Beacons have often been abused by pirates. A fire at a wrong position was used to direct a ship against cliffs or beaches, so the cargo could be looted after the ship sank or ran aground.
In modern technical parlance, a beacon can also be a transmitter used for navigation.
Beacons are aids to navigation devices. Intentionally conspicuous, beacons help guide navigators to their destinations. Beacon types include radar reflectors, radio beacons, sound signals, and visual beacons. Visual beacons range from small, single-pile structures to large lighthouses or light stations and are located on land or in water. Lighted beacons are called lights; unlighted beacons are called daybeacons.
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