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Author Topic: I got a crazy request and I need your expertise  (Read 741 times)
Captain Heartless
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« on: February 16, 2016, 07:23:16 pm »



So I built this nixie tube clock couple months back and for the last week been exchanging some messages with a customer.

The idea is to turn this into a countdown clock:
"It's for an intimate and immersive theatre performance that we're setting up in London for the end of March, where the audience is taken one by one into a little room where they have to answer questions before the time runs out (per guest 3 minutes we're thinking)"

So far it's all good. Then this happened:

I have another request that might sound strange, but I think will provide an exciting addition in the 'stationary' scenario..

Can you program the clock in such a way that the timer starts counting down when the lightbulb is screwed in?

That way, we can add the magical little detail of giving the groups a lightbulb before they enter the performance space.. They won't get an explanation, just a lightbulb, and then they enter the space, which is completely dark, except for the nixie tubes that indicate 00:03:00.. given how it's the only thing they can see, hopefully they'll be driven to screw in the lightbulb which then goes on to light the space, ànd activate the countdown Cheesy


....... i mean..........
trying to figure it out.
been squeezing my brain, can you use a light bulb as a switch?
And its 220V for the bulb, 12V for the board. One toggle on/off switch for the bulb, one spst momentary button for the countdown to start
is this even doable??? or anything like that?

I will be thankful for any input on this
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Steam Titan
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2016, 07:36:41 pm »

Sounds neat. is it one of those puzzle rooms where you have to get out as if there was a bomb or killer in the room? I've heard of something like that before"

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Hektor Plasm
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2016, 07:37:44 pm »

You might be able to install a peg or lever in the lamp socket that would activate a microswitch to turn it on. It would be a bit of a squeeze, but should be doable, going off the level of skill you have shown with the lovely clock in the first place.
I'm assuming that you have no problem making the countdown function work...

HP
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morozow
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2016, 07:39:09 pm »

It wasn't very light to be switch. And the process, screwing or inserting the bulb, includes a hidden switch?
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Atterton
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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2016, 07:50:09 pm »

Are you sure this customer of yours isn't actually a steampunk anarchist bomber?
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Captain Heartless
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2016, 08:36:57 pm »

woot woot woot!
we are up to something now...
I was only thinking of current and circuits. Jeez the mind gets stuck sometimes...

as always awesome feedback. love you all!!!

(he is a strange chap, think i am getting myself into trouble???)
3-2-1-BOOOOOOOOOM
hahahha

so excited about this project! can't wait to find out more about the performance. maybe I'll book myself a flight and see what it is all about
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Lord Pentecost
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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2016, 08:41:13 pm »

Just a thought, if the bulb is 240 mains can you have a live bulb holder accessible to people? just so you don't fall foul of the health and safety lot you will probably have to use a lower voltage.
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von Corax
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2016, 08:58:59 pm »

My first thought would be to wire a relay with the coil in series with the lamp socket, so that inserting the bulb completes the circuit and energises the relay.

If you go with the hidden mechanical switch, though, you could have that switch also energise the socket so that participants are not faced with a live, empty lamp socket.
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Captain Heartless
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2016, 09:10:28 pm »

I thought of that too Lord Pentecost.

I am actually starting to consider building another nixie tube clock from scratch...
Maybe it's for the best.

The thing about the secret button inside the socket is that it has to be a momentary switch.
Otherwise pushing it for a long time will enable the set time function of the clock...
And how to screw a light bulb and push a button momentary?

Maybe I ll have to figure out different programming for the board? Like starting the countdown with long pressing button 2?
And button 1 long press, set time. then button 2 3 + -
hmmm. will that work?
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Maets
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2016, 10:31:28 pm »

The light bulb completes the circuit.  No need for a switch, let the bulb act as a switch.  Definitely want to use a LOW voltage bulb and circuit.
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Atterton
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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2016, 10:40:49 pm »

So what name should we use when this all kicks off and Interpol is closing in on him? The Nixie Bomber? The Nixiecutioner? The Steampunk Sterrorist?
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Wormster
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2016, 11:12:56 pm »

Sounds like you're building something for "The Crystal Maze". - I saw somewhere that its being resurrected from the past.

Personally I'd be a bit concerned that the "punters" are playing with live electrickery, best you find out more about their intentions before committing to make any changes.

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Captain Heartless
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2016, 11:24:46 pm »

 Shocked  Shocked  Shocked Officers nooooo. I am innocent  Shocked  Shocked  Shocked
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Captain Heartless
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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2016, 11:31:29 pm »

The light bulb completes the circuit.  No need for a switch, let the bulb act as a switch.  Definitely want to use a LOW voltage bulb and circuit.

that's the thing. I've been squeezing my brains out but this doesn't make sense to me.
The tubes have to be on when someone walks in the room.
The bulb and the 12V transformer for the board have the same power supply but other than that they are two different circuits.
How does a bulb that completes the circuit also act as a push button for the board? Is it that obvious? Can't see it...
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Maets
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2016, 12:04:44 am »

A: Start with putting in a switch that starts the timer.  This is the key to the job.  Ideally not a momentary contact but a simple on/off.  Not knowing the circuit I have no help on exactly how to do that. 

B: It is then a simple matter of replacing the switch with a socket and low voltage bulb.  Screwed in - the circuit is complete.

Hope this helps a little.  I can't help with part A, but part B is simple and will work.


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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2016, 12:22:49 am »

You could keep them separate, just use a light activated switch to start the timer once the bulb's screwed in and lights up.
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Fairley B. Strange
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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2016, 01:30:48 pm »

Safest options would be to leave the bulb as a standard light socket and either have an on/off swich that also closes a parallel circuit for the countdown, or trigger the countdown with a photo-sensitive cell, either will isolate the mains powered lighting from your circuitry.
Of the two options, having the switch would be an additional safety against punters putting their fingers into a live bulb socket while fiddling about in the gloom.
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Hektor Plasm
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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2016, 06:28:27 pm »

[quote author=Captain Heartless link=topic=47483.msg962193#msg962193 date=1455653428

Maybe I ll have to figure out different programming for the board? Like starting the countdown with long pressing button 2?
And button 1 long press, set time. then button 2 3 + -
hmmm. will that work?
[/quote]

Perhaps there is an edge-triggered input on the board you could use to detect the change of switch from off to on?

HP
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Siliconous Skumins
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2016, 09:41:18 pm »

First off, the bulb issue!

Right, you are going to need to use a safe voltage for obvious reasons, and luckily there are standard incandescent "GLS" shape bulbs available in 12V - and they look pretty much exactly the same as the real thing (filament is a bit smaller).

Another caveat is the fact that you don't want a bright lamp blinding the poor sod who just found the socket accidentally in the dark! In this case I would suggest nothing brighter than 15 - 20 Watts. Even that wattage will be uncomfortable with an unshaded bulb after a while, but were dealing with circa 3 minutes here...  Wink

Here is a link to such a bulb : http://www.cp-lighting.co.uk/GLS-12V-25W-E27-Clear_2

Other wattages, clear / diffused etc. are available, and from many other online retailers such as Amazon etc. They are pretty cheap too, so your client will not have any issues sourcing a large number of spares in case of accidental droppage in the dark.  Grin



Second issue - the bulb as a switch.

Simple answer use a MOSFET as a switch to initiate countdown, the Gate of the FET is driven via the 12V return of the bulb connector. FET is at 0V of the negative rail (off in other words...) when bulb out of socket, bulb screwed in the circuit completes and the FET is turned on by the 12V from the positive rail powering the bulb. The FET is isolated from the 12V supply, so the Drain and Sourcee can be connected directly to the lower voltage side of the clock circuit without fear of letting the magic smoke out. The POSITIVE (N channel FETs switch the NEGATIVE rail) of the 12V and clock circuit supply will need to be connected together. The two negatives should remain separate!

Then it is up to you to alter the code for the clock to feature a countdown upon the contact of a switch (FET). I would suggest the opening of the switch (bulb removal) should be the reset for the countdown. Shouldn't be too difficult. Smiley
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Otto Von Pifka
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2016, 11:39:52 am »

well I've had my share of loose sockets that try to turn when you screw in a bulb.

make the socket low voltage for safety, and make the socket pivot to bump a momentary switch when the bulb is screwed in.

if it is indeed very dark in the room, maybe a soft light inside the socket to guide them to it? the tiniest of leds with a bit of gel diffuser.

or failing that a row of small bulbs or larger very dim bulbs (wired in series?) with one bulb missing, that should make it fairly easy to figure out
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Captain Heartless
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2016, 04:23:17 pm »

As always you ask and the community delivers...wow
So grateful for your ideas dear friends!
Wish I can return the favor when someone needs some assistance, but i have to refresh my electronics studies first as i abandoned them for a different life about 10 years ago...
It's all blurry in my head now. meeeeh

I am thinking of all the suggestions and also debating with the director, who every time i reply with a solution-proposal he has another brand new idea.
Like time delay for the bulb while the tubes flash random digits for 5 secs before the countdown starts...  Roll Eyes

As this is a theatrical performance I am trying to get to exactly what he wants first as he develops the idea with each email i send him... And then decide on what to do with programming, switches, power supplies.
Well I got to the conclusion that if it is theatre, and every person goes alone in the room, then the room is empty for the crew to reset everything maybe I could use couple cheats. Makes my life easier and the crew happy when they push a button and remotely start the countdown for example.
I mean who doesn't want to push THE BUTTON???

Oh, i spread the joy...

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Peter Brassbeard
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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2016, 05:05:30 pm »

A 12V DC bulb is good for safety, and makes the rest of the circuit a bit easier.

Code:
  +12V
     |
    (*) bulb
     |
     ----- sense
     |
    /
    \  R
    /
    \
     |
   -----
    ---
     -
R is selected to produce ~ 0.8V with current from the desired bulb.
sense is connected to the base of a transistor to detect when the voltage rises.  collector of the transistor is pulled by a resistor to logic level high, and fed to an input of the countdown controller.
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