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Interesting Discovery

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I just rearranged my room last week and now my scanner is sitting on top of my desk, the sound is run through 2 PC speakers that are run from the headphone jack. I also have one of those "lightning balls" that when you touch it the lightning follows your fingers. The ball has 3 settings: Off, On and Audio. When it is on Audio, a strong enough vibration will turn it on. I've not had much use with that because even the loudest bass filled songs would barely make it light up. Until just yesterday: It lit up fully when fire department tones came across the scanner and turned off when they stopped.

Now here's where it get's interesting: I also have a touch-activated reading lamp, that I've put on my desk. I found that when I turn my "lightning ball" from off to on, it will (for some reason) activate my touch lamp. An interesting idea began formulating: What if I left my ball on AUDIO activation? Would that still activate the lamp? A quick test of me pounding on the desk found that it will indeed activate the ball, and in turn the lamp will come on.

Then I did a real test: To see if the fire tones would activate the ball while at a low volume (so I could put this to work at night while people are sleeping) and it works splendidly. So now, without any expensive technology, I have lights that come on when fire department tones come out. :cool: :cool: :cool:

I know you're asking "why would I need that?" Well, now I can find my way to my computer without tripping on things in the dark so I can log into IPN and send calls at night. Anyway, just thought that it was an interesting discovery. And wanted to ask if anyone had a theory on why this works?
 

poltergeisty

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:lol: I have one of those. Illuma storm right? Rat shack model?

I have to unscrew the darn thing from time to time because it plays havoc with my DX-394 shortwave radio.

It has to do with oscillations sent into the power line and the touch lamp has a transistor that responds with a particular oscillation change.

I believe I have this right.

Those Hotel doors, with the card key readers use the same principal. IE: Reading the strip for a particular frequency. I built a device to hack them. :lol:

BTW~ I have a tone generator and I have always wanted to see the exact audio frequences it responds to and the decibel range. Now I think I'll do just that. :)
 
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Cool, I thought it was something like that because both the light and the ball are pluged into the same outlet...but then so is my computer, stereo, high velocity blower fan and my scanner (not all on at same time of course) so I couldnt figure out why the ball would have that effect but not any of the others. Thanks for your explanation :D
 

kb2vxa

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Hi Andrew and all,

You are living proof that excessive RF exposure causes brain damage. (;->)

For that matter you have discovered the incidental radiator, two sources of RFI and one is affecting the other. Being a Technician class ham maybe you haven't yet discovered how badly those devices affect HF reception, especially the touch controlled lamp that generates massive QRM even when it's off.

OK, here's your "theory". First, the "lightning lamp" is a small Tesla coil with a twist, the terminal generates plasma in a rarified atmosphere sort of like a neon sign. Unlike the high power versions generating a megavolt or more in free air you won't get severe RF burns when you get hit by the "lightning" it generates.

The touch controlled lamp contains an oscillator connected to the touch plate or if metal the lamp stand itself. Body capacitance detunes it and kills the oscillation thus greatly increasing the current it draws. This current triggers the control circuit (a triac) turning the lamp on and changing it's level just the very same way an ordinary dimmer does.

The nasty side effect is the oscillator frequency is rich in harmonics extending into the low VHF range and they radiate far in excess of FCC limits. Just to make matters worse, the DC power supply isn't filtered so the result is a nasty, loud hum centered on the fundamental frequency and it's harmonics throughout the HF spectrum. That lightning lamp also has an oscillator (probably operating in the 100-300KHz range) with the output winding on the toroidial transformer generating a couple of kilovolts at very low current. Usually those oscillators (pretty much the same as those in flourescent lamp inverter ballasts) are fed with filtered DC and produce little RF hash so that you can probably get away with but do the rest of us a favor and smash that touch lamp to pieces in a public place as a protest demonstration supporting hams and SWLs who wish they were never invented.

When you start tapping out CW on 40M you'll discover The Revenge Of The Hams or How I Drove The Neighbors Nuts Without Really Trying. A certain ham I know was plagued by three of those horrid lamps in a neighbor's house and dispite all efforts including the court of last resort, the FCC, the neighbor refused to replace them with normal lamps paid for by the affected ham. One evening I noticed this wierd light blinking in that house, turns out my friend was on the air at the time. Hmmm. A little experimentation determined the frequency that most affected those idiot lamps and he turned the neighbor's house into Castle Frankenstein every night hoping they would get the message, they didn't. Talk about THICK, OK, if they're that dumb, bull headed or whatever they deserve the nightly light show and the Darwin Award, dumber than dog poop and twice stinking category.

Oh, I would have chosen the title as Revenge Of The Nerds but that was already taken. (;->)
 
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ROFL KB2, I dont think I'll be getting rid of it. It's not affecting me in anyway except conveniently coming on with FD Tones. Hilarious story though, I'll have to keep that in mind as a practical joke to play on my family.
 

car2back

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TXFirefighter112 said:
...Then I did a real test: To see if the fire tones would activate the ball while at a low volume...

I thought you were about to say "I called the fire dept and reported a fire so they'd tone out"
 

stevie621

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Tell me about this lightning ball. I am blind and hear off of two cochlear implants. At night when I have the implants out, I have a device made by Sonic Alert that picks up the sound of the alarm clock or the phone and sets off a vibrator. You can plug anything into it. People who can see use a light. I wonder if I could use the lightning ball for the same thing.
 

poltergeisty

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:) :)

Well, the lightning ball is a lamp, another word for lamp is a light. This light/lamp makes what looks like miniature lightning. I don't know if I can describe this to you very well. It's just like a lamp, but is switched on by sound. This type of lamp, because of the nature of its light it makes will produce a lot of interference on the electrical lines it is plugged into.

I'm sure you heard static before or have felt static? This lightning ball produces this in its glass ball. So you can imagine the amount of interference it would produce on the electrical lines.

So what happens is that when the scanner emits the tone from fire dispatch the lamp would hear it and start to light up. Thus making a whole lot of interference in the electrical line. This interference will then trigger on a regular lamp that is very sensitive to this interference as its plugged into the same wall outlet.

This is just an anomaly and is by coincidence that his primary touch activated lamp is turned on by his lightning ball lamp. See, the lightning ball lamp isn't very bright and not a real source of light to see with. Its just a novelty item.

I hope I answered your question and did not complicate anything. It is difficult to describe this to you. I can only say I understand your situation and I assume you know what I'm saying here. :)
 
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Signal3and2

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Lightning balls are a glass dome set on a plastic base. Out of the base comes a stick with a smaller ball on the end of it, which is positioned dead center inside the 3 dimensional outer dome. When you plug it in, little arcs of electricity, or plasma as it was explained earlier i guess, arc out visibly as white or bright blue light from the center ball to the outer glass dome, but stay inside the dome. When you touch the outer glass dome in any given place, alot of the engery is directed towards where you are touching it at, resulting in a stronger, brighter, thicker "lightning strike" towards the area where you touch. It really does look like lightning, however in the real world, lighting strikes are milliseconds long, where as these strikes are just continous and appear to be fluid and never stop.

Hopefully that helps, but these things are even hard to describe to someone with normal vision. Take care!
 
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