Excellent...it's here! Got it home in one piece.
Finally the pieces of an incredibly bright searchlight are coming together.
Excellent...it's here! Got it home in one piece.
Finally the pieces of an incredibly bright searchlight are coming together.
Slowly I'm getting this together. Four thousand watt HMI ignited for the first time with my homemade Tesla coil ignitor. Will use a spark gap to connect to the ballast.
First time ignition of the 4000 watt H.M.I. hi tech light bulb arc chamber. Now I just have to hook up the ballast with this home made Tesla coil, possibly with a spark gap.
One of my homemade Tesla coils with PVC and 1/4" bolt adjustable spark gap, 915 turns of bell wire on PVC 'tower' and high voltage 2 liter/ foil capacitor with bleeder safety resistors instead of $200 'bank capacitor' or equivalent.
Using a 12 volt relay as an 'interrupter' to "pulse" the steady dc current to act like the points of an old school car ignition allow the ignition coil to power the homemade high voltage capacitor, spark gap and Tesla coil tower. The relay and coil I purchased at NAPA.
Don't have to actually hook a wire to get the arc chamber to ionize...just having the Tesla coil in the vicinity ignites any discharge bulb in vicinity such as CFL, fluorescent, metal halides, sodium vapor and of course HMI.
First time ignition with homemade Tesla coil as the ignitor. This will be used in conjunction with a real magnetic ballast to regulate, ignite and operate the four thousand watt HMI bulb.
One of my three Tesla Coils. I have better designs but cost have kept me with this smaller one as the main working unit.
Homemade Tesla coil cost far less than when I was trying to build one in the 1970's... Today internet demonstrates how to make high voltage parts like capacitor out of foil and 2 liter soda bottle and coil tower from plastic pipe and bell wire, for pennies that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars if purchased. Estimated voltage, determined by length of spark, is around 250,000 volts
Five hundred dollars to build a Tesla coil back in the 1970's, and no guarantee of operating, I abandoned "Tesla" until a few years ago thanks to the internet.
Here's kind of a scale model made from silver spray painted paper bowl to demonstrate how the world's biggest searchlight will be transported and shipped in four pieces for easy construction and road tour assembly.
Funny, this cut up paper bowl I spray painted, has actually been a real help visualizing key aspects of the manufacturing process, including the mold machining process and construction.
The 4, 6 or 8 reflector pieces, (depending on model), will move independently, making multiple beams of light.
Next few days are going to be busy ones getting down to business, with the first wiring of the ballast, bulb, plugs and Tesla coil ignitor. The first test will likely power up the "50 inch Monster", one of my early big lights on the map...sort-of-speak.
Here's the inside of the '''Alimarc 4000 watt HMI transformer''', as the ballast is named.
Finally got this 165 pound beast on the workbench, cover off, checking out the contactors, basic wiring and most notably the output cable connect for bulb, ignitor, safety and supply for remote operation.
For my purposes I need tpo make a few minor changes. I almost have all of this figured out, the output jack has a few wires such as safety and re-ignitor and remote operation that I need to build...into my connection cables. 10 wires just in the plug output such as the Ignitor and five buttons on the control panels, three are on/ off switches and two pulse power buttons and reset..
More than likely for my purposes and UV shatter safety bulb, I only need the two bulb power leads, ground wire and will use a separate ignitor system for my homemade Tesla coil until I get a real ignitor.
I'm building the mold and screed tracer track; part of the newer, better reflector forming process.
Last edited by LightSward; 02-01-2014 at 11:48 PM.
I've got most of the framing for the basic mold holding gimbal finished. The mold will be reposition-able throughout the process to obtain the best angle for gravity feed molding process to make a superb reflector...better than any before...I know many of the little things that can affect the reflector outcome, such as temperature and humidity during the forming process.
The mold for making the reflector for the world's largest 72 inch diameter searchlight, is halfway finished. At this point I'll be recycling the mold core from the 50 inch Monster. It will get a slightly better mold as time goes on.
Playing with different ignition system potentials. A 750 and 1,200 watt HMI bulbs with 10,000 volt system.
I'm igniting several bulbs through each other using a 10,000 volt ignition transformer from a boiler.
First layer of cement.
First layer of cement finished and now I'll put a layer of concrete after steel fabric and re-bar is installed.
Old 50 inch Monster Fiber-glass mold interior was recycled for this event.
Have the re-bar already bent, will add a starter layer of cement then add steel fabric and then pour the concrete shell making the reflector mold just about complete after a thin finishing layer of cement.
Last edited by LightSward; 02-06-2014 at 10:33 PM.
Tilted the mold frame today and then placed the re-bar and steel fabric for reinforcement in place. Later I added concrete and some Styrofoam pieces to lighten things up...gonna weigh 200 pounds. I am building a small crane to move these multi-hundred pound items around.
Steel fabric and re-bar installed now ready for more coats of concrete.
The World's biggest searchlight's manufacturing mold's main concrete layer finished, now I just have to put the finishing form layer on. Going for some precision at this point...
Just a quick gripe about this wonderful web site...It really ticks me off when I'm putting a post together and hit post and then in less than five minutes it seems, I'm logged out for inactivity and my entire post is lost, have to find photos and caption again. Doesn't always seem to do this, but often when it's not easy to re post...whew.
Okay, now with that said:
I'll try and remember what I just hit post was all about...lol.
I'm about half way through figuring out the ballast wiring so here is sort of a pictorial electrical schematic, half completed. I pretty much know what I need to do, but like double checking.
Still working out the wiring on this home made drawing and operating instructions I'm compiling, but I already pretty much know what I need to do to build my own wiring harness with the nine internal leads. I have to change the 4kw HMI ballast to work on 240 vac not 120, since most homes or businesses don't have high wattage 120 vac plugs on hand.
The main concrete layers are finished and now I begin final smooth layer preparations to get the mold ready for manufacturing the reflectors.
Final concrete and cement layers applied. Will now apply various finishing layers in preparation for the release wax to be applied prior to Fiber-glassing. I'll eventually use this to press green sand when molding the reflectors out of aluminum.
I've been working on the ballast schematic and will post it soon...at least partly finished soon...lol. I better post this again quick before CPF logs me out...copy first then...here goes...."cli....c...k...".
Last edited by LightSward; 02-13-2014 at 02:01 AM.
WARNING: My candle Power Forum account may have been hacked. If you don't hear from me for a while you'll know why, or if my post seem more weird than usual, you'll know why.
Here is my little, quarter ton, two axis crane to help with moving heavy objects around shop. fairly lightweight and easy to move around and set up and stores nicely away.
Well hopefully this little homemade portable quarter ton crane can lift up some of the heavy things around my shop. Seems to work well lifting the water jug. With a few refinements, should do pretty well helping me build searchlights, etc.
Well hopefully I can figure out the changes CPF has made making my password not work at all for several minutes and then work just fine. I can't seem to change it because the verification code never works, hard to see letters and numbers and it always says they're wrong.
Last edited by LightSward; 02-23-2014 at 10:15 PM.
Here are a few images of my 1/4 ton crane in use lifting 180 pound 4kw ballast from workbench to floor. Before and After. Crane can be lifted with one hand and easily repositioned.
Crane ready lift hoist 180 pound 4kw ballast off workbench to floor.
I need to add a few accessories such as a better crank system.
Crane has lifted the 180 pound 4kw ballast off workbench to floor.
The reflector mold concrete is curing after a few touch ups. Should be ready to produce first reflector section for the World's largest diameter single bulb searchlight, after mold cures and sets for a few more weeks and is treated and coated. At the same time I'm building the frames and connector system for joining the sections together into the single reflector.
Last edited by LightSward; 02-25-2014 at 11:54 PM.
Most impressive! I have been watching the progress for a while and i can't wait to see it in action
D2000's 3D Modelling Services Thread - http://goo.gl/gcSp1
Building the "linkable reflector frame" members and other hardware to connect the quarter sections into the World's Largest searchlight, while I let the cement, (and recent touch ups), set for a few weeks, is the next step before I finish the sealing of the reflector mold and begin molding the fiberglass sections.
A side note on one aspect of the searchlight I'm working on is another advantage of using the Tesla Coil for the ignition system of the 4kw HMI hot re-strike-able bulb is just that, being able to hot re-strike the searchlight after just ten seconds or so. The Tesla coil kicks out up to 250,000 volts at a very high frequency in the millions of hertz which easily ionizes the arc chamber that does not have to be directly wired to the system and can be up to five feet away.
Fun, fun, fun...as this is all coming together.
Last edited by LightSward; 02-26-2014 at 10:34 PM.
There are many cool things going on here, keep it up. This is a fun thread and it is fun seeing you create new things as a means to another end, such as the crane. The Tesla coil is quite impressive and I am still trying to get a grasp on some of his work and theories. It is cool to see that arc lit up without you having the wires hooked up to anything!
The ignition of HMI bulbs with the a Tesla Coil routine is my temporary remedy for item that's turning out to be hard to locate the exact type and so far the ball park figures look expensive. So until I can afford a real ignitor, Tesla is it..!. Also the Tesla Coil seems to be somewhat friendly to the bulb and allows for the hot re-strike feature of the bulb to be a real possibility with this equipment.
Other benefits of Tesla for now, because of it's 250,000 volts of several megahertz resonating tuned frequency mixed with 300 hertz pulsating signal giving a proper ignition and an occasional manually induced 'cleaning and re-ignition' sequence, (as the electronic ones do), without extinguishing the bulb, just by adding the high voltage while the bulb stays lit for straggling salts that can sit idle)', as per manufacturer recommendations. The Operating Manual is quite long on these bulbs, with lots of little suggestions, but all this is to help prolong the life of the bulb, or at least have better performance for the normal operating lifetime range.
Beginning to experiment with using the Tesla Coil myself and then looked it up online to verify feasibility, and saw a kid demonstrating it on his modern pulse 'grow lights' wired to an old school magnetic ballast with no high voltage capabilities just by placing the Tesla Coil with in five feet or so. I watched a British man working with the 24,000 watt HMI bulb I someday want to lamp this searchlight with so it will be the Brightest without a doubt..,(24kw bulbs are currently used in lights that do not make for a narrow beam. Even my less focused searchlights produce a better beam than those Hollywood type lights.
When using the Tesla Coil, often fluorescent bulbs light up from as far as ten feet. Some day I'd like to build it to better dimensions and get much larger results, but for now it does the job of a little Tesla.
For many things I do, such as the crane, I take quick looks at ancient methods using hand tools to build large, impressive items. It may sound odd going as far back as some original theories, then trace the improvements made over time and eventually make my searchlight(s) or what ever else, from the best and most feasible options, often with my own improvements, making, I hope a remarkable and fun filled and even useful product, perhaps out the loading doors, someday...in theory.
I hope you and everyone else who reads this at the very least finds this an inspiring motivational piece that perhaps even gets someone to go out and do something maybe not even related, but good.
Last edited by LightSward; 02-26-2014 at 11:17 PM.
Applying sealer coats to reflector mold, while also constructing the steel frame. Will build layers up and end with release layer of candle wax, buffed and shined to give fiberglass a smooth finish.
Mold almost ready.
Hopefully have much of the wiring figured out. Feel confident changing ballast from 120 volt operation to 240 vac by switching wire from plug to the 240 spot from 120. Common becomes hot but stays on the tab marked '0'.
All other voltages are generated through the coils marked for each voltage needed as usual. I'm not sure about the grounding or secondary tab of the control contactor coil. I'll be building my own high wattage and low wattage, plus ignition and emergency stop leads on my own connector cables.
Frame is a little tougher than I thought as shaping the metal has caused unexpected failures at just one weak point during simple curve press. Making design changes as needed.
Frame's beginning to take shape with steel angle tape and electrical conduit as the main inexpensive steel members.
The metal pieces will be matched to each section and all four quarters will be identical and hopefully interchangeable.
Additional layers of sealer and paint will be added until a fairly smooth surface is achieved and then the release wax layer goes on.
Moving closer to actually making the World's Biggest Searchlight at 72 inches diameter. I've finished the seals and now applying the release wax to the mold. This is another point I need to be very precise to get good optical purity. I have improved the wax application finish to be very precise, a great improvement over earlier models. The less than precise wax application in the past, has caused the reflectors to have that orange peel look and not create as collimated beam as will now be achieved.
Final seal coat applied, ready for '''wax on'''.
Equipment at the ready with an old candle with higher melting point outer shell to be applied and not be as much of a problem in high Summer heat.
The slow process begins.
First wax layer almost done.
"Wax On", almost complete, After allowing to cool 24 hours, I'll apply the final precise coating with the 'screed'. This will create a much better optical finish than all my other reflectors. Great Improvement.
Fiber-glassing may start at this point. after the final ''wax screeding'' is done.
Last edited by LightSward; 03-06-2014 at 12:27 AM.
Took a little longer to reach this stage. Wax a bit fussy. I will buff and calibrate wax and then hopefully be ready for Fiberglass.
Close-up of almost screeded release wax. I will fill in the low spots, but wax is not filling low spots very easily.
Closer look. Been attempting to fill low spots, will buff and check calibration.
Almost smooth, will use buffer to shine and smooth it out, then re-calibrate to make sure it's ready for Fiberglass. I will crank out a few of these started...soon.
Because the whole searchlight beam comes down to this exact spot of manufacturing, I'm taking a little more quality time to try and get something looking like a six foot diameter laser beam.
I'm learning much about wax. Has to be heated just right and spread almost like an art such as doing a painting, (I do art on the side for extra cash).
Always tempting to redo a spot. My quality is significantly improved. Should be one heck of an awesome searchlight.
Gentle buffing and readying for the next micro finish.
Taking a quick break.
I'm keeping my smile through this tedious part.
Wax is much 'trickier' than I remember.
Still trying to get that last little bit of shine on the release wax. I'll be ready for producing the searchlight soon...lol. It really does all come down to this for how good of an actual light beam is produced. I'm aiming for a laser looking beam, slightly wider. Remember there will be four of these bolted together to make the one reflector at 72 inches diameter.
Last edited by LightSward; 03-21-2014 at 09:59 PM.
The fiberglass phase is a bit tricky when first applying to the release wax layer. It likes to coagulate into lumps and not spread evenly.
The beginning of the Fiberglass poor begins at the very top where it's not going to matter because this part gets cut out. Working out a few details about how the center section will be handled. I'll probably adjust things as I produce these in number.
Well I made a nice big reflector today. Basically I finished the optical layer and then started with the reinforcing layer and added the glass fiber clothe, lovingly sandwiched between layers of gooey Plastic Glass, all put together known as fiberglass...that wonderful post WWII stuff that still rocks to this day!
Glass fiber clothe is positioned on top of optical layer.
Pre-cut and positioned Glass fiber clothe and ready to finish the basic reflector itself. I'll begin installing the frame elements tomorrow.
Plastic Glass applied over glass fiber clothe. At this point the steel and PVC frame will be assembled and then encased with more fiberglass.
I'm beginning to ready the ballast and bulb for first full power up, after a series of little test to make sure all the safety and control circuits are operable. I'll be using my Tesla coil for the starter, (ignitor), until I locate an inexpensive one. I will contact IgNITEor for suggestions.
"World's Biggest Searchlight", also known as: "Lord of Lights" is moving right along with the first quarter reflector section is half finished. Few more days and I may install the reflective surface and do a test run for decent light beam.
Here's how it looked yesterday.
These attachment points will be placed along the sides and additional framing members installed mid section to protect the vulnerable 'bottom' during 'stacked' transporting.
NOTE: I'm building the 72 inch diameter reflector out of four 'quarter sections' that quickly bolt together. This allows for much easier manufacturing and floor space issues, storage and easy transport in the trunk or back seat of a regular sized passenger sedan. The precision I'm hoping to get is a great improvement over past reflectors.
Wattage will range from 1,200 watt HMI, (100,000 lumen), --- 4,000 watt HMI, (380,000 lumen), represent in production now,
---to 24,000 watts HMI, (2,300,000 lumen) in the very near future..!
Last edited by LightSward; 03-24-2014 at 11:51 PM.
Have attached and glassed in the basic framing elements of the first quarter reflector section. Here are a couple photos, a before and after set.
I measured and taped the elements exactly where I want them and hopefully everything will line up when all is assembled. I'll test each panel separately to make sure it meets my rigorous demands.
Basic frame members are taped with metal fasteners to the fiberglass shell, ready to be clothe and glassed in with resin and hardener.
Elements clothed and fiberglass-ed coated onto shell. More coatings will be added.
With the World's Biggest Searchlight, (at 72 inches diameter being built right now), hopefully scheduling will allow me to perhaps bring it to the June CPF 'Seattle Area Get together'. I'll need 40 amp?? ..220 volt generator power outlet, but will bring the 1,200 watt HMI set up to install into the 72 inch searchlight if needed for lower power availability.
Here is a snapshot of the current stage of production.
Well almost done with this part of the searchlight reflector 72 inch. Appears to have gone well I will put more fiberglass on. Next will pry reflector off the mold and hopefully it came out well.
Now I just have to make three more of these and bolt them together to form the one 72 inch reflector.
I'm pleased with how well the reflector quarter section came out after all the effort to get this thing going. Each section should be faster now, as the wax release layer seems to have stayed fairly well intact. I'll do a re-calibration and prepare it for the next section and start on that next few days. I want to do a little more checking on the section just completed and look for any flaws that need to be dealt with before I make quarter section number 2.
Reflector just came right off the mold after I cut away the over-dripped Fiberglass.
The first quarter reflector section came out a glittering success.
After some sanding to get rid of minor mold blemishes, an Acetone wash and apply some reflection tape and check how well it actually came out.
The surface of the first quarter panel is: smooth, shiny and appears to have one fairly small, geometric focal point. The orange peel affect should be minimal. I'll know in the next few days when I apply reflective film and test it with a light source...fingers crossed, (Until I see someone I know and trust; demonstrate in front of my eyes, a suitable, inexpensive easy to use substitute for the reflective film, I think for now I'll 'stick to it").
Here is a photo taken when I noticed fiberglass can be distorted and have a memory just by sitting on something. I may strengthen it, but I want to keep it light weight and inexpensive for now. Commercial versions, I may build like a tank and heavy too.. Some may be produced as a single reflector for those not wanting the sections.
I often work on my paintings and sculptures at the same time. I consider many mechanical things, like engines, transmissions and of course sculptures...art.
The Acrylic paint layer was applied only to smooth out the occasional air bubble hole, etc., and looks uneven, but is smooth as a car's hood.
---Fiberglass appears to have a temporary memory when its resting on something, so I had to push it out.
---I need to figure if need to strengthen it further. I'm trying to keep it light weight.
---Here it is with some other artwork I'm working on.
First quarter panel of The World's Biggest Searchlight is looking good.
Wax layer on mold is ready and second quarter goes into production tomorrow.
Try to use a small piece of aluminum that will fit against the outer ring at the top. I would use angle and it should work to strengthen it and still allow for flex like the fiber glass does naturally.
---I'll add some ribs, perhaps as you suggest.
---I was initially surprised about the slow flex-back, but makes sense now. It occurred when I'd placed the reflector on some supports. Reflector shifted to where support pressed on right third near lower corner, while I worked on it, causing a reverse bulge. It didn't immediately flex back so I layed that portion on a pillow and placed a heavy weight on it for fifteen minutes to counteract the bulge. That seem to have done the trick.
---I'll probably add two more ribs at angles to intersect those last two vulnerable spots.
Here is a crude artist rendering of ribs that cross paths where the pressure bulges occurred.
A crude conceptualization of some additional ribs added to prevent optical distortions due to unexpected object contact and pressure zones.
Last edited by LightSward; 04-01-2014 at 10:31 PM.
Been busy, readying the mold for the second reflector quarter section. I'm analyzing the first section to see what improvements can be made in the molding process or any other improvements.
First Reflector quarter about to be covered in reflective coating.
The slightest blemishes are showing through, so I may re-surface after first set of test on the next quarter panel.
Overall Good News!
Reflector has good optical focal point precision. Not only that, but it appears fiberglass continues to 'cure', as it definitely doesn't distort anywhere3 as easily as just a few days ago. i have to experiment with the surface. Makes a small point of light hundreds of feet away using LED. Slight halo, from the minor imperfections, but will make a very narrow, bright, collimated beam.
---The reflection off the reflector looking good. Makes a nice small point of light hundreds of feet away. The surface needs a little work, more for cosmetics, but will make performance a little better.
---Each quarter section will have refinements and some experiments to achieve better performance. Eventually I may redo this particular reflector surface.
Last edited by LightSward; 04-01-2014 at 10:46 PM. Reason: photo.