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Hauntless
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I went on a quest to find the manufacturer of the most realistic pillar candles I've ever seen. I found them only to be disappointed that they don't make them anymore. UGH! So, I thought I'd see what else is out there...

To help clarify my insanity, I tend to go wayyy too far on realistic details. Many of the cheapie (and easier) LED candles still look very good and will do nicely. This tutorial is for a much more expensive alternative and is probably overkill. :p

For those that like a video tutorial and to see these candles in action, check out the video:

[video=youtube;-sDvepEJyvQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sDvepEJyvQ[/video]









After collecting all the different brands for realistic flickering circuits and candles I could find and seeing which ones had the most realistic candle light and flicker... I chose these. The electric candles in the picture are originally from a set of Enchanted Lantern 4-pack made by Enchanted Lighting Co (Enjoy Lighting). Though the company no longer offers the incandescent version of their pillar candles they still use the same circuit in their Lantern sets. So, I bought a set, removed the circuits and put them in my own pillar candles. This is the result.




















I'm going to show how I removed the circuits and put them in two kinds of pillar candles. I prefer to use real pillar candles that you burn down because they have thicker walls and help to shade the candle light better. But, if you are in a hurry, I show how to pull the guts out of an existing LED pillar candle and replace it with the lantern circuit. You can see one of those candles with the guts already taken out in the picture.

Materials:

Set of Enchanted Lighting Lantern 4-pack Found here: Lamplust - FLAMELESS CANDLES - Candle Lanterns - Plug-In Weather Resistant string Lantern

Or here: Outdoor Candle Lantern - Hanging Candle Lanterns - Decorative Candle Lanterns - Enjoy Lighting

4 real pillar candles (assorted sizes are better but keep the width the same - about 3")
Optional: Hobby Lobby LED pillar candles (or an LED candle that you can easily remove the bulb cover)
Rasp or SureForm Shaver (if using LED pillars)
Scrap foam
Popsicle sticks (if using real pillar candles)

Tools:

Knife to cut foam
Glue gun

Real pillar candles:
1 1/2 spade drill bit
1/2" drill bit
Heat gun

















If you decided to use an existing LED pillar candle:


Carefully remove the cover of the bulb assembly. Turn the candle upside down and carefully remove the layer of wax that holds the plastic bottom battery compartment in place. Pry it out of the candle and the bulb assembly will also come out.

Trace the outline of the bottom assembly onto foam and cut out.

Using a rasp or SureForm Shaver, shave down the foam until it fits neatly back into the candle body.


















Picture 1: Cut the zip ties that hold the lantern circuit to the frame. Remove the screw that holds the bottom of the circuit to the frame. Twist off the bulb cover.

Picture 2: (For LED candles) use the lantern circuit to trace out the inside hole in the foam you will need to cut out. Then snug in the circuit.

Picture 3: (for LED candles) Slide the circuit up through the bottom of the candle until the circuit is snug against the top ceiling of the candle. Cut a notch out of the bottom rim of the candle for the cord and hot glue in place.


















Here's how your new candle looks next to a real one.



















For real pillar candles:

First, find a non-drafty room and burn the candles down until the wick is very deep. At least 1 1/4" or as deep as you want.

Picture 1: Using the 1 1/2" spade bit, slowly drill out the bottom until you have about an inch of wax left from the top well of the candle.

Picture 2: To better gauge how much further you have to go, use a 1/2 drill bit and drill out the wick. Now, go back to using the 1 1/2" spade bit and continue to drill until you have about a 3/8" - 1/4" ceiling of the well of the candle. Be careful here. If you drill all the way through, you will have to start over with a new candle.

Picture 3: If desired, you can add drips to the candle. Get your heat gun out at low setting and slowly melt the top edges of the candle so they drip down. Do this while the circuit is out of the candle.

Picture 4: The lantern circuit mostly fits into the hole you drilled but is a little wiggly. I used popsicle sticks broken in half to help snug the circuit in. Hold in place with chunks of scrap foam. Cut out a notch for the cord and hot glue in place.




















Here are all four lantern circuits in their candles. The two taller ones are the former LEDs and the two shorter ones were former real pillars. See how using real pillar candles helps shade the light a little better? The thinner walls of the former LED candles make the electric candle a little on the bright side.

The lantern 4-pack kit comes in two options. Hub assembly or string assembly. The hub has the four circuits branching out from the DC adapter. The string just strings them along in a chain. If you were going to group them together like what I have here, purchase the hub assembly. If you were going to string the candles along in your haunt, go for the string assembly.

Both kits have very long wires in between the circuits and the DC adapter. If they are too long for you, you can simply cut, shorten and splice the wires back together.

They advertise that the incandescent bulbs last 5,000 hours. You can buy replacement bulbs at about $5 each. I liked these so much that I have them permanently in my living room on a wall timer to come on in the evenings. Those bulbs should last me about 3 years. So, I went ahead and bought some replacement bulbs for the future.


















Other Brands:

Starting at the left: SafeFlame LED, Hobby Lobby LED, Rosco (LED?), City Theatrical- incandescent, real candle, hacked lantern circuit - incandescent, Enjoy Lighting LED (low setting), Wal-Mart LED.


I was curious how all the different versions of flickering pillar candles looked compared to each other. Then, I picked the one I thought looked closest to a real candle (hacked lantern circuit).

Here's my thoughts on the other ones:

SafeFlame LED: $35 I was intrigued with this. It uses a blue LED that shines through the bottom of a yellow LED. The flickering is great but the shadows it leaves inside a pillar candle was purplish. This would be better in an application where the tip shows.

Hobby Lobby LED:$6 This was surprisingly pretty good for an LED. It uses two yellow LEDs that have a good flicker pattern. But, again, the strange yellow/orange color of yellow LEDs just doesn't carry the right light color. But, it's a great candle to hack. Easy to remove the guts and put in what you want. I used this candle body to put in many of the different circuits you see in this picture: SafeFlame, Rosco, City Theatrical and my hacked lantern circuit.

Rosco (LED?): $40 This befuddles me. They say it is LED but I swear it uses incandescent grain bulbs. Also, there are two bulbs and one exposed wire. I think a third bulb was forgotten during manufacturing. At least, I hope so. The rapid flickering between the two bulbs was too fast. It looked like a strobe light.

City Theatrical - incandescent: $40. This is one impressive circuit! It uses three incandescent grain bulbs that is encased in silicone and clear beads. The flickering is great but it's too fast. Not as fast as the Rosco but it didn't look right inside a pillar candle where you wouldn't expect as much flickering. This is more like it would be in the wind or an exposed taper candle. This light would be outstanding in those types of candles (tapered) but not in a pillar.

Enjoy Lighting LED (low setting): $17 Not bad, excellent flicker pattern but darn....very orangy/yellow color.

Wal-Mart LED: $6 Has a nice subtle flicker but too orangy.




Thanks for checking out my tutorial and YES, I'm a little crazy......
 

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You've done it again. Thanks for sharing your extensive research with the rest of us. I think the LEDs are a bummer at Christmas as well. They look very sterile.

PS, you were making me nervous holding the candle while drilling...
 
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Terra, THANK YOU!!!! another GREAT tutorial.. you made it very easy to follow...
 

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The Hobo Spider Assassin
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Ok Terra...next I would like you to compare and contrast various mediums for headstones including granite, marble, wood, foam, etc.... ;) Great work from our professional tester!
 

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Hauntless
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Discussion Starter #7
Aww, thanks so much everyone. This was a bit of a personal quest of mine. I was just so disappointed when, after a year of off and on trying to find the maker of those great candles, they didn't make them anymore. TERRA WILL NOT BE DENIED!!!



You've done it again. Thanks for sharing your extensive research with the rest of us. I think the LEDs are a bummer at Christmas as well. They look very sterile.

PS, you were making me nervous holding the candle while drilling...
Ditto on the weirdness of LED candlelight. It just doesn't work for me at all. That drill taking off scared me a bit too. Those spade bits are ferocious!

Ok Terra...next I would like you to compare and contrast various mediums for headstones including granite, marble, wood, foam, etc.... ;) Great work from our professional tester!
Heh, heh. Yeah, I had been grabbing a candle here and there and just thought what the heck, let's get more! I used to be a food R & D Director so this was like old times. Had fun.

If anyone has suggestions on wanting me to test out competing Halloween items, speak up. I just may do it :)

Would you believe after I posted this I discovered that a new product was released two weeks ago that looks like it could be the king of realistic flames. Called Candella and it is based off the new candle flame design by Disney. No pricing yet but it looks promising but pricey!! We'll see.

Here's a vid:

YouTube - Candella Featured on KTNV Las Vegas Channel 13
 

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BAD INFLUENCE
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Great job Terra, just to echo operatingnurse comment ...there is a thing called a vise. That way you won't add your hand to your list of props!!
 

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Excellent as always Terra!

Now if someone could come up with a version that's a tapered candle.

I love the LED tapers that Spirit came out with, but you have to buy their candelabra to get them. But they have a nice aged look, etc. and unfortunately they aren't rechargeable.

The only other issue I have is that wax candles don't store all that well (at least they haven't for me here in sunny So. Cal) so it would be great to have a mould to make the candle part out of acrylic or something more durable.

Maybe this year is the year that I learn about latex moulding...hmmm...projects, projects, projects...
 

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Hauntless
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Discussion Starter #15
That's true, LOL! I guess that would be a problem in Florida.

If you are looking for a great fake light for a taper, you may want to check out the City Theatrical circuit. Brace yourself though...$40 a circuit. I thought it would be perfect for that application. It runs a little hot and I noticed that it softened the pillar candle I had a little bit. So, a resin or molded candle would be perfect. The Rosco (similar to the City Theatrical) puts their circuit in a small PVC pipe and looked really good. Too white for me, but a quick color change with a spray can and you are good to go :)
 

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Hauntless
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Discussion Starter #17
Me too! If you look upthread I posted a video of those Candella candles. They look really good. They say they should be available for purchase around April and so I'm going to get one. I hope they aren't too expensive but they look like they could be. Grrr...
 

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Funeral Crasher
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Great video, Terra!
You're becoming kind of a cross between Ralph Nader and Martha Stewart for the haunting world! :)

OK--those Candella candles look really cool, but I think we prop builders can come up with a cheaper version of of that same effect before the candle even hits the market!
 

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Hauntless
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Discussion Starter #20
Dave you are just the right person for that :p

From what I can gather: they use a magnified LED, fiberglass paper, and a Chaos engine. The chaos engine is a motor that flicks the paper. Here's a close-up of the mechanism:



I'm also thinking there might be a blue LED in there too (see the blue reflection?) The key to me is finding a NOT YELLOW! LED. Is there such an LED as a yellow-white or a warm white? I've seen warm white LEDS in a Christmas strings but not separate ones (I guess we could hack a set and pull it out?).

Also, I'm guessing that the fiberglass paper is balanced on a wire. I think I see one there at the bottom. Heck, I would think we wouldn't need a Chaos engine (whatever the heck that is), just the wind currents in a room should keep it moving.
 
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