A beacon is known as a signal that, whether mobile or fixed, is installed in a place to give a warning or with the intention of guiding vehicle traffic. The act of signaling with beacons is called beaconing, while its result is called beaconing.
The beacons, in short, are elements that serve to warn about a possible danger or risk. Most beacons emit light signals, although there are also beacons that are based on radio signals or ultrasound signals.
In the field of navigation, beacons are used to mark various issues and guide boats. A lighthouse, for example, is a beacon that warns sailors about the proximity of the coast or an island.
Skyscrapers, radio or television antennas, and power transmission towers may also have beacons on top so that they are easily visible. In this way, aircraft and helicopter pilots are warned about these structures and the risks of accidents are minimized.
In some countries, it is mandatory for cars to have portable beacons inside so that, in the event of a mechanical damage on a road (route), the driver makes the corresponding signaling, placing one beacon in front of the car and another behind.
The flashing light that warns about stopping the car is also called a beacon: “You go find Andrés: I’ll wait for you in the car at the school gate, with the beacons on. “
The beacon concept also appears in the context of orienteering races, a sport that originated in Scandinavia and consists of timed tours carried out individually or in groups, in which each participant must have a compass and a map to find the way.
Throughout the course of an orientation race, a series of controls are placed through which the participants must pass (the latter must not know their location before the start of the competition). These points are marked with so-called orientation beacons, and each runner can use a different route, using their own navigation methods.
Using a compass, competitors can plot their course to avoid passing the same point twice, unless they so wish. The most popular type of orienteering race is practiced on foot, although there is also orientation by bike, skiing and kayaking, among others.
In accordance with the provisions of the International Guidance Federation in its regulations, the guidance beacon is an element used to signal the controls and must have the shape of a rigid triangular prism covered with fabric. Each of the faces of the beacon must be square, with dimensions of 30 x 30 cm or 15 x 15 cm, depending on the characteristics of the playing space, and be divided into two triangles, one white and one orange.
Since the function of these beacons is to help runners to locate themselves on the map, it is very important that they are in easily visible points, and for this it is very useful to locate them at a certain distance from the ground. Regarding the support, both an artificial element (such as a fence) and a natural element (a branch of a tree) can be used. The decision of the type of support for the beacon must be made according to the characteristics of the terrain at each particular point of the race; For example, while it is common to drive a stake on a dirt floor, wooden structures called borriquetas are often placed on the asphalt.