Appropriate lights for jack-o-lanterns

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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.
Thanks
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Top Spin wrote:

> 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, anyhow.
-- Jim L.
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wrote:

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?
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Top Spin wrote:

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 DC.
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 works.
-- Jim L.
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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. 35=3.5V bilbs 50=2.5V 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.
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Gary J. Tait . Email is at yahoo.com ; ID:classicsat

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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.
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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.

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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
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warren weber wrote:

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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 SURPLUS"
They are available on line for as little as $60USD, less controller.
One source I found : http://scottsignalco.8m.com /
Dick
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On Thu, 23 Oct 2003 10:37:03 -0500, "Dick Downey"

He already has several traffic lights including one that is about 6 feet talk. This is a special Halloween project and not expected to last much past that night.
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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.
TURTLE
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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 flash.
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.
Thanks
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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:

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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 safe.
Comments?
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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 heat dissipation.
Ventilate your Pumpkins!
Boo! Rich
Top Spin wrote:

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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 ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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On Fri, 24 Oct 2003, Douglas G. Cummins wrote:

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 flashers.
DS
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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. John

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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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