Cheap fibre optic light creates a vulgar display

fibre1.jpgClick to view parts Not dazzled by the special effects of a cheap fibre optic light, Clive Mitchell decided to hack his own: “Fibre optic lights like this one have been about for a long time. They were originally made using glass fibres illuminated by a candle shaped light bulb, but these days the fibres tend to be plastic with a focused low voltage lamp as the light source. These cheap gimmick fibre sprays are available in the UK from “one pound stores” which would probably equate to “dollar stores” (make that ‘two dollar stores’ with the current exchange rate!) in the USA. They tend to be battery powered and have a few flashing coloured lamps inside.Inside are three self flashing lamps with small bi-metallic contacts inside. They pulse and flash irregularly, making the fibre optic spray pulse in a rather vulgar manner. It’s a complete waste of a good bunch of fibres, so I developed a project to convert one to LEDs and make it run directly from the mains.

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My circuit design consumes only a few watts and is a “reactive” load, so it can be considered as being zero-power. And above is an image of the technicolour version with two red, two green, two blue and an orange LED.The LEDs should have a life time of about 100,000 hours continuous, although some of the cheaper Chinese LEDs are somewhat unpredictable in their lifespan. If you decide to attempt a similar conversion to one yourself, then be very aware that the circuit operates at mains voltage, so extreme care must be taken in construction to avoid fire or injury.”

Tags: current exchange rate, life time, long time, mains, special effects

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7 Comments

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    November 15, 2008 03:27

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  2. Mr Picky
    April 27, 2008 02:49

    I believe he said it uses less than 1 Watt, that is so close to nothing that its not work nit picking over.
    I think this is a great circuit that he proposes, its got safety and efficiency, and its cheap! Hallmarks of a great engineer!

  3. Tony Erwood
    March 12, 2008 20:14

    The point is that it draws “a few watts” of real power regardless of what the reactive power component is. Modern dsp type power meters will measure and record this real power component quite accurately. No doubt the electricity company will be very happy with any power factor correction becuase it reduces losses in their transmission network, but they will charge for the real power component.

  4. October 22, 2007 22:02

    The comment about reactive power relates to the fact that the design uses a capacitor as the primary power supply component and as such has a slight leading power factor. When you consider the number of transformers with very significant lagging power factors around the home any small power factor compensation is useful. Given that the circuit only draws a few watts and has the minor but useful power factor correction effect I think it’s reasonable to say that it draws next to nothing even if it isn’t exactly “zero” power.

  5. ian p
    October 22, 2007 08:49

    I once read that any fool can make something but it takes an engineer control the costs” or something like that.
    So If we assume that “a few watts” stretches to 5 watts, then at £0.09 per kWh the cost of running this over the projected LED lifetime is £18(excluding depreciation).
    £1.58 p.a. for running something pretty for 11.4 years is I guess well out of the mental range of pickers-of-nits.
    My vote goes with Clive on this one

  6. ian p
    October 22, 2007 08:49

    I once read that any fool can make something but it takes an engineer control the costs” or something like that.
    So If we assume that “a few watts” stretches to 5 watts, then at £0.09 per kWh the cost of running this over the projected LED lifetime is £18(excluding depreciation).
    £1.58 p.a. for running something pretty for 11.4 years is I guess well out of the mental range of pickers-of-nits.
    My vote goes with Clive on this one

  7. Richard B.
    October 19, 2007 11:19

    Quote “…consumes only a few watts and is a “reactive” load, so it can be considered as being zero-power”
    I can’t begin to imagine what level of ignorance is required in order to write the above statement.

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