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Step 4: Troubleshooting

The first time I build the circuit, it worked immediately. I used a 26 watt CFL.

Then I decided to get a bigger CFL and I build it exactly like the first circuit. It didn't work. I was disappointed. I thought that the CFL electronics were shot.

But when I reconnected the fluorescent tube to the four wires, the CFL worked again. I realized that this type of CFL circuit needed to "sense" the filaments in order to operate. Remember, I was only using the outer wires and leaving the two inner wires alone.

So I put a resistor across the outer wire and the inner wire. The circuit worked! But within seconds the resistor was in flames.

So I decided to use a capacitor in place of resistor. The capacitor allows AC currents but blocks DC while a resistor allow both AC and DC currents to flow through it. Also a capacitor does not heat up because it provides a low resistance path for AC currents.

The capacitor worked great! The arcs produced were very big and thick.

So in summary there two things that can go wrong:

1. You wired it wrong, either on the CFL side or the flyback side.
2. The CFL electronics needs to sense the filament and you can use a capacitor as a substitute.

Use a high voltage rated capacitor. Mine was 400V and I got it from another CFL circuit.

While troubleshooting, be very careful, you are dealing with very high voltages and high currents.

When soldering, disconnect the circuit from the power outlet.
Is it 50mA or 50MA, because I don't think 0.05A is enough to kill someone. I would think 5A is enough to cause damage. I've worked with wires connected to 500mA sources and I am still here.
It's 50mA, across the *heart*. Remember Ohm's law, I = V/R. A 12v car battery is capable of producing several amps peak current. However, the resistance from one hand to the other is around a few thousand ohms. So, it is possible to grab both terminals of a car battery, contrary to what you see in movies. You need enough volts to push pass the resistance, AND just enough current to move through the heart, to risk electrocution. Wall voltage is enough to do it, and definitely some parts of this circuit are able to.
factors affecting body resistance, sweat, humidity, sea water, chlorinated water, ac or dc. the lowest voltage, reportedly causing death is 6V dc. so do, you feel lucky? the body skin resistance, can change according to the situation. and of course once the initial punch through talks place, resistance is dramatically decreased.<br><br>plus there are the other effects, of physical clamping or vaulting. which can cause, physical trauma that can cause death or injury. but at 50ma, flash burn would not be a factor. but as voltage increases, the possibility of soft x-rays becomes greater and depending on the type of targets used such as tungsten. and at 50kv you are, entering medium x-ray electron volt range. which is only briefly, for the arc start period.<br><br>and remember in short circuit conditions, voltage decreases and amps increase. so your 50ma could quite possibly become, 100 ma sufficient to stop the heart of cause fibrillation or freeze the lungs causing suffocation in case of clamp on. because of the two scenarios of either freeze or being thrown away. if your muscles contract you freeze, if they expand your kicked away.<br><br>this all plus, the danger is not necessarily over after being shocked. since people have died, even after a week of being shocked and only thought, they were ok. so it is best to minimize the risk, of receiving any shock to 0 chance.
Something else to note: the 20mA range can be more dangerous than the 50mA range. 20mA will disrupt the heart's operation (even with current removed), leading to a potentially painful death. 50mA+ clamps the heart; remove the current and the heard will resume pumping.<br><br>Again, this is lethal Primarily if the current path crosses the heart. Those who have worked with (and even taken) more current and still post here did not have a current path across the chest.<br><br>A simple and effective precaution when working around high voltages is to always keep one hand in your pocket: worrisome situations occur when one hand is grounded and the other is touching a hot lead.
yes, you are absolutely right. Thanks for clearing this up.
5-10mA is enough to kill, but it's not likely to. I've been hit by 9kV, 30mA, as well as shocked myself multiple times with 120V house current (on a 10+A fuse,) and I'm still here. That doesn't mean either of those situations can't kill you.
wow, what does 9kV feel like? i got shocked by a camera cuz i touched the switch oart and it burnt a little hole in my finger but thats only a few hundred volts
It was probably only 4.5kV because it was to the center tap, but it didn't really hurt. Just made me really tired. Your hit probably had a lot more current than 30mA. A cap can deliver amps
ah, ok
But arent the caps in cameras only something like 30mA?
NOOOOO! caps in camera's are usually 6000uf or more depending on how big the camera is or the flash type. That is probably close to half an amp because of the high current capacitance. The voltage is only 1.5v but the current is very high.
what are you talking about, camera caps are 330v 120uf.
What am I talking about? What are you talking about? A capacitor is measured in farads, not volts. One farad is one coulomb which is 6.25x10^18 electrons. Amperage is the measure of how many coulombs of current cycle in one second, so since capacitors accept certain amounts of coulombs, that must mean that capacitors store current, not voltage. How or why would camera designers integrate a cap rated for 330 volts, when only a 1.5 - 3v battery is used, but only store 120uf of current. The greater the farad, the bigger the flash. Maybe your camera has that, no way for me to know.
ALL capacitors have a rating for voltage and farads
Yes your right there, but making a cap rated for 330 Volts will just make it physically larger, nothing else. They are almost always set to 10 or 16 Volts to keep physical dimensions smaller. The farad rating is what affects it's performance, the greater the farad, the longer it takes to charge, but makes a bigger bang.
No, ive seen 400 volt 330 uf caps small enough to fit into drinking straws, its what they use as the dielectric that truly determines voltages, not size, and most flash cameras have a step up circuit that outputs 309+ volts to charge caps
<p>Handyman, you need to stick to hammer and nails. Quit copying and pasting and drawing erroneous conclusions. You are so full of misinformation. </p>
I think your math for charge is off. 1 Farad is not 1 coulomb, it's 1 coulomb/volt. The amount of charge in a cap is the capacitance * voltage. Caps store voltage. If you charge a cap to 10v, wait a bit, and measure it's voltage, it'll still be roughly 10v. Inductors store current.<br>Caps are sized according to both their voltage and capacitance, roughly at k*c*v^2 (k being a constant for a given type of cap.) For the same capacitance, a 330v cap would be roughly 48,000 times larger than a 1.5v cap (ignoring the fact that you can only make a cap so small.)<br>Flashes use DC-DC converters, usually flyback or something similar to convert the low 1.5-7.6v supplied by the batteries into the hundreds of volts necessary to make a strobe work.
<p>What I have seen in later models of flash circuits is a series of discreet, diode voltage doublers to get the proper output high voltage. They are a lot cheaper to make than a fly-back transformer -- and also have the advantage of being much smaller and lighter by not requiring a lot of windings of copper wire.<br><br>As to inductive storage of potential, one of the worse, unanticipated shocks I ever got was from continuity testing of a war surplus, oil-filled filter choke I used to make a power supply for a 1.5kW, 40-10 meter linear amplifier. I was using a VTVM, which supplies 1.5V DC on the times 1 resistance scale. As my alligator clip was demised, I was holding the test leads in place with my fingers. When I removed the first test probe from the choke, the field collapsed and I got a jolt that was quite a bit more than I expected.<br><br>Keep it in mind that the potential voltages, from both capacitors and inductors, can be much higher than anticipated -- far exceeding the charge voltage. Also keep it in mind that when the skin threshold of human skin is exceeded, the apparent resistance will diminish a lot more than anticipated as the skin will form a trail of ionized salt water along the path of conductance. </p>
thats exacky right <br>caps store voltage <br>size depend on storage capabilty which is rated in farads <br>current does not matter <br>capera caps are tiny , rated in hundreds of volts and a few microfarads
<p>Nothing else, you are totally wrong. Lots of dangerous misinformation here on this subject.</p><p>He guy go make it and stick your finger to it and then come back and make your report. You have my blessing and maybe the Priest also</p>
no the size is mostly determined around the farads, i have a 10000uf cap at 72v and its huge, i also have a 47uf cap with 50v and its tiny.
True
<p>Just an FYI here. Capacitors are merely two or metal plates placed in close proximity and separated by a non-conductive material known as a dielectric. Depending upon what type of dielectric is used, this allows the capacitor to be either wound from two insulated layers or alternating sheets to be stacked to get the required capacitance. The voltage rating is nothing more than how much potential (voltage) the dielectric can withstand before it breaks down and shorts out. It is the capacitance that gives the amount of current it can hold. Common Dielectrics are polyethylene, mica, various oils and even glass or waxed paper. Most capacitors are non-polar and no regards need be given to polarity. However electrolytic capacitors are wound with a chemical suspension between the plates and then subjected to an DC current to create a dielectric layer that is polarized - reverse polarize it and not only will it conduct, but will most likely overheat and explode. This allows much higher capacitances to be generated in a smaller package with a specified maximum voltage. A NPO capacitor is merely two electrolytic capacitors, of equal value, with their anodes connected, which gives them half the capacitance but twice the voltage rating - and non polarized.<br><br>One important note. All capacitor ratings are for the highest voltage they will withstand until the dielectric fails, including the peak values (+ and - half cycles) of any alternating current, which will have a value of about 1.414 times the RMS of the voltage on each half wave (assuming a sine wave from 50Hz to 70 Hz). For 220V the peak value of each half wave will equal 220 X 1.414 = 311V. Plan accordingly when using any capacitor, or maximum PIV of rectifier diodes, in an alternating current circuit.<br><br>As far as the shock potential goes, any voltage above above 38 volts will be able to cause current flow in dry human skin - and much lower voltage threshold with sweaty or wet skin. This is why you can not feel a 9V battery with your finger,but can get a good idea of its charge state by touching the electrodes to the tip of your tongue. The amount of shock that a capacitor can give will be determined by the total amount of electrons (Coulombs) stored in the capacitor. A Farad of charge is one Coulomb of electron flow, per second, across a 1-ohm resistance, and is equivalent to one Ampere of current flow per second. Always discharge large electrolytic capacitors, with a 35V or higher rating, before handling to avoid shocking situations. Also store them with a jumper wire across their connectors to prevent them being charged from static fields -- especially in low humidity environments.</p>
<p>Store a 120uf of current ! wow, you need to learn, instead of copying and pasting to try to sound smart. Any one here that has any knowledge of electricity or electronics knows that you have no credibility with that remark.</p><p>A technician or engineer would not be interested in this part of electronics. Much less take the time to go copy and paste this meaningless information. It has nothing to do with anything except for your ego to impress. The formula you took the time to change from 6.24 to 6.25. You also trying to draw assumption by your own words.(that must mean that capacitors store current, not voltage.) That shows you have no idea, just want to be involved and argue. I assure you that a capacitor does store voltage, the same as a battery. Both are constructed alike. Both have plates and dielectric. I took the time to look for the information for you: goto: http://physics.bu.edu/~duffy/py106/Capacitors.html</p>
<p>Shows knowledge. caps are measured in farads but they are also voltage rated. Thus 330v 120uf. I would write it the other way personally. 120uf 330v</p><p>Same difference. The 330v is the max this cap can handle before it will break down or explode. </p>
They change the voltage to 330v specifically for the cap and flash, but then how fast do the caps discharge when touching human flesh, that is the question.
In a standard or disposable camera, they do not change the voltage, they only change the current within the capacitor. I'd get into a science lesson, but I want to go play some Red Dead Redemption right now.
Somebody please tell this guy that it <strong>IS</strong> 330v in a disposable camera.
<p>Noooo they are around 200-400 &micro;F do you know how a 385V 2200&micro;F capacitor looks? I have one and even when it has only a third of its charge, 200v, it makes badass lights (44/130 joules)</p>
Flash caps are usually hundreds of volts, not 1.5. Caps don't usually have a rated current. The current is just the the voltage/(ESR+circuit resistance).
An electrician buddy of mine told me something that I will always remember:<br><br>Volts jolt<br>Mills kill (as in milliamps)<br><br>Static electricity (the kind you shock your friends with after wearing socks on carpet) is thousands of volts but almost no current (amps) and does no harm. Add a single amp to that same charge and you are dead.<br><br>Volts jolt but mills kill.
<p>Well... A static charge of 10kv through 1000 ohm (a human) still has 10 amps but for a tiny fraction of a second (probably nanoseconds).</p>
<p>and can be deadly. It for sure will knock you on your but.</p>
<p>Good comparison is water. most in electronics and electricity will agree.</p><p>Current is the water. Volts is the water pressure. Amps is the measurement of current. A few drops of water will put a hole right through you with high water pressure. Same a little current will be deadly with high voltage.</p><p> Like a water gun nozzle and a little water and a few hundred pounds of pressure will be deadly, at least hurt or put out an eye.. same gun and same amount of water and a little water pressure will just dribble out the end.</p><p>Now what was deadly? the amount (Amps) or the water pressure (Volts)</p>
A static discharge is indeed thousands of volts, but the current is also high, about 7 to 10 amps. But it only lasts for a fraction of a second which is too short to cause damage. Its the amps that kill, but you also have to concider for how long the current is going through your body.
indeed that is true *i now know what it feels like to be shocked by 9000 volts (from an NST)
9000 not to bad try about 25000 at 35 mA and its quite painfull. the only thing that saved me is i had one hand in the air. but that much can make your arm tingle for about 10 minutes...and make you jump about 3 inches...lol.<br>
25,000 at 35 ma make you jump 3 inches.. when i got shocked of the mains i jumped so high that i reached the sun
lol well dont be stupid like i did and play with live MOTs with your bare hands and feet, i got the shock of my life from that thing but i only touched it with one hand so it wasnt lethal.. luckily
Same here, ive been shocked silly, one time it was a commercial 600kv generator, all ive got to say is holy shit
<p>Well... 100kV and 1 mA can cause a lot of damage, especially across your arms, it would damage the heart, you wouldnt even feel it, but it can lead instantenously to a heart infarct or over time when you do it often.</p>
<p>Well, when you think that earlier, they used to toy with frog legs and electrostatic electricity which was enough to make the muscles of the legs react... think that a rather steady 50mA will do to your heart...<br><br>If electricity goes from one place on your hand to another place on the same hand, you'll probably not die... but it'll nonetheless hurt and burn...<br><br>Also think that thermal power is UI... 50mA with 10000V =&gt; 500W... better not have that dissipated through your body... <br><br>You still think that 50mA is too low ?<br><br>BTW, 500mA sources can deliver AT MOST 500mA... this don't mean that when these low voltage sources are connected to you there will be 500mA going through you... When you &quot;short&quot; a 9V battery with your finger, you don't empty it quickly... </p>
<p>the idea is to avoid, either high current or high voltage. and most especially the chances of it going thru, the heart.</p><p>when you, have worked with electronics or electricity as long as i have. we've all most likely had, our mishaps over the years. but have been fortunate, to have survived them. but it is no assurance, we will be as fortunate tomorrow.</p><p>at low amps, or 60hz, the danger is stoppage of the heart. at high amperage, is the danger of being cooked to death, or life threating burns and infections.</p><p>and i seriously doubt, you are going to short a 9v batter with your finger without seriously special conditions. using your tongue yes, giving you with an acid taste in your mouth. but it is still not a short circuit, and a way you can test batteries for their charge with experience. but would not try that in, a light socket.</p><p>under normal conditions, the human body will not conduct dc from 2000 v to 100,000 v. so most of the static discharges, from your finger are over 2000 v. but once the high resistance skin is punctured, it takes less voltage to bridge the gap. one spark or more from and induction coil, with a piece of paper can verify this effect. it will leave, a small hole.</p>
I love your post, i feel you, ive had accidents with the overhead lines when i worked repairing them, i was unconscious for three days
Obviously 50 milliamps, 50 megaamps woulp power a good portion of utah
<p>never use your left hand, keep it in your pocket. your chances of survival increase, if it does not go through your heart. even using your left hand, can go through the heart through your left leg. or from your left to your right hand, through your heart.</p><p>but remember, in a short circuit or decrease in resistance voltage decreases as current in increases. once current, begins to flow. if you are not using, a constant current device. so 50ma or 500ma does not necessarily diminish, the current danger. though the wattage, will generally not greatly exceed the capability of the electronics. so many high voltage circuits, are capable of producing the sure death 1/10 of an amp or more. 0.1 amps x 500v = 50w; as 20,000v at 2.5ma = 50w. so never assume you cannot, reach that always fatal 0.1A current through the heart.</p><p>and when even wearing high voltage, gloves and boots. high voltage, can find it's way through the slightest pinhole. and even a high voltage corona, or capacitive discharge, can knock you for a loop even if properly separated from a ground.</p><p>corona discharges are cool, if you know how to do them right. turn off the lights and watch, the pretty tentacles dance in air. and can even make a balanced wire spin, on a point contact post. or light up, burnt out fluorescent and neon bulbs using the ac version.</p><p>but i, do not suggest a plasma cannon. those glowing balls of plasma, can be a real shocker. if you want to use the focus and deflection coils from a tv to fire a plasma discharge.</p><p>so you know there is a lot more cool stuff to do, than just a Jacobs ladder.</p>
I've found that new CFL's are incorporating more advanced circuit-detecting abilities, and are harder to fool into thinking a bulb is attached. Also, I am unable to get nearly the same voltage other people are getting (probably just under 1,000v DC at 1.7mA), and am going to try to wire two or more flyback transformers in line, to keep amping up the voltage. Will I die in a fiery explosion if I attempt this? Thanks
Switch around the wire on the flyback primary, your probably fighting the internal diode
<p>never a good idea, to exceed the design specifications of any fly-back boost transformer. might be smarter, to try the other transformer first. plus you might try, checking the open circuit voltage of the cfl device. at 1.7 watts, it may not be operating correctly. when it sounds more, like you are operating on the filament tap winding only.</p>

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