I. About the lamp
What is a Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL)?
Is this lamp ready to use when I get it?
What all do I get with the non computer-ready lamp?
What all do I get with the computer-ready lamp kit?
What about the UV colored lamp?
Who assembles the PC-ready kits?
How long does it last?
Is any special knowledge or skill required to install the lamp?
Can I install this lamp in my car?
Can I install this lamp under my car or motorcycle?
Can I install this lamp in my computer?
Can I make the wires longer?
Can I bend or shape the lamp?
III. Power Requirements
What kind of power does it require?
Can I hook it up to my subwoofer output?
Do I have to use the inverter thing?
Can I hook up more than one lamp to an inverter?
Can I plug this into a wall outlet?
Can the lamp be powered on/off quickly so as to blink?
What other things can I do with the lamp?
Does the lamp generate electromagnetic interference (EMI)?
How rugged is it?
Is the lamp dangerous?
Can I special order a custom PC-Ready lamp?
What is the return policy?
Where can I get more information?
What is a Cold Cathode
Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL)?
A Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp is a very compact, low heat producing, high intensity fluorescent light. Since they generate little heat, they are ideal for use near electronic components. A CCFL has no filament to burn out, unlike conventional or "hot" fluorescent lamps. Because they have no heating filament, they are called "cold cathode". They also don't get hot, just a bit warm.
this lamp ready to use when I get it?
Well, sort of. You get a lamp, transformer (inverter), and a protective sleeve. Although technically this lamp will work from the moment you receive it, presumably you are planning to install it somewhere. It is up to you to provide all necessary mounting hardware to install the lamp. The hardware required depends entirely on where and how you plan to install the lamp.
Exception: PC-Ready lamps come with everything you need to successfully install in your computer. No additional parts are required.
What all do I get
with the non-computer-ready lamp?
You get a CCF lamp tube, a power inverter, an inverter power wire, and a protective sleeve. You must provide whatever mounting parts required, depending on the installation.
What all do I get
with the computer-ready lamp kit?
The computer ready kit comes with everything you need to install the lamp in your computer. You get a professionally assembled fully wired harness, lamp, and all other parts, completely preassembled, necessary to complete a PC installation. You need not provide any additional parts. The only tools you need are a set of small pliers and a drill for mounting the switch. Also included are fully detailed and illustrated installation instructions that show you everything you need to do.
the UV colored lamp?
The UV lamp is truly Ultra Violet -- a black light. Like any black light, it doesn't emit much visible light. However, it does emit alot of ultra violet light that you cannot directly see. What little light you do see directly is a very deep purple. UV works best with UV-reactive or phosphorescent surfaces. And, of course, with any day-glo surface as well.
Note that a surface does not have to be day-glo to phosphoresce. If you were around in the 60's when black light was really popular, you'll remember that painting your face with Murine eye drops made it glow eerily under black light but was totally invisible under regular room light.
You can buy all sorts of phosphorescent and day-glo paint from hobby stores or art supply houses. Or do a search on the web.
The protective sleeve phosphoresces so you could use it as a means to see more visible light. However, in most black light installations, you don't want the light source itself highly visible. The whole point to black light is to create an ambiance where the objects themselves seem to glow, not the light source.
assembles the PC-ready kits?
I do. I purchase all the parts and do all the labor myself. I have an electronics tech bench setup where I design and assemble all lighting products. I take great care assembling these lamps so you'll get a quality product. All connections are soldered and insulated for highest quality. It may sound like a worn-out cliché, but I really do build these as though they were for my personal use!
How long does it
The lamps are rated to last at least 15000 hours.
special knowledge or skill required to install the lamp?
You need not understand electronic circuitry to install and power these lamps. However, some basic electrical knowledge is required. You must understand at least the following:
In addition to the basic electrical know-how enumerated above, you ABSOLUTELY MUST possess a good sense of mechanical and engineering ingenuity. Why? Because these lamps weren't designed for any particular purpose and therefore can be used in a wide variety of applications. Since the designers have no idea how you plan to use these lamps, they have left it up to you to figure out the best way to make them do what you want. In short, you must be good at tinkering.
Note: You need none of the above knowledge to install the PC-READY lamps because they are already wired and assembled. All you do is plug it in.. This knowledge is only necessary for installing non-PC-Ready lamps because they come "bare" -- that is, no installation parts.
install this lamp in my car?
Yes. Your car provides 12VDC which is exactly what the inverter requires to power the lamp. The lamp is EXTREMELY fragile so it is up to you to mount them in such a way as to eliminate the likelihood of damage. These lamps were not specifically designed for automobile installation so they lack the parts you might need for installation in a car. There are car-ready neon lamps on the market but you'll pay a lot more for the convenience.
Can I install this
lamp under my car or motorcycle?
Yes. However, be advised that these lamps are NOT vehicle-ready when delivered to you. They will work fine under a car or bike, but you must install them in such as way as to protect them from water and road hazards. To wit:
I install this lamp in my computer?
Absolutely. This is one of the most popular uses. If you have all the right parts and electrical know-how, you can build your own wiring harness. Or, better yet, you can purchase a professionally assembled and PC-Ready lamp from me. With my PC-Ready lamp, all you to is mount the switch, stick the lamp in with the included velcro, and plug it into your power supply. You don't have to wire-up anything. I also provide detailed installation instructions to make your job easier.
Each lamp consumes less than five watts electricity which is negligible. Your computer can easily power several lamps, even if it's full of other hardware. And because they draw so little current, they also generate very little heat so your fans don't have to work overtime. The CPU generates about 3-5 times more heat -- that's how little heat these lamps generate.
Can I make the
You can lengthen the 12VDC power lead as much as necessary. You should not, however, lengthen the white leads that go to the lamp tube itself. The white wires carry upwards of 1000 VAC. Lengthening these leads may lead to a shock hazard or cause excessive current leaking resulting in a reduced luminosity.
That said, you can lengthen the white leads a few inches if necessary as long as you use highly insulated wire and properly insulate the splice with heat shrink. This is not recommended, however.
Can I bend or
shape the lamp?
Absolutely not! The lamp is VERY fragile in this regard. While the lamp can take a fair amount of vibratory abuse, it absolutely will not tolerate bending or flexing, or hard things bumping into it.
kind of power does it require?
The inverter nominally requires 12VDC. You can provide as much as 14VDC without harming the inverter or lamp and as little as 6VDC before the lamp quits glowing due to insufficient power. The power consumption is between 350 and 400ma at 12VDC. That between 4.2 and 4.8 watts. The inverter generates as much as 1000 VAC to power the lamp tube itself, so be careful!
I hook it up to my subwoofer output?
This is not recommended. Some of my customers have done so with with varying degrees of success. The peak-to-peak voltage swings may be too high and fry the inverter. If you install the lamp with a 12V Zener diode inline, you'll minimize the risk to the inverter. However, I do not offer assistance or support this kind of operation. You are on your own if you drive this with on an audio-output circuit.
have to use the inverter thing?
Yes. The inverter converts 12VDC input to 800-1000VAC required for the lamp tube.
Can I hook up more than
one lamp to an inverter?
No. Each lamp requires it's own inverter. Also, don't plan on using a selector switch on the lamps to connect multiple lamps to one inverter. Even though a selector switch would let you have only one lamp "active" at a time, the voltage levels are too high to successfully switch them using a selector switch.
Bottom line: Each lamp requires it's own inverter, period. With a little ingenuity, you can conceal the inverter so it doesn't show.
plug this into a wall outlet?
Not directly. The inverter requires 12VDC input. A "wall plug" provides 120VAC. If you use a power supply that converts a wall plug's 120VAC to 12VDC then that's fine. It actually doesn't matter what the original source of power is, just as long as you provide 12VDC with at least 350-400 ma to the inverter.
Can the lamp be
powered on/off quickly so as to blink?
Yes. Rapid blinking will not reduce lamp life. Also the lamp has a extremely fast warm up, so you can link them rapidly and still get full intensity on each pulse.
Blinking dramatically reduces the life of a regular hot fluorescent lamp, but not a CCFL! This is because a CCFL has no heating filament which is the chief cause of premature failure in hot fluorescent lamps.
What other things can I do with
You can use the lamps to provide under-shelf lighting. You can illuminate high-tech stereo components. You can build a reflector and use them to illuminate artwork. There's no limit to the uses as long as you have a knack for engineering custom solutions.
Does the lamp
generate electromagnetic interference (EMI)?
All electrical circuitry generates some EMI. Whether or not it's a problem depends on two things. 1) The EMI intensity and frequency being generated and, 2) the sensitivity of the item potentially being interfered with.
AM receivers, by their very nature, are especially susceptible to EMI of many forms. FM receivers are immune from most forms of EMI and so are unaffected. I've also not noticed any interference in preamp-to-main amp circuits, where high gain amplification takes place. Use good quality interconnects to minimize the potential.
How rugged is
The lamp isn't rugged at all. It breaks VERY easily. If you're installing the lamp in an area where it can be hit or kicked, or things can bang into it, you must take adequate precaution to protect the lamp. Such precautions include the following:
Is the lamp
The only aspect of this lamp that may hurt you is the 1000VAC current generated by the inverter. And unless you go out of your way to be clumsy or careless, then even that isn't a concern. You can virtually eliminate shock hazard by insulting the inverter. Note: PC-Ready lamps have insulated inverters.
A Google search on "CCFL Lamp" will yield information on suppliers, lamp types etc.
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Last updated: 02/06/2007