Christmas Lights.

OK, so I don’t have the fancy, dance to the music, lights, but I did a little something different this year. I decorated my mailbox with numerous multi-color LEDs that I soldered to strips and screwed them to the mailbox. They run off 3 volts so I had to make up a little regulator circuit for them. Then I found out I was exceeding the current for the circuit so I had to make up another. I solved the heat problem with the regulators by attaching them to little copper plates to be cooled by the cooler weather outside.

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Author: G.D.

I'm from Pensyltucky. Can trace my ancestry directly to whom the present day national anthem of Poland is written about.

10 thoughts on “Christmas Lights.”

  1. Regulator!  You’re not getting into the spirit of super-cheap tacky LED circuits!

    There’s a delightful YouTube channel, “BigCliveDotCom”, where he takes apart cheap consumer electronics, often involving LEDs, and looks at the horrors inside.  Here is a postmortem on a Japanese screw-in mains powered LED light that runs on 85–250 volts with no regulator, no transformer, and no voltage divider.

    Well, at least it runs until it goes PAF! and then it doesn’t run any more.

    Here is the famous deadly camping light.

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  2. Gerry D:
    Then I found out I was exceeding the current for the circuit so I had to make up another. I solved the heat problem with the regulators by attaching them to little copper plates to be cooled by the cooler weather outside.

    The heat is too high!
     Baby it’s cold outside.

    The lights will all fry!
     Baby it’s cold outside.

    The current is just –
      – Just hoping to drop plates in

    What? There’s no ice –
     – I’ll hold you on;  the mailbox’s nice.

    That Q will be such a worry-
    – You’re copper, so what’s the hurry?

    My enthalpy will be such a bore-
    – Toss excess heat out the door

    So really I’d better scurry-
    Beautiful, please don’t hurry

    Well maybe just solder some more –
    – We’ll have Christmas lights galore!

     

    The neighbors might think – 
    Baby it’s cold out there.

    We need a heat sink!
    – None else to be had out there

    I wish I could solve –
    Let’s get the lights up now

    -this heat problem now!
    You’re on the circuit; the lights look swell

    You ought to just buy the stuff, sir
    Mind if I just try out the concept

    At least I tried to get it not fried  
    What’s the sense in hurting my pride

    Just buy all your stuff 
    I make my own stuff

    And use that it’s cold outside!

     

     

    http://www.metrolyrics.com/baby-its-cold-outside-lyrics-christmas-song.html

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  3. John, Rather than have the chance of zapping the mail carrier, (even though he or she delivers bills to my mailbox),  I opted for a small 12 volt power supply with further voltage reduction to 3.3 volts with LD1117V33 regulators. While they are rated at 950mA, I presume this is with an adequate heat sink. I normally use these without a heat sink on small single LED candles that I’m sick and tired of changing the batteries for and stuff it into the battery compartment.

    I can remember repairing some sort of electronic device, maybe it was a tube radio or TV, and it used one of the mains wires connected to the chassis. I of course got zapped by it and later researched it to find out that that type of design was one of the reasons that polarized AC plugs came about. For those that don’t know about polarized plugs, they are the type with one prong slightly wider than the other. The wider one, when plugged into an appropriate socket, is connected to the neutral or white wire. The smaller prong is connected, when plugged in to the hot or black wire. The neutral wire can somewhat be considered a ground as at the circuit box it is indeed connected to earth ground as well at the transformer on the utility pole, connected to earth ground.

    What this means is that if you come in contact with a white wire, you should not get a shock, (that is if everything is correct), a black wire in standard electrical wiring, carries the 120 volts.

    There have been a lot more safety mandates since that time, one being GFCI. In this case if you were to touch a while wire, after it passes through a GFCI, the circuit will shut off. There is a integrated circuit in the GFCI devices that senses the amount of current flowing through the black wire and it must match that same amount of current in the white wire. If an imbalance occurs, someone touching a white wire and providing an alternate path for current flow, the circuit turns off. I have GFCI protection on my outside power outlets.

    The lamp, shown in your video, would not pass muster to be sold in the U.S.

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  4. My eyes!!!

    There is a religious image on the front lawn. I must complain but first I must hide in my room for a couple of days because of the coming theocracy. You can’t force your religion on me! /sarcasm

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  5. Gerry D:
    I can remember repairing some sort of electronic device, maybe it was a tube radio or TV, and it used one of the mains wires connected to the chassis. I of course got zapped by it and later researched it to find out that that type of design was one of the reasons that polarized AC plugs came about.

    This was probably an “All American Five” tube radio, or a television that used the same transformerless design.  Here is what Old Me wrote about this design elsewhere.


    Between the 1930s and the 1960s, the overwhelming majority of mass produced AM receivers were the “All American Five” design, which used five tubes whose heater voltages cleverly summed up to 121 volts, so they could be connected in series and powered directly from AC mains power without the need for a transformer. (Because there was no transformer, the radio would also run on DC power, which was still in use from Edison generating stations in some big cities in the early part of its history.) One side of the power line was connected directly to the chassis, and depending upon which way the power plug was inserted (most plugs at the time were not polarised), the “hot” side of the line could be connected to the chassis and remain deadly even when the power switch was off. All American Five designs had to be enclosed in insulating (wood or plastic) cabinets with no exposed metal connected to the chassis.


    New Me: This design was used for many years before polarised mains plugs came into use (and even then, you wouldn’t want to bet your life the wall socket was wired correctly), and half the time you plugged them in the chassis was connected to the “hot” side of the line and could deliver a lethal shock.  They were packaged to (more or less) make it difficult to come into contact with the chassis or anything connected to it.  But if you looked carefully, there was often, shall we say, “inattention to detail”.  For example, the volume potentiometer and tuning capacitor shafts were connected to the chassis and the the only protection against touching them was the insulating Bakelite knob attached to them.  But look closely at that knob!  Often, it had a brass set-screw holding it to the shaft and only indented a little in the knob when it was tightened.  If you grabbed the knob when your hand was wet (not uncommon as many people had a table radio in the kitchen), a drop of water could contact the set screw and zap!

    Another delight with the All American Five was that the tube filaments were all connected in series to sum up to the mains voltage, so if one filament burned out, the whole thing went dark just like series-string Christmas tree lights.  You had to pull the tubes and test them individually to find which one had an open filament.

    In the early days of the All American Five, tubes had not yet been developed whose heater voltages summed up to the mains voltage.  This required a series resistor to drop the voltage so the heaters would not burn out.  Now, with the tubes available at the time, you needed to drop around 60 volts in the resistor and with the heater current this meant dissipating about 20 watts.  Now that’s a lot of power and generates plenty of heat, as you’ll know if you’ve ever seen a 20 watt resistor!  The answer?  Manufacture the line cord with a nichrome wire that would add up to the correct resistance over the usual two metre length of the cord.  This would distribute the heat dissipation out over the cord, so it only got “moderately warm”.  That is, unless somebody curled up the cord into a tight loop and/or put it under a carpet to hide it, in which case it was fire time.  It was also possible for a shorted capacitor in the radio (which was very common in the days of paper and wax capacitors) to put the full line voltage across the cord, when it was fire time again.  These cords were usually insulated with rubber, which the heat would cause to degrade, eventually cracking and exposing a live wire.

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  6. 10 Cents:
    My eyes!!!

    There is a religious image on the front lawn. I must complain but first I must hide in my room for a couple of days because of the coming theocracy. You can’t force your religion on me! /sarcasm

    I also noticed the creche, and appreciate it.   Very nice.   The only really appropriate Christmas lights.

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  7. John, from my memory..

    35W4, 50C5, 12BA6, 12BE6, 12AV6

    The first numbers are the operating voltages of the filaments. And yes, they add up to 121 Volts.

    They also had two or more screws in the back of the plastic cabinet or fiberboard back screwed directly to the chassis.

    Rarely had filament problems as most of the mains voltages around here were in the area of 115 to 117 Volts. A safety margin, in a way,  I guess.

    God! That was in early high school days!

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  8. Gerry D:
    John, from my memory.. 35W4, 50C5, 12BA6, 12BE6, 12AV6

    That was the 7-pin miniature tube version.  The one I remember from childhood is the octal complement:

    35Z5 (rectifier), 12SA7 (pentagrid converter), 12SK7 (IF amplifier), 12SQ7 (detector/first audio), 50L6 (audio output)

    There were lots of other flavours, including battery-operated versions that used 1 and 3 volt heaters and dispensed with the rectifier (this was an “All American Four”).

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  9. I always appreciate the merry makers who put on such a show each Christmas. There is a home on my block that did (the trappings are now removed) such an extensive, world class job on lawn and roof that it became a bona fide tourist attraction which meant the neighbors started to complain about the traffic and the most vocal next door neighbor was Larry Bird who threatened to move and now Santa’s village is no more. 🙁

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