My 6 y/o grandson, who has Asperger's, is fixated on traffic lights. I
thought I might help him create a Halloween traffic light out of three
pumpkins. My idea was to get some sort of a tube, cut holes in the
pumpkins, and slide them over the tubes like a totem pole. Then I
would attach light bulbs to the tube in three places and put a red
light in the top, a yellow light in the middle one and a green light
in the bottom.
What type of light would be best? I was thinking of low voltage lights
to make wiring simpler and reduce shock danger. I know I can get 110 v
bulbs and fixtures anywhere, but what about low voltage?
I also wanted to make them flash independently. Again, there are
little insert disks that fit into 110 v sockets, but is there anythng
for low voltage?
I checked one small local lighting store, but they didn't have much.
I'd appreciate suggestions for stores or online places.
> 110 v bulbs and fixtures anywhere, but what about
> low voltage?
The voltage on the individual bulbs of some large-
sized outdoor Christmas light sets is around 12 volts.
You could cut up a string of them to get a whole
heap of 12 volt lamps in fixtures with flying
leads. (Don't ask me how I know.)
It's been a while since I've bought any Christmas
lights, but I think the bulb voltage usually will
be printed on the package somewhere. Used to be,
-- Jim L.
Are you talking about the screw-in type?
If I find a set of lights (and some come with flashers), can I cut
them up and rewire them? Don't I have to keep about the same total
number of bulbs to get the voltage drop or the amperage right?
Well, the kind of lights I am talking about
(Most Christmas light sets these days) have some
number of low voltage bulbs wired in series, and
connected to the AC mains. I used to have a set
that was labelled for "Outdoor Use" that had big
bulbs (fat, bud shaped bulbs about an inch long).
I forget how many bulbs were in the string total,
but when I cut it apart, they were in groups of
ten. That is to say, every ten bulbs were in
series with each other. When that was plugged
into the AC mains, each bulb was therefore seeing
about twelve volts AC.
I cut apart all of the fixtures, and I re-wired
to make a string of lights that all were in
parallel with one another, and then I used it to
decorate my car. Plugged it into the lighter
outlet, and all of the bulbs were happy with 12V
Most of the miniature sets have more bulbs in
series (e.g., forty in series at three volts each).
I don't remember whether the bulb voltage really
was printed on the box or not. If not, I prob'ly
just bought them, and figured that I could rig up
some kind of series/parallel arrangement that
work if the bulbs were less than 12V.
Of course, you aren't necessarily stuck with a 12V
power supply. You can pretty much pick whatever
-- Jim L.
Whereas On Thu, 23 Oct 2003 12:58:24 GMT, Jim Large
The voltage is based on the number of bulbs in the string divided by
line voltage. Some sets may have multiple strings.
It breaks down as follows, for non chasing sets:
10-15 12V bulbs
20 6V bulbs
25=5 or 6V bulbs.
100 light sets will have 2 50 light strings, 200 light sets will have
4 50 light strings.
Chase sets will have 3 or 4 20 or 35 light (or thereabout) strings.
What You can do, is get some light sockets as used on plastich
figures, and install a blinker bulb in each, each in a pumpkin.
Gary J. Tait . Email is at yahoo.com ; ID:classicsat
Around here (NorthEastern U.S.), low voltage waterproof lights
are easily available at home and garden stores, and most big
'hardware' stores (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) and probably other
stores that have design or gardening supplies (Wal Mart).
Since they're made for outdoor use, they should survice well
inside a pumpkin. I agree with the warnings other people have
given about not leaving something like this unattended.
Generally there is a transformer that feeds a cable. The
fixtures clamp onto the cable anywhere you want and pierce
the insulation to make contact.
Colored lamps for these fixtures should be available, but
if not follow the suggestion already given about colored
gels. Or, you might be able to find transparent colored
plastic at crafts stores, or any place that sells gift wrap.
B. Z. Lederman Personal Opinions Only
Posting to a News group does NOT give anyone permission
I believe I saw a Halloween Traffic light at Menards. It looked like a
traffic light but had pumpkins for the lenses. All plastic.
Otherwise a 12 volt transformer from Radio shack and some dashboard lights
from auto supply store work good.
How about 12 volt automobile turn lights, Paint them the color you want.
Then use a car turn light flasher the cycle them. Would require 2 lights in
parallel to make flasher work. ( 3 flashers and 6 lights) if you want them
independent for each color. Warren
If the kid really likes traffic lights, this is a good idea. But it will
spoil in a very short while.
Why not get him a real signal? Do a google search for "TRAFFIC SIGNAL
They are available on line for as little as $60USD, less controller.
One source I found : http://scottsignalco.8m.com /
This is Turtle.
Just a ideal here.
Get christmas tree lites and get the color you want for each punkin and then
have the blinking lite type that adjust the blink from slow to fast and time
the lite to stay on at different time and have them in sequances to make the
trafic lite effect. Set red to stay on and then the yellow and them the
green. You will have to time them everytime you turn them on.
Just a thought here.
I have located a supply of 12V spot lights at a local lighting store.
I think they are MR16 bulbs. But they didn't have any way to make them
Is there a simple way to get them to flash? They had little disks that
fit into standard 110 sockets that make the bulbs flash. Is there
anything similar for 12 v?
Would a car turn signal flasher really work? I'm not sure I smart
enough to get the wattage/voltage/amperage right.
Automotive flashers are designed for DC loads, so if your transformer
produces an AC voltage, the flasher may not work.
I wouldn't use a typical flasher, instead use a variable load flasher -
they're designed to produce the same flash rate from a minimum load of
usually 1-2 amps to a maximum load all the way up to 40 amps (depending
on the flasher). As comparison, the turn signal flasher in a typical
automobile is designed to change flash rates if you don't have the
proper load (it can go steady-on, steady-off, or double the design flash
rate to indicate that one of your bulbs is out). If you buy a flasher
designed for a tractor-trailer rig, then it's usually (but not always) a
variable load flasher. If the flasher is designed for more than 6 bulbs
(typical 12V turn signal bulb at 2.1A/27W each), then it's a good bet
that it'll work for your application.
The main drawback I see for using automotive flashers with your system
is that you wouldn't have any ability to synchronize the red, yellow,
and green flashes. It'd be completely random. You could try using a
single flasher with a number of 12V relays and some sort of logic
circuit that switches to a new lamp everytime the flasher "flashed", but
then the current load on the flasher may be too low for it to work properly.
Top Spin wrote:
On Fri, 24 Oct 2003 00:51:20 GMT, "Douglas G. Cummins"
Random flashing is OK.
I'm thinking I'll just get some PVC pipe and three standard 110v
sockets and use the little flasher disks. I can get 15 watt or even 7
watt bulbs in all kinds of colors and the PVC will keep the wiring
Sounds good: Keep It Simple Sir, I sometimes say. (usually it's
not "sir." ;-) )
Of course, I always recommend experimenting - get at least one
flasher disk and try it out with a 7.5W bulb - I don't know
what technology those disks use, but if they're current-driven,
you might have a flash rate of about one per hour. ;-)
Also, I know that you can get self-flashing red LEDs, but I
don't know if they make flashing green or yellow.
Little flashing Xmas lights are also a good idea - you'd
have to do a little mix & match to get each color to flash
in unison, and I'd think they'd be marginally safer, because
of the lower voltage per individual bulb, and possibly
Ventilate your Pumpkins!
Top Spin wrote:
In my experience, self-flashing LEDs are rather dim for this job and
have good availability mainly in red. You might find one in a very
yellowish green or possibly an amber-yellow, probably dimmer than red or
orange-red ones that use the same LED chip chemistry.
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
Theoretically, yes. But, the universal flashers are no longer common
equipment in recent vehicles, and most parts stores only stock the
variable-load types -- I could find 536s all day, for instance, but a 323
or 224 is a special-order item. Probably the jobbers prefer to keep stock
to a minimum, and the "Heavy Duty" (variable load) flashers mean just two
SKUs (2-pin, 3-pin) to service virtually all vehicles with universal-fit
I made a sequencing circuit using a 4017 decade counter chip and a 555 timer
chip for the clock signal. You can gang 4 outputs together for the red, one
for the yellow and four for the green to get more realistic traffic signal
effect. You have to use diodes when combining outputs from the 4017.
The 4017 has enough output to drive LEDs direct or you need the appropriate
interface to drive tungsten bulbs.
This circuit requires minimal parts.
I want to thank everyone for their help. I found some 7-watt C7 (110v)
"flicker" or "twinkle" bulbs at Bulbs & Batteries
(http://www.bulbstoreinc.com /). Another source is Sival at
http://www.sivalinc.com . They have some flashing circuitry built into
the bulb itself. I then picked up some pigtail sockets at a local
lighting store so I am all set.
Now I just have to figure out how to make a 3-pumpkin stack that is
stable, but that it a topic for another post.
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