View Full Version : Computer Mods

20-09-2002, 09:16 PM
This is a question even though im not interested in the activity myself.

people are into Comptuer mods, such as adding lights etc

You can by a glowing flouresent for your computer at around $45
however at The Warehouse you can get a glowing flouresent for your CAR for less than $20

Ok the diff between these two is that the Car one works on 12 volts

How much would it cost to add something to turn the current int 12 volts to have it in your computer.
Also cars use AC, wereas a computer would use DC (or the other way around), would this cause a problem? i.e., needing an AC/DC converter, or is ther a work around to that also?

Billy T
20-09-2002, 10:11 PM
Hi Roofus

Computers are 230V AC, cars are 12V DC. Computer power supplies put out 5 volts and 12 volts so check the power rating of your fluorescent and if you have a grunty power supply in your computer (300W+) you could run the fluorescent off that.

Post the rated wattage of the fluorescent and we may find that you have more options. For example, if the wattage required is low, you might be able to find a 12 volt plug-pack from an old printer or similar appliance that you could use. They are easy to pick up as they are usually orphans and some places have boxes of them. Second hand shops tend to have a few as well.

Just make sure that the wattage rating exceeds the requirements for the lamp (if the pack just gives volts and amps, multiply the two together to get watts) and also check that it has DC output not AC, a trap for young players!


Billy 8-{)

20-09-2002, 10:12 PM
>>Also cars use AC, wereas a computer would use DC (or the other way >>around)

roofus, you are a worry.
Both cars AND PCs have a DC based system. 12 volts in cars, +5v and +/-12 volt in PCs.

20-09-2002, 10:25 PM
You'll notice however that on the side of the packet they say not to use near computer equipment. So I guess putting one inside the case could be dodgy.

20-09-2002, 10:31 PM
the car ones proberly generate heaps of interfernce which would play havoc on pc's. stick to the pc ones

20-09-2002, 10:34 PM
If you like that stuff have a look here at the page.at the pc fans


Susan B
20-09-2002, 10:34 PM
Where the heck do you put a glowing fluoroescent light in your car?? :O

20-09-2002, 10:41 PM
You just need to wire them up to the 12V (IIRC?) rail on your powersupply.

Plenty of people at OCNZ (http://www.overclockers.co.nz) have done it.

20-09-2002, 10:42 PM
under the side boards, under the front/rear, in the dash. all sorts. theres even ones for number plates(tho cops frown open those)

Jen C
20-09-2002, 10:43 PM
I have seen glowing fluoroscents lights around a cars dash (looks like a UFO in the rear mirror!) and sometimes they light up the underneath of the chasis (another UFO look).

Why don't you just drap xmas fairy lights around the PC? A lot cheaper and comes with its own adapter.

20-09-2002, 10:44 PM
> Where the heck do you put a glowing
> fluoroescent light in your car?? :O

So you've never been on the roads on a Friday/Saturday night.

You put them under the car so that they have a glow underneath them.

20-09-2002, 10:47 PM
> You just need to wire them up to the 12V (IIRC?) rail
> on your powersupply.
> Plenty of people at
> OCNZ (http://www.overclockers.co.nz) have
> done it.

where is the edit :8}

The place that you would want to visit would be the Forums (http://forums.overclockers.co.nz)

Susan B
20-09-2002, 10:53 PM
> So you've never been on the roads on a Friday/Saturday night.

I try and avoid it as much as possible. I value my life too much.

20-09-2002, 10:58 PM
Anywhere u like. Under the dash, on the dash, in the dash, on / around the sub - you do have a sub don't you Susan? under the car, on the inside door panels, on the roof (inside), inside the bumpers, on the wheels, on the bonnet (I have seen it!) ...

That answer your question?

Anyway, Roofus, I run a laptop of a car cigarette lighter adapter with good results. The battery and power supply is rated at 14 volts, but since a car generates 14 volts (ideally) when running, is works. Even works off a car battery. I use it as a "portable" Mp3 player and it plugs straight in to the amp. A 3GB hard drive can hold an incredible amount of music. We can drive around New Zealand without hearing the same sone twice.

Anyway, the reverse is true: I have seen a car stereo modified to fit an a PC Case - way cool! I think it was a Pioneer. unfortunately they couldn't quite squeeze the sub in as well so that had to stay on the floor.

hmm... that gives me an idea >:)


20-09-2002, 11:31 PM
Hehe, if you live in AK, try cruising down the city on a friday night. You'll soon find out where those things go :p

21-09-2002, 12:13 AM
Here's my idea... (http://mystuff.orcon.net.nz/grafix/casepic3.jpg)

Bliss. :D

21-09-2002, 12:30 AM
Well i've lived in CHCH and now live in AKL, so i know all about boy racers.
However i just thought it would be interesting to see if u could fit one to a computer, but it doesn't sound good due to interference.

I tell ya what, if i looked out the window, i could almost see K rd, so i could tell you what the boy racers were doing (before they head to Q st)
but like i say......... almost(so i can;t really)

Billy T
21-09-2002, 12:04 PM
Ahhhh soooooooo :|

If interference warnings are provided it will probably be due to the need to supply HV for the fluorescent as the actual lamp itself is extremely unlikely to run on 12 volts. It should be quite simple to convert the unit to run off the 230 volt supply but I'd have to look at a unit to see what is involved.

Which department of the Warehouse stocks them and I'll drop into my local next time I'm passing. My interest is aroused :D


Billy 8-{)

21-09-2002, 12:52 PM
The ballasts are switch-mode units in the lamps, similar to those used in compact flourescent energy efficient lamps. You would need a clunky purpose-built transformer / reactor type ballast to run it off 230v, which could be uneconomic.

The lamp itself would have a voltage in the range of 100 - 200V, with strike voltages of several hundred, high frequency AC.

Connection of the lamp itself direct to 230v would be *spectacular* as there would be nothing to limit the current if the lamp struck. KABOOM!

I would suggest that radiated "interference" from the 12 volt input lamps would be of a minor order compared to what the CPU and computer power supply generate.

21-09-2002, 01:00 PM
I think fluros generate too much heat and case modders are now going for cold cathode lighting (http://www.case-mod.com/store/default.php?cPath=33_39)

21-09-2002, 01:03 PM
Sorry, but flouros are cold cathode, hot cathode is incandescent.

21-09-2002, 01:16 PM
Really? :O Wow, you learn something new every day!

Graham Petrie
21-09-2002, 01:21 PM
Someone at the link JM gave has used the $20 warehouse lights in their case - look at the forum on case modding for about two or three weeks ago.


Billy T
21-09-2002, 02:15 PM
Yeah God, I'm with you there.

You certainly would get a bang if the lamp was supplied directly with 230 volts without current limiting by ballast or other means. However, what I was saying was that such a lamp could be modified to run off 230 volts but not directly, that's what the modifications are all about.

Of course, the lamp would be unlikely to strike without the necessary HV pulse, but then who knows.?:| I have a twin flourescent fitting in my garage (one of four) that gives full light output the instant the switch is pressed (just like an incandescent bulb) while the other three fittings all go through the normal starter routine to get them to strike. The instant-on one hasn't even had time for the filaments to warm up!

I've never worked out why or how this is happening, but what with you being omniscient and all that, this is a great time to ask and see if you can shed any light on this somewhat puzzling event.

Of course I could just pull the starters out and see what happens but it's one of those real old jobbies where you have to take the tubes out and remove the cover to get access (I bought them as a surplus job lot when the Ark was being broken up) and I'm too lazy to climb up and do that.

I rewired all four fittings with new ballasts and PF caps several years ago to get rid on the leaky pitch filled ballasts (which I consider to be a fire hazard) and the PCB filled caps. Maybe I wired that one wrong but I can't see how that could produce an instantaneous strike.

I always thought it was divine intervention, disillusion me if you must.


Billy 8-{) :D :D

Graham L
21-09-2002, 02:25 PM
Not quite right, godfather ... normal 230V fluorescents use a starter to connect the hotcathodes (filaments) in series with the ballast (choke). When the starter opens, the reactive voltage kick, and the electrons available from the filaments start the arc in the tube, current limited by the ballast. There are different installations which do away with the starters and run on a higher voltage for cold starting.

Low voltage ("12V") fluorescents use the DC in an inverter, producing high voltage, current limited AC, to run the tube as a cold cathode lamp.

Some of the car tubes are called "neon" tubes ... they could well be (or other rare gases for different colours) ;fluorescents basically produce UV from the mercury vapour arc, and colours are determined by the phosphors on the inside of the glass.

A neon tube just needs high voltage (the street signs use about 10-15 kV, from a current limited transformer) which can come from an inverter.

Have a look at the current issue of Silicon Chip magazine. They've
got a construction project for about 36W tubes.

21-09-2002, 04:54 PM
Yes Graham, I was only talking about the 12 v ones, I am fully aware if the hot cathode in 230v fl. (probably rates them as luke warm cathode lamps)

I have studied the CFL (energy efficient lamps) systems quite extensively, have even studied the manufacturing process, including phosphor types.

As a point of interest, if you get a 3-loop CFL lamp and disect it, you will find only 2 of the loops have electrodes, the 3rd one lights with radiated energy from the others.

Chris Wilson
21-09-2002, 05:33 PM
Wouldn't there be a risk of messing up the nice clean power the brains of a computer needs if you whack a crude inverter into it that is designed simply to power a flouro lamp as cheaply as possible?

I would imagine that it would be the natiest little squarewave spikemaking device. This wouldn't matter in a car, it's allready got an engine to mess up the cleanness of the power, and anything needing clean power usually has some kind of filter anyway.. but in a computer?