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SunBeam 12

Bosco    -   November 14, 2002
Category: Modding
GF City Computers
Price: $40 USD


Introduction

I need a cold cathode for my new case! Well, apart from what I've just said to be true, sometimes even computer cases have a bit of a "fashion trend" to follow. There's no real use to have a case with a large side window, if your viewers can't even see what is inside it. Our friends at Lux-Design sent us a nice looking cold cathode light kit, and seeing as that I am in need of some interior lighting, I took this opportunity to see how well this product works.

The Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL) kit is manufactured by a Taiwanese company called Sunbeam, and from looking at their webpage, it looks like they have been making these products for at least a year and a half, so they are not that new in this field. Their webpage also claims that their CCFLs are specifically designed for personal computers, so they are brighter and made to consume less power. While I am unable to verify the latter, I have seen some lamps that are not very bright at all, and after seeing this one it's safe to say that Sunbeam manufactures some of the brighter cold cathode lamps out there.

Specifications

From Lux-Design's website:

  • Length: 12.25 inches of pure light.
  • Diameter: .25 inches
  • Encased in a 100% acrylic shell, enabling 360 degrees of light
  • Special coated 12V inverter for safety.
  • Average Current Demand ± 350mA at 12VDC.
  • Average Current Demand ± 4.3w. (Did they mean "Avg. Power Demand?")
  • High-Quality Jam-Nut Switch installs quickly and Easily
  • Long Lifespan
  • The instructions from the manual include the following:

  • Brightness: 18000 ± 3000 candela/m²
  • Average life: 15000 hours
  • Voltage: 200~1000V (That's a rather big range)
  • Current/Output of inverter: 5mA
  • Power: 2.85 ± 0.3W
  • Input Voltage of Inverter: 12V DC

  • Just a plain 'ol box. Nothing special here!


    The package includes the CCFL, wrapped in the bubble plastic for protection, a set of instructions, a rocker switch, adhesive velcro strips, and the inverter, pre-connected to a modified Y molex adapter.

    Installation

    Installation of this product is incredibly simple. First off, you must plug the two open-ended wires on the cable into the prongs of the rocker switch. Because the purpose of the switch is to simply open or close the circuit, its orientation does not matter. After that you will need to plug in the wire harness into the inverter, and then into a free molex connector from your power supply. I do have a quick note to make here, and that is to avoid using the same rail (cable) that your hard drive(s) are connected to. If something should happen to your inverter or CCFL, there is a possibility that the excess voltage/current will be sent toward your hard drive, causing permanent damage (and loss of data) to it. With my current setup, the CCFL shares the same rail as my floppy drive! No worries about losing anything there!

    After making the connections, decide where you want to place the CCFL and inverter, and use the adhesive velcro strips to hold them in place. I haven't decided where I want them to be placed yet, so for now I placed mine at the bottom of the case without using the velcro strips. If you choose to, you can also use the included washer to cut a hole in one of your drive panels to mount the switch.

    I noticed that the inverter has room for two CCFL units. That means you can purchase just one kit, and then purchase a second CCFL on its own, so you don't have to pay the price for a second inverter and all the other accessories. However, I also thought that the cable on the CCFL is a bit on the short side, so if you plan to have a CCFL at the bottom, and one at the top of your case, you'll need to do some planning as to where (and how) you'll place the inverter such that both CCFLs can connect to your inverter.

    Results


    The CCFL is turned on, but I took this photo with a flash just to see how it looks.

    In the above photo, if you look closely at the bottom of the case, you can see that the brightness of the CCFL is strong enough to be visible even through a camera flash.


    One more shot with no external lightning.

    With the lights turned off I ended up with this. I apologize for the poor quality here. The camera has a tendency to darken the entire picture just because of a small bright spot. My case is illuminated more than what appears to be shown here, and in actuality you can also see the CPU heatsink and fan, as well as the rest of the motherboard.

    Conclusion

    I like this product! Being the first time for me to ever carry a CCFL in my case, this one has put a very strong first impression on me. I have seen some other cold cathodes before, and the other ones that I have seen are not anywhere as bright as this one. I think I'll end up keeping this one!

    Pros

  • Brighter than some other cold cathode lights
  • Includes a switch
  • Inverter can support two CCFLs
  • Cons

  • CCFL cable a bit short if you want to use more than one in a tall case



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