece.

    Reply
    1. bigpigoutdoors Post author

      Greetings Alexandros and thanks. I am looking forward to the next round of testing as well. Just lining up a crew to help out.

      I the Storm and Sonik Blast are both solid choices for adults.

      I also updated the post because 1/2 seconds on the “too easy” whistles should read 1-2 seconds.

      Reply
    1. bigpigoutdoors Post author

      Just sent the BUSAR guys a request to help with the testing. I will have it done by Christmas so Santa can pick a good one… The Nitecore looks like a beautifully expensive art piece. It would be interesting to see how it stacks up and if the price point matches the performance.

      Reply
  2. Jake

    Do you have an update on the performance in the woods?
    Do you have experience with Nitcore’s titanium single/dual chamber whistles?

    Reply
    1. bigpigoutdoors Post author

      Just sent the BUSAR guys a request to help with the testing. I will have it done by Christmas so Santa can pick a good one… The Nitecore looks like a beautifully expensive art piece. It would be interesting to see how it stacks up and if the price point matches the performance.

      Reply
    1. bigpigoutdoors Post author

      Hey Tim, I wasn’t satisfied with the results of our initial land tests due to other ambient noise, so I have been planning on conducting another. Got slammed with other projects, but I should catch a break soon and will get my SAR team to help me knocj it out. Sorry for the delay and thanks for your patience – Andrew

      Reply
      1. David Garcia

        any update on the results on the performance of those whistles in the woods? Btw, great job.

      2. bigpigoutdoors Post author

        David, I was unsatisfied with our initial testing due to passing motorcycles on the Tail of the Dragon. Planning on another round, but have had many other priorities. My top picks right now would be Windstorm. ACR for a smaller package.

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