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Xenon Lamp

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Ioannis, Sep 27, 2005.

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  1. Ioannis

    Ioannis Guest

    3 years ago I got lucky and found a 1,600 Watt Xenon arc lamp on an antique
    shop here in Athens.

    Searching through my Philips catalog, this appears to be almost identical to
    Compact Source Xenon (CSX) 1,600 W, with lamp voltage 25 V and lamp current
    64 A.

    That's a damn beacon lamp. Now, there's no chance in hell I can buy or
    create the correct wiring for this lamp. This lamp requires DC and the
    control gear is the size of my beer belly. I've also heard reports that
    these lamps are dangerous because their internal pressure is on the order of
    30 atm, even cool, never mind hot.

    Is there any chance I can wire this lamp to operate on AC with reduced
    performance in the vicinity of 80-100W? Has anyone actually done it, ever?
    If I could get a simple low intensity Xenon arc to strike, I'd be plenty

    Any ideas on this?

    Thanks much in advance.
  2. Art Woodbury

    Art Woodbury Guest


    Please be careful with this beast. It is indeed
    dangerous, hot or cold.

    In a former life (very former, 35 years ago) I was in
    the US Coast Guard working with various marine
    navigational aids. At the top of the "nasty" list was a
    2500W Xenon short arc lamp, which had a habit of
    exploding and taking out the parabolic mirror in the
    beacon, and sometimes the lantern-house glazing. And the
    quartz envelope allowed the lamp to emit HORRENDOUS
    quantities of short UV.


  3. Ioannis

    Ioannis Guest

    Ï "Art Woodbury" <[email protected]> Ýãñáøå óôï ìÞíõìá
    Thanks Art. I found it was dangerous AFTER I carried it home on my hands, on
    a distance of 12km's from the antique shop to my apartment, wrapped inside a
    newspaper. Yikes!!

    Anyway, to answer my own question, I found this webpage, Sheets/Mazda FA5.htm

    from the excellent pages of J.D.Hooker, (site *highly* recommended), about
    an older Xenon lamp, which can be operated both in continuous and pulsed
    start mode. I guess if I ballast it with a Mercury ballast, and pulse start
    it with a HPS ignitor (3kV should be enough I reckon), I might be able to
    make it work, with reduced performance. It's mostly a rhetorical question,
    though. I have thrown all my ballasts away because I moved, so I only own a
    400W Metal Halide luminaire.
    Oops! I don't think I will try it any time soon. If this thing explodes btw,
    it will probably destroy my entire lamp collection. I should store it in a
    different box. :-(
  4. Guest

    I can think of a cheap way to power it, but I don't know how to current
    limit the power or generate the starting pulse. Don Klipstein has some
    info at .

    Matt Roberds
  5. JB

    JB Guest

    I think you'll find you'll need at least 10x that voltage to get it to
    strike. Some XE/D ignitors produced 100kV+.
    I think you mean "different street"!

  6. Ioannis

    Ioannis Guest

    Yeah, I should have checked with Don's site before I asked this. The problem
    seems to be the starting pulse. Doesn't open air have a starting pulse of
    something like 30kV/cm? (or is it 15kV/cm?). If the first is right, the arc
    length is 4.5mm, so that should give half, or roughly 15kV. Assuming the
    internal pressure of the lamp when cold is of the order of 3-8 atmospheres,
    one gets 3-5x15kV>35kV, which is in Don's ballbark.

    I think I will skip it. Instead, I will wear my winter coat backwards with
    my face covered , go to the basement and wrap the lamp carefully in multiple
    layers of protective casing in its own box for now.

    Thanks everyone,
  7. Now it's not THAT bad. Just keep it somewhere safe. The normal
    recommendation for handling these things is that you should have a face
    shield, a heavy apron and gauntlets. But then, familiarity breeds
    contempt and I often see projectionists just putting the lamps in with
    no protection at all.

    The lamps are most likely to explode if hot, but as with any lamp a
    sharp impact or stress could cause them to burst.

    Ideally you could have it in a wooden box which you could occasionally
    open to show friends while telling them just how dangerous it is.
    Better still, tell them first to make the opening of the box much more
    exciting. :)
  8. TKM

    TKM Guest

    The GE Lighting folks packaged their 5kW Xenon short arc lamps in a
    multi-layer metal box that enclosed the arc chamber with the quartz ends and
    connectors sticking out the sides. It had snap latches and seemed strong
    enough for quite a blast. As I recall, the lamp operating pressure was 20
    atmospheres. I was never around when one went off -- probably a good thing.

    Terry McGowan
  9. JB

    JB Guest

    Personally I wouldn't even risk opening the box without a face shield and
    gloves at the very least. I've had a couple of these go off when cold and
    seen the damage to a steel lamphouse when they've failed when operating.
    This is *not* a trivial h&s issue. All of the demo xenon lamps we used to
    show as samples were all depressurised or not sealed at all, and were marked
    as such in bold letters on the lamp envelope.
    I'l admit to appearing a little 'cavalier' in my handling of HID lamps and
    their circuits at times, but compact source xenons are not to be treated
    so. If the lamp is not marked as being "safe", assume the worst and behave
    <safety lecture now ends>

  10. cougercat

    cougercat Guest

    A dc stick arc welder comes to mind. The Arc voltage is around 25 volts and
    somewhat adjustable up to around 300 amps or so. You also need a high
    voltage starter to strike the arc. I'm guessing here but probably around
    15000 volts or so at a few milliampers momentarly. Is this a 2 lead device
    or a 3 lead device?

  11. Ioannis

    Ioannis Guest

    That's a good idea. It's a 2 lead lamp, so a welding machine should do the
    trick. That's how I was able to fire two copper sheathing cinema carbon
    rods, 5 years ago.

    I have no idea how to produce the starting pulse, though.
  12. Ioannis

    Ioannis Guest

    Thanks Steve, but I think that for now I will skip the experiment with the
    big bulb. Such a construct would require resources which at the moment are

    I don't care about the spectrum that much, I've seen it through my
    spectroscope on public pre-election campains/gatherings. I am more qurious
    to see this beast fire up :)

    I already have a Xenon spectum on the site, it's just that it comes from a
    strobo bulb. Another idea would be to dismantle the strobo bulb and run it
    continuously, since I can wire it with a starting pulse of 3.5kV, which
    should be enough to start the flash bulb in continuous mode. But I don't
    know how long this bulb can last running continusously, since I don't know
    what it's made of. If I knew it was fused silica, then I think that
    something like 1 minute of running the small Xenon strobe continuously at
    0.6-0.7 A, would be ok, so I could get a Xe I spectrum, instead of the one
    on my website, which is X I,II and likely III.

    I'll check and see if Don has anything concerning continuous operation on
    Xenon strobo bulbs. I think he does, if memory serves right. Yeap!, here it

    I have plenty of reading before I figure it out :)
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