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Thread: Vintage color organ - can't match blue bulb color / brightness of original

  1. #1
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    Default Vintage color organ - can't match blue bulb color / brightness of original

    I have a few old realistic color organs from radio shack from the 70's. I have tried multiple types of C7 bulbs to match the original color and brightness of the blue bulbs.
    I have tried 5W, 7W, single dip, triple dip, different brands but I cannot get that bright blue color of the original style.
    If I go too light of a blue bulb they look more green.
    Anybody have any experience in this area ?
    I'm running out of options and ideas.
    Red and green aren't a problem.
    Attached is an image, bottom left bulb (7W) which is the replacement does not match others and is imo too dim. And when pulsating does not glow/come on, as the others do sooner, response is slow.
    Thanks.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by vintage70; 09-21-2021 at 05:32.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to PhotonLexicon!

    Quote Originally Posted by vintage70 View Post
    I have a few old realistic color organs from radio shack from the 70's.
    I have tried multiple types of C7 bulbs to match the original color and brightness of the blue bulbs.
    Very cool; I remember seeing these fixtures as a kid in some of my friends' basements back in the day.

    Are you concerned with keeping things as close to original / vintage as possible, or are you just looking for a nice, bright bulb with a pleasing color?

    If you don't care about authenticity, I'd suggest replacing all the bulbs inside your units with LEDs. You can find a wide assortment of colors in the C7 socket design. While you may not be able to match the original incandescent bulbs exactly, I'm sure you can find something that is very close. If you replace all the bulbs (not just the blue ones), I suspect you'll never notice any slight color difference from the original, since all of the new bulbs will match exactly. And with LEDs, it's highly unlikely that you'll ever need to change a bulb again.

    Some examples:
    https://www.amazon.com/LightSupply-M...08BC4ZC9Y?th=1
    https://www.amazon.com/ILAMIQI-Cande.../dp/B08ZK8HNTR
    https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Mul.../dp/B09DT2F12L
    https://www.amazon.com/Brightown-Rep.../dp/B0757N88LW

    The first two options are specifically listed as "dimmable", which might be an important feature if the organ is designed to have an analog response to sound.

    Alternately, if you insist on sticking with the original incandescent bulb design, then you might need to post a picture of one. There are lots of different coatings for colored bulbs, plus the dye tends to fade over time, so matching it exactly will be a challenge.

    Here too, your best option might be to replace ALL of the blue bulbs, rather than just the bad one. This should minimize any differences between the vintage bulbs from 45+ years ago and the modern replacements.

    Adam

    PS: Did you happen to notice this thread about old-school light boxes? Very similar to your color organ.

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    Quote Originally Posted by buffo View Post
    Welcome to PhotonLexicon!



    Very cool; I remember seeing these fixtures as a kid in some of my friends' basements back in the day.

    Are you concerned with keeping things as close to original / vintage as possible, or are you just looking for a nice, bright bulb with a pleasing color?

    If you don't care about authenticity, I'd suggest replacing all the bulbs inside your units with LEDs. You can find a wide assortment of colors in the C7 socket design. While you may not be able to match the original incandescent bulbs exactly, I'm sure you can find something that is very close. If you replace all the bulbs (not just the blue ones), I suspect you'll never notice any slight color difference from the original, since all of the new bulbs will match exactly. And with LEDs, it's highly unlikely that you'll ever need to change a bulb again.

    Some examples:
    https://www.amazon.com/LightSupply-M...08BC4ZC9Y?th=1
    https://www.amazon.com/ILAMIQI-Cande.../dp/B08ZK8HNTR
    https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Mul.../dp/B09DT2F12L
    https://www.amazon.com/Brightown-Rep.../dp/B0757N88LW

    The first two options are specifically listed as "dimmable", which might be an important feature if the organ is designed to have an analog response to sound.

    Alternately, if you insist on sticking with the original incandescent bulb design, then you might need to post a picture of one. There are lots of different coatings for colored bulbs, plus the dye tends to fade over time, so matching it exactly will be a challenge.

    Here too, your best option might be to replace ALL of the blue bulbs, rather than just the bad one. This should minimize any differences between the vintage bulbs from 45+ years ago and the modern replacements.

    Adam

    PS: Did you happen to notice this thread about old-school light boxes? Very similar to your color organ.
    I tried replacing all the bulbs the same blue type, but the response time and dimness of the bulb bugs me.
    I like that vintage clear bright blue 'punch' of the old bulb. I thought about trying led but I contacted the distributor of some I was looking at. They had no problem with the dimmable feature, but the on/off pulsating is what they thought could be an issue in longevity of the led. Thoughts ?
    I read the thread last night on the old school light box, very cool.
    Last edited by vintage70; 09-21-2021 at 06:35.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintage70 View Post
    I tried replacing all the bulbs the same blue type, but the response time and dimness of the bulb bugs me.
    Did you purchase incandescent bulbs with clear, colored glass, or the ones with the opaque colored glass? The ones with clear glass (where you can see the filament when the bulb is off) should give you more "punch".

    I thought about trying led but I contacted the distributor of some I was looking at. They had no problem with the dimmable feature, but the on/off pulsating is what they thought could be an issue in longevity of the led.
    Sounds bogus to me. So long as there aren't any over-current spikes, the LEDs should have no problem with pulsed operation. (In fact, most LEDs have two different "max current" specs listed on the datasheet: one is for CW use, while the other is for pulsed operation, and the pulsed operation current spec is always greater than the CW one.)

    I need to get Chris (Lazerjock) to chime in here, as he has done a lot more work with LEDs than I have, but even so, my BS detector is alarming like crazy on what that distributor told you.

    Given how cheap some of those LED bulb sets are on Amazon, I think I'd just order one or two and give them a try to see how they look. Again though, I'd stick with the ones that have the clear, colored glass.

    I read the thread last night on the old school light box, very cool.
    I loved that thread as well. In fact, I've been working to re-create one of those boxes by using LED strip lights instead of C7 bulb fixtures. You can get those SP105 / 106 LED strip light controllers mentioned in that thread for between $15 and $20 on Amazon (or Ebay), and once you link them to your cell phone you can program all sorts of amazing sound-activated effects. I've been playing with a couple different controllers for a while now, but I haven't decided which one I want to use yet. It's crazy how cheap this sort of stuff has gotten lately!

    Adam

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    Default very cool

    Quote Originally Posted by buffo View Post
    Did you purchase incandescent bulbs with clear, colored glass, or the ones with the opaque colored glass? The ones with clear glass (where you can see the filament when the bulb is off) should give you more "punch".



    Sounds bogus to me. So long as there aren't any over-current spikes, the LEDs should have no problem with pulsed operation. (In fact, most LEDs have two different "max current" specs listed on the datasheet: one is for CW use, while the other is for pulsed operation, and the pulsed operation current spec is always greater than the CW one.)

    I need to get Chris (Lazerjock) to chime in here, as he has done a lot more work with LEDs than I have, but even so, my BS detector is alarming like crazy on what that distributor told you.

    Given how cheap some of those LED bulb sets are on Amazon, I think I'd just order one or two and give them a try to see how they look. Again though, I'd stick with the ones that have the clear, colored glass.



    I loved that thread as well. In fact, I've been working to re-create one of those boxes by using LED strip lights instead of C7 bulb fixtures. You can get those SP105 / 106 LED strip light controllers mentioned in that thread for between $15 and $20 on Amazon (or Ebay), and once you link them to your cell phone you can program all sorts of amazing sound-activated effects. I've been playing with a couple different controllers for a while now, but I haven't decided which one I want to use yet. It's crazy how cheap this sort of stuff has gotten lately!

    Adam

    I remember those old Radio Shack Realistic light organs.

    I ran into the same blue C7 color hassle, but then found my old stash of spare C7 blinker bulbs a while back. You're right, blue is the toughest to match with what's out there today.

    Adam, I'm working on (on and off, off and on, no pun intended) a new version of my old light box as well using LED programmable light strips. This hold lots of promise, not to mention mind blowing fun.

    I hope to have something to show in the next, oh, I don't know, few months.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lasermaster1977 View Post
    I remember those old Radio Shack Realistic light organs.

    I ran into the same blue C7 color hassle, but then found my old stash of spare C7 blinker bulbs a while back. You're right, blue is the toughest to match with what's out there today.

    Adam, I'm working on (on and off, off and on, no pun intended) a new version of my old light box as well using LED programmable light strips. This hold lots of promise, not to mention mind blowing fun.

    I hope to have something to show in the next, oh, I don't know, few months.
    leds can modulate into the megahertz. That’s bull. Don’t worry about life.

    if you want use a clear bulb and then get a gel switch book and find the right blue.
    while not as simple you can also get rgbw leds and dial in the colors you like.

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    I only have German words for it: "Tauchlack" / "Glühbirnenlack" maybe "Dip paint" / "Bulb paint"?

    This stuff can be purchased on amazon in germany. You can use it to color classical non colored light bulbs. So if you can get your hands on some clear bulbs, you could make blue ones that match your liking. These colors can also be mixed and/or diluted to have just the right color.

    Conrad electronic sells some: https://www.conrad.de/de/p/clou-tlk2...au-727571.html

    For the LED option: the seller has concern because the power supply inside the led bulb has problems with fast on/off switching and may die in a short period of time. The actual leds inside the bulb are not harmed by the on/off switching. Also the response would be very different. The slow ramp up the real incandescent bulbs is hard to emulate. I would design a custom PCB that would emulate the response (dimming) of the leds and I would use just led emitter in the right color, maybe even with a little white added. So not just a bright blue led (>470nm) but also a (very dimm) cold white one for the blue channel. That would make it look convincing even with leds.

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    I'm assuming those lights are standard 110VAC. Pull one out and light it up individually and check the current usage with one of those current loop meters. Then you can calculate the wattage.
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    Lot of good informative replies, thanks.
    Here are photos of two bulbs someone asked to see. The right one is the original, left one I had tried to match.
    Notice how the base on the original is kind of flared out at the bottom in comparison to the other C7.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farbe View Post
    For the LED option: the seller has concern because the power supply inside the led bulb has problems with fast on/off switching and may die in a short period of time. The actual leds inside the bulb are not harmed by the on/off switching. Also the response would be very different. The slow ramp up the real incandescent bulbs is hard to emulate. I would design a custom PCB that would emulate the response (dimming) of the leds and I would use just led emitter in the right color, maybe even with a little white added. So not just a bright blue led (>470nm) but also a (very dimm) cold white one for the blue channel. That would make it look convincing even with leds.

    Agreed 100% The led will not be harmed it is the dimming circuit.

    For as cheap as they are I would just buy a couple and see if they can hold up long enough to make it worth your while.
    Like Farbe said a custom circuit is the way to go and just use the raw LED, but this is more difficult and time consuming than just replacing it with an off the shelf solution.

    Like Adam said there are several LED controllers out there that react to sound. Personally I would scrap the guts of your color organ and replace them with LED strips and a sound controller. There are versions that don't need a phone to control them. Just power ON and watch the show. I use one under my pinball machine to react to the game sounds.

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