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150W MH Flickering, then turning off.


neanderthalman

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neanderthalman

Hey everyone,

 

I'll be frank, I am pi$$ed.

 

I purchased a 150W MH retro kit from an online retailer last December. It ran fine for the month of January, then, one morning, refused to start. I returned the bulb and ballast, and when tested, the ballast was faulty. After six weeks of trying to get a replacement ballast from the manufacturer (ARC), the seller offered me store credit for the cost of the ballast, and I put it towards a refractometer as he would not be getting any more shipments of ballasts for another month. I ordered an Icecap 150W ballast from another online retailer. Both the bulb and ballast arrived today.

 

I wired it and she fired up perfectly. Great. It ran fine for about two hours, then started flickering. After flickering for a few minutes, the light simply went out.

 

After cooling, the light starts up again without difficulty, however, it never stops flickering, and after about twenty minutes or so, it goes out again.

 

I'm thinking it's a problem conection in the ballast as it heats up, but I'd like to hear some other opinions or experiences. The ballast is not contained in any sort of box or enclosure, just sitting on a shelf, so it really shouldn't be overheating. I'm not aware of ballasts requiring any sort of heat sink.

 

I've also ruled out a loose wiring connection, as every single joint is soldered together. You don't get much more solid than that. I'm also thinking it's the ballast as, out of the box, one of the mounting "feet" was bent, suggesting that the ballast had been dropped at some point.

 

I've also placed a cooling fan, run by a 9V battery, on top of the ballast to see if I can keep it running longer.

 

I'd like to pin down the problem to the bulb or the ballast so I can contact the appropriate seller for a replacement.

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Try and jiggle the bulb in it's socket and see if it helps.

 

If not i'd suspect expanding and retracting solder connections and help them out a little with a small iron.

 

:D Good luck! Electrical issues suck!

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RayWhisperer

Hey Neanderthal, I recently purchased a 250 Ice Cap setup (HQI), and had similar problems. I used all new connections and a new switch in the box(I realise you don't have one of these, so we can rule this out). I still had the problem, though less frequent. If you have an HQI, I'd check to make sure the bulb is seated fully. Mine seemed to be, but it wasn't. If you have the Ice Cap Pendant(like me), there are screws that will loosen the contacts, allowing you to "adjust" it to fit it perfectly. That took care of the problem once and for all for me. HTH

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neanderthalman
Try and jiggle the bulb in it's socket and see if it helps.

 

If not i'd suspect expanding and retracting solder connections and help them out a little with a small iron.

 

:D Good luck! Electrical issues suck!

 

Yeah, I imagine this is the problem, but internal to the ballast. I'm not opening it up to void the warranty when I'm thinking there's a problem with it though.....somehow I don't think that's a good idea.

 

I'm good with electrical work and troubleshooting, in most cases. It's my job ;). It's intermittent problems that get me all twisted about though.

 

I don't have the icecap pendant Ray, though it'd probably be nice to have. I mounted the retro in a regent halogen fixture and used conduit to create an "arm" to mount it to the stand. The wiring, naturally, runs inside the conduit. Turned out rather sexy, check out the link on the right side of my sig for some blurry pics :P

 

The lamp holder doesn't have any sort of adjustment, though I'll see what wiggling the bulb does. It seems to be flickering less and less now. Might this be related somehow to the burn-in of the bulb? It was brand new bulb, as my original bulb was sent back to the manufacturer.

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neanderthalman

Ok, it's got to be the ballast. I removed the cooling fan, and after about twenty minutes, the light went out. I'll be contacting the seller for a replacement.

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neanderthalman

Has anyone heard of a MH ballast needing to be mounted to a heatsink? I just got off the phone with Icecap, and my gut instinct is that I just got played by their service department.

 

They've suggested that I mount the ballast to a metal plate of some kind to act as a heat sink. Nowhere in my documentation does it say that mounting to metal is necessary, and I've never heard of a ballast requiring a heat sink.

 

I'm going to give it a try, but at this point, I've got a sour taste in my mouth. Something here isn't right.

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neanderthalman

I was not able to find any metal to mount the ballast to, but I was able to mount the ballast such that all six faces are exposed to the air. The temperature of the ballast is much lower than before, barely warm. This eliminated the problem of the lamp extinguishing, and reduced the flicker substantially. It's now very subtle, almost on the limit of visibility. You can't see if it if you're staring at the tank, but is clearly visible if you look at the tank with your peripheral vision.

 

Is it normal to have a slight flickering during the burn-in period of a bulb?

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Artic silver + cheap CPU heatsink and fan maybe?

 

:D

 

how long have you had this flicker?

 

and your avatar gives me nightmares.

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neanderthalman

I don't think more cooling on the ballast is necessary, it's barely warm. The flicker seems to be dying down though, it's just barely visible now - so much so that I had one of the girls I live with come by for a second opinion 'cause I might have been imagining it.

 

Oh, if only Tiny knew what my roommates looked like :naughtydance:

 

I'm thinking that I'll give the bulb a few days to burn in, and maybe it'll go away.

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I don't think more cooling on the ballast is necessary, it's barely warm. The flicker seems to be dying down though, it's just barely visible now - so much so that I had one of the girls I live with come by for a second opinion 'cause I might have been imagining it.

 

Oh, if only Tiny knew what my roommates looked like :naughtydance:

 

I'm thinking that I'll give the bulb a few days to burn in, and maybe it'll go away.

 

Maybe it'll go away. :D Here's to the cross your fingers approach to troubleshooting electronics. It's my favorite solution.

 

I think, with words like that we need pics of the roommates.

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