View Full Version : flexable gooseneck-like tubing

05-05-2003, 08:04 PM
I want to make some spot work lights using the high brightness white LEDs on the market now. These would be attached to the mill and lathe and could be bent to any angle to throw light where I want it including small holes. They are on the market but cost a lot for what they are.

What I'm looking for is some sort of flexable gooseneck like tubing. Something around .25" in diameter and preferably with a vinyl coating to make it coolant/chip proof. I'm just not sure what this tubing is called specifically. I've been searching the web for suppliers but can't quite get it right. So I figured someone here might all ready know a source for it.

Something along the lines of this device:
which if I can't make what I want I just may buy.


05-05-2003, 08:18 PM
came off sewing machines. Hi intensity lamps , low voltage thou. check auctions under seller peachy1cc on ebay. You can't buy the necks for what these are listed under. I got a similar one on my lathe. I was thinking of buying another one or two.
I made some lamps during the 70's with flex (conduit type) and pushed a mig rod up it with the wire to hold the shape I bent it.. but it shorted out after a year or two around my stepkids I had then. (they broke all the shovels and rakes too) I would not trust them to play with a anvil.

Sorry.. I just check the posted website.. those are fiber optic lights.. aren't they.. mucho difference..

Ohh yeah... we called them borelights (to look down a dark bore) when I used to shoot my target rifles.. them are much simpler.. just a curved glass rod on a penlight.

[This message has been edited by ibewgypsie (edited 05-05-2003).]

05-05-2003, 09:56 PM
Take a look at Loc-Line tubing used for coolant lines. It is quite rigid, and used for other applications than coolant.
They may have some lighting applications them selves.

05-05-2003, 11:12 PM
You could use the Loc-Line as suggested, but it is not as skinny as the flexible conduit. I see a "bright" future for LED lighting - their efficency will soon surpass flourescent lighting. I have a Moon-Lenser white LED keychain light I bought from www.leevalley.com (http://www.leevalley.com) - like it better than my Mags and the beam is a perfect spotlight for "finger-puppets". Have you considered fibre optic cabling instead? You can scrounge them out of IBM card readers (they are not the best, but they work well in small holes - and they are cheap).

05-05-2003, 11:44 PM
Most of the electronic and computer supply houses (Altex - link below) sell heat-shrink tubing in 3 foot lengths. You can get it anywhere from 1/16th up to 3/4". Perfect for covering those map reading light necks. You know, the ones that plug into a cigar lighter and brakes the first time you use it. Some of them can be had for a buck or less at garage sales.
www.altex.com (http://www.altex.com)

05-06-2003, 12:04 AM
I'm looking for the same thing, I think. I'm thinking of using small diameter soft copper tubing, covering it with vinyl tubing, and running a wire down the center for the return current. The tubing should almost stay where you bend it to, and should have a fairly long flex life, if you're not constantly bending it. An led array won't weigh much, and they do give a light that let's you see details. Between four and six led's will run in series from a typical 12 volt adapter, which will be lightly loaded, and will put out up to 18 volts like that. Don't exceed .030 amps for the string of led's, though.

05-06-2003, 02:29 PM
DArryl: Re soft copper tubing: Run an accelerated test (bend it several years worth of bending) before you assemble. Stuff work hardens after bending. I buy full roll of tube to avoid the salemen unrolling and re-rolling, which is enough to make the stuff stiff.

05-06-2003, 03:10 PM
Thanks, doc, for the info on workhardening. I didn't consider that would be a problem that quickly. I learn something everyday.

Weston Bye
05-06-2003, 04:55 PM
Check out the plumbing section for flexible gas supply pipe-like what runs the last foot or three from the gas cock to your stove, dryer or water heater. Stick with the smallest size. Even then, consider running a length of stiff copper wire through it with the power wires.


05-06-2003, 05:04 PM
The so called "flexable" copper pipes that are used in plumbing work hardens pretty quickly so it's not really suitable. Care to guess how I know.

My suggestion is to buy a flexible goose neck lamp at Walmart, which can be had for under $10. It usually has a clamp on end. You can simply use the the complete apparatus including the wiring.

Frankly, I don't like the harshness of the white LED light. Until they get the temperature right, I'd much prefer low voltage halogen lighting for illuminating the machines.


05-06-2003, 06:50 PM
I picked up a foot of 1/4 in. thinwall copper tubing today, and found, to my amazement, that it hardened up after only 2 bends. Not that I mistrusted Steve's advice on that, but wow! Poor choice for a flexible gooseneck! Solid aluminum wire is better, but it fails the test as well.

05-06-2003, 08:39 PM
I didn't think about putting heat shrink on an unsealed tubing. I might get too stiff. Some of that plastic drip spray might work well.

I see a couple of these thin lights mounted right to the head like coolant tubing so they can be bent to direct light on shadowed places and interiors. Very low power with high brightness, plus they don't heat up parts or a body part like the halogen lights do. And won't break if something cold hits them. Very robust, practically indistructable as compared to a filament blub.

I was thinking about trying the gas tubing. I was also thinking about ball and socket joints with hard brass tubing instead of fully flexable tubing. Something like a mini task light. The joints don't need to be very stiff because the whole arm would weigh so little.
Might make a quick little project for an article.

You could even slave the lights power source as a generator coil from the machine's motor. That's how the light on my craftsman 6" grinder works. As it spins up the light gets brighter. LED's need very little voltage and less current.

05-06-2003, 10:49 PM
Thnks Darryl, I suggest always testing any advice from me before spending much money. One experiement beats 1000 "expert " opinions.

Some one gave me a nice cheap flexible light from HF I think. Heavy base been a good work bench light. but only takes 75 watt lamps. Cost < 10 dollars I understand.

Friend has a bunch of flourescent lamps mounted on a 4 by 8 sheet of ply wood. Bright enough to hurt your eyes, a non point source so the shadows are not harsh. He uses a bright reflector, tube holders from Home Depot and ballasts. much better than the "white" difusion backs on most fixtures.

05-06-2003, 10:51 PM
The last batch of heat-shrink I got is nice stuff. It has a matte finish and stays flexable--like rubber (You can also get it in Black, White, Red, Blue). This is not the cheap stuff like RatShack.

05-07-2003, 02:08 AM

I am getting too old for dim lights and find the halogen a bright enough source. I do not like the heat output or the fact that dam A/C transformers Rona sells burn out with half the suggested load even. When I helped my friend with his Red Tail Columbian Python (11 footer!) cage I used old PC power supplies to feed 12v DC to the lamps. My industrial light meter says they are brighter than with 12vac and they have never burned out in 5 years service. The Snakes love them BTW - good spectrum and toasty!

I have been threatening to convert my luxo lamps over to Halogen for some time (4 puck lamps each) but I keep "dragging me arse like a dog with worms".

I have a luxo magnifier too, I would like to convert it to solid state with white, red, green, and blue LED (selectable combos) as I find it easier to see some things under different lighting conditions. These new LED's make excellent darkfield illuminators too.

05-07-2003, 09:41 AM
You can experiment all day with copper tubing that isn't going to last. Just use a "goose neck". They should be available at any lighting store in 6" to 48" lengths with threaded ends. They come in steel, nickel, and chrome mostly. I don't want to use this as a selling forum, but I sell these things if you can't find them locally. Good luck.

www.exoticforms.com (http://www.exoticforms.com)

05-07-2003, 11:41 AM

Using an old PC power supply for the 12V halogen light is an excellent idea. I'll think of that next time I have to replace the transformer. Thanks.


05-07-2003, 06:19 PM
And remember that the 12vdc supply is sourcing 12v but the 12vac is peak not RMS (I assume, not seeing your supply) so the peak wattage is going to be different than the RMS wattage (usable load) but I'm sure you already knew that... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

Plus you're right on the darkfield illuminator, sweet stuff we got now. I just got in my 8" blank for grinding a mirror 8" f/6. Going to take it fishing this summer to Eagle Lake (north of Reno, NV in the middle of nowhere), pretty good dark sky site. If this one goes good the next might be a 12" then 16", 20"... yep, be grinding that 40" anytime now (or maybe in 20 years)

05-08-2003, 01:57 AM
Our university has a 24" reflector out in the sticks. Wish I was rich so I could move to the sticks and have a dome! I use red LED flashlight during "sky watching" too. (Lucky bugger!)

You are right, most AC voltages are shown as RMS not p-p. Guess the meters cost too much, eh! Damn handy to have a true RMS DVOM though, could not live without it. Now if I can just score a HIOKI 3ph analyzer on eBay cheap...

The PC PSB's put out 11.3-13.2VDC (12V). Works great and the lights last longer. I tried them because I had a shed full of the damn things. Now that I have a few old 600W ATX PSB's with 40A@3vdc, 60A@5vdc, 15A@12vdc should be able to light up a "few" LED's (ya think?).

The darkfield illuminator I was referring to was for microscopes. If you want to see a few or need some optical flats or what not check out these guys http://www.edmundoptics.com/

05-08-2003, 07:16 PM
Yep, they are also where I was told to get a Ronchi screen for testing the mirror.

I also need to build a foucault tester and I've also been reading up on grinding machines. Pretty simple actually. I've found some nice plans/notes on a site run by a guy in Australia who makes 10-20 mirrors at a batch. He also made a diamond curve generator based on his bridgeport and a segmented diamond blade. He stated that he could generate the spherical curves on 10 8" mirror in a day. He also makes optical flats and a number of other optics plus grinding machines. I think he's 167 years old.

05-09-2003, 12:06 AM
Cool site! Thanks for exposing more ideas! I hear there are a fair number of hardliners building their own 20" mirrors - a tough job to do for sure.

05-09-2003, 02:16 PM
You really want to see some hardliners. Check these guys out. They call themselves Group 70 for the 70" mirror they've been making for the last 5-7 years. Yep, 70 inches stimated to weigh 2420 lbs. That's a hunk of pyrex.

05-09-2003, 02:55 PM
Thrud and others: If you drive your microscope/lighting LEDs using 555 timers, you can adjust the brightness very nicely by adjusting the pulse width and not have to dissipate wasted energy. Also, run a high frequency on them and you'll never have beating problems with line frequency with video cameras, etc.

Lastly, if you want to run them on ac, don't even need a rectifier, just connect in pairs (in parallel, one LED reversed) with one limiting resistor. Flicker is now 60Hz instead of 30Hz from a single rectifier and wiring is simpler. One LED protects the other by conducting on opposite cycles. Works great with $10 Walmart flex neck halogen lamp ... just rip the halogen head off and replace with a nice machined barrel. Semi-spherical base has ac line cord, transformer built in and nice rocker switch.

05-09-2003, 03:41 PM
Few additional comments about running LED from AC power. Although you can use the LED to rectify its own power they do not switch fast enough in cases of power surge which can be present in the line when large inductive load is turned on (e.g. motor). For this reason, the UL/CSA will not approve it. It's better to spend the extra few cents and add a fast switching rectifier in series with the LED. In Europe where they have strict EMI regulations, a small capacitor must also be added.


05-09-2003, 04:28 PM
Albert: Good points ... the comment on ac powering was intended for the low side of a transformer such as from the halogen lamps (12v). LED on the line side has numerous problems. LED on the 12v side can fail and will only draw about 30% more current through the resistor.

05-09-2003, 05:07 PM
You can also add a MOS spike suppressor. I use one on a AC triac switch controlled by a optocoupler which is turned on by tapping into the led power light of components. Very compact and cleans the power pretty well. Looks like a large disc cap.

05-10-2003, 01:17 AM

I knew that. Thanks for reminding me how much I have forgotten. If it wasn't for the fact I can only find my wirewrap Victor proto board (Ihate wire wrapping) and not the 3M proto boards - I might try that. I think I have too much crap - can't find anything anymore. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Don't worry bud, I follow the rules and uncommon sense. Been electrocuted enough in my life already and I am a poor fireman - I like to watch it burn - my electronics instructors used to get pissed when I broke the marshmellows out in labs... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif