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Old 10-11-2017, 12:47 AM
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Fluorescent ballasts

Here's a weird one.
I have a light installation I am trying to do but it specifically needs to have that old "blinky-blink" effect you got on lamps before the instant-on ballasts became a thing and you had a starter module to get them going. From what I have dug up so far this seemed to pertain most to lamps with inductive ballasts, however all the examples I have found so far seem to not be for the four foot long tubes. Just the two foot ones which I am not using.
The other was that they were used with magnetic ballasts and google to point proved this right, until I noticed that some magnetic ballasts had an integrated instant-on feature. The last type I can find specified are "electronic" ballasts but the term is so generic that seems to cover both the modern units which are always instant-on, or just ballasts in general.

I do however notice that elsewhere in the world you can still find lights of all lengths that need starters, so I am assuming china is still cranking them out. Does anyone have a batter idea about what I am looking for?

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Old 10-11-2017, 01:09 AM
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Four foot fluorescent fixtures were all preheat (blinky blink) until the late 50's, when RAPID start was introduced. Preheat 40 watt fixtures are pretty scarce these days, as most of them got junked, or converted to rapid start. Preheat 20 watt fixtures are still fairly commonplace, as TRIGGER start (two foot version of RAPID start) did not get here until a little later. Nowadays, rapid start 40 watt fixtures are being junked in favor of newer 32 watt INSTANT start fixtures with electronic ballasts, whereas the older equipment had magnetic iron core ballasts.

I'm an expert on industrial lighting. Before TVs, I was a hard-core collector of vintage fluorescent and HID lighting.
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Last edited by TUD1; 10-11-2017 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:30 AM
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I'm reasonably sure that inductive ballast = magnetic ballast. Also I'm pretty sure that 2 foot tubes with magnetic ballasts and starter thingies operate on the exact same principal as the 4 foot ones, probably the ballasts and starters would be rated differently. But there ARE 2 foot trigger start ones, that use the button to start them and NOT a starter

Ultimately what you need to do is find yourself some crusty old magnetic ballasts - OR - fake the effect.

Or, or... you could just buy a couple of these. Actually if you ebay 'magnetic ballast preheat' or 'preheat fluorescent ballast' there are a lot of things, mostly mini-ballasts that I'd almost say might do the trick and NOS ballasts that take starters. Thankfully the labels on the ballasts usually have the schematic drawn on them, so you can see when they need a starter or not.

Last edited by MadMan; 10-11-2017 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:08 AM
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"I'm reasonably sure that inductive ballast = magnetic ballast. Also I'm pretty sure that 2 foot tubes with magnetic ballasts and starter thingies operate on the exact same principal as the 4 foot ones, probably the ballasts and starters would be rated differently. But there ARE 2 foot trigger start ones, that use the button to start them and NOT a starter."

Point 1 - No. F20's are the largest lamp that can be run on line voltage without an autotransformer ballast. That is because the ignition voltage of the lamp is below 120 volts. Larger lamps WILL NOT run on 120 volts with only a choke ballast because their ignition voltage is higher than 120 volts. I think the F30's ignition voltage is around 130 volts. These larger lamps require an autotransformer ballast.

Point 2 - the button than you hold down it basically the exact same thing as preheat. It's the cheap, primitive version called "manual preheat." The other method being "automatic preheat." The button method was mainly used in cheap desk lamps in the 60's.

I messed up the quotation somehow. The first paragraph was said by MadMan at 12:30.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadMan View Post
But there ARE 2 foot trigger start ones, that use the button to start them and NOT a starter
I've used those, the kitchens in the building I lived in from 1988-97 were equipped with them. They were mounted under the cupboard over the sink. As I recall the buttons were a little flaky, often taking more than one push to get them to fire. Once the light was energized the button had to be held down for a couple of seconds. They were turned off with the same button.

I see I took too long to submit this post, oh well.

Last edited by Jon A.; 10-11-2017 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:55 AM
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Don't know specifically about 120V countries but in 220/240V countries we mostly used magentic/inductive (same thing) ballasts with what we called switch start. A small starter unit with a glow tube and contacts that preheated the heaters in the tube. Some worked better than others, staring on the first flash, others were awful, especially if the voltage was low or it was very cold.

There were various kinds of instant start ballasts (resonant and semi-resonant) most of which had some kind of winding to keep the heaters of the tube warm.

There were high frequency ballasts fromt he 1980s which usually worked well though often quite expensive.

Now why would you fit anything except a LED. You can still get switch start fittings but the only advantage is lower price. Nobody in a commercial environment would fit them as LEDs use less power and don't need regular re-lamping.
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Old 10-11-2017, 06:59 AM
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LED bulbs are the best!
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Old 10-11-2017, 09:34 AM
Chip Chester Chip Chester is offline
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So, you need just the effect, or you need the light itself to do it? Because you could hide a strobing LED of the right color temperature 'behind the scenes' and sequence it to precede the light turning on.

This would be less effective if you can actually see the tubes, of course.
Chip
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:21 AM
dieseljeep dieseljeep is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIPS View Post
Here's a weird one.
I have a light installation I am trying to do but it specifically needs to have that old "blinky-blink" effect you got on lamps before the instant-on ballasts became a thing and you had a starter module to get them going. From what I have dug up so far this seemed to pertain most to lamps with inductive ballasts, however all the examples I have found so far seem to not be for the four foot long tubes. Just the two foot ones which I am not using.
The other was that they were used with magnetic ballasts and google to point proved this right, until I noticed that some magnetic ballasts had an integrated instant-on feature. The last type I can find specified are "electronic" ballasts but the term is so generic that seems to cover both the modern units which are always instant-on, or just ballasts in general.

I do however notice that elsewhere in the world you can still find lights of all lengths that need starters, so I am assuming china is still cranking them out. Does anyone have a batter idea about what I am looking for?

The fixture shown is one of those inexpensive home workshop type, that used two simple reactor type ballasts, one for each lamp. They weren't used in a commercial setting because of the poor power factor.
Maybe, they were never sold or allowed in Canada.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:29 PM
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I've got a at least a couple of the old (40's maybe) pre-heat units lighting the basement storage/workshop area. I'll probably take them with me when I move.
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  #11  
Old 10-11-2017, 03:45 PM
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Do you want the ones with a little blink, or the one which lights up the ends, you wait a while, and then it fires.

I have a couple of the second type around, single tube 40W fixtures. Totally annoying, you have to wait a little while for light after you turn it on.
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Old 10-11-2017, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ppppenguin View Post
Now why would you fit anything except a LED. You can still get switch start fittings but the only advantage is lower price. Nobody in a commercial environment would fit them as LEDs use less power and don't need regular re-lamping.
I'm weird. I mean, I'm sure in the future I'm going to get fed up with it and switch to LED T12 tubes...but for now why not go with something interesting?

Quote:
So, you need just the effect, or you need the light itself to do it? Because you could hide a strobing LED of the right color temperature 'behind the scenes' and sequence it to precede the light turning on.

This would be less effective if you can actually see the tubes, of course.
My bedroom is a bit of a weird place.
The whole ceiling is covered in egg carton foam. Currently there is one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling and that's all I get from the lightswitch.


http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a1...m/CGS_7721.jpg

Running across the room is two recessed fluorescent tubes that were never wired in. The idea is that why not replace one dim bulb with two fluorescent tubes that flicker like mad every time I turn the light on?

The other thing is there's two old Powerlite utility pole fluorescent lamps I was thinking of getting roughed in up where I park my car in the winter so when I leave and get home at night I'm not fumbling through the snow and when they turned on at dusk the gave off a little show as they turned on. Folks from the Greater Toronto Area might remember these lights if you got some grey hair on your head.

Last edited by MIPS; 10-11-2017 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:09 PM
Olorin67 Olorin67 is offline
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I dont think ive seen a 40 watt with a starter, but plenty of smaller fixtures used them. i still use a few of the push and hold to start types. A desk lamp, undercabinet lights, and a circa 1940 "vertical "skyscraper" lamp that still has its original beryllium phosphor tube in it.
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  #14  
Old 10-11-2017, 10:23 PM
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Up until about ten years ago I still had access to my grandfathers workshop. He was an electrician until he would down his business in the early 80's but both floors of the old barn used fixtures salvaged from wherever he got them during his heyday in the 50's so EVERYTHING used this old style and they were all of the 4' variety with starters. Most of the lights in the house however were rapid start but I know my grandmother used another older 4' lamp with two starters for her indoor garden lamp.

Now mind you, all of those ballasts would of contained PCB's but that's another discussion.
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Old 10-12-2017, 12:07 AM
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So buy a couple of old ass ballasts and I guess sockets for the starters, and wire yourself up some old-timey fluorescent lights.
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