Simple light bulb flasher
This circuit is possibly the simplest way to make a mains powered light bulb to flash. This circuit is an inexpensive way to make light to flasd for example in small parties and similar occasions.
- Operating voltage: 230V 50Hz
- Power rating: maximum 60W lamp
- Flash rate: around 0.3-3 Hz (depends on the fluorescent starter and attached light bulb), flashing rate varies semirandomly
- Applications: Party light effect, christmat light flasher
- RFI features: fluorescent light starter has RFI filtering built in
LIVE ------+ 230VAC | fuse (500mA slow) | | fluorescent lamp starter | | light bulb (5-60W) | | NEUTRAL ---+
The circuit is simply a fluorescent lamp starter wired in series with a normal light bulb. The starter kicks in and out on a (sort of) random basis causing the lightbulb to flash on and off in a flickering sort of way.
Basically you can just wire a fluorescent light starter just simply in series with a normal light bulb but going this simpel way has it's risks. If somebody screws in too powerful light bulb you will burn out the starter (propably fire danger). This circuit uses a fuse in series to protect the circuit against serious overload or short circuits.
This circuit is designed for 5-60W light bulbs. This is what most fluorescent light starters will hanlde without problems. It is best to select a starter which has enough power rating capacity printed to it's case (many list power rating up to 60W, but some might only be designed for lower power lamps).
I have used this circuit successfully with 20W and 40W light bulbs. You can get quite nice flashing effect if you build two of this type of circuit and attach them to different color spotlights. Both of the bulbs will then flash at different rate and you will get nice multicolor semirandom flashing effect.
- Fluorescent light lamp starter for 4-60W fluorescent tubes (cheapo bi-metalic bulb type)
- Light bulb of 10-40W with a suitable light fixture (only normal light bulbs work for sure, circuit is not designed for fluorescent bulbs or halogens with transformer)
- 500 mA 250V fuse with suitable holder for it
- Plastic case to protect the whole circuit
- Wire and electrical plug you can plug the circuit to wall
Notes on the circuit
You should try a range of values (FS-2 - FS-4) of fluorescent starters and bulb wattages (5-30W) to vary the amount of flicker. Depending the starter type and bulb rating, the flas rate and randomness varies.
Some disadvantages however are bursts of RF noise generated as the neon lamps switch. The starters typically have some kind of filtering capacitor in them, but this alone usually does not RFI may affect any radio mics or some sensitive audio equioments in the vicinity.
The starters tend to burn out rather quickly as they are not intended for this constant duty. Fortuantely those starters are cheap, so rpleacing them is not that expensive unless the circuit is intended for constant long time use.
Tomi Engdahl <Tomi.Engdahl@iki.fi>