LED color experiments 2019; Beyond the Sharpie

LED color experiments 2019; Beyond the Sharpie


♫ a jazz rendition of Jingle Bells ♫ “Finally I had the answer. And the answer is Sharpies.” Nope! Welcome to the second installment of No Effort
November. I noticed that many of you thought, uh, that
that moniker didn’t apply to the last video, um so for this one I’m going all in on not
going in at all. Also, I’m painfully aware of how my new
audio setup sounds. I’m still working on it. So. As has apparently become tradition, around
this time I make a video about holiday lights. Yes, I’m a sucker for Christmas lights,
I just love how festive everything becomes when we waste just that extra bit of energy
lighting up the neighborhood with frankly silly sums of small, shimmering string-suspended
shiny sources of sparkling light. Since striving for savings seems sensible
sometimes, scores of stores sell some super slick se… uh, ok that’s… that’s enough of that! LED holiday lights have become kind of a thing
lately, and generally I’m all for them, but I still cannot find the multi-colored
sets to be appealing at all. I’m getting kinda used to them, I’ll admit,
but this blue is still WAY TOO BLUE and nobody’s gonna change my mind about that. Honestly if it could just be toned down just
a few notches I might not be as bothered by this as I am. But sadly, the Blue Lobby seems to have a firm grip on the industry. Anyway, because the Christmas light market
seems to be at odds with my desires, and my nightly ritual of projecting intense mental
energy towards the executives in this field doesn’t seem to be working, last year I
embarked on an exhaustive series of experiments to recreate the look of colored incandescent
holiday lights using warm white LEDs strands. I had a few things I wanted to accomplish. One was to get a set in my preferred color
scheme, which is simply red, yellow, green, and blue. This is now the third time I’ve expressed
this grievance. I want NONE OF THAT orange and NONE of that
PURPLE, and ESPECIALLY none of the pink or teal. Eugh. Those are Easter colors. I also wanted to have a set of lights that
looked more natural. And by that I mean, a set which didn’t appear
monochromatic in nature. Colored incandescent lights aren’t as pure
as the single-wavelength emissions of our friends the diodes that emit light, and while
I’m sure many of you think I’m a weirdo for not wanting color purity, that’s just
how it’s gonna be. Perhaps I’m simply overly nostalgic for
the lights of my childhood, or maybe I’m just right about these things, you decide. Last year, I tried acrylic paints which … didn’t
work well at all. The blue was simply too hard to control and
was just… bad. I also tried spray paint and… again. Same result. But then I thought to myself, what if sharpies
would work? So I tried sharpies. And they worked! Except, unsurprisingly, they weren’t super
colorfast. This… [ silent struggling ] [ oh you thought he was gonna talk ’cause he looked up but you wrong ] is what’s left after just 6 weeks
outside. Not great. Happily exposure to rain and snow seemed to
have no effect on their color at all. It was apparently just fading caused by ultraviolet
radiation from that great ball of plasma in the sky. So maybe I could make them less prone to fading
with a UV-protective coating of some sort. But the sharpie solution wasn’t quite perfect,
either. This blue, while certainly not as bright as
the hideous blue found in the typical strands of LED Christmas lights, still had that rather
pure look to it. This wasn’t super surprising given that
the LEDs are likely using blue emitters which activate a red and green phosphor to create “ white “ but it was still a little unexpected. Perhaps it also had something to do with the
specific wavelengths the blue dye absorbs. Also, the yellow was a little bit too much
like highlighter yellow. I wanted it to be just a bit toned down. Anywho, one of the things I said I wished
existed was a sort of transparent paint base that I could mix the blue paint into to hopefully
make it more controllable. Well, the “fine” people of the comments section
told me that that does indeed exist, so on a trip to the craft store, I picked some of
this up. This acrylic medium looks a bit like Elmer’s
glue but supposedly dries clear, so if I mix this with the blue paint, it should produce
not a lighter blue, but a thinner blue. If that makes sense. Another thing that y’all suggested was to
use transparent paints used in model making. So, I picked some of those up, too. Luckily they can be found in the four colors
I wanted. And a third thing I thought I might try was
to mix the acrylic paint with … actual glue. That dries sorta clear and maybe it would
be easier to control or something I don’t know I’m just spitballing here. So. I first tried the acrylic medium. I started with a very low paint-to-medium
ratio, and ended up with a much paler blue than I started with. But again, that should be fine, it will dry
clear and it will just thin out. Perfect! But, actually, no. Not perfect at all. Drat! The blue is still way too hard to control
the thickness of, and with that in mind, I just abandoned this idea altogether. Poopsicles. I also then thought there’s no use trying
the glue with the blue, so I abandoned that, too. Boo-hoo. On to the transparent modelmaking paint I
guess. And, as luck would have it, that totally works! I figured it would be easiest to dunk the
bulbs into the bottle and let the excess paint drip off, but it turns out this was not only
more difficult, but also produced worse results than just using a brush. A little backwards from what I thought was
gonna be the case but cool. The result is definitely superior to the sharpies. The color is closer to what I’m trying to
emulate, especially the green and the blue, and on a positive note the blue doesn’t
have that weirdly pure look of the Sharpified set. Now it’s possible that the actual LEDs are
just different on this strand, compared to the one I used Sharpies with. In fact I’m certain they are, but I don’t
think that’s the bigger difference when it comes to the difference in blue. But I have two slight quibbles here. First is that the red isn’t quite transparent,
and also it’s not quite as deep as I’d like. I just picked up whatever paints the craft
store had so it could be that this transparent paint is available online in a better assortment
of colors, but honestly this is a rather minor nitpick. A second coat (or just a thicker first coat)
made the red more strongerer, and I was pretty happy. A slightly more major nitpick is that my bottle
of yellow paint appears to be really old, and it doesn’t really want to mix together
well it seems. Possibly a result of that, the color of this
yellow is a bit too pale for my liking. I really like the pop of the yellow, that’s
why I prefer yellow to orange in a set of multicolored holiday lights, but this is just
a tad too bright. I would have liked it to be a bit more towards
amber, and stupid me was about to be all like “oh well” but then I remembered that you
can mix paint together! So, I put just a tiny bit of the red in with
the yellow, and… I got… a… (I don’t know why he’s talking like this)
much… more… pleasing… result. In fact, I think these two are a comparison
right here. No red. Bit of red. Woo-hoo. However, it should be noted that the paints
didn’t mix super well, but I’m gonna chalk that down to the weirdness of this particular
yellow paint. In any case the end result was pretty good. One thing I learned was that there doesn’t
seem to be much of a point to removing all of the bulbs from the strand. I did this thinking that A) I was going to
be dunking the bulbs in the bottles and B) that this would be easier, but it seems like
it was actually a wash. Having them on the string itself means that
I could paint them while the strand was lit, and this gave a better idea of how the coat
was going on because, after all, the whole dang point of the exercise is to produce colored
lights and if I can’t see what the light looks like that’d be kinda dumb. It also is useful to paint the lights in situ (how pretentious) because you can make sure you space (but he said “place”, the dingus) the colors correctly. In my case, paint one bulb, skip four… three! Paint the next one. The fourth one. That’s what I meant. So you might be able to save a tiny bit of
time pulling them out and separating them into groups of 25, then painting them all
in one go, but I honestly don’t know if that would be worth it. Fun fact! I wrote the previous line before I had put
all the bulbs I took out back, and now I would highly advise against it. You see, I hadn’t realized this, but not
all of the bulbs are the same. There are a few sockets in this strand that
have three wires going to them, and the bulbs that go in there have a wider base and cannot
fit in the other sockets. However, the smaller bulbs will fit fine there. And this caused me some headaches. I figured it out, but this bulb is now dead
(but luckily the strand is still OK). So maybe, just leave them in. If you are painting them on the strand, pro
tip, use something like this portable heater to quickly dry each bulb. You can hold it in front of the heater for
as little as 10 or 15 seconds and get enough of a dry film on the top that by the time
the one you just painted reaches the floor (which is probably going to be something like
three or four bulbs later), it should be plenty dry. An even better idea would be to bundle a bunch
together that are going to be the same color, and paint them all at once. Just come up with some sort of thing to hold
them with like a vice or something so you can quickly paint them, I dunno, eugh, just
giving you ide- you figure it out! So. Wow. This went a lot more smoothly than I thought
it was going to. So now let’s talk about the weather. Because this is, after all, an experiment,
I decided to buy a can of UV-protective clearcoat and see how that would interact not only with
the paint, but also with the sharpies. What I’ve done this year is make a completed strand – you can’t see it but it’s fully done – mostly colored with the transparent
paint but a few are done with sharpies on this strand, and I’m going to clearcoat
half of it. Then, we’ll see how well it lasts through
the season. When I take them down, I’ll make an update
on my second channel, Technology Connextras. That’s right, it’s now called Technology
Connextras. * light drop * Deal with it. There’s a link in the description that will
take you there so you can subscribe and not miss it. I’m hoping that they do well, and if they
do, I might set out to make a bunch of these sets. But, here’s a better idea. Listen up, all of you people out there who
are in charge of Christmas lights. Can you please make this a thing? I know, here, you can sell make-you-own-color
sets! Sell the light strands without the little
clear plastic tops, and sell those separately in different colors! You can just make a ton of the same white
sets over and over and over again, and then weird pedants like me can skip the teals and the
purples and the oranges and get our preferred colors! Just sell the colored caps in 50 packs for
like $2 and you could be making a killing! Then, we just pop the tops on our sets of
lights and boom! Custom sets! I bet this would even tap into some sort of
Lite-Brite nostalgia! The little caps are kinda similar to Lite-Brite
pegs, so you just know there’s gonna be enough people who are like “aww this reminds
me of my Lite-Brite!” and INSTANT PROFIT! And you could sell them all year! Now, I know you’re probably not gonna do
that, but hey, if the prospect of better sales makes you excited about giving the people
what we want, I’m gonna plant that in your mind! You could revolutionize the holiday light
industry into the decorative light industry! Mmm! And use the same factories and everything! WHY ARE YOU NOT DOING THIS? It’s a free idea, c’mon, just… like…
do it! DO IT!!!!!11!! But until you do, I’ll just sit in my corner
painting light bulbs like a madman. The end! ♫ drums kick in ♫ Wait a minute, this isn’t the usual smooth jazz! What is this blasphemy? Well, it turns out it’s ♫ a jazz rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas ♫ Hey! Thoughts from the Credits! I went through the comments again on last
year’s videos and… that’s only one. [laughs] Heugh! Hey! Thoughts from the Credits! I went through the comments on last year’s
video and there are a few things I forgot about! Someone suggested using nail polish clear
coat and tinting that with whatever colors of other nail poilish that I might I like. I am totally gonna do that, but I’ll save
that for next year! That is, of course, unless the Christmas light
manufacturers would fricken listen to me or my telepathic thoughts I’ve been projecting
for an hour each night before I go to bed for the last two years. One thing that I did try was using stained-glass
paints. Now, I used one of those goofy little kits
that are aimed for small children, and maybe I would have had a better result going with
something a little more legit, but that didn’t work at all. It was way too thin and didn’t produce nearly
enough color. I might try the real stuff next year, but
my expectations aren’t super high based upon the appearance of the products I found
in the bottles. At the store. That one time. And, there were other ideas, too! But I’m not gonna spoil any more of next
year’s video. To everyone out there, I hope you have a very
happy holiday season spending time with loved ones. I’ll be back with one more video for No
Effort November, and then it’s on to the conclusion of the CED Saga. At least I hope it’s the conclusion. I don’t wanna have to do a part 5. ♫ the jazz! It swells! ♫ Woah, that’s some snazzy saxophoning! ♫ oh no! the jazz is fading again… ♫ Well, the fine folks of the comments section
told me euuaghh! So if I mix this with the blue paint, it should
produce not only a … [ here he completely loses his train of thoughts, then shakes his head AT HIMSELF ] But hopefully this is a… honestly. Not hopefully! We did it! We did it! I’m caught up in the Christmas… ha! Alright, those are off now so they’re not
gonna start a fire. If they did this video would be lit! Did you catch at the beginning that he wasn’t wearing socks? At least he was wearing pants…

Danny Hutson

40 thoughts on “LED color experiments 2019; Beyond the Sharpie

  1. Your desire for "impure" colour isn't really weird in my books. Maybe it's the quality of the combined light where it fails. Kind of like how R+G+B LED isn't white, and things end up looking weird with that combo versus a fuller-spectrum alternative. R+G+B casts an eerie/"wrong" feel to the things around it. Kind of reminds me of the problems people had/have with low pressure discharge lamps (with no phosphor) and the ghastly way they can make people look.

  2. Might I suggest you try out Twinkly LED lights. They are individually addressable string (and other types) lights for whatever you want! They even have a nifty feature to map the LEDs with your phone camera. You can adjust the intensity of each color to your liking. The downside is the price…

  3. Why not make your own Xmas lights with a Kickstarter or indiegogo campaign? Hire a manufacturer and then deliver them by the beginning of October of next year.

  4. Heh, the blue lobby (Big Blue?). Presumably they're also responsible for those eyeball searing blue indicator LEDs on electronics these days. What was wrong with a nice, soft, gentle red?

  5. Krylon stained glass spray paint is all you need.I used it to do this exact thing 2 years ago.Goes on thin and even and comes in tons of colors.

  6. I never thought I'd ever come across another person that has obsessed over the color of Christmas lights as I have and painstakingly painted each one. I'm in love.

  7. But how much blue is blue? I mean, we can make it blue, so it's too blue and so few blue it's not blue.
    How much? Tell me Technologyman.

  8. If only there was a transparent cellophane version of wire heat shrink tubing, that would be perfect.

    If you want to eliminate the 60hz flicker, throw a bridge rectifier into a single gang box and add a PC power cable and a regular cheapo outlet. The lights will get something like 160 volts at 120 hz, so they'll appear solid. I've had good luck with this, but with a caveat: some strings flip polarity either halfway through or on every other bulb, which means half won't work. Plenty more work just fine, though. (Disclaimer: I'm not an electrician.)

  9. I say this with love in my heart but I think that the idea of "increased profits" on this is uh, well let's say this is a bit of a "niche product." What I'm trying to say is…. this is you… this is for no one else… this is a "you issue."

  10. 2:02 pink and teal might be Easter colors, but teal is a lot easier on the eyes then that I piercing shade of blue they use for the LED lights. I also like to rearrange the lights in pattern and have been known to use Christmas lights as an alternative to Studio lighting where you can use the three or four color format provided by the light string and you don't have to deal on the heat from incandescent lighting and still get roughly the same affect. Green is another good alternative and you can balance it out a little better for more natural lighting as far as the camera is concerned

  11. Yup, you're a fussy bugger! Have you seen these RGB LEDs (link below), choice of "milky" or transparent lights. Make em what ever colour you like 🙂
    You'll need buy or build a WS2811 / WS2812 controller to drive them but that's cheap either way.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32993485391.html <—- I'm not affiliated with the seller, it was just randomly selected, there are many (actual search was "ws2812b string" without quotes).

  12. ha! i found you via christmas lights, I vote it becomes a technology connections tradition!
    also, FIND SOME BUBBLE LIGHTS!!! carlisle was building some, but they were like $400 a set!!!

  13. "If you are painting them on the strand, pro tip…" lol nobody else is doing this, dude. Still, great video. And I agree, the old filament bulbs are awesome and I miss them, fire hazard and all.

  14. How much electricity does that fantastic background use? Electricity is expensive here in Australia and I would love to see a video about electricity usage.

  15. It boggles my mind why you would go to such extent and i probably wont do this excercise myself. Yet i enjoy the hell of it. So thank you

  16. Use clear epoxy resin and translucent resin dye. Mix to your desired colors. String the lights up from wall to wall, lay down plastic under them, and dip each one from a small cup of your dyed resin while going down the line. Mix up the next color and repeat. Your durability is going to be comparable to store-bought and the color is entirely up to you. Plus you could mix in other additives like UV reactant dye (if you've got a deep blue LED it will lightly fluoresce) or you could add glow in the dark pigment and experiment with some spoopy Halloween lights for next year.

  17. This is why I love your channel. You described my problem with modern Christmas/Holiday/Whatever lights perfectly.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  18. Safety Disclaimer @02:17 : Do NOT attempt to operate these devices while adorned with internal holiday lights.

    On a side note: Aww, I loved my Lite Brite!

  19. Just found your channel and I quite enjoy it. Well done content! Do remember what the ADD AAD and DDD boxes on old cds? I bet that would make a neat video for you.

    Also, never thought about painting bulbs to get the exact color you want. Really neat!

    Another fun video! Thanks!

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