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Discussion Starter #1
I just found this forum, and VERY glad I did. It's given me such great ideas! And now I have a question. Does anyone know how to make a fluorescent light bulb flicker. Like in a horror movie, when the overhead lights in the office are flickering. I thought I could just twist the bulb a bit so its connection at either end was loose, but it seems that it's either on or off. I don't get the constant flicker. Any thoughts?
 

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Undead Handyman
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You could probably achieve that effect by using the wrong ballast/bulb combo. If its a really old fixture you could also try the wrong starter. The problem I see is that replacement ballasts cost almost as much complete fixtures (in some cases more.)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I couldn't think of any specific movie references, besides the beginning of Akira
YouTube - AKIRA 1 of 12 Updated to 6 parts.
at around 1:40 into it, the sign bulb flickers. That's the type of effect I want. It sounds like maybe the ballast suggestion is the best way to go, but I was hoping there was a no-budget way of doing it.
 

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You could try getting a florescent light starter, a cheap extension chord, and an in line 5 amp fuse. Strip the chord, add the fuse to the pos side of the chord, solder the other end of the fuse wire to one side of the starter, then solder the ground of the extension chord to the other side.

It’s a cheap and easy flicker box design. Having the starter in the power line should charge up then send to the florescent light. With the florescent light having a starter should give your light the constant flicker you’re looking for.

I know it works for incandescent lights, but haven’t tested it on a florescent light.
 

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Undead Handyman
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Its A/C (alternating current) there is no positive or negative. The fuse can go on either side of the cord and is just to keep you from burning down your garage/haunt in case something goes wrong. ;)
 

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Cragmor, This flicker circuit produces a fairly random flicker. It is a great cheap way to flicker lights that total no more than 40 watts. Any more than that may cause the starter to overheat. I have built several of these circuits but I never use more than a 1/2 amp slo-blo or time delay fuse. 5 amps is a bunch, and I have never blown a fuse so far with the 1/2 amp. I use this tutorial for mine; Projects Page 2
 

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Very interesting, looks like they are droping the AC voltage with the variable auto transformer to just about the lowest point where the starter/ballast of the floresent fixture are fiting to stay on. as long as the ballast isn't a dimmable balast you may be able to do this with a cheap dimmer from home depot. I imagine the balast or starter will fry eventally, but you should get 4 or 5 halloweens out of it.

If you want a real auto transformer here is one on Ebay:

VARIABLE AUTO TRANSFORMER - eBay (item 180297012129 end time Oct-09-08 13:40:21 PDT)
 

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Prince of Arkham Asylum
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I think you can use a dimmer switch with flourescent lights. It worked with the one i have downstairs, anyway.
I was going to make this suggestion and then I read the last few posts and see that you already did. :)

If I understand correctly, the dimmer restricts the amount of electricity flow so the ballast doesn't always have enough to light the bulb. The result is basically an intermitant build up of enough electricity to light the lamp, then once it's lit, the ballast no longer has enough electricity to keep it lit and then shuts off until it's charged enough again. Of course, in real life it happens fairly quickly giving it that flicker affect. This would be a cool effect for my mad scientist's lab in my basement. :D
 

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Will this work on a normal (no florescent) light bulb? Meaning if I added a dimmer?

I tried the inline starter (fs2 I think) with a 40 watt bulb but the light never goes off completely. It stays lit the whole time and just shutters some. I love the go out for a sec and come back on look!! as shown in the above video.

Thanks!!
 

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Bête noire
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Will this work on a normal (no florescent) light bulb? Meaning if I added a dimmer?

I tried the inline starter (fs2 I think) with a 40 watt bulb but the light never goes off completely. It stays lit the whole time and just shutters some. I love the go out for a sec and come back on look!! as shown in the above video.

Thanks!!
Try using a FS-5 starter with the 40W bulb. It's rated for higher wattages and will give the on-off random effect up to 60W.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I tried it last night with one of my lights and a dimmer and it worked. It's pretty sensitive too, so you have to just barely nudge it. I think the key is you have to make sure you have a dimmer that can go all the way off, and I don't know if the newer lights will work. My light is about ten years old. But I'm so glad it worked. That's one more thing I can check off my to do list. Now I have to figure out the best/safest way to adhere foamboard (cut to look like cinderblock) to my kitchen walls without damaging the paint. but I'll post that as a new topic. Thanks for all your help everyone!
 
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