Neon light issues

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  #1  
Old 05-07-20, 08:22 PM
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Smile Neon light issues

I purchased a home and it had this great neon light for the house number, with an integrated parrot lol.

When I plug in the unit, I get nothing. The complete unit consist of a transformer-looking unit that received 120v; it has a rheostat shaft that has about 180 degrees of movement. That feeds a rectangle box that has a switch, a reset button, and two outlets that connect directly to the neon unit.

i tested the plug so I know I have 120 volts to the plug. But no combo of turning the switch on and off, pressing the reset button, and turning the shaft on the transformer causes the unit to light.

I tried a local repair company, but I canít get a return call. Any logical process I should use to determine how to fix this system or is there a part that is the likely culprit? Also, any source of repair parts? Thanks. Steve
 
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Old 05-07-20, 08:24 PM
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Can you post some pictures of what you're working on ?
Many times we recognize units on sight.
How-to-insert-pictures.
 
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Old 05-08-20, 05:38 AM
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If your not interested in getting into it too much you could just replace the transformer. You can get an electronic indoor ballast for about $75 and magnetic ones for less than $50.
 
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Old 05-08-20, 06:01 AM
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Any info on the neon lamp as they can be operated from AC or DC voltage. Your description seems to indicate there are pieces involved here since you state there is a switch, rheostat, reset, etc..Are the pieces in separate locations with wiring connecting them? If yes, can you determine how they are wired?
 
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Old 05-08-20, 03:20 PM
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I think I attached a pic of the two parts. Let me know if this helps determine the path forward.
 
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Old 05-08-20, 06:45 PM
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Neon signs utilize high voltages,often thousands of volts, comparable to electric fences or CRT TV sets if you are familiar with those. You have to be very knowledgeable about electricity before trying to repair them. A typical consumer grade multimeter does not have a high enough range to measure with.

The neon tube itself has a near vacuum inside. If there is a break or crack in the glass then it will not light up even if most of the neon is still inside.

You can measure the voltage from the smaller box (with the TFT label) yourself. Label the wiring and then disconnect and set aside the larger box. Turning the rheostat you should be able to measure 0 to 120 volts AC at the small box output.
 
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Old 05-08-20, 08:42 PM
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It looks like the TFT unit is just a variable transformer. Plug a table lamp with an incandescent into it. The lamp should vary in brightness. If it is a transformer.... a voltmeter wouldn't show any change.

The power supply part can be checked separately. Just plug it into the wall without the reducer.
That's a big power supply. I'd like to see a picture of what it's powering.
 
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Old 05-09-20, 12:25 PM
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Here is the neon element mounted outside.
 
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Old 05-09-20, 03:29 PM
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Cool.

Hopefully the HV leads are in some type of sleeve thru thru wall to contain any arcing.
Did you test your components yet ?
 
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Old 05-13-20, 11:35 AM
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Exclamation

Hereís a question, and I apologize in advance of its a dumb idea, but can I plug the transformer in and touch the two leads used to power the light to see if I
get a spark? I contacted the previous owner and they told me they never had an issue with the light. If a bad idea, what setting on my multimeter do I use to test the output voltage? I found a new internet videos, but couldnít make out what they set their unit to. I have a nice one with lots of settings, so I hope that could be used to test it.

To answer your question, Pjmax, the unit mounted outside has leads that come through the wall; they are a black rubber-looking covering, but Iím not sure if there are any other insulation sleeve.
 
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Old 05-13-20, 02:42 PM
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I would not touch the output wires together. If done correctly it might be OK and you'd see and hear a pretty decent spark/arc but you don't want to touch the wires and have them weld together as that could burn out your transformer. If you try it I would use a quick swiping motion so the wires are only in contact for a fraction of a second. You could also do a little MacGyvering with a spark plug but I would only touch the wires briefly to the plug. Just enough to see if you get a spark.

A neon transformer output is 1'000-15'000 volts so don't touch it to your tongue and do not try to test with a multi meter. Most meters are not designed to handle voltage above 600.

A neon sign basically has three parts; transformer, wire connecting to the tube, and the neon tube itself. I would check the wiring between the transformer and sign for continuity to make sure a wire hasn't burned out.
 
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Old 05-14-20, 07:13 PM
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Do NOT connect you meter to the output. It will fry.
Just tape the two wires down so that the ends are 1/4" apart. That will do it.
If the transformer is working.... you'll get a nasty arc going.

Don't hold/touch the wires for testing.
 
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Old 07-04-20, 01:37 PM
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So, I replaced the transformer and that did the trick. Thanks for the help.
 
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Old 07-04-20, 03:17 PM
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You're welcome. Thanks for letting us know how you made out.
 
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Old 07-04-20, 06:50 PM
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That is a really neat sign. I have never seen neon used like that in a residential (I assume) setting before. Neon beats any LED crap sign any day. Unfortunately neon signage is becoming a dying art due to the LED infestation. Can you post a lit picture if you get a chance?
 
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Old 07-09-20, 05:27 AM
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Here it is:
 
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Old 07-09-20, 06:16 AM
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Put opaque tape or paint (preferably matching the wall behind) over the short segments of the tubes that run between letters, numbers, symbols, and figures that should stand separately. The paint was probably applied when the tubes were first made, and wore off over the years.

Do ths, or any work around the tubes, with the power off. Even though you may not be touching the wiring, there can be uncanny invisible electrical fields about the tubes when they are illuminated that, although not always painful, could startle you and cause you to fall off of a ladder.
 
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Old 07-09-20, 06:49 AM
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Wow!,
what a beautiful sign.
 
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