Fluorescent starter teardown

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martin martin

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May 1, 2022, 10:21:11 AMMay 1
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I upgraded my 1994 vintage Red White & Blue slot machine from three hot-running fluorescent lamps to cooler LEDs.  Haven't see a starter in a long while.

For those who know is that a neon or gas lamp inside? The other unlabeled component looks likes a cap.




starter.jpg

John Rehwinkel

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May 1, 2022, 10:38:42 AMMay 1
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> For those who know is that a neon or gas lamp inside? The other unlabeled component looks likes a cap.

The gas in a starter can be either argon (purple glow) or neon (orange glow) – I've seen both. It's fairly simple, the discharge heats up the electrodes, one of which is a bimetallic strip, which bends over to touch the other electrode, completing the circuit and heating the filaments. With the discharge shorted out, it cools off and opens shortly thereafter, whereupon the inductive spike from the ballast hopefully strikes the arc, starting the lamp. If the lamp doesn't start, the cycle repeats. Yes, the other component is a capacitor, to absorb electrical noise and help protect the contacts.

- John

gregebert

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May 2, 2022, 2:07:04 PMMay 2
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Evolution:

My first workbench used an incandescent bulb that turned-on quickly, but gave off minimal light. At 150watts, it was a nice feature on cold nights.

Switched to a dual-24" fluorescent tube light; much brighter. These were a bit annoying because it often took my workshop lights several retries to light-up. One starter was argon, the other neon. It was always a contest to see how many restarts were needed as they clicked-away.

Then came the electronic ballasts, and no more startup flicker and basically instant-on.

Now I have a repurposed dual-element LED floodlight, which is so bright it will hurt your eyes to look at it and consumes even less power.
      ....BUT......the LED driver module has a startup delay of almost 2 seconds, kinda like the fluorescent fixture from long ago.

No worries, though. The LED lamp will still be going strong years after I'm gone. And yes, that is a ridiculously-overdesigned light switch, complete with voltmeters for each LED.

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