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CFL bulb bursts of light.

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CFL bulb bursts of light.

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Old 07-31-08, 07:09 PM
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CFL bulb bursts of light.

When my cfl bulb is in the socket, with power applied, it lights up like most cfl bulbs. But when I flip the switch to 'off', meaning no power from the mains system is reaching the bulb, the bulb emits(sp?) a faint burst of light every 20sec. If I remove the bulb from the socket, it does not do it anymore. But once I place it back in the socket, the 20sec cycle starts again. Evey 20 seconds, it blinks.

I have no DMM to test the socket, and yes I have been watching this lamp very closely over a long period of time.

What is going on?
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Old 07-31-08, 07:18 PM
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Unless your wiring is goofy, there shouldn't be any power in the socket when the switch is of, so two things come to mind: 1) Stray currents induced into the power side wiring by big transformers or large motors turning off or on somewhere. I'd see if I could hear anything in time with the flashes, or 2) RF power, (ham radio, stray microwave, emp pulses,sometime close by lighting.)

Every twenty seconds is so regular I'd be looking for some device switching independent of the lamp. Know anybody with a frequency analyzer, or bug sweeper?

Last edited by wernmax; 07-31-08 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 07-31-08, 07:31 PM
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And this only occurs with CFL's? Can you power anything else off of the closed circuit? Perhaps you could borrow an ammeter to see how much is flowing.
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Old 07-31-08, 07:35 PM
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Probably current leakage across the switch......it does happen.............

If it was stray RF, then it would happen whether it was in the socket or not (I've lit up flourescent tubes with my CB radio at 500 feet when I had my linear powered up and TXed on a sideband channel).
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Old 07-31-08, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
Probably current leakage across the switch......it does happen.............

If it was stray RF, then it would happen whether it was in the socket or not (I've lit up flourescent tubes with my CB radio at 500 feet when I had my linear powered up and TXed on a sideband channel).
Good call Tom. This wouldn't be on a dimmer switch by any chance?
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Old 07-31-08, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by diff_lock2 View Post
...I have been watching this lamp very closely over a long period of time...
Keep watching, we'll get back to you.
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Old 07-31-08, 07:46 PM
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I wont be getting my hands on a clamp meter.

I was also pretty sure there was some induction going on with the wiring, EM plus the right length wire equals current via induction, right?

Do I have my terms mixed up?

I will ask about bug sweeps, but I doubt its possible. There is wifi... which is the first thing that poped in to my head, but every 20sec? Maybe there is a tiny constant current (from some EM source, wifi?) and the cfl ballast some how charges up slowly, dumps, and repeats.

The wifi transmiters are a macbookpro a nokia phone and the small router.


edit: Normal switch, on, off.

Last edited by diff_lock2; 07-31-08 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 07-31-08, 07:56 PM
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If I were you, and in this case, I am glad I am not, I would wear a tin foil hat and burn all the schematics for the Koppendorpf anti matter drive. Usually the flashes are a precursor to a drone probe landing. Those things will not stop until they have the schematics.
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Old 07-31-08, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by diff_lock2 View Post
I wont be getting my hands on a clamp meter.

I was also pretty sure there was some induction going on with the wiring, EM plus the right length wire equals current via induction, right?

Do I have my terms mixed up?

I will ask about bug sweeps, but I doubt its possible. There is wifi... which is the first thing that poped in to my head, but every 20sec? Maybe there is a tiny constant current (from some EM source, wifi?) and the cfl ballast some how charges up slowly, dumps, and repeats.

The wifi transmiters are a macbookpro a nokia phone and the small router.


edit: Normal switch, on, off.
Now it's like phantomcow2 says, you need to check the socket with a DMM (digital multi meter) to see if you have a voltage in there with the switch off, the button at the bottom is the hot side that you want to check with the settings on AC and 200 volt, but if it's brief enough pulses you probably won't see them on a DMM, need oscilloscope.

If you suspect emissions from a device, move it closer to the bulb and see if the flashes get any brighter.

Or just ignore it, although it could be a sign of something weird. Try the bulb in other sockets.

Last edited by wernmax; 07-31-08 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 07-31-08, 10:19 PM
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I'd say leakage across the switch is most likely. EMI would have to be a really strong field. It certainly couldn't be from a communications device...at least not anything that's unlicensed, but if there's some loops in the wiring of your house, it could hypothetically pass EMI from a hot wire to a nearby cold wire.

CFL's need a decent shot of juice on startup and have some nifty electronic ballasts in them to give it that I'm pretty sure have some decent-sized capacitors. Probably you're getting a really low current charging those slowly until they reach the point that they trigger the startup circuit, then they drain almost instantly.

Try flipping off that circuit breaker only. If it continues happening, it's not the switch. If it ceases, it's probably but not necessarily the switch.

Switches are $1 at Home Depot. If you fix it yourself, make darn certain you've got the right circuit breaker switched off.
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