The decorative lamp that’s built wrong on purpose

The decorative lamp that’s built wrong on purpose

It’s a festive flickery flicker fest!

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29 Responses

  1. John Christian says:

    If you like fake flickering candles, you’re gonna love “flameless moving wick candles.” Spouse added some to our indoor holiday decorations and I repeatedly reach around them due to my brain perceiving FIRE! and have found myself scrunching surrounding greenery away from the FIRE! to be safe. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s the first fake candle my brain passively treats as a live flame.

    • Van Rose says:

      During trick or treat night this year, my wife set up some of those fake flame candles where we were handing out candy. One guy ran up to one of the candles, eager to relight his cigar. He was disappointed when he realized there was no flame. I ended up going inside the house to get him a real lighter!

    • ckl says:

      That’s a good practice. Treat every candle like it is live, even if you know it is not. Because the one time you treat a live candle like it isn’t the best you can hope for is a minor burn, and the consequences scale up from there. This is coming from someone who spent their formative years lit by candlelight as we didn’t have mains electricity and solar panels were still a novelty. There are many other fields and tools that one needs to respect and treat as though they are live at all times even if you know they are off or inert facsimiles, it is just good practice.

    • The Antipope says:

      @stephmon That’s a very traditional theatrical technique to make convincing looking flames for stage productions.

    • John Christian says:

      @Soluco I know right! And we have probably owned every variation of fake candle over the years. Including nice ones where the candle body feels like real wax and the soft amber LED is encased in a wispy translucent hot-glue looking dollop. And some of the past candles have had very good algorithms that didn’t appear to loop. Or the LED performance loops were so long they were imperceptible. I feel like a caveman with his first fire!

    • John Christian says:

      @stephmon Those are nice, but the style I’m referencing doesn’t use a fan or fabric of any kind. The ‘flame’ is a flat plastic upside-down teardrop that somehow gently pivots and bobs around. A light from below shines up and illuminates the wobbling flat plastic. My description is terrible, but their motion is super realistic. It works on a small candle scale. The fan/fabric/underlighting version probably scales up in size much better for cauldrons and such.

  2. Clumsy Door says:

    Please do a video on nixie tubes! I had those things as readouts on ancient equipment I used in the military. They looked awesome but also were a pain to replace when they failed. Would love to know more about them

  3. RDR says:

    It might be experimentally interesting to try running one of the flicker candle lights from dc power,
    to see if the alternating nature of the current and uneven coating between the two electrodes is behind its behavior.
    But also just to see what it would do with only one cathode illuminated

    • switchjim says:

      OR try a hair dryer. I grew up in south florida where it is always the same temperature every day, all year, lol …. I saw these bulbs stick. They would light in one spot only, sometimes “break loose” and the plasma move, but as soon as it would relight that particular section, it would simply, again, stop flickering … maybe as the bulb ages, certain place on the filament changes to be comfortable conducting in that spot continually … so, maybe it was the constant heat making the older lamp able to glow with stability … you described the heat thing inside tge bulb, and your explanation requires changing dynamic heat fluctuations, suggesting to be that the light might work better when the ambient temperature is cooler

    • Cai Gwatkin says:

      I was thinking this too!

  4. Katatonic Etc. says:

    After watching this video I visited my mother, and realized the Mrs clause decoration she’s had my entire life is holding a candle with one of these bulbs. That bulb is over 30 years old and still going strong!

  5. Cyrene DuVent says:

    I saw a couple of these in wall lamps in a hotel years ago, and then got a closer look at them again this past fall and realized how weird and impossible they looked. I had no clue how to describe them to look them up, and had resigned myself to just never knowing how they worked. Seeing this video was a wonderful surprise, and I’m glad to finally have an answer

  6. Tom Bowns says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the fact that photons entering the bulb will affect the discharge. I just showed my son this effect a few days ago on our Christmas tree, which has two strings of these candles on it. One of the bulbs wasn’t lit at all, so I got out my uv flashlight and shined it on the bulb to “jumpstart” it. Pretty cool – the uv provides enough energy to get the gas ionization to occur.

    • gnarth d'arkanen says:

      @Franky 2Shoes I know some of the UV band destroys DNA… I also know some of it just adds heat with relatively low harm genetically… My brother (chemical engineer) knows more about it than me… BUT since I’m the kind of day-glow color that gets the FAA called on him for shedding a shirt (provided I don’t get landed upon by a helicopter)… I spend much of my life under AT LEAST a layer of latigo leather.

      So far (being self taught oddly) I haven’t managed to arc-blind myself. I’ve welded the g** d*** grounding clamp to a job or two… a somewhat expensive screw-up… BUT if anything, I think my worst misstep has been maybe a shade or two less than “code” prescribed for the welder at hand…

      In any case, I truly suspect the centipedes DO phosphoresce like scorpions do… BUT as you say, it IS possible that a stout enough UV laser could blast little holes into them, too… Back in the 80’s my father had a magazine full of novel and just weird things. He was able to order a home-built laser-kit that could blast holes into paper and even remove the writing… It sort of worked pretty well, except for when it lit everything on fire, which got both of us and our “toys” banished from the kitchen… It claimed to blast holes in razor blades, but all we could get was a dubious bluing effect… Still for a laser kit in the 80’s out of a magazine, that’s into the 400 – 500 degrees F, and kind of impressive, even if it only effected an unexcitingly small “dot” of the over-all razor blade…

      It’s probably scary what I could likely order and build now… ;o)

    • Franky 2Shoes says:

      @gnarth d’arkanen I use uv-c lamps to keep roaches at bay, UV radiation actually rips you part at the DNA level. So next time you are suffering with the sunburn, all that peeling, inflamed and irritated skin is damaged at the genetic level….melanoma totally makes sense to me now! At the uv-c wavelength, this light is barely visible to invisible, with that being said……I one gave myself pretty gnarly arc eye….so depending on the strength of the aforementioned “laser”, it could be possible that the centipede, is now “ventilated” with molecular sized holes….??… .. I’m also fairly certain that centipedes are phosphorescent, as well…..pip pip cheerio and all that nonsense…lol

    • Muonium says:

      ” the uv provides enough energy to get the gas ionization to occur”
      close, but what’s actually happening is more subtle. you’re demonstrating Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning photoelectric effect. The UV photons have enough energy to kick an electron out of the surface of the metal electrode, which then is accelerated by the voltage gradient between the electrodes in the lamp and causes avalanche ionization and breakdown of the gas in the bulb. The UV photons only have a few eV, but the first ionization energy potential of neon for example is over 21eV; way too high to have been directly ionized by the UV photon. Ben Krasnow demonstrates this superbly in his video “Flashing Light Prize 2018 – Sunscreen, UV, and neon”.

    • Sparx ­ says:

      I had an extension cord in my basement with a lit end showing it had power and noticed it was flickering in the dark and it stopped when I turned on the lights or shined my phone flashlight on it. I thought I was about to have a paranormal experience lol

    • Mike V says:

      @RisingStar Certain “bugs” fluoresce (glow in the dark) under ultraviolet light. This doesn’t do anything to them, except make them visibly detectable.

  7. Russell Schwartz says:

    I think part of what I like so much about this channel is how Alec is just really unabashedly *himself*.

  8. Brian says:

    I’ve got a flicker on my power strip that’s powering the equipment I’m watching you on. Just turned off the lights above my workbench and it did the same thing yours did! That’s awesome! Merry Christmas and stuff to you and your family!

  9. Jussi Kuusela says:

    There are voltage regulator tubes, pretty much the Zener equivalent of the valve world. Such a tube also benefits from a light source near it. Many tube devices have been built with a small incandescent bulb inside. This is to excite and stabilize the regulator tube, which might not always start reliably on its own.

    • Pystro says:

      Tubes you say, i.e. tiny glass bulbs. Filled with some gas mixture, their wikipedia page says. That regulate current flow across two contacts, i.e. two electrodes inside the bulb. That benefit from a light source you say, i.e. exhibit the same behavior as the flickering power strip light.
      Yeah, I think I wouldn’t be surprised if these flicker lamps were combining concepts from neon lamps and regulator tubes. Then again, sensitivity to light might just be a feature inherent to all gas discharge tubes.

  10. CrankyOtter says:

    I do enjoy your recurring “thru the magic of buying N of them” bit, along with explanations of how things fail & where to find niche bits of electronics in the wild.

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