Lightning Bug Figure & Yard Lights

My wife claims we’ve had this nearly 15 years, worked 12, and it’s exposed to the elements during Spring, Summer, and early Fall. She hadn’t told me it stopped working, when I noticed, I was up to the challenge.

The Battery Compartment is in the Base, a rather ignominious place to work from, although it’s just a statue. Of course, the battery was a mess, battery terminals corroded, and hoping for a simple fix, used a new Battery, cleaned Terminals, and voila, it didn’t work.

I had fixed several solar yard lights. There’s a single IC – Integrated Circuit (4 leads) inside and a resistor. To get a few of these ICs, I had to buy 100, but even 100 were inexpensive.

Basic parts that need tested:

Solar Cell – once I identified the wiring, I just shone a flashlight onto the Solar Cell and the voltage came to life, measured on either Voltmeter. I needed the correct Polarity, I had to know which DC Solar Cell Lead is Positive and which Negative, the meters easily revealed that.

The LED – The Meters gave conflicting results, I’m at a loss why. But the larger meter I used actually causes the removed LED to light when connected properly. A Diode only permits current to flow in one direction. LEDs are Light Emitting Diodes, so they are Diodes, and as such, if working properly, current only flows in one direction.

The two Pocket Meters (only one shown) gave similar results, and did not light the LED no matter how connected. But both Pocket Meters just use Watch Batteries. The larger meter uses a 9 Volt Battery. That might explain the difference. Voltage is needed to Forward Bias the diode, essentially turning it on.

For the Lightning Bug LED I needed to know which is connected to Positive and which to Negative. I simply used the Larger Meter in Diode Check Mode, which caused the LED to light, and I noted which LED lead was connected to the Positive Meter Lead (Red). The LED I removed from the Yard Light Circuit Board, I previously marked one lead and where it was connected, tested to see if the Red Lead on that, and the Black on the other Lead, caused it to light, it did. I then put the Positive Lightning Bug LED wire to the Positive connection point for the Yard Light Circuit Board LED.

Actually, the Yard Light Circuit Board is nicely Silk Screened, identifying the Component Location, Orientation for the IC, and Polarity for the Solar Cell, LED, and Battery.

Some of the Lightning Bug Wires felt like copper impregnated cloth, they did not solder well, for that reason, I abandoned the switch and jumped out its location on the replacement Circuit Board with a piece of Solder Wick. The remaining wires were imperil of breaking with too much handling, so I soldered on new wires, placed over each connection a piece of heat shrink tubing, tight fit before shrinking, and covered them all with Hot Glue, pressing them into the base of the battery compartment.

I also removed the Battery Terminals from the original Yard Light Circuit Board and jumped the Lightning Bug Battery Connections to the new Circuit Board.

The Original Lightning Bug Circuit Board is small and poorly marked. The circuit board is designed to have the wires fed through from the component side, yet no wires were connected that way (if you see one, that was from my repair attempt), rather they were poorly soldered to the Tracks on the Underside of the board. In the image of the Underside of the board, some of the damage was from me removing it from the glue it was buried in, or from my “not very gracious” attempts at soldering-in repairs.

Arguably, a Lightning Bug Figure that sat outside for 15 years in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and worked for at least 12 years, cannot really be listed as a failure, but so much of what is made today is junk, and in a world supposedly increasingly sensitive to waste of natural resources and waste disposal issues, I think the U.S. should impose basic quality standards for imported items including periodic sampling and assessment.

I had a Chinese made device that is plugged into the wall, a lamp plugged into it, and if you touch metal on the lamp, it lights. One day no workie. I figured the lamp was off, or bulb burned out. They seemed OK. Pulled the couch away to get to the plug in module, it had literally burned up. Had the back of the couch not angled away, it might have caught the house on fire. Truth be told, we bought American Made Fluorescent Lights, CFLs for Table Lamp, and they kept failing, filling the air with a horrible burned odor. But the difference? The American Ones failed safely, the Chinese Lamp Adapter nearly caught on fire.

I’ve seen fine quality Chinese made electronics too. The house we rented in the country, we installed a White Westinghouse Set-Back Thermostat so the house was warm when we arrived Friday Evening. But I gently took it apart before putting it into service, to look at the workmanship. High Quality, Clean, Surface Mounted Components. It gave me some sense of confidence.

Remember, repairing those lights may be an adventure, and you can improvise. If it doesn’t work, you’re not out anything but time well spent away; in some cases; from the TV, and learning possibilities exist.

Author: Dr-Artaud

A Doctor that is not a Doctor, but named after a character in the movie "No Such Thing", as is the Avatar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s