Can anyone explain this?

Submitted: Friday, Apr 17, 2009 at 19:54
ThreadID: 67950 Views:1807 Replies:3 FollowUps:6
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We have a 12v "Col-light" camping light. Lately it's been acting kinda strange.
We thought it was the switch so just connected the wires directly. When it is connected to a power source it doesn't come on. But as soon as someone waves a hand near one end (the opposite end that the cord comes out of) it does. This only works from about half way along the fluoro - wave the hand anywhere near it (an inch or so away) and it comes on. This is without physically touching it.
Unplug it and plug it back in and the same thing happens.
Can't turn it off by waving the hand near it though.
Tried different cars and same result. As I said - strange. Just like something that David Copperfield does!
No, the Moose hasn't been nibbling on happy weed:-)
Can't wait to find out what is going on.
Thanks from the Moose
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Reply By: Member - Ian H (NSW) - Friday, Apr 17, 2009 at 19:59

Friday, Apr 17, 2009 at 19:59
Hi Moose, I had a similar problem with a See-ezy light and it needed a new 11w tube but it had ti be a See-ezy brand. Something ti do with the "ballast". I tried a generic tube with no luck.
Ian
AnswerID: 360056

Reply By: Eric Experience - Friday, Apr 17, 2009 at 21:36

Friday, Apr 17, 2009 at 21:36
Moose.
This is an easy one. To get the light started you need a much higher voltage than you need to run it. If the inverter in the light is not producing enough volts to ionize the gas in the tube up and back around the length of the tube by placing your hand there you are providing a path for the current to earth. You can fix it placing a very thin wire along the back of the tube up to the bend and connecting it to negative battery inside the light. Eric
AnswerID: 360067

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . . (WA) - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 05:58

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 05:58
What current will then flow along this wire ?

Mainey . . .
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FollowupID: 627976

Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 08:34

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 08:34
No current at all Mainey, consider it to be something like a magnetic effect.

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FollowupID: 627980

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 08:40

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 08:40
Decades ago, DC powered Fluoro lights used to have this wire built in.
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FollowupID: 627981

Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 08:49

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 08:49
Yep Mike, spent the odd hour soldering a length of fuse wire onto the end caps to make our own 'stripped' tubes because the sw start tubes did not work very well in the instant start fittings.
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FollowupID: 627982

Follow Up By: Moose - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 14:47

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 14:47
But I didn't touch the light. The tube is inside a round plastic "protector" so are you telling me the current is jumping across the air inside the tube, thru the plastic across the outside air and to my hand?
Does the inverter lose "power" over time? Have had the light for ages and problem is only recent.
I replaced the tube with another and it has solved the problem - at least for now. If it returns I'll try the extra wire.
Thanks for the replies.
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FollowupID: 628030

Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 19:32

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 19:32
Yep, weird isn't it - the magic of electricity :-))

My first reaction would be to ensure that the outside of the tube is dry and dust free (dust holds the moisture). If the tube will still not 'strike' by itself but does so when stroked then try the earth wire or get a new tube.

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FollowupID: 628058

Reply By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 07:37

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 07:37
I agree with Eric. Also, the tube should be dry. In very humid conditions the trick is to dry the tube by rubbing with a dry rag. In the old days the apprentice sometimes had to remove tubes from fittings and rub with a newspaper to clean off dust and moisture. :-))
AnswerID: 360095

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